Boni's Vinegar House
The Boni family, living in Castelvetro of Modena, was producer of vinegar since the last century, vinegar, indeed, of cultural, traditional, agricultural type from Modena Country, like Lambrusco wine, Parmesan and zampone.
At the beginning of the Thirties, the above mentioned family shared itself in two branches, to one of which I belong. More precisely from father's side, UGO BONI, my grand-grandfather.
Boni, in those years, got ahead with the tradition of balsamic vinegar with great passion and love, up to influence my father ANTONIO RAMINI. So, after the decease of his grand-father during the Second World War, he decided to lace once again to that umbilical link of thirty years long. (In 1945 grand-father Boni died leaving his vinegar house to his major daughter, in 1975 the nephew Antonio Ramini, decided to start a new battery in grand-father's memory, to start again that tradition forgotten for thirty years).
In May 1973, my father decided to buy the casks by the casks' factory Renzi in Modena, choosing the classic battery of 5 small casks starting from the major one: chestnut tree, cherry tree, bay oak, mulberry tree, bay oak. The last one, following the tradition, should be juniper, but for my father's taste, it gives too much taste to the vinegar itself.
In the future, I'll keep on mind juniper for the new battery. The cost of this great Renzi's battery was Lit. 250.000. It started to work with the cousin of dad Adolfo Simonini's mom who wasn't honestly too lavish to teach dad about the start of vinegar. I do not want to blame him, as I know everybody is jealous of his secrets about vinegar as a treasure.
In 1982, the casks were brought from Simonini's house in Castelvetro to our own home in Bologna and positioned in the loft (AL SULER in dialect from Modena). From that moment dad and grand-mom exhausted their wish to have back the casks after 7 long years, but above all to have brought back home something which remembers them a very special person.
In June 1985, dad and me brought samples of vinegar to the test of ten years by the Company of traditional Balsamic Vinegar in Spilamberto (MO), nobody took joke of us, but it was quite the same, I think they didn't only for education's reasons. However, we found a friend, Mr. Italo Pedroni, who said about my father: "GREAT IN EVERYTHING LIKE THE GRAND-FATHER AND LIKE AN EXPERTISE IN VINEGAR ".
He owns the maybe greater and more beautiful vinegar house of Balsamic from Modena in Rubbiara di Nonantola. He gave us courage and heart, our vinegar wasn't so bad, it just needed corrections and renewing maybe due to the shift and to the change of environment. It is well known that they are dangerous and disturb the development and ripening of vinegar. Our vinegar took the flue. We took the samples by Italo to be tested and after one day we had the receipt to settle the battery. The decanting took place in February, 1986 and the fifth cask (the biggest one) was completely emptied and washed with vinegar whilst waiting to be filled with new vinegar must ..We used a demijohn of about 50 lt. of must made with Trebbiano grape of Modena hills (Castelvetro or Levizzano are the most ideal places), also the very good Trebbiano of Spagna of the grape trees in the Modenese area has to be taken in consideration (Nonantola, Spilamberto, Rubbiara etc.).
Extraction of Balmy through the use of "Saaz"
( "Al Saaz" in modenese dialect: glass ampoule elongated close for the extraction of balmy vinegar)
The most has to be removed from the tin, then boiled slowly, stirring every now and then with a wooden spoon and constantly frothed with a slotted spoon for at least 18 hours or may be more, until the fluid has decrease to 55% of his volume. Then has to be left to cool down in the cauldron left open (covered only by a thin cloth to keep away insects).
Now the cooked most is ready to be decanted into the cask in the necessary quantity to keep it at the right level. From the correction that took place in 1986 on suggestion of our bishop" Italo Pedroni the battery went back to what should be the traditional balsamic vinegar. In fact, the successive decanting that took place between 1986 and 1997 gave extremely positive results with regard to density, colour, harmony and taste.
Bottles of glass made by hand between 1930 and 1950 filled with Balmy, gifts to the family Boni and Ramini. The vinegar was produced in acetaie households Modena, and then be donated on special occasions to relatives and friends.
At this point, after the last analysis made in March 1991, Italo said that we were ready to bring our balsamic vinegar's cruet to the Palio of Consorteria. We handled the samples to Italo at the end of April to take part in the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Palio Competition of Consorteria of Spilamberto. I will remember forever that May, because between my dad and me there was something" in common: the nervousness and the affection for that product so complex that we built together; the frenzy and the impatience of waiting for the result really made us sweat. On Friday 21 June 1991 we went to the Spilamberto Fair, balsamic vinegar's convention, that was very useful and constructive. The same evening we spoke to Mr. Bergonzini, an expert and lover of this mysterious product, who gave us many tips. Finally, we attended a tasting at the Town Hall. Before finishing our excursion, I signed up for a training, which I finished with this essay. At the end of June Italo rang us to communicate the result: our vinegar scored 244 points: 22 points less to reach the level that classify balsamic vinegar as traditional balsamic vinegar. We felt extremely happy for the result, and that result gave us the incentive to keep improving our product ever further, and to spread the knowledge of this product, essentially to be able to better judging and appreciating it.
After transferring the casks in 1994 in the house next door for space reason, the vinegar is obtaining very good result: 275 point in 1996 and recently, in the 1999 Palio, we reached 300 points! This really charged me and I feel very proud, hoping to continue to improve a tradition that started in 1975 from my father.
In 2001 September I had decide to buy two new casks: the first for me, composed by five classic casks (cherry-wood, chestnut-wood,mulberry-wood, oak and oak-wood) and the second one for Trattoria Boni (chestnut-wood,mulberry-wood and oak-wood) not tipical because composed by only three casks to intercalary in future with another casks. Actually, after two and half years of vinegar maturity, I had put inside casks the boiled most severely by Trebbiano grapes of Castelvetro in Modena.
Now we attend the time to work and analisize it.
by Antonio and Ugo Ramini