LABRAT REVIEW: Hooray!! My first chance to be a labrat!! I was so excited to see the bottle arrive in the mail today. And, I am just as happy that it is for vinegar as I would be if it were wine. That is the beauty of being Italian.
I compared the Cavedoni Botte Piccola Italian Balsamic to two other bottles of balsamic I have at home (I like vinegar, ok!?!). The first was a more expensive Napa Valley Harvest balsamic – which says it is 100% barrel aged balsamic vinegar from Modena - and the second was the typical cheaper kind you get at the store - Monari Federzoni.
First, compared to the Monari, the Cavedoni held up very well. Sweeter, less acidic in smell and taste, and much thicker. Though not syrupy, the Cavedoni is clearly a thicker liquid than the Monari. Like your average cheap balsamic, the Monari can make your eyes water if you try to drink it. The Cavedoni was easier to sip.
However, compared to the Napa Valley, I found the Cavedoni harsher, less sweet, and more acidic. It had a more overpowering “herbal” smell versus the more fruity smelling Napa. The Cavedoni also tasted and smelled more oaky (and not in a good way) than the Napa, which was also barrel aged. Unlike the always sweet Napa, the Cavedoni had a noticeable aftertaste and bitterness. Note that the Napa was aged 18 years, while the Cavedoni was aged only 7, which may be the difference.
Final thoughts – the Cavedoni is much better than the average crud you get at the store which is good for salads but not much else. But, it’s not the classic balsamic that you can put on ice cream. It will go excellently on food, and would be very enjoyable on tomatoes or on grilled vegetables. For those of you who are uninitiated in the great balsamics, the Cavedoni may not quite sell you on the difference between good and sublime, but it would certainly get you closer. For a gift, the Cavedoni is a great choice. It comes in a nice box, is in a beautiful bottle, and comes with a pour spout. All nice touches.
And, just to make clear that I am not crazy, I had my best taste testers check it out – my 10 year old son and my 8 year old daughter.
Their thoughts on the Napa: sweeter, more vanilla flavor, with a sour and creamy aftertaste
Their thoughts on the Cavedoni : more wine tasting and sour, with a sweeter aftertaste
They both preferred the Napa, particularly if, as my son says, you don’t like wine-taste in the vinegar. My daughter said that the Cavedoni was good, just not as good as the other one. So, they agreed with me. And I didn’t coach them – I promise.