2018 Vigneti Massa, Barbera “Terra Implicito” Vino Rosso, Colli Tortonesi, Piedmonte, Italy.
Walter Massa’s Vigneti Massa is one of the most interesting wineries in Piedmonte, focused on some rare varietals as well as classic Barbera, like in this Terra Implicito, located in the Colli Tortonesi zone on a terroir that is composed of various soils including clay, chalk, stone and sand and is all pretty steeply sloped perched around the nearly-abandoned hilltop town of Monleale Alto, around 200-300 meters above sea level. Massa is credited with resurrecting the Timorasso, an almost extinct white grape that is now one of the most coveted in the region and Walter helped create the Derthona DOC, Timarasso’s most important cru, and now is bringing new attention to another native grape Croatina, a red grape that usually is blended into various bottlings in small amounts. That said, it was fun to see Massa’s take on a simple Barbera and I wasn’t a bit disappointed as this 2018 vintage Terra Implicito, sourced from 30-60 year old vines, showed beautifully well and has its own unique character, quite different from Barbera d’Asti or Alba versions. This wine is simple and fresh, in a good way, it comforts and goes great with food, especially pasta dishes with dusty red berry fruits, wild herbs, spice and a hint of earthiness, it has layers of raspberry, currant, brandied cherry and a touch of guava and cranberry fruits as well as minty basil, dried flowers, nutmeg and anise.

Walter Massa’s estate is about 30 hectares and has, as I’ve been imformed, eight distinct vineyard areas that explores each distinct grape with an obsession to bring out every nuance the vines here can give, and though this wine is more for early drinking, Massa is working hard to produce wines that age, especially his Timorasso, which I hear cellars incredibly well and for which I plan to test myself. Vigneti Massa’s total production is about 13,000 cases, of which 5,000 is Timorasso, with the rest being his reds crafted from local grapes, like the mentioned Croatina and Barbera, as well as Freisa, another rarity, plus Nebbiolo. The vines are all hand tended and cared for with holistic methods and the cellar work is mostly old school and traditional paying tribute to the region’s history. The Terra line at Vigneti Massa are almost always made using native yeasts, with maceration, fermentation and aging in stainless steel to preserve freshness and purity. This Terra Implicito Vino Rosso, mainly Barbera, is not as exciting as Massa’s Derthona Timorasso, which drinks like a high end white Burgundy, but it is very tasty and a pleasant surprise, especially for the price, its medium body and ripe tannin make it easy to enjoy, drink it up over the next year or so. I highly recommend discovering all of Vigneti Massa’s offerings, again you certainly need to try the Derthona Timorasso, which I have reviewed here in recent years, as well as checking out the reds, these are solid and wines that reflect a passion of place.
($15 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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