Masi’s Valpolicella and Amarone Age with Grace

A pioneer of amarone in Sweden unexpectedly change importer

Masi’s amarone and valpolicella were pioneers to make this type of wine popular in Sweden. A big tasting shows that they also age well, even the simpler wines. Although it may be worthwhile to add on a few euros extra. The producer has long been represented in Sweden by the importer Philipson Soderberg but has under almost dramatic circumstances changed to Vinunic. BKWine Magazine’s reporter Roland Eriksson met Raffaele Boscaini from the owner family when he was in Stockholm.

On January 1, 2015, Masi changed importer so the today tasting was organized by Vinunic. Masi has over 25 years been marketed by Philipson Soderberg in Sweden and it is probably due to their work that amarone wines have become so popular here. Masi Vaio Armaron Amarone was the first Amarone wine that went on sale here in 1994 and that is actually only 21 years ago.

Corvina veronese grapes in the vineyard

Corvina veronese grapes in the vineyard, copyright BKWine Photography

In recent years, the market has increased even more, but not for the “original” (amarone), which is inevitably on the expensive side. Most popular now is the so-called “half-amarone” (editor’s note: sometimes referred to as “mini-amarone”), wines happy to be delivered in bag-in-box, with a high alcohol content, sweetness and named something with appassimento and that can come from anywhere in Italy and not only from Veneto.

Why change importer now after so long? Philipson Söderberg and Bibendum (another importer) are owned by the Finnish state-controlled company Altia Corporation. The Finnish government is apparently as silly as our former Swedish one which sold Vin & Sprit and our cultural heritage in alcoholic beverages.

Altia is for sale but with few takers. The Finns are a touch square and do not care so much about its Swedish subsidiaries and has hired some so-called “bean counters” (business consultants) who have cut in the Bibendum staff.

But most stripped-down was Phillips Soderberg. In December 2014 their sales force consisted of 18 people and now a month later only 6 since many key people have quit or received severance pay, among others the well-known profile Johan Edstrom.

Altia is probably only interested in their own brands to bolster an upcoming sale, so it was not a major problem for Vinunic, part of Vingruppen, with many famous brands in our portfolio, to take over. An old friend and a very nice one, Annica Bondelid (most recently from Bibendum) is the new product manager for Masi in Sweden at Vinunic. So we can only wish them good luck!

Last time I was on a Masi tasting it was the father Sandro “Mr. Amarone” Boscaini who held court. Now it was the son Raffaele Boscaini who was here. With him was their (Swedish) Export Manager Carina Kurttila. (Editor’s note: Can you call the son Raffaele “Mini-Mr. Amarone” Boscaini? 😉 )

Raffaele Boscaini of Masi in Veneto

Raffaele Boscaini of Masi in Veneto, copyright R Erikssson

Masi is a very large company and is based in Veneto in north-eastern Italy. It owns 500 hectares of vineyards and annual production is as much as 11 million bottles! Of these, 400,000 is the basic amarone Costasera and approximately 100,000 are amarones from individual vineyards.

All winemakers set aside a certain number of bottles of each harvest for reference, for their own use, or for tastings. Masi has a long tradition to save a greater number of bottles from good vintages. When it comes amarone, it may be 10% of production. These wines are Collezione Grandi Annata with vintages like 1964, 1983, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 1997. Sometimes let go of a small number of bottles to the market, or serve them like today.

Masi Amarone Classico aging in the cellar

Masi Amarone Classico aging in the cellar, copyright BKWine Photography

One is also proud of the firm’s top wines like Osar (100% oseleta), Mazzano, Campolongo di Torbe and Mezzanella. These are marketed like the older vintage wines under their own label Cantina Privata Boscaini.

Levarie Soave Classico 2013

Garganega 85%, Trebbiano di Soave 15%.

Pale yellow colour, young, little apple fruit and citrus; the taste is young, fresh, little apple and with good acidity.

~8 euro, 76 p. (Price indications are based on Swedish retail prices.)

Masi Masianco 2013

Pinot grigio 75%, verduzzo 25%.

Light yellow colour, young, a little spicy and floral fragrance with some tropical fruit; the taste is medium-bodied, young, fresh, spicy with hints of tropical fruit.

~11 euro, 79 p.

