Saturday, 7 April 2012

Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese IGT (2008)

Masi’s 2007 “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was the most viewed wine reviewed by The Independent Wine Review last year. Now the third vintage of this Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese to be reviewed by The Independent Wine Review (the 2006 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese review can be found here and the 2007 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese review can be found here), this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese has quite a lot to live up to.

Not only have previous vintages of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese impressed (scoring 89 and 84 for the 2006 and 2007 vintages respectively), but other Masi wines have maintained a high standard too. The 2006 Masi “Brolo di Campofiorin” (a single vineyard “ripasso” style Valpolicella) scored 92 when reviewed last year and Masi’s 2007 “Costasera” Amarone della Valpolicella scored 90 when reviewed recently. These high scores and Masi’s three hundred year history of high quality winemaking, today make Masi one of the most admired wine producers in Italy.

Founded in the 1800s when the Boscaini family purchased the “Vaio dei Masi” (a small valley) north of the town of Verona, Masi today farms more than 500 hectares of vines and produces more than 7million bottles of wine per year. Some of the credit for the rise of Valpolicella to international prominence must be laid at the feet of current President of Masi Agricola, Sandro Boscaini, who has spent considerable sums of time and money marketing Valpolicella and its derivatives on a global basis.

Despite still making a large portion of their range of wines (including this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese) from traditional grapes, this does not mean that Masi does not innovate and in fact Masi are widely credited as being one of the first (if not the first) to make a commercially successful wine using the “ripasso” process – the process that is used today in the production of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese. Originally a process by which young and already vinified Valpolicella was “passed over” (“ripasso”) the skins left over from the making of Amarone della Valpolicella to kick off a second fermentation that added colour, richness and alcohol to the resultant wine. Today, the “ripasso” process has been modified by Masi so that this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is the result of a young and already vinified Valpolicella being passed over grapes that have been specifically dried (similar to those used for Masi’s Amarone della Valpolicella) for the production of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese.

Composed of a blend of 75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was first fermented from freshly picked grapes, before this juice was passed over semi dried grapes of the same varieties (although the number of dried grapes was one quarter of the number of the fresh grapes). The secondary fermentation of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese lasted around 15 days.

After the secondary fermentation of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was passed into oak for maturation for 18 months. Two thirds of the oak used in the maturation of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was very large Slavonian oak casks, and one third of the oak used in the maturation of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was smaller Allier and Slavonian oak barrels. After oak maturation this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese was bottled and allowed to rest for three months before release.

The bottle of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese itself is ornately labelled in the manner of the majority of Masi’s wines. Very similar in appearance to the 2006 and 2007 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese celebrates the fact that this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is the 38th vintage of this Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese to be made by Masi since 1964 with red font in the centre of the front label.

In the glass, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is a clear (i.e. non-faulty) and moderately intense ruby colour. A degree of discolouration is evident towards the rim of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese (a product of 18 months in oak) and takes the form of a hint of ochre at the edge of the glass. The alcoholic content of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is moderate, despite double fermentation during winemaking (that typically increases the alcoholic content by around 1% abv) and is quoted at 13% on the bottle. This expresses itself in the legs of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese dissipating fairly quickly when this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is swirled.

On the nose, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is clean (i.e. non-faulty) and moderately pronounced in nature. Initially offering deep and dense dark fruit such as cherry and damson notes, this  2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese develops to offer dried fruit notes in the form of candied fruit and raisins, as well as a touch of cinnamon and vanilla. Not as pronounced or quite as complex as the bouquet of Masi’s “Costasera” Amarone della Valpolicella, but significantly more complex than Masi’s “Bonacosta” Valpolicella, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese offers a very well integrated and accomplished set of aromas.

Once in the mouth, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is dry and medium bodied. Dark fruit notes lead the palate of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese (as on the nose), with sweet candied notes, vanilla and again a touch of cinnamon spice coming through towards the finish adding complexity and interest to this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese. The finish of this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese itself is moderate-to-long in length and emphasises the sweeter aspects of this wine.

Overall, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is a very accomplished wine. By dedicating considerable resources to the study of the “ripasso” process and refining it to its current form, Masi have not only been able to combine the flavoural components of young and fresh Valpolicella with those of the richer and deeper Amarone della Valpolicella, but have instead created an entirely new genre of wines – the “super venetian”. Rapidly growing sales for “super venetian” and “ripasso” styles of Valpolicella (such as this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese) are a testament to what Masi has achieved here and despite there being some debate over whether Masi “invented” the “ripasso” process, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese certainly shows Masi have very much made the process their own over the last 38 vintages.

In terms of value, most Valpolicella “Ripasso” (which is the group of wines that this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is most comparable with) retail for £9-£20 in the UK. Sitting towards the lower end of this price range, but occupying the upper end of the quality spectrum, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese must be considered good value as a result.

Exhibiting more structure than a typical Valpolicella, but less than Amarone della Valpolicella, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese pairs with a great range of foods. Suitable for pairing with pasta (and rich sauces – meat or mushroom based), grilled or roasted meats, or even mature (hard) cheeses, this 2008 Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese is a wine that will endure throughout a lengthy, multi-course meal if so desired.
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Masi “Campofiorin” Rosso del Veronese IGT (2008)

Score: 87/100 – A highly accomplished “super Venetian”

Value for Money: 9/10 – Few producers offer such high quality so consistently at a price that is accessible (£12 per bottle)
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