98 Point James Suckling :Complex aromas of nuts, baked fruit and cinnamon, prior to soft flavors of cooked cherries and sweet spices. Elegantly balancing acidity and soft, noble tannins. An unusually cold spring slowed maturation, but helped form loose bunches ideal for appassimento. Summer was hot and prompted ripening. Cooler periods and fresh nights enhanced aromas. Appassimento grapes had high polyphenols and sugar. 2006 had dry weather and cool nights. By end of December, about 10% of Corvina developed botrytis, providing glycerine levels that give Masi Amarones their typical “illusion of sweetness.
Amarone is the product of the ancient wine-making method called "appassimento" (drying of the grapes). At the end of September or the beginnning of October, the best clusters of grapes from the hillside vineyards are picked and placed in wooden boxes or on bamboo racks. The grapes are left to dry for 36 to 48 hours in rooms with controlled atmospheres (controlled humidity and forced ventilation) and then left to dry in large rooms in the old farmhouses in the hills until about the middle of January. There are large openings or windows to allow the free flow of air which is vital to the drying of the grapes. By January the grapes weigh 35-40% less and have a naturally enhanced flavour and a higher concentration of sugar. Just the Corvina is attacked by botrytis ("noble rot"). After a delicate pressing and partial destalking of the grapes, they ferment for about 50 days in large Slavonian oak barrels at low, natural temperatures (natural cold fermentation). The second fermentation with total transformation of the sugars and the malolactic fermentation take place in old oak barrels of 20 - 50 hl. Then the wine is aged partly in old oak barrels and partly in small barrels of Allier oak of 600 l for about 3-4 years. The aged wine is then bottled and rests for an additional six months or more before release.
Within Negrar commune, this well-ventilated vineyard has southwest exposure at 375-400 metres elevation, and soil of deep, red eocenic limestone with good drainage, many stones, and beneficial mineral content. Amarone is made with the ancient method of 'appassimento' (drying of the grapes). At end of September or beginning of October, bunches are dried on bamboo racks. By mid-February, the grapes weigh 35-40% less and only Corvina is affected by botrytis. After pressing, the dried grapes are partially de-stemmed, fermented for about 45 days in large Slavonian oak botti, at very cold, natural temperatures until the sugar has completely transformed to alcohol, and malolactic occurs. The wine is aged 3 years: 60% in 30-40 hectoliter Slavonian oak botti; 40% in 600-liter Slavonian and Allier oak casks, new and 1, 2 and 3 yrs. old; minimum 6 months in bottle.
Ideal drunk on its own after dinner, it also goes very well with red meats, game, quail and other flavourful dishes. It is excellent with matured cheeses like parmesan and pecorino. The vein of softness shown in some years makes this wine a good match with gorgonzola.
The choice of this vineyard is based not only on many years of technical experimentation at the Masi winery, but also on a very important historical document that indicates Mazzano and Torbe vineyards as the best in the valley for the production of this high-quality wine. In fact, with a contract dated 1194 (parchment 186, State Archives, Verona), the monks of San Zeno Monastery, landowners of the entire Negrar Valley, leased the land to a certain Musio di Panego for a period of 29 years. The rent had to be paid with a certain quantity of grapes produced in the best area of the fiefdom, indicated as the Mazzano vineyards. If the vineyards yielded a poor crop because of hail, or other reasons, grapes had to be harvested at Capavo. This denomination is no longer in use but it corresponds to the upper hillside area of Torbe, where the vineyards of Campolongo di Torbe are now located.