The art of blending Valpolicella with Steiner and little bit of da Vinci…..
In the search for the big reds of Italy today, the unique wines of Valpolicella are often overlooked as wine lovers seek the big name supertuscans and Barolos. The Veneto region itself has become better known now for its prosecco wines than for its Amarones. Yet, when done well, the red wines of this region are exquisite and Musella, owned by the Pasqua Di Bisceglie family, are doing their bit to let these wines tell their stories on their own terms around the world.
In the past two decades, the family have created a thriving wine destination and agritourism business amidst their stunning parklands and vineyards. Since 2009, the vineyards have also been run following biodynamic principles to ensure that it settles more comfortably in its surroundings.
Musella has extensive vineyards covering around 400 hectares growing, a wide range of grape varieties. Their Valpolicellas are a blend Corvina and Rondinella, along with Corvinone which is also becoming a popular inclusion. However, they also grow the rarer Oseleta in their vineyards, which adds its tannins and dark brooding character to their blends. This grape had almost fallen into extinction but in the past decades it has been revived. The grape is used in the Musella Amarone & Musella Amarone Riserva whereas the Musella Valpolicella Superiore and its Ripasso pair has some added Barbera.
The wines ….
It is the artful way the winemaker’s of Valpolicella, master blenders in their own right, produce their wines that makes these wines unique. Often the same grapes appear in all the red wines in the form of a blend. Whereas Valpolicella DOC wines are soft, fruity and more medium bodied, the Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG wines are made using the appassimento process of drying, or raisining, the grapes after harvest to concentrate the sugars. This process gives wines more body and complexity and they are richer in style after extensive time in oak and bottle before release.
The Musella Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 and Musella Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2011 are both reasonably priced Amarones. The Amarone is rich with raisin, chocolate, spices and cherry, it is vibrant and bold. The Riserva shows a little more vanilla and sweet spices in its personality. Its warmth and its succulent tannins sit like velvet over a muscular frame. A big wine, but still elegant.
What has become increasingly popular is the region’s Ripasso wines, where the skins remaining from the Amarone wines are macerated with the Valpolicella DOC wines to give them a boost. These wines offer good drinking with a boldness that is lacking in the lighter DOC wines making these wines excellent value. Here, the Musella Valipolicella Superiore Ripasso offers up bright, ripe cherry, blueberry fruit offset with some smoky spices and cigar aromas. There is generosity and complexity at the core of this wine and well worth paying the extra for.
The highlights of the Musella range also include a savoury spiced, citrus and stonefruit Garganega. A white grape more commonly known as the principal grape of the nearby Soave region. The Musella Drago Bianco IGT is very good expression of what this grape can achieve and has a long flow of fruit and a satisfying intensity.
And more ….
The other side of the family business, Musella Country Relais offers luxury accommodation and a menu of activities that will rejuvenate the soul whether you are interested in wellness, cooking, fishing, golf, hiking, cycling or just wine tasting. If you are looking for a special vineyard experience in Italy, this estate offers just that.
Or you can just stop and admire the beauty of the vineyards and taste through their wines…..
I recently caught up with Maddelena Pasqua Di Bisceglie at a tasting and got the chance to ask her a few questions:
What varieties are planted in the Musella vineyards?
Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara, Oseleta, Turchetta, Garganega, Pinot Bianco, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Barbera, Teroldego, Uva Rara.
What is the history of these vineyards & the family’s vinous history?
Musella is in the Valpolicella Zone, on the hills of San Martino Buon Albergo, one of the most beautiful and self-contained estates of the Veneto region, contained in a secular park. The estate is a National Park which consists of 400 hectares of forests, small lakes, historical buildings, olives trees and of course, vineyards.
Our family is almost completely involved in the Musella project.
Twenty years ago, Emilio Pasqua Di Bisceglie wanted to change his life. He bought a part of the Musella Estate, a historical and natural oasis located in the east side of Verona. His passion and vision was to embark on a rather enthusiastic project to create a family owned and run business, which at the time seemed rather overly ambitious. Nevertheless, he was determined to achieve this goal with hard work and diligence.
His wife Graziella, always at his side, managed all the renovation of the old buildings and she later started the charming Relais, Musella’s accommodation with 15 rooms in the historical courtyard, where they also live.
I have been part of the family business since the beginning in 1995. I work with my father in every aspect of the business. In 2009, I introduced the Biodynamic method of agriculture and vinification in Musella. A project which I hold very close to my heart and I execute it with great enthusiasm. I am the winemaker with my cousin Enrico.
Enrico joined the Musella team in 1999 and immediately shared the family’s passion and the enthusiasm. He is mainly focused on the technical aspects of Musella, but as with the rest of the family, he is involved in every key decision of the business.
Roberto, the youngest son in the family, lives between London and Hong Kong since the 90’s and helps in sales.
What are your future plans for the brands; wines, vineyards, winery etc?
The present and future plan is still to increase the quality and health of the soil, respecting Nature according to Biodynamic principles. I would like to introduce more animals onto the estate, such as cows for the milk and the manure, sheep to clean up the weeds in the vineyards, pigs to keep clean the forest around the vineyards to improve air flow and we already have donkeys.
I’m already planting new vineyards from an internal vine selection and for many reasons I’m going back to the pergola system, so we will have half and half in guyot. The future plan is to create more and more health for all of us.
What varieties are your favourite grape varieties to work with?
Corvina’s grapes family, because they are our historical variety and the most challenging. The heart of Valpolicella and its history pass through these grapes.
These varieties tell us the story of our territory, they tell us about the cherry and almond trees they always shared the land with, Corvina and Corvinone tell us the richness of the Nature in this lucky part of the world.
Name five things that make ‘Musella’ so special?
……and lot of Joy!
How is the 2018 vintage looking for you?
I don’t like to talk about…let me be a bit scaramantic..
Which vintage so far has been your most memorable for Musella?
What is your favourite ‘Musella’ memory of the past 12 months?
Ah! There are so many good days and memories! Here, almost every day there is something to be happy for: the 2016 Valpolicella bottling at beginning of January, our entrance in Renaissance des Appellations at the beginning of February and in Triple A (the wine ambassador of Velier Italian distribution) at the beginning of March.
The new ideas about how to keep the green manure alive and active, the new project of vine training shapes and other improvements, new employees arrived bringing lot of new and fresh energy, the animals are coming in the winery, bees, cows and the grazing sheep.
But, probably the best was to taste and recognize the incredibly growing vitality we have now in our Valpolicella!
If you had the opportunity to drink a wine with any person in history,
Who would it be? uhmmm I would have so many…. Leonardo da Vinci
Which wine would it be? Our Valpolicella.
What would you talk about? Nature, sense of life, joy…
Musella is distributed to 21 countries. If you live in Sweden, Norway, USA, Canada, Italy, UK, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Russia you should be able to find Musella wines.
Visit musella.it for more information on the family and their wines.
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