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. Until recently Massa grew the last few hectares of Timorasso in the world with minimal intervention, wild yeasts and no chemicals.
In 2020 there were over 600Ha planted, and growing.
Derthona is the name of the wine made from the grape Timorasso. Just like Barolo is the name of the wine made from the Grape Nebbiolo.
Under the Derthona name of Massa’s 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.
The guys + gals at Roagna, Borgogno, Vietti, Poderi Oddero, Scarpa, and, Pio Cesare agree.
Timorasso and Nascetta are the two most exciting Italian white grapes to be brought back from the ashes.
Where is it grown?
Timorasso grows on the sunny southeastern Piemontese hills of Colli Tortonesi near Tortona, east of Alessandria and bordering Emilia-Romagna.
What does it taste like?
1. It looks to be cable of making a diverse array of wine styles, anything from fresh crisp Chablisienne numbers, helped by high natural acidity, to rich, full bodied, very textural wines. The difference can be 2% alcohol between them.
2. It complex with an array of intriguing aromas and flavours.
3. Texture is a big component of the wine. Often increasing use of phenolics across the spectrum of styles from playful & fun to the full bodied.
4. With such growth in popularity we’ve seen significant new plantings, there will be young material and winemakers new to the variety for a bit. The quality of the makers from above should see a rapid evolution in style and quality.