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A Brilliant History Of Amarone From Masi

250 years deserves a celebration, right? When you are Masi, one of the most renowned producers in the Verona area, you need to pull out all the stops for an event such as this, not the least of which is an extraordinary tasting of seven decades of their Amarone.

The Boscaini family that owns Masi is celebrating 250 years of work in the vineyards of Vaio dei Masi in the Valpolicella Classica district, west of the city of Verona. Sandro Boscaini, CEO of Masi, first produced wines under the Masi label in the 1950s and has offered several firsts when it comes to wines from the Valpolicella area. This includes the first examples of single vineyard Amarone, namely Mazzano and Campolongo di Torbe in the late 1950s, as well as the first example of Ripasso, with a wine named Campofiorin in 1964 (the wine today is labeled as a Rosso del Veronese IGT).

So with seven decades of experience producing Amarone, Sandro Boscaini and his son Raffaelle, director of the Masi Technical Group, recently organized a remarkable tasting of more than two dozen different examples of Masi Amarone, from their Costasera to the single vineyard offerings, with vintages ranging from 1958 to 2012.

Here are thoughts on a few of the finest wines from this tasting:

Costasera Amarone Classico 2016 – 2016 was an outstanding year for Amarone, and Masi produced a beautiful Costasera bottling. Offering appealing aromas of black plum, molasses and marasca cherry, this displays excellent complexity and typicality, and is quite harmonious. As with most examples of Amarone from the best vintages, there are big tannins, while this year’s wine also displays very good acidity. Look for this wine to peak in 12-18 years. (93)

Costasera Amarone Classico 2003 – 2003 was a very warm growing season in the Valpolicella area, but Masi was able to craft an outstanding Costasera Amarone from this year. Still youthful with aromas of black plum, red currant and hints of red poppy, this displays precise acidity and a long, long finish, with sleek tannins. This wine to me is one of the quintessential examples of the Masi Amarone style. This should peak in 12-15 years. (94)

Amarone Classico 1974 – A stunning wine in a Burgundian style with lively acidity, impressive freshness, bright fruit and beautifully balanced tannins. This is a great example of how elegant Amarone can be! While drinking beautifully now, this has at least another 12-15 years of life ahead of it. (95)

Amarone Classico 1958 – Aromas of red currant and dried red flowers, this is medium-full on the palate with medium-weight tannins, and offers excellent complexity and a lovely elegance. This is very enjoyable now, but should last another 10-12 years. (91)

Vaio Amarone Classico 2012 – Vaio Amarone is sourced from the historic Serego Alighieri estates in Valpolicella Classica; if the name Alighieri sounds familiar, it should, as the managers of this estate today are descendants of Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy from the 14th century. Vaio is Masi’s most traditional Amarone; interestingly is is matured in cherry-wood barrels. Aromas of marasca cherry, red plum and myrtle; this is medium-full and displays excellent ripeness. There is very good acidity, excellent overall harmony and a lengthy, elegant finish. Peak in 12-15 years. (92)

Mazzano Amarone Classico 2012 – Mazzano is a single vineyard Amarone, named for the eponymous site; here the slopes are terraced by stone walls. Black plum and chocolate aromas, excellent concentration, medium-full tannins that are nicely balanced. Very good acidity with highly impressive structure. This will reveal greater complexities over the next 15-25 years. Gorgeous wine! (94)

Campolongo di Torbe Amarone Classico 2012 – Named for the eponymous vineyard, Campolongo di Torbe is arguably not only the most singular Amarone from Masi, but perhaps in all of this area. Medium deep purple with aromas of marasca cherry, red plum and violets, this has a rich mid-palate, outstanding persistence, medium-full tannins and superb harmony. A signature wine from Masi, this should drink well for another 20-30 years. (97)

Campolongo di Torbe Amarone Classico 1986 – Aromas of red licorice, hyacinth and red poppy; excellent freshness. Beautifully balanced tannins, very good acidity, notable persistence, and wonderful complexity. This should hold for another 12-20 years. (94)

Mazzano Amarone Classico 1979 – Aromas of coffee, dried cherry, caraway and oregano. Medium-full with earthy tannins, very good persistence and acidity; at or nearing peak; drink over the next three to five years. (91)

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