Acetaia Midolini: The 50-Year Old Friulian Balsamic Dressing Born on the Hills of Colli Orientali del Friuli

While the Refosco and Friuliano grapes in Colli Orientali del Friuli end up fermented and bottled as wine, some of these grapes are also destined for other purposes like making balsamic dressing. On a trip in the territory of Colli Orientali del Friuli with the Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo (Consortium for the Protection of Friuli Colli Orientali and Ramandolo Wines) where viniculture takes precedence in the vast cultivation of grapes, Acetaia Midolini opened its doors to its own world of making balsamic condiment from their 35-hectare vineyards of Refosco and Friulano grapes.

Colli Orientali del Friuli is a 2,000-hectare territory of Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines. The viticulture history of this territory has always been regarded for its remarkable expression in wines especially the white ones. It extends over a territory that is characterized by a hilly and mountainous terrain. There are the slopes of Mount Bernadia to the north which reaches as far as the Judrio river, giving it a hilly landscape with a harmonious balance of woods and vineyards. It also enjoys a bit of maritime influence from its proximity to Adriatic Sea. The soils are comprised of alternating layers of marls (calcareous clays) and sandstone (calcified sands) called flysch or ponca in the local language. 

Photo from FB page of Acetaia Midolini

Acetaia Midolini has an estate of 100 hectares, 35 of which are dedicated to vineyards of two local grapes, the black variety Refosco and white Friulano. All the vineyards are located exclusively in hilly areas which have the best condition for growing high quality wines in Colli Orientali, which give the grapes a high level of acidity and a good balance of sugar content. These grapes are the ingredients used in the aging of their balsamic dressing. 

Acetaia Midolini was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest balsamic cellar in the world. Aside from being the biggest, the Midolini family, now on its 3rd generation, continues to produce balsamic dressing ​​of quality and tradition from its conception in 1958 by Lino Midolini. Driven by his passion and vision based on the values of quality, tradition and love for his land, he has led the company by creating the balsamic condiment following the tradition of the ancient Romans of Aquileia. His first productions were attained by using wooden barrels given to him by friends who are producers of grappa and beer. The company soon progressed with the acquisition of barrels made of precious fine woods which he has discovered the great value that they gives for the aging and refinement of the balsamic dressing.

The baton has been passed to his daughters, Gloria and Raffaella Midolini, a newer generation that started to combine the tradition of his craft with an innovative vision which includes collaboration with the Universities of Udine and Trieste and working with celebrated chefs for the continuous search of innovative tastes and products. They also collaborate with Majani, one of the oldest families of Italian chocolatiers. The third generation of the family also joined the company. Angelica has taken up the post of dealing with the marketing strategies and global expansion.

The production of the balsamic condiment, named Asperum inspired by the Latin motto per aspera ad astra (through adversity to the stars), starts with the harvest of the company’s selected grapes. They are destemmed and pressed to obtain the fresh must. The must is then cooked slowly at high temperatures for up to 60 consecutive hours. The must is then poured into wooden barrels and then aging and refinement begin in batteries of 7 different precious woods by solera method, a process by partial blending that finished product is a fusion of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years which in their case is a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 50 years. The artisan wooden barrels are made of fine wood oak, cherry, chestnut, juniper, ash, mulberry and robinia. Daily, between rows of barrels arranged in descending capacity from 75 to 10 liters, the balsamic expert carefully controls everything, making sure that nothing interferes with the right aging process.  

To understand the meticulous process more and how small the yield is, with 100 kilos of grapes, the yield after 30 years of solera method is only 100 ml. of balsam which equals to less than half a cup. Based on the years of aging, the balsam is divided into the different lines of product. While the general lines of the balsamic condiments are blended with a small percentage of wine vinegar, the top line, produced in very limited bottles, Extra-Aged Balsamic dressings aged 18, 35 and 50 years old (€490 per 50 ml bottle) are made purely of the aged cooked grape must of Refosco and Friulano. The outcome of which is dense, creamy, complex in aromas and smooth on the palate. It is best consumed just by drops on a porcelain spoon and it’s perfect with dark chocolate or at the end of the meal as a digestive. 

The products are all natural, free from preservatives, added sugars and coloring. It is rich in polyphenols which are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties. It is also rich in mineral salts which favor the digestive processes.  

Acetaia Midolini

Address: Via delle Fornaci 1, 33044 Manzano (UD), Italy
Tel: +39 0432754555