The more time I spend tasting the wines from the Veneto, the more I appreciate their many treasures. The Veneto has a long history of wine making and is one of the most productive regions in all of Italy. The wines of the Veneto have great diversity of style and represent the largest production of DOC-level wines in all of Italy. More than half the wine production is to white wines, but it is the red wine that has made the Veneto so famous. While Soave is undeniably one of the most well-known white wines in the world, Valpolicella and Bardolino rank high on the list of well-known reds. A lot of this fame is due to the massive quantities of mediocre wine that flooded the market during the 60’s and 70’s, which is something that producers in the Veneto are actively trying to change. The good news is that the once low-brow opinion of Venetian wines is being supplanted by critical acclaim.
One of the producers leading the way to excellence is Masi Agricola (http://www.masi.it/eng/home/), an old, family-owned operation that has its roots in the Veneto going back to the 18th century in the Vaio dei Masi, or the small valley in Valpolicella where their original production began. The original owners of Masi, the Boscaini family still own what has grown into a massive wine enterprise, producing some of the best wines from the Veneto, as well as extending beyond Italy to produce award-winning wines from Argentina. Masi is considered a leader in the Veneto, perfecting the time-honored process of Appassimento, or air-drying of the grapes to produce wines of great intensity and complexity.
I had the pleasure of joining several folks at the Franklin Wine Club last week to taste through a representative portfolio of Masi wines. The tasting was led by Tony Apostolakos, US Director of Marketing and Sales for Masi Agricola. Tony was entertaining and informative and the wines showed beautifully. The wines that stood out for me, are the following:
2015 Masi Agricola Masianco Pinot Grigio, Venezie – A lovely wine with a lemony/citrus nose with honey and toffee hints. The wine is surprisingly full-bodied for a Pinot Grigio, likely due to the addition of Verduzo to the blend. Well-balanced with a pleasant, long finish. A very good value.
2016 Masi Agricola Rosa die Masi, Venezie – A charming and refreshing rosé wine with a soft floral nose and peach hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Red berry and strawberry notes on the palate with moderate length. 100% Refosco. Good value.
2013 Masi Agricola Campofiorin Rosso, Veronese – A deep, dark wine with black cherry, exotic spice and dried fruit hints on the nose. Medium-bodied with firm acidity and tannin. Sour cherry palate with subtle complexity on the finish. 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara, vinified individually after a brief appassimento and then blended.
2010 Masi Agricola Brolo Campofiorin Oro, Veronese – An intense and magical wine with a complex nose suggesting allspice, dried fruit, leather and blackberry jam. Medium-to-Full-bodied with soft acids and moderate, but well-integrated tannin. The palate is rich and laden with black fruits and tarry, tobacco notes. Very long finish with more spicy complexity and light cocoa and dark chocolate notes. The traditional blend of Corvina and Rondinella is enjoined by the rare Oseleta grape and aging takes place in small oak cooperage.
2014 Masi Tupungato Passo Doble, Mendoza, Argentina – Another deep, intense wine with a lively, fruity nose with blackberry and black cherry hints. Medium-to-Full-bodied with moderate acidity and a tight, tannic structure. Jammy palate with an intense, dark core of black fruit. Long finish with layered complexity. Blend of Malbec and appassimento-treated Corvina. A superb value.
2011 Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone Classico – A tremendous, age-worthy wine with a vibrant nose suggesting figs, dried fruit, exotic spice and floral hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and firm tannin. Lush palate with layers of complexity. Very long finish – endless flavors emerge on the aftertaste. Very young with incredible potential – will easily improve and evolve over the next 30 – 40 years. Excellent value for Amarone.