You might recall I wrote up an offer of Vietti’s new white on 28th August 2020; namely the 2018 Timorasso Derthona. Since then I have been exploring other examples and I have been impressed by what I have found, so much so that this wine begged to be offered, 2018 Timorasso Derthona, Vigneti Massa at £100 per 6 bottle case in bond. This has to be one of the stand-out values among our offers this year and there have been a number of strong contenders.
Timorasso is an obscure Piemontese grape variety that has essentially been rescued from extinction by a group of dedicated growers, most notable amongst them would be Walter Massa.
When I first introduced Timorasso in the Vietti offer, I wrote the following:
‘Never heard of this grape variety? Well, you can be easily forgiven as it is an obscure, yet historic grape variety that was referenced back in the middle ages, and said to be grown around the town of Tortona, some 50 miles east of Alba. In fact, the area known as the Colli Tortonesi lies close to the border between Piemonte and Lombardy, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna.
Despite the variety historically having enjoyed success on the blue marl ‘Tortonian’ soils of the region, the variety fell out of favour when phylloxera ravaged the vineyards of Europe in the late 1800s. And as we enter the 20th century, it is red varieties that started to dominate in the region. Saving this variety from extinction is largely credited to Walter Massa and Andrea Mutti, both of whom worked towards developing a greater understanding of the variety and whose winemaking efforts sparked a resurgence of interest.
However, Timorasso is not some simple early drinking varietal, low on complexity and low on ageing potential – quite the reverse. It is capable of making surprisingly complex whites with the ability to age well. Timorasso possesses a good acidity, it is lively in its youth and it is a variety that benefits from some skin contact so it picks up tannins in the winemaking process. It can at first seem very restrained on the nose, but it really opens up with air.’
The Massa style is different to the Vietti…with this wine, I understood why some people allude to white Rhône characters, though the acidity might be uncommon to that genre. The 2018 Timorasso Derthona from Massa is a remarkable wine, combining a roundness and richness that allow early consumption with a taut structure that hints at its capacity to age. To be completely honest, I was stunned, this was a seriously captivating glass of wine that just got better and better with air. When I first started studying for the Master of Wine, someone told me if it is neutral with modest weight and modest length and comes over as innocuous then it must be a white from Italy. They clearly didn’t taste Timorasso – but I suppose they can be forgiven as at that time there were probably less than six hectares of Timorasso vines in Piemonte!
2018 Timorasso Derthona, Vigneti Massa
£100 per 6 bottle case in bond
Quite deep in colour, there is a golden hue to this wine. Scented aromas capture lemon verbena and peachy stone fruit and yellow plum characters. The initial impression on the palate is of a wine that is round, slightly viscous that fills out to show a fine richness. It then tightens with just enough racy acidity gradually building across the palate and adding length. Slightly mineral, almost chalky nuances come through to the gently mouthcoating finish. Precise and wonderfully pure, this would no doubt be near impossible to place in a blind tasting. While the variety is certainly obscure, there is no doubting the quality here and it is worth noting that the Massa range steps up beyond this. (SL) Drink 2020 to 2026.
As you may have gathered, I am now a convert and am keen to explore this fascinating variety further.
All the best,