The rains of the previous day had brought out the rich green of the Romagna hills and covered the area with a foggy haze that gave the passing scenery a mysterious and dramatic look. Our blog group was headed out from our base in Bertinoro in a new direction this morning to an area of Emilia-Romagna I hadn’t yet visited. At Castel Bolognese, a town between Faenza and Imola in the Ravenna Province of the region, we turned off the highway towards Tenuta Masselina in the area known as Serra. Along the 2.5 miles from the town center to the winery, we were met by Marco Nannetti, a Gruppo Cevico representative who led us up the hill to the tasting room and sales center with views of vineyards all around, lovely even on a foggy day in autumn.
The sales and tasting room was warm and cozy as we mingled with our hosts and learned about the Gruppo Cevico, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. With 18 wineries in its consortium (12 in Romagna, including Tenuta Masselina) and 4,500 growers, it is one of the largest wine producers in Italy. We also learned a bit of the history of wine in Romagna. Did you know that the Sangiovese grape common to Romagna means “Blood of Jove” in Latin? A common theory is that the origin of Sangiovese was in the Romagna town of Santarcangelo where the Romans stored their wine in caves. Of course, in those days the wine the Roman soldiers were drinking was for sustenance and really not very good — nothing like the Sangiovese wines I’ve been enjoying the past several months. I also thought it was very interesting that in 2011 Gruppo Cevico opened a wine bar called TOT I DE in Hiroshima, Japan offering the food and wine of the Romagna region. TOT I DE means “every day” in Romagna dialect, reflecting the welcoming hospitality of Romagna and the informal, daily enjoyment of wine.
Then it was time to go back outside and explore the property with Riccardo Castaldi, Cevico’s Senior Viticulturalist (and author) and Elena Piva, Tenuta Masselina Sales and Marketing representative.
Let’s follow Riccardo
A little rain and muddy terrain couldn’t keep our blog group out of the vineyards. The allure of vines heavy with ripe Sangiovese grapes and the lovely hillside views made us eager to get in to the vineyard with cameras in hand.
At Tenuta Masselina, there is a philosophy of combining modern technology of wine-making with ancestral traditions. For example, all grapes on the 22 hectares are harvested by hand. These Sangiovese grapes had the most beautiful shade of deep blue. How lush and delicious do they look?
The next part of the tour would have been down the hill below and into the Trebbiano vineyards, but it was determined that it would be much too slippery under the circumstances. So we slowly made our way back to the tasting room, enjoying the scenery along the way.
Back inside, we met winemaker Andrea Celletti who gave us a tour of the cellar. He described the various techniques of vinification used by Tenuta Masselina and the impressive terracotta amphorae as well as oak barrels that are used for fermentation, depending on the wine. Clay vats have been been used since Roman times and these at Masselina are used to create their distinctive earthy and aromatic wine, Vino delle Anfore.
Upstairs in the tasting room, Riccardo poured Masselina Metodo Classico, a sparkling aperitivo made from the Pignoletto grape. We were also served cheese and meats while Chef Paola Cucchi was preparing our lunch. The parmesan cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar was so tasty that I could have eaten the entire plate myself, but I resisted!
For lunch, we all gathered around two tables set up in the tasting room near the picture windows overlooking the vineyards that we were not able to explore on foot that day. I was completely contented as I enjoyed the lovely lunch accompanied by fine wines while gazing at the serene view and sharing the conversation at the table. I was seated with a few of my fellow bloggers, consultant Filippo Fabbri, and our generous and delightful host, Ruenza Santandrea, President of the Gruppo Cevico. (Ruenza was also a participant/speaker at Settimana del Buonvivere hosted by Legacoop Forli-Cesena, our blog tour sponsor.)
The 147 Chardonnay Rubicone that was first served with lunch was a delightful light white wine that was a nice transition from our sparkling aperitivo and complemented our pasta in truffle sauce, once of several tasty dishes.
We also enjoyed the Vino delle Anfore wine, rich and full-bodied with beautiful golden tones as you can see above. Creating a connection between wine, art and the history of the Romagna region, it is made with 100% Trebbiano grapes from the estate’s 40 year old Trebbiano vineyard and stored in the terracotta vats we saw in the wine cellar.
The labeling of this vintage is very special and was a project of the heart for Ruenza who envisioned their creation. Ruenza worked with the ceramics museum in nearby Faenza to discover the original plates which are now recreated on Masselina bottles. These hand-painted ceramic (“majolica”) labels depict the “Gentle Women of Faenza”, noble women of of the 15th century. There are six variations of the Vino della Anfore medallion showing six different women, each having a unique story and symbolism.
And, of course, there are the Sangiovese wines. Masselina’s 138 Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes while the 158 wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes. Watch a tasting of 158 Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese Rubicone by professional sommelier Davide Staffa to indulge vicariously in this tempting wine.
As I’ve experienced in other venues in Emilia-Romagna, language differences do not have to create communication barriers. We all managed to get our messages across to each other with some help from our bilingual friends like Alessandra and Riccardo. I really enjoyed the visit with our hosts, the tour and delicious lunch on this hilltop in Romagna. But there was more ahead for our group that afternoon and evening, so we were once again on the road in Romagna in our Settimana del Buonvivere van.
For more information:
Località Serra via Pozze
1030 Castelbolognese (RA) – Italia
Thanks to fellow blogger, Penny Sadler of Adventures of a Carry-On for her pasta with truffle sauce photo. As usual, my eagerness to dig into the food caused me to forget to take a photo first.