Massican's First Releases

Massican launches with rare, Italian-inspired blends

 


Many of you are familiar with Dan Petroski, Snooth regular and assistant winemaker extraordinaire over at Larkmead in Napa Valley. He has posted many times in the Snooth forum and has kept us on our toes with his periodic updates about his new label, Massican, which he first announced in his article Another New Wine.

Well, the other new wines are now in bottle and we were fortunate enough to join Dan and several hundred of his closest friends for a pre-release tasting of these fine wines here in New York City. These wines will be mailing-list only (except for a few stellar restaurants), so it looks like I’m about to sign up for my first mailing list wine!

Gregory Dal Piaz is a proponent and admirer of a broad range of wines and styles. During his decades of collecting and tasting he has discovered that a wine need not cost a fortune to drink well. Feel free to ask him questions at the Snooth Forums where he regularly engages with beginners and experts alike.
Dan’s project -- called Massican after the mountain chain in Italy’s Campania region -- was only announced in June of last year, but Dan is not one to waste time. These Italian-inspired wines, with the exception of the Sauvignon Blanc, are blends. Both of the blends include Ribolla Gialla, most commonly associated with Italy’s Friuli region, and his Annia also includes Tocai Friulano. Both of these are rare enough here in the States, so finding them together in a blend is a bit of a shocker.

What is more shocking is how great they work together in the Annia. It’s really a spectacular wine, and my favorite among the three wines in the Massican line-up. It’s crisp and subtle, yet complex and exceptionally refreshing. The Gemina blend is dominated by Viognier, a grape that has never really thrilled me, but Dan’s blend works better than most with its light texture and very fresh flavors. The Sauvignon Blanc is a fine effort, but lacks the excitement factor of either of the blends.

Dan’s wines are mailing-list only due to the extremely limited production. (There are only 50 cases of the Sauvignon Blanc, and 238 cases of the Annia.) You can sign up on the Massican site to get on the list. I know I will.

2009 Massican Annia

This is beautifully aromatic with notes of almond, apple blossom, and even a touch of lavender all floating above the slightly chalky toned, yellow fruits. On the palate this possess a gorgeous freshness with brilliant, crisp, almost citrussy fruit with notes of pollen, honey, almond, and crab apple flowing across the palate. The backend picks up some subtle tangerine skin and leads to the long finish with its subtle mineral and slightly bitter tones adding wonderful tension. A beautiful wine and the most exciting domestic white wine I have tasted this year. 93pts.

2009 Massican Sauvignon Blanc

A touch of mint greets the nose here followed by a hint of vanilla backed with noticeable green herb and ivy tones. The fruit leans towards the gooseberry end of the spectrum though with green citrus and pineapple undertones. On the palate this is brisk and fresh with softish acidity and low amplitude flavors giving this lush style of Sauvignon Blanc a broad mouth filling appeal. Much less tropically flavored on the palate than one might have guessed from the aromatics with lovely fresh citrus fruit with a nice mineral vein running through to the finish, turning almost a bit steely n the finale. 89pts

2009 Massican Gemina

With bright top notes of peach and mineral over a core of white orchard fruits this was a bit of a surprise to me. There were lovely honied and floral tones but the nose seemed to promise a Chardonnay heavy palate. While this was a bit loose on entry it offers a lovely sense of transparency and almost a hint of sweetness on the tongue. The mid-palate gains fine balance and cut with notes of succulent pear balanced by an almost quartzy edged minerality that drove through to the long and persistent finish.  The surprise here was the lightness with which this floated across the palate. A really fine effort, and excellent blending of Viognier. 91pts

Massican's Inaugural Blends

2009 Massican Annia
This is beautifully aromatic with notes of almond, apple blossom, and even a touch of lavender all floating above the slightly chalky toned, yellow fruits.

2009 Massican Gemina
The mid-palate gains fine balance and cut, with notes of succulent pear balanced by an almost quartzy-edged minerality.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 9,197

    Thanks for the headsup, Greg, and good luck on these new wines, Dan, though it looks from Greg's notes like you're already making some of that luck for yourself...

    Mar 25, 2010 at 3:32 PM


  • Snooth User: hotaji1
    33940 17

    interesting, have not seen any ribolla in the US before.

    Mar 25, 2010 at 3:37 PM


  • Snooth User: amour
    Hand of Snooth
    218530 1,753

    It is an honour to be part of this!

    Thank you so very much!

    I will tell my many wine-lover pals!

