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Of course, the wine culture of Valpolicella centers on indigenous grapes, both fresh and dried via a process known as appassimento. The winery has coined the term Appaxximento—the double-x refers to Masi’s XXth century interpretation of the drying process, which dates to Roman times.
Today grape clusters, from foundational Corvina to fruity Rondinella and high-acidity Molinara, are laid out on arele, traditional bamboo racks, in a fruttaio, or drying loft. Moreover, Masi devised their own NASA (Natural Super Assisted Appassimento) system to re-create the temperature and humidity conditions of the best vintages so that the grapes lose 35 percent of their weight in water and develop new flavors as they do so.
Current Masi president Sandro Boscaini, has long been a vocal champion of authentic Amarone. In the 1980s he founded Masi’s Technical Group; coordinated today by his son Raffaele, who is also Masi’s marketing director, this multidisciplinary team experiments with ways to improve and understand the zone’s viticultural and enological traditions, from maceration time to research into grapes’ DNA.
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In 1964 Sandro’s father Guido perfected the local practice of refermenting fresh-grapes Veronese wine on Amarone lees and naming this first “Super Venetian” Campofiorin Ripasso, described by Hugh Johnson as an “ingenious technique” and launching a new Valpolicella category. In the 1980s, Campofiorin was updated with Masi’s “double fermentation” technique—semi-dried grapes pressed and fermented with wine made from fresh grapes.
In sync with the Venetian territories’ love of dining—western cooks were introduced to sugar, rice, and coffee by Venetian merchants who were also the sole source of salt and pepper—for years Masi’s global strategy has placed a high value on restaurant placements. That priority remains in the 21st century as Masi continues advancing Valpolicella’s presence by sharing the region’s full stylistic range, from fresh through cellar-worthy wines.
These three wines capture the essence of the Masi range:
Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico DOC
Smooth with delicate tannins and notable acidity, this fresh-grapes wine is grown in red calcareous soils over basalt at the foot of the historic Valpolicella Classico slopes, fermented for 20 days—16 days skin contact for Corvina, 10 days each for Rondinella and Molinara — then aged six months in large botti for typical aromas of cherries and green pepper.
Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT
Classified as IGT for Masi’s refusal to use Amarone pomace, this update on ripasso winemaking is based on the Campofiorin vineyard in Marano with deep alluvial soils over limestone. It is a mix of fresh grapes and ones dried for six weeks; 18 months in large casks result in a wine with soft, elegant tannins and astounding complexity.
Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG
Grown on hills in Marano, Negrar, S. Ambrogio, and San Pietro, dried grapes are partially destemmed, fermented for 80 days in large casks, then aged 30 months in mixed use and size. This intense, elegant wine is structured, with velvety tannins and marked acidity—with cherry and plum jam aromas and cinnamon and clove notes.