Massena Wines: The Coming Together
of Two Great Winemakers.
Dan Standish & Jaysen Collins
Exclusive to The Vinorium
Time flies in life and wine and I didn't think I’d be writing an introduction to Massena, now twenty vintages on, back when we were picking bush vine Grenache grapes in the year 2000.
What started as an adventure into wine by a couple of gung-ho fellas, looking to make some interesting wine, has truly been a journey. We started off by respecting our old vines and focussing on Grenache and Shiraz, moved quickly into alternative varieties and our production methods always held true to minimal intervention. In some ways we were trailblazers, in front of the curve; in new varieties or style interpretations. Like making dry, light, textured, barrel fermented Rosé in 2007 and getting blank looks as to why we’d being doing this - roll forward ten years and everyone’s got one of these. Why would you plant Saperavi, Primitivo and Tannat in the heady days of the early 2000s Barossa Shiraz obsession? We were looking for drought tolerant, thick skinned or higher acid varieties that would combat our changing climate. When the style was big, black and oaky, ours was herbal, spicy and lowly oaked - designed for the dinner table not a glass staining contest. Now this is becoming the norm in our part of the world.
So Massena was not started as a profit making, slickly marketed wine company, it was conceptualised to have fun making wine that we liked to drink or had an interest in learning how to make. Our board meetings were on the golf course followed by a long lunch, when we really should have been combing through our sales budgets or strategising our cost saving initiatives. That sounded boring and we were only in it to actually make the wine, not ordering someone to do it for us.
The authenticity in Massena is it has always been about making the most interesting wine possible at that given time and thoroughly enjoying the process, not chasing what is the current fad or trend. Then suddenly you become old enough in the cycle that the style of the day just rolls around and finds you!
Massena The Eleventh Hour Shiraz 2017
James Halliday "Fruit from Greenock and Stone Well, 100% whole-berry fermented, aged on lees in older oak for 15 months. There's a smoothness about this wine which will win friends easily - it just slips down. Aromas and flavours are in the typically dark-fruited Barossa spectrum, and whilst not overly ripe there is a sense of sweetness on the palate. The tannin quietly plays its part."
£24.95 per bottle
Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2017
James Halliday "A field blend from a vineyard planted in 1858. Wild yeast, whole bunches included, aged in neutral French oak for 15 months. The ancient vines have produced a wine of great finesse. Cherry-like aromas and flavours with a seasoning of Mediterranean herbs and a faintly smoky note. Silky and seamless on the palate with finely tuned tannin, it's all impeccably balanced."
£36.95 per bottle
Massena Stonegarden Grenache 2017
97 Points - James Halliday "Hand-picked in two parcels from the original ancient vine plantings (1857), fermented and aged on skins in a ceramic egg until Oct '17. The second parcel was 100% whole-bunch fermented and matured in used puncheons. You might guess a $100+ price and/or a wine with issues, and be wrong on both scores. This is a really attractive varietally pure wine, with very good colour and structure."
£36.95 per bottle
JC Collins left and Dan Standish right circa 2010
Massena The Howling Dog Saperavi 2017
Winemaker "It took us a while to get this one right, when we were first experimenting with Petite Sirah the tannins were so pronounced that tasters actually started howling as it crossed their palate. We later planted other naturally tannic varietals Tannat and Saperavi, softening the tannins so the only howl we hear now is one of enjoyment. Taken from Dadd’s Block on the high side – sandy loam with long sunlight hours and low rainfall. The best of these varieties is selected each year, either on their own or as a blend."
£19.95 per bottle
Massena Surly Muse Viognier/Marsanne 2018
The surly muse reflects the technique of ageing 'surlie' (on lees) for an extended period, giving palate texture and phenolics. Combing the rich texture of Marsanne with the heady aromatics of Viognier gives a white blend with body and freshness.
£17.95 per bottle
Massena Stonegarden Riesling 2018
95 Points - James Halliday "Fruit from these 70+-yo old vines has produced - or contributed to - some fine Eden Valley rieslings over the years, in different guises. This release is in the classic mould, alive with all manner of citrus; zest and juice, blossom and curd. Floral and mineral notes are in the mix as well, with the sweet fruit and tang of acidity running long on the palate."
£19.95 per bottle