If you are into Italian wines you may have heard of Gambero Rosso, which is a yearly publication that gives information on Italian wineries and rates their wines.
Last year while in Milan I bought the 984-page edition for 2016. On its cover, it stated that it contained 22,000 wine ratings from 2,400 wineries. We have just been informed that Gambero Rosso has selected Masi as their “Winery of the Year” for 2018. Although remarkable, in the past, the Wine Enthusiast magazine has selected Masi as their “European Winery of the Year” and Wines & Spirits has done the same. The Wine Spectator has awarded Masi “Critics Choice Winery”.
The Boscaini family, that owns Masi and has done so since 1772, can now say that they export their sumptuous and robust wines to 120 countries. While visiting them I commented on the fact that reviews on their wines seem to be getting better and better and it was explained to me how they have invested in technology and the very best of people. Their goal is continual improvement.
Amarone is the classic wine of Veneto and Masi perfected the modern method of making this hearty red. It is the product of a winemaking method the Ancient Romans knew called “appassimento” and involving grape drying.
At the end of September or the beginning of October, the best clusters of grapes from hillside vineyards are picked and laid out on bamboo racks in special lofts. By the end of January the grapes have lost 35 per cent of their original weight and have highly concentrated sugars. The processes that follow are: soft pressing; partial destalking; 45 days fermentation in large Slavonian oak barrels or stainless steel vats at low, natural temperatures; transfer into barrels where the alcoholic fermentation continues for 35 days in the presence of selected alcohol resistant yeasts; and then malolactic fermentation by bacteria follows. Maturation takes 24 months with 80 per cent aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 40-80 hectolitres and 20 per cent in small Allier and Slavonian oak barrels.
Our current stock is Masi Costasera 2012 Amarone. I will quote a couple of reviews that prove that the wine has lots of oomph. James Suckling rates it 94/100 and writes “Lots of complexity comes through from the outset on the nose, borne out in terms of smoky black cherries, dried rose stems, asphalt, tar and liquorice. Full, structured body that dives through layers of dark fruit, driven along by active acidity all the way to the long but not cloying finish.”
The Wine Enthusiast comments “Aromas of crushed violet, baked plum, cake spice, ripe berry and tobacco pervade in this bold, full-bodied red. The firm palate offers ripe black cherry, fig, mocha, nutmeg, liquorice and tobacco alongside velvety tannins.” $52.85
We also have in stock 1993, 1998, 1986 and let me tell you about a very special one that is our Masi Vaio Armaron Amarone 2011. Since 1353, the noble family of Serego Alighieri, descendants of the poet Dante, have been Valpolicella wine growers with passion and focus. The term Amarone probably comes from their old, venerated vineyard named Vaio Armaron.
This deep red wine has a viscous texture. Extremely rich aromas include baked fruit and the soft spices of cinnamon and vanilla. Rich, full and hefty on the palate, the wine displays layered sweet, cooked fruit, almonds, coffee and cocoa powder. Plush flavours and a long, soft and dry finish. It would be ideal with red meats, game, quail, roasts, and richly-flavoured dishes. An excellent pairing with strong, hard cheeses like Parmesan and pecorino, and a noble after-dinner wine. $70.00
Masi 2014 Campofiorin is a wine that I like to call “Baby Amarone” as it offers us the opportunity of experiencing much of what has made its “big brother” so asked for. A double fermentation technique is used to make modern Campofiorin, whereby top-quality wine made from indigenous Veronese grapes that are refermented with lightly dried grapes from the same varieties. The result is greater richness of colour, extracts, aroma and bouquet, as well as softer, more refined tannins. Here is what the Wine Enthusiast says about the 2014. 90/100 — “You’ll find alluring scents of iris, blackberry and nutmeg on this blend of 70 per cent Corvina, 25 per cent Rondinella and 5 per cent Molinara. The savoury palate delivers ripe plum, black cherry, carob and a touch of liquorice alongside fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2022. $21.65
I would like to tell you about their Masianco white wine that is a delicious blend of 75 per cent Pinot Grigio and 25 per cent semi-dried Verduzzo grapes, as I consider it a Pinot Grigio with more weight and body than you would expect. The problem is I am not showing any in stock, but when it comes back, before Christmas I hope, you will be able to try it for $20.90 a bottle.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St. George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at wineonline.bm