At dinner I asked Maso Poli owner and founder Luigi Togn, if there was one other grape he could plant, what would it be. He shook his head smiling. “I am a traditionalist. All the people who have come before me and suffered, at times with no food on the table, to learn the best grapes to grow here. I follow them. They learned what is best.”
Luigi’s daughter, Romina (our incredibly gracious host for two days), added to the story. “Once my father replanted a lower section of the vineyard with a grape that grew higher up. The grape did not like it so he took it out and re-planted something else there.”
The wines of this family range from the entry level Terra di Luna line to the mid range Lechthaler line and finally to the estate Maso Poli wines. What amazed me most was the quality and balance at each level. Even with the entry level wines there was brightness and freshness, a quality that carried right through to the estate wines. Winemaker for every one of the lines, Goffredo Passoli, summed it up best. “There has to be brightness and freshness at every level. Our growers are paid for the quality of the grapes not just the quantity. We analyze the grapes for acidity level and sugar levels to determine the amount the grower gets paid.”
We toured the vineyards in the small area of Teroldigo Rotaliano with one of their growers. As we strolled through the beautifully canopied vines, where ownership changed from one row to the next, he proudly showed us the differences between his rows and others. For his rows, each of the long clusters had been trimmed off about half way up so that the vines would focus more energy on the remaining grapes. There were also fewer clusters on his rows, having dropped many grapes to the ground. Again, more focus and concentration for the remaining clusters. This attention to detail was evident throughout the tasting. I enjoyed every one of the wines. Here are a few favorites:
Lechthaler Teroldigo Rotaliano 2009
Teroldigo is a grape thought to be related to Syrah. It certainly shared the fresh red fruit flavors of Syrah. And then there is the magic beyond. A gentle, soft, supple richness surrounds the raspberry fruit. There is a brightness and freshness and briary, funky (in a good way) earthiness to the fruit. And there is a denseness to the fruit as well that remarkably remains light and fresh. Retailing around $15, this wine is ridiculously good.
Torre di Luna Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Once again I was amazed at the freshness this entry level Cab possessed. Bright, sweet fruit and balance in an easy drinking style was more than I could ask of a Cab at this price – around $10.
The Maso Poli estate wines showed elegance and grace throughout. The Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) was built for age with balance of fruit and mineral earth. Their flagship, Marmoram (a blend of Teroldigo and Lagrein), was powerful yet elegant and built for age.
Only the Lechthaler Teroldigo Rotaliano and Pinot Grigio (another winner) along with the Torre di Luna Cabernet have made it into the shop so far. More will be on the way. If you want to step off the beaten path and try some sumptuous new wines, come on in and grab a few bottles!