Thursday, November 5, 2009

Report from ... Masi, Tasting Under the Stars – October 27, 2009

If you haven’t heard the name Masi, when it comes to Italian wine, then you’ve either led a very sheltered life, been living under a rock or have never wandered the aisles of you local liquor store. The name Masi and Italian wine go together like a horse and carriage. Tonight, a small gathering of folks got together at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (though surprisingly not in the Planetarium, which would have made sense for this event) to listen to Dr. Sandro Boscaini (president of Masi Agricola) talk about Masi’s first 5-star rated vintage since 1997, and only the seventh such rated vintage since 1942 … we also got a chance to taste the aging potential of these wine as the 1995, 1997 and 2006 Campofiorin (Ripasso) and Amarone were paraded out (all of these were 5-star rated vintage wines) as well as the 1990 Amarone – another of the only 7 five-star vintages. The other 5-stars were given out in 1988, 1983 and 1964.

To get a 5-star rating (a system Masi brought into existence of their own accord in 1942), everything has to be perfect, said Dr. Sandro, from the growing season, the drying season, the evolution of the grapes, all the conditions have to be just right, “which is why we’ve only given out 7 in 67 years.” The rating can be found above the year on the label (just in case you’re looking for it).

The Wines …
My favourite of the old Campofiorins was the 1997 with its raspberry, strawberry notes in the mouth, it had a smoothness along with its complexity and a great enjoyability. This all bodes well for the 2006, which is now on store shelves with a $17.45 price tag. To pull a wine out of your the cellar that’s 12 years old, knowing you paid less than $20 on it, does seem like quite a deal – but it does require a little patience on your part. Good luck.

My Amarone of choice was the 1990 vintage dated wine, what an incredible piece of 19-year-old history this is. It still retains great acidity and fabulous fruit, both fresh and dried; tannins proved to be still quite robust and then there was the nice long finish that left the tongue wanting more … just to prove to myself the wine was as good as I originally thought I had two more samplings. After tasting the wine there is no doubt in my mind on the ageability of the ’06 (also on shelves now for $37.35).

Now, about that rock you’ve been living under …

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