With a history dating back seven generations, the Boscaini family, the creators of Masi, are intimately tied to the land of Valpolicella in Italy. This year marks a major milestone: the 250th harvest for these legendary winemakers, and for Masi wines.
Valpolicella, located within the greater Veneto region, is one of the most unique winemaking areas in all of Italy. It is a land of valleys, bordered by Lake Garda to the west, and the Lessini Mountains to the east and north. Three native grape varieties take center stage: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. While its distinct terrain and indigenous grapes contribute to its identity, the region is closely associated with the appassimento process — one could even call it an element of the region’s terroir, or sense of place. During the appassimento process, grapes are partially dried to concentrate the flavors and aromas, resulting in complex and expressive wines that are a hallmark of Valpolicella.
In 1772, the Boscaini family acquired vineyards in the small valley of “Vaio dei Masi,” which inspired the name of the company, and started a winemaking legacy. Throughout the years, they closely followed the traditions of the region, which has winemaking roots dating back to Roman times, while simultaneously conducting research into new and innovative methods to further improve the quality of the wines. Today, Masi is known for its portfolio of wines that are perfect for every moment and every mood.
The Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico is a cuvée of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, sourced from vineyards at the foothills of the same slopes where grapes for the Amarone wine are cultivated. Valley breezes and rich topsoil provide ideal conditions for viticulture. The wine is aged for only a few months in various oak barrels, which allows the exuberant fruit flavors and freshness to shine. Sweet cherry and cinnamon aromas jump out of the glass, and the soft tannins and bright acidity create a lively and easygoing style of wine that pairs well with pizza or dishes that feature tomato sauce.
At the other end of the spectrum is Masi Costasera Amarone Classico. Amarone is a wine most closely associated with the Valpolicella region and the Masi Costasera shines a spotlight on the skill required when making wine through the appassimento process. Grapes come from hillside vineyards which receive ample daylight. The west and southwest-facing slopes also benefit from the light and warmth reflecting off of Lake Garda. This sunshine is vital when it comes to grape ripeness as it leads to wines with complexity and concentration.
After harvest, grapes are laid out on bamboo racks to partially dry, and by January, most have lost about 35 percent of their weight. Some of the Corvina grapes may also have been affected by botrytis, or noble rot, which further concentrates the juice and amplifies the aromas and flavors of cherry and hazelnuts. The fruit is then carefully pressed and fermented in Slovenian oak barrels and stainless steel vats, then matured in a selection of French and Slovenian oak barrels of varying age and size for 28 to 30 months. It is a robust wine with notes of baked fruit, coffee, and baking spices, along with plush and ripe tannins. It pairs well with stews and braised meats and creates a lovely contrast with strong, mature cheeses such as parmesan.
Masi’s skill with marrying tradition and innovation is best exemplified in the Masi Campofiorin. Called an “ingenious technique” by writer and critic Hugh Johnson, the Campofiorin walks the razor-thin line between opulence and freshness. In Masi’s groundbreaking double fermentation process, fresh grapes are first vinified, then semi-dried grapes (about 25 percent) of the same varieties are added back to the base wine and refermented. After, the wine is aged for 18 months in oak barrels of various ages, sizes, and provenances. It’s an aromatic cuvée that brings forward ripe cherry and plum aromas and flavors. Polished tannins provide structure while lively acidity elevates the lush texture. It’s a highly versatile wine that pairs well with umami-rich vegetables such as grilled mushrooms, as well as meat-based pasta sauces.
Join Masi in celebrating this milestone anniversary — click to learn more about the Masi legacy, the wines themselves, and the dynamic Wine Mosaic of Italy.