By Simone Zarmati Diament

Masi revolutionized the art of wine-making in the Venetian region with modern technology, techniques of double fermentation combined with traditional craftsmanship,to create powerful, well-balanced and delicious wines 

amarone masisandroboscainiWhile the Boscaini family, headed by company president Sandro Boscaini, have been the owners of the Masi vineyards for six generations, some of their vineyards, like the Mazzano vineyard in the Veneto, have been famous for their wines since the 12th century. 

Masi specializes in the production of Amarones from vineyards in the Tre Venezie – the Dolomite mountains, the hillside from Friuli to Adige, and the flatlad Padana – for which it has gained worldwide reputation and countless awards and prizes. 

Amarone della Valpolicella is a powerful dry red wine -- in Italian, amarone means "big bitter" -- made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina (40.0% – 70.0%), Rondinella (20.0% – 40.0%) and Molinara (5.0% – 25.0%) varieties. The wine was awarded DOC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata status - in December 1990. 

Amarone is the product of the wine-making method well known since the Romans called "appassimento"(grape drying). At the end of September or the beginning of October, the best clusters of grapes from the hillside are picked and placed on bamboo racks in special lofts equipped with the “natural appassimento” control system. At the end of January the grapes weigh 35% less and have concentrated their sugars. Then they go through soft pressing; partial destalking; and the vinification process. The final result is a very ripe, raisiny, big-bodied wine with very little acid. Alcohol content easily surpasses 15% (the legal minimum is 14%) and the resulting wine is rarely released until five years after the vintage, even though this is not a legal requirement. They age well and keep for decades in a good cellar. 

The same process can also be used to make a dessert wine called Recioto della Valpolicella. 

Over the years, Masi has spread out to other prestigious viticulutral areas in the Venetian region, Tuscany where Masi joined forces with the Serego Alighieri Estate -- for over six centuries a reference point for Verona's winemaking and agricultural traditions--, and more recently in Argentina. 

Costasera Amarone Classico - Masi DOC 2001 ( $55) 
A fullbodied, deep ruby red with mahogany reflections on the edges, this Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is made with 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara. The red calcareous (limestone) soil of the slopes in the historic Valpolicella Classico communes where Masi’s hillside vineyards are planted facing Lake Garda is the best in Valpolicella Classica for producing high-quality Amarone. The Costasera Amarone expresses a particular majesty and complexity. Ideal with red meats, game and mature cheeses. An excellent wine for the end of the meal and for aging 30-35 years. Alcohol 14.80 % 

Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – Masi 2000 ($120)
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC from Mazzano, a historic vineyard renowned since the XII century., in the commune of Negrar.. Mazzano (75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara) is an austere and majestic wine - the very essence of Amarone - which derives particular benefit from being aged in small oak barrels. It is it is dense and rich, elegant with hints of cherry, plums and incense which evolve into liquorice, dark chocolate and toasted coffee with nutty touch of “gianduia” in the dry and long finish. . It is delicious with meats, game, and with mature Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, without talking about desserts!!! Its production is very limited. Alcohol 16% Ageing potential 35-40 years 

Serego Alighieri Vaio Amaron Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000 - $75
This Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC (65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 15% Molinara Serego Alighieri) comes from the rich red soil and dry stone wall terraces of tge Vaio Armaron vineyard, at Gargagnago, commune of Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella, property of Serego Alighieri. Since 1353 the noble Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, has cultivated its estate in Valpolicella, and the term Amarone itself probably derives from the name of this ancient vineyard: Vaio Armaron. It is an extraordinarily rich and complex wine with aromas of cherries, mint, spicy and Mediterranean herbs, partially aged in cherry wood, which is capable of long ageing, 25-30 years. Excellent with red meats, game and mature cheeses. Alcohol 15.5% 

Campofiorin Supervenetian - Masi 2003 - $15
Rosso del Veronese IGT (70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara). A specialty of Masi, “Supervenetian” are wines from the Veneto with the characteristics of the terroir, the character of local grapes and the uniqueness of production methods: refermentation or double fermentation of wine from fresh Veronese red grapes with a percentage of "appassimento," or semi-dried grapes of the same varietals, followed by natural malolactic fermentation which enriches the wine in alcohol, in colour, in extracts and in soft and elegant tannins. The wine is rich, full-bodied, round and velvety, and has an aging potential of 15 to 20 years. Campofiorin is a registered trademark of the Masi company since 1964. 

White Masianco Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo- Masi ($13)
Those of you searching for PG might be surprised by what you find in Masi’s Masianco Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo (75% Pinot Grigio, 25% Verduzzo). A “Supervenetian” white of unmistakable Masi style (like the Campofiorin red), it is an intense straw-yellow color wine dry, fruity, in the style of a Friuli wine: no oak but a tropical fruit bouquet (pineapple, banana, honeysuckle), and a full floral and creamy palate balanced with citrus freshness and a crisp herbal finish with hints of almonds and hazelnuts. While Masi specializes in the semi-drying of red grapes, to produce Masianco, Verduzzo grapes are ripened further after picking; this unusual process for an elegant white wine makes for more roundness, body and richness which complement the fine aromas and the elegant fruity notes of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie. It pairs well as an aperitif, with hors d'oeuvres, fish and grilled white meats. Alcohol 13%