Masi Masianco 2009: verduzzo off the vine?

A less-than-famous grape and a less-than-obvious winemaking technique collaborate in a change-of-pace light white.

Verduzzo is a thin-skinned white grape used in five of the Northern Italian wine regions, including Friuli from which this wine hails. It is vinified to both sweet and dry forms, often used to contribute acid and fruit to dry white wines. Masi’s spec sheet for the Masianco notes that the pinot grigio and verduzzo were vinified separately with very different processing techniques for each. The verduzzo was, according to Masi’s translators, “ripened on racks” for three weeks after picking before crush, a five-day cold soak, and fermentation. I’m picturing off-season grocery store peaches and tomatoes, picked green and gassed to a semi-sweet, oddly textured “ripe,” though the Masianco thankfully bears no resemblance to those off-putting flavors.

According to Hugh Johnson’s 1971 Atlas of Wine, “North-Eastern Italy [including Friuli] owes less to tradition and more to modern development than the rest of the country. Whether it is the realism of th Venetians, the pressure of Austrian influence, the moderate climate, or all these and more, more wine is exported from the north-east than from elsewhere, more different grapes are grown and experimented with, and a more prosperous and professional air pervades the vineyards.”

Whether this “post-harvest ripening” is traditional or not, it has to take an experimental spirit to try such a thing in the first place. Or perhaps it just takes a full, nearly ripe vineyard and impending doomsday storms lurking on the horizon? Be it product of invention or product of necessity, the product was clearly good enough to keep.

Masi Masianco 2009

Composition: 75% pinot grigio, 25% verduzzo (13% ethanol)

Consumed with grilled veggies, fresh melon and apples, hazelnuts, and hard-boiled quail eggs

Pale green-gold color; very pretty. Nose seems relatively absent. What does emerge, if muted, is slightly creamy with a touch of acetone.  Loud creamy notes announce the wine on the palate before a balanced, if poorly integrated dose of musk melon and apricot fruit slides qietly across the tongue. Finish is fairly thin, but pleasantly fresh and surprisingly long with a faint, lasting nutmeggyness. Increasingly lemony and balanced as it warms up from refrigerator temperature, I would suggest serving this at cool room temperature, not solidly chilled. Overall, a pleasingly different light white for veggies, fruit, or chevre, more complex than some, but too disjointed to be elegant.

Sample provided.

2 thoughts on “Masi Masianco 2009: verduzzo off the vine?

  1. It’s common practice to dry Verduzzo (and Picolit) grapes on racks and in crates after harvest. And as Boscaini loves to point out (Dr. Amarone), it’s also common to allow some botrytis to form. The practice really dates back to antiquity when nearly all grapes were dried to to some extent and/or dried grape wine was blended into dry wine as a element to stabilize the wine and give it greater aging potential. Great post and so glad to have discovered your blog! 🙂

    • Thanks muchly for the extra information (and for the complement!) Your comment begs the question: why were Verduzzo and other grapes traditionally dried? Intuition and reason suggests that, in past eras of less-ripe grapes and lower sugars, drying served to concentrate sugars (by removal of water) and yield a wine of potentially higher alcohol. Of course, flavor changes are bound to simultaneously occur. I’d love to taste a dried Verduzzo side-by-side with a non-dried Verduzzo from the same region and otherwise vinified in similar ways. Any chance that you have done this experiment, or that you can suggest wines appropriate to it? Again, my thanks!

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