Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio ArmaronBy Jordan Carrier
Those of us familiar with Ontario may know Guelph as “Lesser Kitchener”, but not many people know that it was named Guelph as part of an effort to bring some British Royal flavour to Upper Canada. Conceived and planned out like a European city, complete with squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, the fledgling Canadian town was given its name to honour the origins of King George’s Hanoverian Royal Family, the House of Welf.
How Welf morphed into Guelph is a linguistic question (or perhaps a contraction of the Welf-ian cheerleading cry “Go Welf!”), but the House itself stretches back to the 11th century, boasting ruling Monarchs of England, Bavaria and Russia to name just a few. A branch of this house, interestingly, found their way to Rome, where they supported the Papacy against the Holy Roman Empire in the late 1100s, and later settled in the city of Florence, where the Guelphs flourished as merchants and burghers for another century.
Having achieved super-awesome Florentine success and having run out of enemies to fight, the Guelphs naturally split in to two opposing factions, the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs, and began battling for control of Florence (you could tell the sides apart by how they wore the feathers in their caps – parentheses are usually where I tell jokes but this is true). When the Black Guelphs won and ran the White Guelphs out of town, they also ousted a former Pharmacist and poet who had been serving as City Prior (like a Mayor), a White-affiliated man named Dante Aligheri.
Falsely accused of corruption and threatened with execution if he ever returned to Florence, Dante moved north to Verona in 1302, where his family put down roots and he began working on what became Italy’s preeminent literary work: The Divine Comedy, which chronicles Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Dante moved away before finishing the piece but his family stayed, and his son Pietro got into the local wine business, purchasing the Casal dei Ronchi estate in the heart of the nearby Valpolicella region in 1353.
Twenty-one generations later, that estate still belongs to Dante's direct descendants, the Counts Serego Alighieri. Most of the original Villa still stands, surrounded by vineyards, including the legendary Vaio dei Masi, from which is produced one of the world’s most famous Single Vineyard Amarones - the Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron – and which gave the Masi winery its name.
I have 3 vintages of this great wine to offer, if you’re interested please reply or call me right away.
Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 1996
20 years young. Dried fruits, toffee and cocoa powder run the table here, overshadowing the sweet soy notes that usually evolve in aged Amarones. The palate is pure elegance; we Wine Geeks avoid/loathe the word “smooth” but this wine embodies it, the acidity is down (was it ever that up?) and the softened tannins support the substantial weight instead of putting a period on it. Drinks like what calligraphy looks like. 92 points Wine Spectator, 4 wooden 6-packs available, $158.99 +tax
Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 2007
As though a cinnamon coffee cake with cherry icing came alive and started to demolish your living room. According to Robert Parker’s Vintage Chart, the Valpolicella/Amarone region has never had a better year than 2007 (score: 95), and the top marks are likely due to the vintage’s celebrated longevity, supported by firm tannins and the perfect acidity of a not-too-ripe year. Fitting, then, that we should be able to offer the vintage in a 1.5L large format, perfect for long-term aging, and fitter still that each Magnum should come in its own wooden box with a rope handle, so you can swing the box like a lunch pail and look like you’re headed to the Best Lunch Ever. 95 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 Magnums (1.5L) available, $214.49 +tax
Masi Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron 2008
Ok. This is where everyone gets mad at me, because this wine placed #8 on Wine Spectator’s most recent Top 100 list, we are the only store in B.C. to carry it, and I only have six 6-packs. Yikes. Because of the short supply, I’ll have to “be that guy” and limit availability to one 6-pack per customer, awarded to the first 6 folks that contact me (I’ll ask for payment if you need me to hold it). If you are #7 or later, please remember how pleasantly funny I can be. 95 points Wine Spectator, #8 – Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2015, 6 6-packs available, $97.49 +tax