The name sounds like a trendy label, but it belongs to a family that has relied on continuity for over 100 years. Massolino is one of the top Barolo producers. The cru sites around Serralunga d'Alba produce award-winning top wines such as Parafada and Vigna Rionda.
Franco Massolino looks like a studious man and speaks as if he often gives speeches in parliament. He does not like to rest on his laurels. He prefers to work on the optimization of his wines. "My great-grandfather was already innovative
. In 1896, he founded our winery, shortly after, the 1898 Barolo went down in our family history as the wine of the century." Massolino wants to anchor Barolo more internationally and therefore offers fresh, elegant wines. They also appeal to a young audience, as could be observed during a recent blind tasting of "great wines": prospective Zurich gastronomy experts chose Massolino's Barolo Vigna Rionda as the winner.
"To produce wine with passion in its area of origin, while preserving the typicality of the autochthonous vine, in the conviction that there is a deep and tangible bond between the vines, the hills and the winegrowers".
Philosophy of the Massolino family, Barolisti
The winery is located in a scenic setting. The terrace overlooks the central Barolo growing area. The Nebbiolo grape is very demanding, Franco explains. "There are cru vineyards with special soil conditions. But already a few meters further, you can make a good Barolo, but not a Cru!" Grass grows between his vines. It improves moisture retention - with amazingly positive effects on the grapes. "We tend our vineyards like gardens, because the grapes are our roses!" Asked about global warming, he turns his gaze to the sky: "Thank God, the effects are rather positive here - apart from the increased hailstorms we experienced." Still, he doesn't want to put up anti-hail nets. They filter the sunlight, which can result in a loss of quality in the grapes. "Time to eat," Franco thinks. After a walk through the medieval centre of Serralunga, he leads us to the inviting trattoria "Cascina Schiavenza". For a cold starter we drink Massolino's Dolcetto, an ideal daytime table wine with class. Franco chats about a phenomenon in this picturesque village: the inhabitants of Serralunga d'Alba enjoy excellent health into old age. He also knows why this is so: "Pane and salame, accompanied by a glass of Massolino Barolo!" Gianni promises to make this elixir of life known among young Zurichers as well, and Reto swears he would have become a Massolino customer much earlier, "but your wine labels were, scusa, deep night then!" Franco laughs out loud and donates a bottle of his legendary drink of the gods: a Barolo Cru Rjonda 2005. Just like that, "per festeggiare la vita!"
Text: Damian Zingg | Image: Massolino