Barolo Tour 2011 - Massolino
We can't count the number of times, we have been standing in the town square in Serralunga d'Alba in the parking spot with the toilets in front of the little coffee shop in the back and the sign of Azienda Agricola Vigna Ronda Massolino to the left. For a number of years the sign looked like it was hanging in the trees, but during the last two years it has been put away due to renovation of the whole property of Massolino.
This was our first visit to Massolino on this beautiful day in november 2011.
Vinhulen.dk had an appointment with Franco Massolino, and this visit turned out to be really nice and long due to Franco exceptional hospitality and kindness. I think we say and tasted everything this afternoon in november.
But let's start with the beginning - everything has been under renovation and rebuilding during the last 2 years.
After a shotcut from the office to the terrace with a view to the wonderful vineyards of Serralunga d'Alba, Franco started to tell us the history of Agricola Vigna Rionda.
Agricola Vigna Rionda was founded in 1896 by Giovanni Massolino. Giovanni Massolino was at the same time the person, who brought electric current to the village and was very famous at the time. Giovanni was followed by his son Giuseppe subsequently building the cellar a number of years later
To the right you can see Vinhulen.dk together with Franco Massolino on the terrace facing the vineyards.
Today 3 generations work side by side. Giuseppe is 1. generation. His sons, Giovanni and Renato Massolino, who are 2. generation, have divided the tasks in the property between them. Renato has spend a large part of his time in the cellar for the last 30 years, while Giovanni takes care of the little under 20 hectares of vineyards owned by the family.
The youngest generation is represented by Franco Massolino, whom we had the honour of meeting this day. Franco is a oenologist of education. He has given the estate a touch of modernism by introducing barrique to the rest of the family. It is fair to say, that Franco has taken Azienda Agricola Vigna Rionda from a good producer to one of the best producers in the area. Not present this day was Franco's brother Roberto and the winemaker Giovanni Angeli. Franco Massolino has over the last 5-7 years done a wonderful job together with Giovanni Angeli in perfecting the grapes in the vineyards. The improvement is in the bottles now!
To the left you see Anders in front of one of the big barrels in the cellar.
Perhaps you are now confused because of the property name. The correct name is Azienda Agricola Rionda, but colloquially called Massolino. The labels on the wine bottles bears the name Massolino.
The biggest brand for the estate is by far the Crus Vigna Rionda - perhaps the most famous of all cru vineyards in Barolo. The Massolino family owns 2,8 hectares of this vineyard. The family also possess the vineyards Vigna Margheria and Vigna Parafada. In not so fortunate years the family dosn't produce the famous Barolo wines but makes a standard Barolo from all of the grapes from the 3 crus. This makes the standard Barolo quite a bargain in those years!!
Now it was time for at tour round the property. We went to the cellar to see how everything is made. It is very special to see concrete containers, large oak barrels, smaller oak barrels and barriques in the same cellar at the same producer. Evidence of the ability to see a way forward through both modern and traditional winemaking.
Massolino makes a lot of different wines. The range counts the following wines:
Barbera d'Alba Gisep
Barolo Parussi (2007 is the first vintage)
Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda
Barolo Barolo Margheria
The best part was that we were going to taste them all this afternoon! I don't think it was planed for us to taste it all, but the conversation with Franco was really inspirational and interesting from start to finish. Franco is truly in love with winemaking and has a pure heart for quality wines and seeks every opportunity to making the wines better from one vintage to the next.
I remember having tasted the wines in different vintages on previous occations. I must say - quality has gone from good to great. It is obvious that this vinery is worth following over the next years.
How good can the wines become when the renovation is finished? Time will tell, but we will be back to check it out in the years to come....
Now it was time to taste the wines. I can't remember I have ever asked so many questions and conversated so much with a wine producer during a visit, but Franco's kindness and great knowledge of winemaking was truly captivating.
Below you can see the wines we tasted on this afternoon. If you want to see our review of a particulary wine or more, just click on the wine, and you'll be forwarded to our wine database with almost 5.000 Italian wine reviews:
Langhe Chardonnay 2010, Massolino
Dolcetto d'Alba 2010, Massolino
Barbera d'Alba 2010, Massolino
Barbera d'Alba Gisep 2009, Massolino
Langhe Nebbiolo 2008, Massolino
Barolo 2007, Massolino
Barolo Parussi 2007, Massolino
Barolo Margheria 2007, Massolino
Barolo Parafada 2007, Massolino
Barolo Vigna Rionda 2005, Massolino
Moscato d'Asti 2010, Massolino
Above you can see Massolino's "tasting machine", which keeps the wines temperature controlled and keeps the wines from oxidize. Very nice machine. Easy to use and nice design. You are abel to watch the label through the glass.
To the right you see Vinhulen.dk around the tasting table together with Franco Massolino. Everybody fully concentrated on the task in hand.
Facts about the wines:
Dolcetto d'Alba is made from 100% Dolcetto grapes in a number of 13.000 bottles a year. Fermentation in stainless steel. In bottle 4 months before release.
Langhe Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes in a number of 8.500 bottles a year. Partially vinified and aged in barrique. The wine remains on fermenting yeast for about 6 month before being bottled. Remains in bottle for 6 months before release.
Barbera d'Alba is made from 100% Barbera grapes in a number of 13.000 bottles a year. Fermentation in stainless steel. In bottle approx. 6 month before release. The Barbera d'Alba Gisep is fermentated combined in stainless steel and barrique. Age for 18 month in barrique and then 6 months in bottle before release.
Langhe Nebbiolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in a number of 10.000 bottles a year. Age a little over a year in big barrels.
Standard Barolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in a number of 38.000 bottles a year. Age 30 month in large oak barrels and then in bottle for just over a year before release.
Barolo Parrusi is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in still unknown number because vintage 2007 is the first vintage.
Barolo Margheria is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in a number of 5.500 bottles a year. Age 30 month in large oak barrels and then in bottle for just over a year before release.
Barolo Parafada is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in a number of 4.500 bottles a year. Age mainly in 500-700 litre barells and partly in French barrique for 24 months. Then in bottle for at least a year before release.
Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in a number of 8.400 bottles a year + magnums and double magnum and 5 liter bottles. Age for 6 years. Age 3½ years in traditional large Slavonian oak barrels and then 2½ years in bottle. Then in bottle for at least a year before release.
After this lavish tating it was time to say goodbye to Franco Massolino, who gave us a nice insight to the history of the property, the winemaking, the way to make great Serralunga Wines and first of all great hospitality and kindness.
We will remember this tasting for a very long time...
It is quite clear that this producer is gaining quality these years. As written before - very good is approaching perfect these years! Many good things have happend over the last 5-7 years. We will be looking forward to return to Franco and the family for further tasting in the future. Keep an eye out for these wonderful wines!
It was time to move on to the next tasting in the Barolo area. Hard work, but nice work :-)
You can find the wines from Massolino in Denmark at wine.dk