What’s in a label? If it’s for one of the most premium Italian wines, then you’d expect it to match the bottle’s contents. What you might not expect is that a local Musqueum artist was commissioned to create the label for Masi, a leading producer of Amarones from the Valpolicella region of Italy.
On May 2 at Wildebeest Restaurant in Vancouver's Gastown, Masi’s Raffaele Boscaini, along with Susan A. Point revealed the painting "Traditional Legacy." This initiative, known as the Costasera Contemporary Art Project, began in 2013. It commissions prestigious international artists to create an original work for the label of Masi’s flagship Amarone, the Costasera. Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella, and other approved red grape varieties. In Italian, the name Amarone literally means "the great bitter." Originally, this was to distinguish it from the Recioto produced in the same region, which is sweeter in taste.
Grapes are harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches that don’t have fruits too close to each other, to let the air flow. The fruit is allowed to dry on straw mats. This process is called appassimento (to dry and shrivel) in Italian, concentrates the remaining sugars and flavours.
The process of desiccation not only concentrates the juices within the grape, but also increases the skin contact of the grapes. The drying process further metabolizes the acids within the grape and creates reduction of the tannins in the skin that contributes to the overall balance of the finished wine.
The Costasera Contemporary Art Project combines wine and culture and involves those countries in which the family winery is popular. This year, Canada plays a key role thanks to the support of Masi's importer Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants.
Boscaini, seventh generation and marketing director at Masi, commented: "We're proud to renew Masi's commitment towards culture and contemporary art. Celebrating Costasera Contemporary Art in Canada this year takes on a special value for us: this is a country that has welcomed and appreciated the historic, cultural and wine-growing values of Masi and the land of the Triveneto for decades."
“In the work," explained Point, "I incorporated different motifs with the aim of melding cultures and representing not only the First Nations people in this area of Canada but the people in Italy as well. The recurring motif of the circle, symbol of life, evokes the sun, the moon and salmon eggs as well as grapes, in a conceptual link leading me in my life's journey also to Valpolicella and to discover the products of its land."
The proceeds from the sale of the bottles of Costasera 2000 Amarone will fund a scholarship allowing a young Canadian artist to learn the art of glass at the renowned Berengo studio on the Venetian island of Murano.
The Masi Contemporary Art 2000 Amarone is now available for sale in select BC Liquor Stores. It retails at $189.99 per bottle and you can stay up-to-date on where to get them here: http://www.bcliquorstores.com/product/160785#
Eric Hanson is a retired Richmond teacher and a wine educator.