|Masi Agricola 2011 Masianco Pinot Grigio / Verduzzo, Veneto, Italy.
One recent sunny afternoon, winemaker Raffaele Boscaini welcomed guests to lunch with a glass of white wine that his family has been making for the past decade.
“This is a wine with personality,” said Boscaini as he held his glass aloft to toast the assembled. “Most Pinot Grigios can be refreshing and then…” A swift move of his free hand suggested the sudden exit of a wine with no lingering aftertaste.
It just disappears.
The object of Boscaini’s affection, Masianco, offers more interest. More flavour. A so-called “supervenetian” bottling, the blend includes a portion of dried grapes to enhance the subtle character of Pinot Grigio.
“We knew we had to do a Masi Pinot Grigio. We had to work with our signature style,” Boscaini explains. “We wanted to create a new sensation out of a simple grape that everyone knows.”
The Boscaini family’s fortunes are closely linked to appassimento-style winemaking, notably their flagship Costasera Amarone della Valpollicella Classico, a red wine made from 100 percent dried fruit.
Curiously, Masi’s efforts to make a richer, more flavourful style of Pinot Grigio at their Stra’ del Milione estate in the Grave region of Friuli went away from their signature style. Early efforts saw the winemaking team barrel-fermenting the Pinot Grigio juice with less than stellar results.
“It was a nice, big, heavy white wine,” Boscaini says, “but the barrel really killed the classic flavour of the grape.”
The following year, winemakers blended a small percentage of Chardonnay with the Pinot Grigio in hopes of making something special. The delicate nature of Pinot Grigio got lost again, however.
“Even a drop of Chardonnay in the tank with Pinot Grigio and it became a Chardonnay,” Boscaini says.
Finally, the idea to pair Pinot Grigio with Verduzzo, an aromatic white grape variety native to the region, was embraced. Verduzzo typically makes a sweet white wine in Friuli. By trying the grapes for three to four weeks to concentrate the sugars, the finished wine managed to fit the brief for a white wine with the freshness and drinkability of Pinot Grigio, but with fuller body, bolder flavour and more character.
Launched with the 2003 vintage, it sells more than a million bottles globally per year.
“It’s enjoyed explosive success,” says Raffaele Boscaini, coordinator of Masi’s research and development team. “Drying the Verduzzo grapes before the blend make the wine more interesting, with more depth and structure. At the same time, though, it is still a Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is supposed to be refreshing.”
Wines of the Week:
Masi Agricola 2011 Masianco Pinot Grigio / Verduzzo, Veneto, Italy
BC $17.99 (244681) | AB $17 | MB $15.99 (713110) | ON $14.95 (620773)
The new vintage of Masianco is a refreshingly dry white with appealing citrus, floral and herbal notes. A rich texture and slight honey note adds interest to the flavours and makes for a wine with more stuffing to drink with grilled fish, seafood or white meat.
Masi 2011 Modello delle Venezie Bianco, Veneto, Italy
BC $11.99 (564674) | AB $12 | MB $11.99 (564674) | ON $10.95 (564674)
A portion of the Pinot Grigio used in this blend was aged for three months in oak barrels to add weight, texture and flavour of the finished wine. The fruity and refreshing nature of Pinot Grigio is on display here, making this a nice sipping wine or a easy-going partner for seafood, salads or simply prepared poultry or fish dishes.