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Campofiorin: Masi’s affordable yet complex red blend

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If you’ve ever spent much time in Venice, you already know that Italy’s northeastern Verona region is the source of countless vino surprises. Even the house wines that they serve with lunch are memorable. Remember looking around at all the full wineglasses? Yep, that’s it, and all the time.

Among the most popular of these wonderful Italian Veronese wines are created using a process known as “Ripasso”, where a new lot of grapes/skins are reintroduced into the fermentation for a second round. The end result is a much richer and assertive wine, while still maintaining a soft, friendly character.

Like the restaurants that keep them on their wine lists year-after-year, Ripasso-based wines represent the friendly side of good cuisine and service in many ways. But their most interesting characteristic is how they manage to wrap themselves around the moment and enhance the experience. It just works.

One of these standards, from Masi, represents a favorite style that has been enjoyed for over 40 years. It is the result of a novel experiment that takes Ripasso to the next level using partially dried grapes that are carefully added to the mix at just the right moment. This is all done so precisely that every year you can count on this one, old reliable!

And their 2010 Campofiorin is no exception. With a bouquet pushing up ripe cherry, plum, lilac, and mushroom, it seems at first like a potent Pinot Noir, but the body tells another tale. The delicately fine tannins and soft acidity are bolder than a Pinot and are right on target for a well-rounded pasta partner. No matter how much garlic the chef decides to add, Campofiorin steps up and wraps it.

Often referred to as the “Little Amarone” because of its lighter character, not to mention its lower price, this one goes for under $16 at Total Wine, a lot less than Masi’s Amarone ticket of around $58. At this value level, it’s easy to understand why it appears on so many wine lists.

So here’s to many more years of Ripasso success, salute!

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