The famous Masi estate featured in part one of this report from a recent visit to northern Italy. But Masi is now a group, making wines at various properties not only in Italy, but around the world. During my visit I spent some time at the Seregho Allegeri family’s beautiful home near Verona, with its historic Amarone drying lofts. This noble family have a hotel, vineyards and cellars, but needed a partner to bring technical expertise and distribution. Hence, Masi is now their strategic partner, not only producing the wines, but taking care of marketing and distribution.
I met with the Countess Massimilla di Serego Alighieri, whose family have lived on the land since the early 14th century. She is the 21st generation to live in the house – built by her ancestor, and son of the poet, Dante (Alighieri). A bubbly and informal character, she trained as an actress and is also a huge fan and announcer for the local professional basketball team.
We toured the house and gardens as well as the drying lofts and barrel cellar. Unusually, the wines are aged in oak, but finished in cherrywood barrels. This gives an extraordinary fragrance as you enter the barrel room and, Maxemilla belives, to the wine. The barrels cost three times as much as oak, with half the lifespan, and today Serego Alighieri is the only house in the region still using them.
(2019) Mostly Garganega and made in stainless steel tanks, with 40% Sauvignon Blanc which sees a little barrel fermentation. Mealy and pear fruit, an Asian pear crunch and into a limpid, mouth-filling palate, a lemon rind sense of fat and acidity. Good freshness, with a touch of exotic sweet fruit, but finishing dry.
(2019) Dried herbs and dried cherry, mostly Corvina but 16% of Sangiovese in this wine, introduced by Massimilla’s father due to the family’s Tuscan roots. Dusty and ashy aromas. Good sweet fruit, with 14% Molinara also giving some spice, but good freshness and acid, a fresh style of red.
(2019) A sweet earth character here, more of that dusty cherry from this blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, but a more concentrated style with 30% appassimento from the double fermentation system. That fragrance from the cherry wood is there, with a strong palate showing some coffee and plummy fruit, lots of spice into the well balanced finish.
(2019) Meaty, dense stuff on the nose, with that concentrated, dry graphite character. From a limestone vineyard I visite, the palate has real meatiness, dry, touched with coffee and a little game. Real firmness here, a savoury umami grip and bit of muscle and sinew to the tannin and acid framework, plenty of chewiness here, but once again really good freshness. Should cellar for a decade plus.
(2019) From a vineyard bought by the family in 1353. More tobacco and cherry and floral lift and perfume, that slightly ashy quality. The lovely sweetness of ripe cherry and juicy, plump currants, and a beautifully judged residual sugar, but set against it keen, cherry skin acidity and tight tannins, with an underpinning of violet and bittersweet dark chocolate, a deliciously balanced wine. Around 60g/l residual sugar. Price for 50cl.
As an adjunct to this report, whilst visiting Serego Alighieri I tasted one wine from another historic noble family estate, where wines are also made by Masi:
(2019) A wine from Trentino, further west than Valpolicella and closer to the Austrian border. The Conti Bossi Fedrigotti family has 600 years of history on the estate, making wine for more than 300 of them, and today, like Serego Alighieri, Masi takes care of winemaking and commercialisation of the family's wines. Mostly Chardonnay with Traminer, it's not quite as aromatic as I expected, but there is a trace of floral character that blossoms on the palate. The oak is discreet and gently oatmeally, but the crisp orchard fruit, just edging towards exotic, balances with nicely judged, dry and lightly saline acidity.