Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio Verduzzo delle Venezie IGT 2012, Italy

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COST: $14-16

WHAT: Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular wines in America and in the world right now, and for good reason. It’s light, refreshing, good with food or alone, and it’s usually inexpensive. And it’s an easy wine to make.

I like a dry Pinot Grigio in the summer, but sometimes it’s nice to drink something a little more complex, even when the temperature climbs.

The Pinot Grigio Verduzzo delle Venezie IGT blend delivers just that. You get the fresh fruit taste of a top Pinot Grigio with a full-bodied wine of substance. The semi-dried Verduzzo grapes add a lot of complexity and depth.

The straw-yellow wine starts out with pleasant tropical and citrus fruit aromas. On the palate you get refreshing tastes of peach, apricot and lemons with a little extra kick from the Verduzzo. The finish is moderately long with just a hint of honey.

The way the wine is made is unique; blending freshly-picked Pinot Grigio grapes with Verduzzo grapes that are laid out on bamboo racks in drying lofts for several weeks. It is a technique used in the Veneto region for centuries, notably with Amarone.

The Boscaini family has passed the practice down through the generations and it has been modified by the Masi Technical group. The technique is called Appassimento, but Masi has trademarked their process, called Appaxximento, with the xxi signifying the 21st century. The process concentrates aromas and flavors in the wine.

The wine is 75 percent Pinot Grigio, 25 percent Verduzzo. The Pinot Grigio is vinified for 25 days at cool temperatures to enhance the fresh aromas. During that time there is a partial malolactic fermentation.

The Verduzzo is picked about a month later, slightly overripe. After 36 hours of cold maceration it is fermented in stainless steel tanks and transferred to barriques, where it completes malolactic fermentation.

Pinot Grigio is aged for three months in stainless steel tanks and the Verduzzo for three months in barriques. Then the wine is blended and sits in bottles for 45 days before release.

WINERY: Masi Agricola has been owned and operated by the Boscaini family for more than 200 years. The name comes from “Vaio dei Masi,” a small valley in Valpolicella bought by the Boscaini family at the end of the 18th century.

Sandro Boscaini is the sixth generation to lead the company now, while his son Raffaele Boscaini, heads the Masi Technical Group, a team of experts dedicated to quality control, technical analysis and experimentation. Sandro’s daughter Alessandra is in charge of sales and administration.

The philosophy of the company is that great wine is created in the vineyard. To that end they are working at sustainable farming and green farming.

Masi created the “Supervenetian” category when it released Campofiorin in 1964. It specializes in Amarones and Reciotos, top-end red wines. With five Amarones, Masi Agricola accounts for 20 percent of total production in Veneto.

The use of double fermentation using semi-dried grapes and modern vinification techniques enhances the personality of each wine while staying true to a recognizable Venetian style.

Masi Agricola also manages an estate in Valpolicella that once belonged to the descendants of 14th century poet Dante Alighieri. Masi Agricola has developed projects in Tuscany and Argentina with Serego Alighieri.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this with one of our leftover nights. We always try to pick a versatile wine on those nights, because the mix of food can be pretty diverse.

This night we had some chicken, some pizza and some barbecue, so we had a real range of tastes. The Masi Masianco tasted great with all of them.

The fresh fruit and the depth matched the various spices and brought out many interesting flavors. We also liked it as a before-dinner drink.

You could drink this versatile wine with a variety of dishes, from antipasti to almost any fish, chicken or pork dishes.

This is a wine you can drink anywhere: on the porch, at the grill, by the pool or on your boat. Serve it well chilled.

Masi Agricola offered this recipe to pair with Masi Masianco:

SEAFOOD KEBABS

1 pound calamari (cleaned)

8 prawns

8 whole squid (about 10 oz.)

8 cherry tomatoes

3 tbsp Masianco

2 spoonfuls extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, as necessary

Ingredients for the coating:

2 oz. breadcrumbs

3 spoonfuls chopped parsley

1 garlic clove

1 spoonful extra-virgin olive oil

Pepper, as necessary

To make the seafood kebabs, start by cleaning the whole squid: pull off the wings and put aside, empty out the body and rinse well. Cut the squid sacks open and trim into rectangular pieces. If your calamari need cleaning, clean them.

Cut the calamari into half-inch wide strips and clean the prawns (take off the heads, shell them, and leave the tails on). Cut the black thread out of the back of each prawn with a sharp knife. Cut the tomatoes in two.

Now thread the kebabs: start with a squid wing piece and put the kebab through a strip of calamari in folds. Alternate with the squid rectangles. Follow with half a tomato and a prawn before repeating the calamari and squid procedure and finishing with another half tomato and a squid wing. Repeat for the other 7 kebabs.

Prepare the coating by mixing the breadcrumbs with chopped parsley and garlic in a bowl, dress with a grind of pepper and a slug of olive oil. Coat the kebabs on all sides with this mixture.

Cook the kebabs in a pan with 2 spoonfuls of extra-virgin olive oil on high heat for 5-6 minutes. Half way through the cooking process, sprinkle with white wine and turn the kebabs over. Cook for another 5 minutes and your seafood kebabs are ready.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, JULY 10

Wine and tapas tasting, 5 p.m. until closing, La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $25; (706) 722-4805

JULY 11-12

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday; 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463

FRIDAY, JULY 18

Wine tasting, 7-9 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; featuring the wines of Chile and Argentina, $15 in advance, $20 at the door; reservations, (803) 279-9522


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