Interview with Italian Winemaker Piero Masi
16th November 2017
Noted Italian winemaker Piero Masi is one of the seven partners of India’s leading Fratelli brand of wines. Among the unusual influences he has introduced into Indian winemaking is an unusual zero dosage sparkling brut, the Fratelli Gran Cuvée Brut. This wine is hand-harvested and made by the method traditionelle.
With India still a relatively nascent market for wine, with tastes still evolving, what made you decide on introducing a sparkling wine from the onset?
I believe that with the hot climate and the spicy, flavourful food of India there is a need to refresh our palates. A sparkling wine perfectly matches these requirements and that is why we opted for the idea of introducing a sparkling wine in India.
You opted for Chenin Blanc as the dominant grape for your sparkling wine blend. Many other Indian producers have opted for a slightly off-dry style with their sparkling wines, especially with Chenin Blanc. You decided on a zero dosage version. Was this a calculated risk?
Our unique Chenin Blanc differs very much from Chenin cultivated in other Indian wine regions like Nashik, for example. The peculiar soil of Akluj is highly mineral, less fertile and a targeted yield limited to 10 tons per hectare against general Indian contract farmers yield of 25 tons per hectare, impacts the high quality of our grape and wine, consequently. Our Chenin Blanc base used to make Gran Cuvée Brut has a very distinctive minerality and saltiness coupled with a nice elegant backbone, making our Chenin complex and very much closer to a Chardonnay even if it doesn’t present those varietal characteristics like vanilla, butter and acidity typical of Chardonnay – it’s still very close. The zero dosage option is linked with my previous answer to your first question: I was looking to make a refreshing, palate-cleansing sparkling and the zero dosage is the perfect option to meet this goal. Nowadays, zero dosage is becoming more and more popular internationally and I am glad we have had such good intuition.
Please do share the feedback the zero dosage Gran Cuvée Brut has received from the market so far.
Very positive. Surprisingly so since Indian consumer has never been exposed to this kind of dry wine, but the pairing with India’s climate and Indian food seems to work very well. People like it because it is completely different from all other Indian sparkling wines which are all dosée.
You also prefer to grow your grapes instead of buying from third-party growers, which is a strong commitment.
The Fratelli motto is “wines are made in vineyards first,” and to accomplish this goal you must control your vineyards, Fratelli is really more Fratelli vineyards than wines. My wine-making style is influenced about 70% on the quality that I can get from our vineyards. I leave the remaining 30% to wine-making skills which are important, but not as vital as the quality of the grapes in the vineyards. This is my background and what I believe in. There are many other winemakers who might say the opposite.
What have you observed regarding the growth of the sparkling wine market in India?
It is becoming popular and growing both as a product, but also as a status symbol for celebrations and to enjoy with friends.
Would you be making any changes to your sparkling wine in future? For example, adding different grapes to the blend or changing the amount of residual sugar?
We have recently introduced our Gran Cuvée Brut rosé made with Shiraz grapes, again another zero dosage. I am currently working on a very special project but I cannot reveal any details yet, but yes, I will introduce another varietal and this time it will be a dosée wine.
How important is the Gran Cuvée Brut for the Fratelli portfolio?
Gran Cuvée Brut closes the circle of the Fratelli wine portfolio, so it is a very important wine. Worldwide, many producers see a need to include a sparkling wine in their own portfolio. Fratelli is perfectly in line with this trend.
Written by Ruma Singh
Glass of Bubbly
Executive editor of news content for the website Please enjoy the articles that we share - We hope you find our love for Champagne & Sparkling Wines both interesting and educational.