The oseleta grape – the spice that boosts the Valpolicella from Masi

Oseleta is an ancient grape that was rediscovered in the 80s by Sandro Boscaini, Masi’s owner. After having experimented with making wine on a small scale, he planted 18 hectares with oseleta. In 1990 he started to use the grape blended into Masi’s traditional wines and in 2000 came the first vintage of a pure oseleta wine, Osar. In 2000 the grape was allowed to be blended into all the wines of Valpolicella.

The grape is very small and ripens late November. It has high acidity and tannins. The name comes from the small bunches that resemble birds (like sparrows) when hanging on a vine without leaves. At least when there is mist or drizzle in November.

Masi osoleta wines

Masi oseleta wines, copyright M Karlin

Masi has a series of wines with a black label that is positioned above their regular Valpolicella series The black series has 10-25% of oseleta. The wines that I tasted were:

2012 Masi Toar

~ 16 euro (price estimates based on Swedish retail price)

Valpolicella with 14 months of aging in 600 l barrels, 75% Corvina, 25% oseleta

2011 Brolo Campofiorin Oro

~21 euro

Double-fermented wine in from new grapes, 30% of the grapes are dried for six weeks and then fermented together with other grapes. 24 months ageing in 600 l-barrels. 80% Corvina, 10% rondinella, 10% oseleta.

2005 Riserva di Costasera Amarone

~47 euro

Four months of drying of the grapes, fermented and aged in oak barrels for about three years, 70% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% oseleta, 5% Rondinella.

Toar is a barrel aged Valpolicella and Brolo Campofiorin Oro a single-vineyard wine made with Masi’s own Ripasso method that uses only new and never-dried grapes. The grapes for Amarone are dried four months, two months longer than the regulation minimum.

Simply put, these wines are regarded as extra fine versions of Valpolicella, Ripasso and Amarone. In addition to extra care in the winemaking and longer barrel ageing the addition of oseleta has a very positive effect on the wines.

All the wines have a very different and pleasant rigor and structure with fine tannins, without losing the softness and the fruit of corvina. Oseleta is a clear boost for the whole series and gives it the character corvina may be lacking, without ever losing the sense of origin.

(The wines were tasted at a Vingruppen tasting 12/09/2016)

Mikael Karlin writes för BKWine Magazine on wine tastings and wine events in Sweden.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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