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Allegrini 2018
THE TASTING

Product, passion, data: Masi’s secret to a great Amarone, the result of 250 years of experience

Two and a half centuries of history and “magic”, told in the glass by 17 vintages (1958-2016) of Amarone della Valpolicella Classico and its Cru

250 years of company history is enough to be able to take some sort of stocktaking, at least by those who are still alive and can assess with more or less mature and more or less lenient eyes the work done so far. Work that, in two and a half centuries, cannot have been limited to simply producing wine, but has taken responsibility for a territory and a tradition to be preserved as much as possible and promoted throughout the world. This awareness is evident in the words of all three generations currently active at Masi, when they lend themselves to recounting the successes, disappointments, commitments and magic that have so far accompanied a viticultural journey that is important for Valpolicella and all of Italy, celebrated on October 14 at the winery.
Sandro Boscaini’s view on the past is limpid when he recounts the decision he made as a young man in 1978 to successfully and with no small amount of difficulty transform a niche wine - known only to locals - as Amarone into a widely famous and appreciated wine-icon. How? By defending, together with the Historical Families, the hillside origin of the best grapes for drying, or by studying in depth the processes of grape dehydration, safeguarding the original places where they were put to rest (such as the Mazzano fruit cellar) and creating new, technologically advanced ones (such as the one that would be activated with the new Monteleone21 winery); but also by traveling the world far and wide to make known a wine that was beginning to have a clear technique, making itself legible to the sector. There is, on the other hand, gratitude in the words of Giacomo Boscaini (Sandro’s grandson) addressed to the previous generations, for having had the vision to deliver to the future a company that is not only solid but also dense with content. Starting with the data collected for more than 100 years-without which it is difficult to understand the evolution of a territory, both from the climatic point of view and from the technical point of view in the field and in the cellar-on which today it is possible to base more conscious and shared business strategies. But also for having delivered to him a special Amarone such as Vajo dei Masi 1997, a perfect vintage that it was decided to keep (unusually, in steel) until today precisely to celebrate the anniversary, for a whole year with stages that have touched and will touch the more than 100 nations to which Masi exports its brand. The present seems solid to Raffaele Boscaini (Sandro’s son), who has taken custody of the long roots of a family technical and human progression translated into wine, in order to find new stimuli and pass them on to the younger generations of the family, to the internal and external collaborators of of the winery and, not least, to enthusiasts and customers. By giving continuity to cultural paths such as the Masi Prize, which has surpassed 40 years of national and international awards dedicated to those who promote the excellence of the Venetian region. Or by supporting new projects, such as the multi-purpose “open cellar” and wine tourism facility Monteleone21, under construction at the foot of the Gargagnano headquarters and scheduled to open in 2023. Finally, by devising a vertical and horizontal tasting of rare depth, which tells in facts what it has been for to continue passing the baton between 7 generations for 250 years.
Seventeen vintages of Amarone, distributed between 1958 and 2016, among four different labels (Amarone Classico later to become Costasera, and the three crus Vaio Armaron, Campolongo di Torbe and Mazzano) give, in fact, a good measure of the limits and potential of the great wine of Valpolicella, in the interpretations that Masi has been able to give in the evolution of its agronomic and oenological experience. The double itinerary (impeccably organized and accompanied by those detailed data, collected vintage by vintage, mentioned above) allowed on the one hand-with the vertical of Costasera in 13 vintages-to sample the aging capacity of Amarone (which is around 20 years, with rare and exciting exceptions), on the other - with the vertical/horizontal of the 3 crus, compared in 5 different vintages - to understand how it is possible, despite the withering, to identify clear differences between grapes grown in different climates-territories-altitudes. Here, then, is the sweet, mellow character of Serego Alighieri’s Vaio Armaron, which originates at 250 meters above sea level in the valley floor of Fumane, in Sant'Ambrogio, and grows in a climate that tends to be more humid influenced by its neighbor from Lake Garda, in loose soil of medium depth. Partial ripening in cherry stems emphasizes its amiable side, found in every vintage tasted. In Torbe, on the other hand, Masi’s Campolongo takes shape: at an altitude of just under 400 meters, on red limestone, volcanic soils of “recent” age and rich in humus, it withers in its vineyard and turns into a rich, glyceric wine with a characteristic final almondy note. Finally, the austere and assertive Mazzano, from one of the highest locations in the Negrar Valley that exceeds 400 meters in altitude: here the soils are still volcanic but older, the slope considerable and ventilated, the withering always in the vineyard with natural ventilation.
“There are three ingredients to make a great Amarone: create a quality product, put passion into it and have a long series of historical data at your disposal”: this is the recipe with which Sandro Boscaini started the celebrations and which has found its confirmations in the glass, also thanks to the decision to preserve the wine library from oxidation with a periodic check of the old vintages, refilling the bottles and changing their corks. Giving life to a journey in the goblet like only those that have as stages the old vintages of the great Denominations, territories and brands that have made history, which are the real “magic” of wine. Not only from a quality point of view, but also because they are an incredible source of beautiful stories to tell, which is the most emotional aspect of wine. Stories that, very often, are intertwined with the vicissitudes of the history of Italy, but also with the most beautiful memories of our personal history because we uncorked them at a special moment of our lives, or that are the story of something achieved when the person tasting was not even born. And it is no coincidence that in recent years, following the example of the great French wines and driven by the demands of critics and the market, even in Italy the most “enlightened” wineries have built real “libraries” in which to store old vintages as one does with documents in an archive. An element of prestige and to enhance the brand, of collecting and increasingly the basis of unique experiences, in the cellar as at the restaurant, but also of knowledge, which, in the aging capacity and longevity of wine, makes us rediscover the value of time. Masi has made 250 vintages, since 1772 and since the first harvest in the vineyards of the small Vajo dei Masi valley, an “ante litteram” Cru in the heart of Valpolicella Classica. In their diversity, the old vintages of the Amarone Classico Masi, later called Costasera, joined by the Riserva Costasera and, since the 1970s, represented by the Vaio Armaron, Campolongo di Torbe and Mazzano crus, are also witnesses to changes in society, taste and technology, and now more than ever to climate change. In each of the old vintages of Amarone Masi, there is, in fact, a stage in the history of one of the most important realities of Valpolicella and Italian wine led by the Boscaini family, today among the very few listed on the Stock Exchange. A history that is that of Amarone and of the “wines of delle Venezie”, peasant and noble at the same time, which started from Valpolicella with its “marogne” and its Venetian Villas, through the trade routes to the East and the courts of Europe of the great “Venetian triangle” that unites the territory with Verona and Venice and Verona, and became an emblem of quality made in Italy. Thanks also to a “savoir faire” in agriculture as in commerce that is the result of a very ancient and very rich culture, represented by the technique of grape drying that dates back to the Romans and today is a UNESCO candidate.

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