    Mar 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM


  • Snooth User: winertoo
    241947 1

    Dan, looking forward to the new grape varieties to try. We will be out in a couple of weeks.
    Mike

    Mar 25, 2010 at 4:39 PM


  • Snooth User: taylorsenatore
    Hand of Snooth
    189298 22

    We were lucky enough to get a little preview and all I have to say is... excellent!

    Mar 25, 2010 at 5:01 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 231,032

    I believe that there is only a single Ribolla vineyard in the US, and 7(?) Tocai. The first domestic Ribolla I had was Vare's 2005, which I believe was their inaugural vintage and the same vineyard that Dan is sourcing his grapes from.

    Dan doesn't need much help in getting the word out. His wines are already placed in some of the finest restaurants on both coasts and his remaining inventory is going to be sucked up pretty quickly by the waiting hordes. So this was for you, waiting hordes, and not Dan. The Annia is a brilliant wine and one you'll want to snag so when they become available make sure you grab a few!


    Mar 25, 2010 at 5:29 PM


  • Snooth User: taylorsenatore
    Hand of Snooth
    189298 22

    Gregory,

    I agree. That Ribolla is pretty special. I understand the TTB doesn't even recognize it here yet. Vare is good but those 500ml bottles drive me nuts! (Damn the French Laundry) If you haven't tried it yet, Steve Matthiason is doing about the same blend but in a slightly different style. From Dan's side Annia was fantastic, we will be lining up...

    Cheers.

    Mar 25, 2010 at 6:07 PM


  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,553

    Dan - sorry I couldn't be there, and congratulations on the launch. sounds like you've done a fantastic job with them.

    Mar 25, 2010 at 6:37 PM


  • Snooth User: John Andrews
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    36106 3,435

    Congrats Dan! Can't wait to try the wines when you get back from NYC.

    Mar 25, 2010 at 6:43 PM


  • Snooth User: Daniel Petroski
    Hand of Snooth
    30091 702

    Snooth team, thanks for the support. Greg, with your discerning Italian palate, it makes me very happy that the wines were well received.

    Thanks all for your comments. Yes, Ribolla is quite rare in the states (as a domestically grown grape variety) and still under review by the TTB. However, I am very fortunate to have worked with George Vare's vineyard with this release; George has been bottling the wine over the years as a Napa Valley White Wine and has sold almost-exclusively to Napa restaurants. In 2009 he opened up the gates to the vineyard and welcomed in a bunch of us mouth-watering winemakers to take a crack at crafting our own wines. Ribolla has quite a seductive charm to it and one of the most interesting grape varieties to work with because of its ability to take react extraordinarily well to different vinification methods. I hope to experiment with that in the future.

    @Taylor, thanks for mentioning Steve Matthiasson; one definitely needs to check out the Matthiasson wines. Steve offered me the intro to George and the Ribolla and I have been a huge fan of his white and red wines. Such an elegant touch with his style. I can't say enough good things, he has helped pave the way for what I am trying to accomplish philosophically with these wines. Definitely seek out his wines (NY'ers, Taylor carries them in his shop!)

    A quick note on the Tocai; I haven't been able to peg all the vineyard sources in California, my last count was around 5. But I'll be looking into that quite soon as it will be time to consider the 2010 vintage and beyond; However, I will say the grapes for this wine come from a beautiful old Italian family's farm in Chiles Valley. These vines are 63-years old. One of the most impressive group of vines I have had the good fortune to work with. Very exciting stuff.

    Thanks again all for the support and enthusiasm. I hope to have the opportunity to raise a glass of Massican with you soon. (Mike, drop me a line when you are heading out in this direction; John, I am back, let's catch up soon.)

    Mar 25, 2010 at 9:34 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 190,084

    Great wines. I hope to post my tasting notes shortly. Great to see you again, Dan.

    Mar 25, 2010 at 10:48 PM


  • Snooth User: John Andrews
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    36106 3,435

    @danpetroski ... hear that! Gotta do some racking on my Syrah. Let me know your sched over the next little while. Lunch at Solage maybe?

    Mar 26, 2010 at 12:47 AM


  • Snooth User: Daniel Petroski
    Hand of Snooth
    30091 702

    @Eric, it was great to see you as well. Sorry it was a madhouse and we didn't have more time to spend. But we'll have to get you out to Napa again for another visit. @John, just sent you a PM.

    Mar 26, 2010 at 11:48 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 231,032

    Next time we need to coordinate our activities a little better! Glad I was not the only member of Snooth to show support.

    Mar 29, 2010 at 10:26 AM


  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 6,586

    Congrats, Dan! I'll be posting my reviews shortly. Was great to get a chance to taste. Best of luck.

    Mar 29, 2010 at 7:00 PM


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