It was Masi who in 1964 with the release of the now legendary Campofiorin effectively made appassimento popular again. This is a winemaking technique that they use with all of their wines to concentrate the aromas and character of the fruit ahead of fermentation. It finds particular expression in the Valpolicellas for which Masi has become world-renowned. Chris Wilson visited Masi last year and brought us these stunning images that perfectly captures a behind-the-scenes look at the winery and how it operates.
Veneto producer Masi has been responsible for some of the region’s – and Italy’s – most well-known wines and production styles. Here’s a pictorial guide to some of Masi’s estates, vineyards and cellars taken during a visit to the producer last year.
Vineyards at Serego Alighieri: It all starts in the vineyard. These vineyards adjacent to the drying lofts and cellar are planted with the traditional Valpolicella varieties as well as Sangiovese, Garganega and Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyards at San Ciriaco: This historic estate is on the hillside in Valpolicella and enjoys great views of the region. There’s a small drying loft here as well as stunning terraced vineyards
Grape varieties: Crates of the four key wines used by Masi in its Valpolicella production; Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Oseleta. The final one is a little-used ancient Veronese variety which was rediscovered and replanted by Masi in the 1980s after years of oblivion
Drying lofts: These ancient drying lofts at Masi’s Gargagnago winery have been used for decades to assist in the appassimento stage of the winemaking process
Traditional drying racks: Appassimento is the traditional method used to concentrate the aromas and characters of the fruit ahead of fermentation. These are large traditional bamboo racks
Modern drying crates: More modern crates have been developed and are in use at the San Ciriaco estate. They are smaller, stackable and can be handled by one person. Bamboo is still used to line the crates
Experimental cellar: Within the winery at the Serego Alighieri estate, there are a number of small tanks set aside for experimental wines and micro-vinifications. The Masi technical team is always looking to innovate. They even experimented with square barrels!
Tasting room: In the technical tasting room blending trials and experimentation continues, and it’s here where the group’s winemakers perfect each year’s blends
Cherry barrels: They have been using cherry wood barrels at Masi for years to add character and body to all 500,000 bottles of wine made annually at Serego Alighieri. Cherry adds richness and power that accentuates the red fruit and perfume aromas already present in Valpolicella
Tenuta Canova: This estate near the beautiful town of Lazise on the edge of Lake Garda has a modern barrel room, public tasting room and storage facility. It shows the modern side to Masi in contrast to its more traditional operations in the ‘classico’ regions
The finished article: Arguably Masi’s most famous wine, Campofiorin. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014
And finally a very old vine: This vine was planted at the Serego Alighieri estate in 1875. It’s one of six remaining pre-phelloxera vines in Italy. The variety is Molinara, and yes they do harvest it to add to the estate’s wines