Masi Campofiorin 2011

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Bluish-red colour, medium large, young and dark-fruity aroma, with hints of cherry, blueberry and barrels; the taste is quite full-bodied, young, dark-fruity, with cherry, blueberry, vanilla and roasted coffee and with tight tannins.

~13 euro, 84 p.

Masi Campofiorin 1997

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Brick red colour, medium sized, ripe, floral and spicy aroma with hints of old leaves; the taste is quite full-bodied, ripe, with hints of dried fruit and blackcurrant, slightly tannic, a little dry flavour but still impressive that a wine that once cost around 10 euro is so age-worthy. It should be added that 1997 is a top vintage in Italy.

Cellar sample, 85 p.

Masi Campofiorin, Brolo and Costasera amarone

Masi Campofiorin, Brolo and Costasera amarone, copyright R Erikssson

Masi Brolo Campofiorin Oro 2010

Corvina 80%, rondinella 10%, oseleta 10%.

Bluish-red colour, medium sized, dark-fruity aroma, with hints of black cherry, blackberry and barrels; the taste is young, plump, dark-fruity and concentrated, with hints of cherry, blackberry, toasted barrel, length. A remastered version of Campofiorin from a single vineyard with more added dried fruit and a touch of the ancient local grape oseleta.

~17 euro, 87 p.

Masi Costasera Amarone 2010

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Bluish-red colour, fairly large, young, dark-fruity aroma with hints of dried fruit and raisins; the taste is young, full-bodied and dark-fruity, with hints of dried fruit, raisins and dark chocolate with silky tannins, length. The first vintage to be sold with Italy’s highest classification DOCG.

~30 euro, 89 p.

Masi Costasera Amarone 1998

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Brick red colour, fairly large ripe aroma, with hints of autumn leaves, dried fruit, raisins and figs; The flavour is rich and ripe, with some elegance and discrete fruit, with hints of dried fruit, roasted coffee and vanilla.

~52 euro, 91 p.

Masi Costasera Amarone 1997

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Brick red colour, big, ripe, concentrated and dark-fruity aroma, light floral and perfumed, with dried fruit, raisins and figs; the taste is full-bodied, mature, elegant and dark-fruity, concentrated notes of raisin and figs, vanilla, silky tannins, length.

Cellar Sample, 94 p.

Masi Costasera Amarone 1985 (1995 corrected)

Corvina 70%, rondinella 25%, Molinara 5%.

Brick red colour, medium sized, ripe, slightly burnt, with hints of cherry, rose hips, dried fruits and volatile acidity; quite full-bodied, mature, burned and spicy flavours, with hints of cherry jam and dried fruit, good length.

Cellar Sample, 91 p.

Masi Costasera amarone and Mezzanella Amandorlato Recioto

Masi Costasera amarone and Mezzanella Amandorlato Recioto, copyright R Erikssson

Masi Mezzanella Amandorlato Recioto 2007

Corvina 70%, rondinella 5%, Molinara and Rossignola 5%.

Dark red colour, large dark-fruity, bitter-sweet aroma, with hints of blueberry jam, raisins and cherries; the taste is very full-bodied, dark-fruity, slightly burnt, bitter-sweet and crispy, with hints of raisin, plum, cocoa and vanilla, good length. An odd and interesting wine, limited production of about 1700 bottles.

~55 euro, 93 p.

That amarone can keep, we can now conclude by looking at the older wines like 1985, 1998 and especially the excellent 1997. The Campofiorin 1997 is also good but I think it is worth adding the extra euros to buy Brolo Campofiorin Oro instead; it has more power and concentration to cope with longer ageing.

Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.

More from BKWine Magazine on Masi: Amarone in depth and breadth, we taste some top wines from Masi.

Amarone and Valpolicella, and Soave, come from the Italian wine region Veneto. It is not only a source of delicious wines, but also a beautiful district to travel in. Discover the wines of Valpolicella and Soave, and amarone, on a wine tour in Veneto with BKWine.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with the experts on wine and the specialist on wine tours.

Wine tours that are better than you could ever dream of. BKWine wine tours.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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  1. BKWine Brief nr 138, February 2015 | BKWine Magazine | - February 28, 2015

    […] BKWine Magazine’s reporter Roland Eriksson met Raffaele Boscaini from Masi when he was in Stockholm. Read his story and see what he thinks about these wines’ ageing potential: Masi’s Valpolicella and Amarone Age with Grace. […]

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