Size & Type
Massa’s Derthona is the perfect introduction to the variety. It’s alway more complete than the ‘Picolo Derthona’ with a build in richness, more golden colour. Delicious, saline minerality, excellent acid profile, build in phenolics and carry through to a cleansing silvery line of bitterness + apricot kernel.
The 2019 is another success from Massa & Piggy. A bolder slightly riper incarnation than the 2018. All of the hallmarks of a Massa’s Timorasso are on show. A case of celebrating the differences between the two years.
Excellent line and length. Lovely ripe fresh apricot. A little spice and ginger. Harmony, with a rounder mid-palate compared to the Picolo Derthona. Excellent élévage and development. Despite notes suggesting 48 hours of skin contact the wine, there is just a little phenolic, yet the texture remains super fine and dances across your palate with a refreshing acidity. Great composure.
Trying this as it warms and over a couple of days will see it reveal more, and, more, and, more, and, more!
There have been five generations of the Massa family working in the steep hills just east of Tortona to keep the flame of the Timorasso grape alight. Walter Massa is the savior of this variety that was once the prime grape in Gavi, before the less troublesome Cortese took over. They now grow the last few hectares of Timorasso in the world with minimal intervention, wild yeasts and no chemicals.
Under the Derthona name of the label lies the words, “Un territorio, un vino, un vitigno”, which means “One terroir, one wine, one vine”. If it wasn’t for the tenacity and determination of Walter Massa, the owner of Vigneti Massa, who clearly believed in the tremendous potential of this grape variety, then we might not taste this exemplary grape today.
A few decades ago, when Walter Massa took over his family’s wine production, the Timorasso grape was nearing extinction. He began producing Timorasso pomace for a well-known grappa producer and this provided the capital necessary for extensive experimentation with the varietal.
This talented grape is remarkably rare, having been long undervalued in a region well known for its Barolos and Barbarescos. Massa never stopped believing in the potential of this grape, which grows on the sunny southeastern Piemontese hills of Tortona, east of Alessandria and bordering Emilia-Romagna.
The Massa Estate stands on an overall area of 30 hectares of which 18 are vineyard and 12 occupied by orchards. The agronomist and enologist is Walter Massa, who is assisted by his sister Paola and his cousin Franco, who deals with the orchards.
Overall clad, never wearing shoes Pigi is the cellar guy for both Walter Massa and Claudio Marriotto.
Massa at first glance may appear disheveled and you might think his winemaking could be the same. The reality is very different, he is a deep thinker, balancing science with philosophy. All you need do is look at the top of the bottle .. closed with a screwcap. We might see that as the norm in Australia. Not so in Europe where the stigma of non-cork closures is still significant. I’ve seen footage where he argues eloquently on the science and politics of his decisioin to close his wines with screwcap. He shares his understanding of élévage and the role of the closure particularly for red wines is criticial. The ability to have a screw cap that can be selected to have 0% oxygen ingress or allow known micro-doses of oxygen enabling him to experiment with the most suitable closure for his reds to evolve in bottle.
Such depth of thought balancing science with a fine sense of touch is essential in the productions of the best wines of the world.
The Derthona of Vigneti Massa is produced exclusively from white grapes that have always been cultivated in the Apennine and pre-Apennine hills of the “marca Obertenga”; with phylloxera has risked extinction, now it is regaining the ancient spaces: from 4 hectares in 2000 to the current 150 hectares cultivated by over forty producers. The Derthona comes from a cold maceration of about 40/45 hours, with subsequent fermentation for about 12 months in stainless steel tanks and periodic “batonnage” of the lees for about 12 months. After about 14 months from the harvest, it is bottled.
The film below is in Italian. You can select sub-tittle using the cc button & then have these auto-translated selecting the ⚙ button. The translations are a bit rough but you can glean a little insight into Walter, his vineyards & wines.
Vigneti Massa is located in the Colli Tortonesi DOC just east of Alessandria.
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Vigneti Massa (Visite solo su appuntamento), Piazza Capsoni, Monleale, Province of Alessandria, Italy