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Masi Oseleta Masterclass


Annachiara Zanoni, Brand Ambassador for Masi Agricola, hosted the first Oseleta Masterclass at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust School in Bermondsey, London on February 23, 2016.


The Masi vineyards are located in three valleys between Verona and Lake Garda in the Valpolicella region, North East Verona.  The Masi name comes from the first vineyard planted in 1772.  Masi is owned by the Boscaini family and run by the 7th generation.  Sandro Boscaini is President, his daughter, Alessandra handles sales, his son, Raffaele looks after marketing, and his brother, Bruno oversees production.  A “group of experts” make the wine; there is no single winemaker – and this group follows the wine from the vineyard to the shelf.


Oseleta is an indigenous Veronese varietal, whose name translates to “little bird”.  It was only re-discovered at the end of the 1970’s by Sandro Boscaini who found a few vines in the vineyard that he was unable to identify which had survived phylloxera.  He sent samples to the Institute of Viticulture who identified it as Oseleta. 


Sandro decided to re-plant 2 ha of Oseleta in 1985 and now has 12 ha in total.  In 2000, Oseleta was re-introduced into the National Register of Grape Varieties and in 2003 it was permitted to be used in the production of Valpolicella and Amarone.


Oseleta is a very late ripening varietal which gives very low yields and adapts well to different soil types.  The grapes are very small and compact and shaped like a cylindrical pyramid.  They have thick skins and are dark black in colour.  They are very resistant to frost, rot and mould.  Leaves are small and pentagonal in shape with five lobes.


Oseleta brings weight to the blend; it is rich in polyphenols, tannin and acidity.  It adds spicy aromas, minerality and colour.  Wines made from Oseleta have a very intense dark red colour and tend to age well.


Masi patented the ‘double fermentation’ winemaking process.  Some grapes are pressed and fermented directly after harvest, whereas the best grapes are laid out to dry on bamboo racks for some 6 weeks, which is known as the appassimento process.  Appassimento results in the grapes increasing their concentration of sugar, aromatic, phenolic and colouring substances and losing water.  Once semi-dried, grapes are pressed and blended with the newly fermented wines, and a short second fermentation occurs.  The resultant wines are more full bodied, extremely concentrated, richer, darker in colour, and with better structure and more complex aromas. 


The idea behind the tasting was to compare the same style of wines with and without Oseleta in the blend.  Black labels on the bottles indicate Oseleta is present.  The final wine was tasted on its own as it was 100% Oseleta.


Comparison 1: Bonacosta 2014 vs TOAR 2011


Bonacosta 2014:

Valpolicella Classico DOC

70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara

Grapes for this wine were grown at altitudes of between 200m – 400m.  It spent 6 months in stainless steel and 20% of the Corvina was aged in barriques.  This was a very easy drinking style of wine, ruby red in colour and not very intense.  On the nose – typical fresh red fruit, fresh red cherries and some black pepper.  On the palate, there was a good balance between body and acidity, with ripe soft tannins and a medium (+) finish of fresh red fruits and a hint of spice.


TOAR 2011:

Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC

80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta

TOAR means “tufa” and grapes for this wine were grown in volcanic tufa soil.  This wine spent 14 months in large oak casks and was the first wine to be made using Oseleta.  The colour was much darker than the Bonacosta and there was more spiciness and minerality on the nose.  This wine still had an abundance of fresh red fruit, but it was more complex, with some balsamic and liquorice notes on the palate.  It had higher levels of acidity and tannins, but the tannins were soft, ripe and well integrated.  In summary, this wine had a bigger mouthfeel and a longer finish.


Comparison 2: Campofiorin 2012 vs Brolo Campofiorin Oro 2011


Campofiorin 2012:

Rosso del Veronese IGT

70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara

This was the first ripasso style wine made in 1964.  The label represents the 50th anniversary of Campofiorin.  This wine was made using the double fermentation process using both lightly dried and fresh grapes.  It was aged 18 months in large oak barrels, with a small proportion aged in smaller barriques.  It was darker in colour than either of the previous wines – a result of the double fermentation process – but still ruby red in colour.  It had ripe juicy cherries, a hint of spice, good levels of acidity, soft ripe tannins and a little more body than the previous wines.


Brolo Campofiorin Oro 2011:

Rosso del Veronese IGT

80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta

This wine was also made using the double fermentation process, but had only 30% of lightly dried Corvina grapes in the blend.  It spent 24 months maturing in 600 litre casks known as “Fusti Veronesi” made from Slavonian or Allier oak.  It was very dark in colour with more intense aromas of black pepper, spice and minerality.  It had a much bigger mouthfeel than the previous wines, higher levels of well-integrated alcohol, refreshing acidity, a good concentration of fruit, ripe silky tannins and a long finish. 


Comparison 3: Costasera 2011 vs Riserva di Costasera 2009


Costasera 2011:

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG

70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara

This wine was a result of the appassimento method whereby grapes were dried for between 100 – 120 days, followed by a long fermentation to ferment all the sugar.  Noble rot attacks part of the Corvina grapes during the drying process which results in a hint of sweetness in this wine.  It was aged for 24 months in oak and will age for more than 30 years in the bottle.  On the nose, there were ripe red fruits and red cherries but this was more jammy in style.  It was very intense with aromas and flavours of black pepper, cinnamon, coffee and chocolate.  The rim was almost a burnt orange colour.  It was full bodied, with a good concentration of black and red fruit, a hint of sweetness, soft ripe velvety tannins, warming alcohol, good levels of acidity and a bone dry finish.   


Riserva di Costasera 2009:

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC Riserva

70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta, 5% Molinara

The first vintage of this wine was 2003.  This is another product of the appassimento method whereby grapes are dried for around 120 days.  This was aged between 38-40 months in “Fusti Veronesi”.  It was very dark in colour and the rim was starting to turn brown.  It was packed full of ripe jammy and cooked fruit – think figs and prunes - with aromas and flavours of chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, tobacco and spice.  An extremely full bodied wine, this had higher levels of alcohol, acidity, well integrated soft ripe tannins and a very long finish.  


Final wine: OSAR 2007


OSAR 2007:

Rosso del Veronese IGT

100% Oseleta

OSAR means “to shout or to risk”.  This is a very important wine for the Masi team, the first vintage of which was made in 1995; a blend of 80% Corvina and 20% Oseleta.  Since the 2000 vintage, OSAR has always been produced from 100% Oseleta.  This wine spent 24 months in barriques which help soften the tannins.  It is produced in very small quantities and only in the best vintages.  This was a very dark, intense red with a violet rim.  On the nose, there were blackberries, black cherries, prunes and figs, with black pepper spice and hints of minerality.  This was a very powerful, full bodied wine with an excellent concentration of black fruit, high levels of alcohol and acidity, soft velvety, mouth-coating, tannins and an extremely long finish.  This also had some tertiary flavours, notably leather, farmyard, horses and tobacco.


I thought this was an excellent Masterclass and really showcased how even just a small proportion of Oseleta in the blend made an impact to the final wine.


Copyright of - February, 2016


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