As we come to July, we take a moment to pause on the seasonal trend of the vintage, hoping for a positive continuation of summer before the fall harvest. We eagerly await the release of our Barolo crus, which return with the 2019 vintage in September. We also bring you three more dates in Massolino’s storied history, taking us into the 1980s. Enjoy!
Vintage 2023, work in progress
The seasonal trend of the spring and early summer months of 2023 was quite unusual, at least until a few weeks ago. Light snowfall brought very few inches of accumulation, failing to replenish the water reserves necessary for the full growing season.
Further, exceptionally warm winter temperatures and strong spring ventilation caused deep drying of our soil, creating a water crisis never before seen in our land.
Luckily the situation changed about a month ago with the arrival of heavy rainfall. Gentle rains in our area allowed the water to deeply penetrate the dry, hard soil, and reach the vine roots. The appearance of the vines changed as the water restored the energy and colouring, giving our amazing hills the lush green we relish.
As everything changed in those few days the growth process of the grape bunches exploded giving us hope for a generous harvest, both in quality and quantity.
During the nearly two-year period that has passed, which was characterized by severe weather conditions, we took time to think about the situation. As farmers we not only understand but feel the suffering of our vineyards when Mother Nature strains them.
Very often our vines surprise us with their hidden talents, which makes them seem almost immortal, capable of adapting and facing issues that seem insurmountable.
And that is exactly what happened now!
During this difficult climatic phase, we have adopted all the agricultural measures available to us to preserve the little moisture left in our vineyards, considering the many effects of global warming today and into the future.
To that end, last year a clear message came from the Ministry of Agriculture in Rome authorizing irrigation in our area, something strictly forbidden up to that point by the Denominations of Origin’s regulatory guidelines.
To us it is vitally important we do everything possible to respect Mother Earth, limiting pollution and the change in climate. Certainly, we are a small part of the whole, but we take our part of the commitment very seriously – no matter how small.
Barolo Parafada, Margheria, and Parussi 2019 coming out in September
We missed them a lot, and are thrilled for their return in September. Yes, we are talking about our beloved Barolo Crus that were not made for a year. But come fall, Parafada, Margheria, and Parussi return, expressing themselves at their best with the 2019 vintage.
We also release our Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva 2017, now the undisputed superstar among our Massolino crus. And, we wait excitedly for our Barbaresco Albesani 2020 and our special selection Barbera d’Alba Gisep 2021, both loved mightily by our treasured patrons.
In this newsletter we present the characteristics of our MGA cru Parafada, Margheria, and Parussi to help you understand the Barolos coming to your glasses this fall. Get ready!
MGA Parafada – Serralunga d’Alba
With soil consisting of marl and limestone, our vineyard Parafada parcel faces due south. The ridge’s conformation provides natural shelter from wind and bad weather thus protecting the grapes on the vines.
The grapes grown in the vineyard are exceptional thanks to the geological and structural characteristics that seem to have evolved over time for the sole purpose of guaranteeing the best possible quality.
The vines, with an average age of 60 years, give the grapes an expressive potency of rare magnitude.
The Massolino’s Barolo Parafada shows great potential in longevity, and it will amaze you for its astonishing evolution. Powerful, rich and austere, it perfectly reflects the great complexity of the soil in Serralunga d’Alba.
MGA Margheria – Serralunga d’Alba
Bought by the Massolino family in the 70s, Margheria is one of our most historical Barolo wines (1985 was the first vintage).
Located at an altitude of around 280 meters/918 feet above sea level, Margheria occupies about 1.5 hectares with south-westerly exposure. The average vine age is about 40 years.
The calcareous soil has a slightly higher percentage of sand than our other Serralunga subzones giving the wine its magical elegance.
Serralunga reflects fully in Margheria, combining the land’s potency with elegance, harmony, and a pronounced minerality and tastiness.
MGA Parussi – Castiglione Falletto
On the hilltop, the vineyard’s south-east/south-west exposure guarantees excellent quality nebbiolo grapes.
Its surface covers more than 1.5 hectares with an altitude of approximately 290 meters/950 feet above sea level. Its vines are about 40 years old.
The marly limestone soil has a higher percentage of clay and organic substances than other crus, giving the plants vigor. For this reason our Barolo Parussi shows great structure and expressiveness with remarkable tannins that soften over time, making it perfect for aging.
Enjoy its long finish – a typical characteristic of Barolos from Castiglione Falletto.
The Massolino Story: three more dates
Our story continues with three new intriguing chapters. We pick from the thread began in the previous newsletter, starting from the 1950s, 1960s, and until 1982, with the arrival of the family’s third generation.
Consolidating our strong link to Serralunga, our estate expands with the purchase of crus that enrich the family vineyards, starting with Parafada.
The story of the vineyard’s purchase reads like a fairytale…
Born in 1940, our protagonist Giovanni Massolino becomes the head of the family for the third generation. Alongside father Giuseppe and mother Caterina, Giovanni becomes involved in the family business at an early age. From boyhood he embodied the ideals of a goal-oriented person with grand plans for the future.
The general economic situation of those years was bleak, but Giovanni had a precise idea in his mind, making him almost unstoppable. Supported by his mother, he bought Serralunga’s beautiful Parafada vineyard, despite his father’s opposing views.
As a minor, the parental endorsement is required to complete the transaction. Caterina, who always had a special bond with Giovanni, signs the contract of sale of around one hectare of the Parafada hill to make it a part of the family’s property.
As was customary in those days, the uncultivated land needed soil plowing to prepare for new plantings. We planted American rootstock directly in the field; on that, the nebbiolo variety was grafted by the skilled hands of our ancestors.
The new vineyard remains a true masterpiece and it is clear that Giovanni’s decision proved to not only be bold and brave, but also correct!
The expansion of Vigna Rionda continues with the family’s acquisition of new parcels.
For everyone, Vigna Rionda represents a precious and special place, but particularly for us at Massolino.
Our starting point on this hill dates back to 1956 when our aunt Matilde Ornato inherits some parcels. In 1967, our properties grow significantly following the acquisition of important portions of the cru MGA from Mr. Sabino Bruno.
The operation requires an exchange: Giuseppe Massolino owns a vineyard located by the house of Mr. Bruno. Mr. Bruno asks for that vineyard in addition to a good sum of money in return for his Vigna Rionda parcel. On the occasion of the deed signing, nonno Giuseppe – proud to become one of the hill’s largest property owners – names his winery Azienda Agricola Vigna Rionda.
The first Barolo DOCG Vigna Rionda Riserva leaves the cellar, destined for the tables of wine lovers. The estate is run by the third generation of the family. After Giovanni and his son Giuseppe, the tradition continues with Renato, Giovanni, and Camilla.
The event forever marks the winery’s history as Vigna Rionda becomes the first Barolo cru produced. There would be no better way to start this amazing adventure! In fact, 1982 is recognized as an historic wine vintage as the Vigna Rionda grapes give birth to a stunning Barolo.
A curiosity: in that period our family feels the responsibility of their path, so for the first time Renato Massolino engages a graphic design studio to create a “special” label, unique and precious. It becomes the dress that best represents this astounding Barolo and thus deserves more than a usual label.
To pay tribute to our Piemontesi nature and character SÖRI VIGNA RIÜNDA was written on the 1982 label, the name of the MGA. The addition of sörì means “sunny exposure” in local dialect.
Stay tuned for our next installment!