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Masi, Rosso del Veronese (Veneto, Italy),
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Dec 6, 2005
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My taste runs to wines that are not very fruity.  In the interests of being open-minded and pleasing readers whose tastes might differ from my own, I thought that I should make an effort to review a fruity wine.  I tasted various reds from California and Australia without finding inspiration.  I pulled the cork on a blended wine from Chile that I have admired in the past, but found the current vintage too fruity (not to mention overly scented by American oak).  I sampled a few Chilean Cabs from my cellar, but no dice.  Then I remembered this bottle of Campofiorin, which had been sent to me with the idea that it's an appropriate wine to recommend with turkey.  Bingo!

What makes this wine pleasing to me is that despite its ripe, plump fruitiness--aromas and flavors of black cherries, plums and tart cherries--the wine is truly dry, and it has no suggestion of candied fruit.  Also, it is not just fruity: dried-herb nuances grace the flavor, for example.  Soft tannins run through the fabric of the wine and combine with the wine's fruitiness--rather than standing apart from the fruitiness in the rear palate, while the fruitiness sits front and center in my mouth, as happens in so many New World fruity wines.

Campofiorin is the name of a vineyard in the Marano Valley of Italy's Veneto region, near Verona; the wine comes from this vineyard and neighboring vineyards that share its soil and climate.  This vineyard once made a wine called "Campo Fiorin" Amarone, in the days before Amarone became a restricted DOC name; the 1967, tasted four years ago, was fabulous, a lean and thin-textured red redolent with berries, currants, oranges and Christmas spices.  The 1970 Campo Fiorin--no longer an Amarone--was sweet and Porty compared to the 1967, yet great with food.  In recent vintages, Campofiorin wine has become, technically, an IGT wine because, according to Sandro Boscaini of Masi, the available DOC designation, Valpolicella, is too generic, encompassing wines of divergent quality, production method and price.  But Campofiorin is a product of the Valpolicella zone, made from traditional local grapes, about 70 percent Corvina and the remainder Molinara and Rondinella.

Campofiorin is the original ripasso, a term that Masi invented and trademarked.  And Masi's modern variation of that winemaking process is what accounts for the wine's unique expression. 

Ripasso refers to a traditional local process of re-fermenting a dry Valpolicella wine by adding the sugar-rich skins that remain from the fermentation of Amarone (which, being made from dried grapes, ferments a few months later than Valpolicella and other wines made from fresh grapes).  The double fermentation increases the body and tannins of the wine.  Today, the ripasso of Campofiorin involves crushing and fermenting about 70 percent of the wine's grapes when they are fresh; the remaining grapes are semi-dried for several weeks before being employed to instigate another fermentation in the main wine.  Boscaini describes the result as a wine that "combines the complexity and spiciness of Amarone with the crispness, freshness and conviviality of Valpolicella."  I describe it as a modern classic. 

To age Campofiorin 36 years, as did the friend who poured the 1967 for me, is pushing it, but this wine can certainly age for another ten years.  With time, it will probably taste less of fresh fruit and more of dried or stewed fruit.  Either way, it will probably complement turkey. 

Outstanding:  90