Monday, January 14, 2013

Report from … Masi Dinner – November 6, 2012

Sandro Boscaini of Masi explains the circumstances of the 2008 Costasera

While the picture of Sandro Boscaini isn't the most flattering I've ever taken of him - the wine he brought with him are possibly some of the best Masi's I've ever tasted ...

This was a much different Masi dinner than I had been to in the past, though there were also some similarities.  Similarity to previous dinners were the high-quality Masi wines, the camaraderie and the great stories and information provided by Sandro Boscaini – the difference was the inclusion of the white Masianco 2011 (pineapple, tropical notes, creamy and smooth on the palate) and the wine from Masi’s Argentinean project (started in 2000), the Malbec / Corvina appassimento Passo Doble.  But this was not the focus. 

Tonight’s dinner was a more casual affair and was all about introducing the new vintages of the flagship wines:  2009 Campofiorin (the original Ripasso) and 2008 Costasera (the flagship Amarone).

Sandro described Ripasso as a “zero cost” wine: skins cost nothing (plus you can sell them for grappa making when you’re done with them) – “Ripasso is like making a 2nd cup of tea with the same bag”, Sandro explained.  We were also told that Masi started the ripasso method in 1964 and went to the double fermentation method in 1983.

The 2009 Campofiorin ($18.95 - #155051) might be one of the best values in a Ripasso to come along in quite some time.  2009 was a better vintage than 2008 and the wine shows that.  The ’09 is still quite young but with vibrant fruit:  plum and spice rule the roost, but there’s still quite a bit of punch from the tannins; that all said it is also very drinkable.   Touches of chocolate, black cherry and mocha also make appearances.  What really makes this wine special is the sheer elegance it shows in all aspects from nose to palate.   That all said it’s also a wine that punches well above its price point, and definitely tastes that way – it is a wine you could easily lie down for a decade or more, and to find that kind of wine for under $20 that’s a bargain and a plus.  This might be one of the best Ripasso’s … oops, Campofiorin’s Masi has ever made; even if the vintages doesn’t get the coveted 5 star rating from the producer. (**** ½)

The key to Campofiorin is that it is made as a stand-alone wine and not, as some producers attempt to portray their Ripasso-style wines, as a baby Amarone; interesting to note that Masi was the only producer making Ripasso form 1964-1989 – so they’ve had time to hone their skills with it and perfect their techniques.

The 2008 Costasera has an interesting story to tell this year … 2008 was a good vintage but not an exceptional one, compared with the previous vintages, especially its predecessor 2007.  Because of that fact Masi decided not to make its single vineyard Amarones in that year – that means the grapes that would have gone into those single vineyard offerings had to go somewhere (after all they grew and were picked) so they were declassified and put into the Costasera production.  This has benefited the Costasera wine greatly as it too might be one of the best I have tasted from Masi in quite some time.

The 2008 Costasera ($39.95 - #317057) has lovely plum, cherry and chocolate with spice and anise notes … this is one elegant and delicious wine that should, by all rights, fly off the shelf.  Age ability is more than double that of the Campofiorin at 20-25 years with ease – but it is also so supple and tasty right now.  (**** ½)

Masi has given us two beautiful new wines – one to drink now and one to drink later … the good news is, if you buy a few bottles of each you can do both.

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