2015 Masi Campofiorin
Baby Amarone, meaning not Ripasso, is a wine where just 25% of the grapes have been raisinated as if they were going to be made into Amarone, that Italian blockbuster of a wine. Let’s get straight to the drinking and after we’ve had a few, we’ll explore the terminology:
The wine opens with a bramble spice character – blackberries, raspberries, touches of crisp wood-fired pizza dough, and violets. This is opulent-drinking Italian wine. Italians wouldn’t want me to say it, but it reminds me of Zinfandel (they would probably invert the metaphor). The palate has fruit weight and heft, so it’s gonna please the fruit lover in all of us. But it’s got repose, a stately Italianness about it, that gives it dimension and energy. For me it’s the perfect wine to introduce a newcomer to Italian red wines – the fruit allows for generosity while the wine truly tastes like Italy. That, and it makes an amazing food-pairing wine – with everything from lamb sausage pizza with pomegranate gastrique to wild boar-stuffed agnolotti in fonduta sauce. It’s gorgeous, and we have it at a delicious price. Now, let’s get to that terminology:
Amarone is a wine made via the process of drying grapes once they are picked. Think raisins and you have it. As you can imagine, making a wine with raisins results in a completely different product from a wine made with freshly picked grapes. To put it simply, you get way more of everything – flavor, tannins, sugar concentration – everything except for water, which you get far less of. The result is a blockbuster of a wine, powerful, high in alcohol, heady stuff. Truly a vino da meditazione.
The Masi family – the creators of this wine, Campofiorin – were the inventors and patenters of Ripasso, a winemaking technique blending dried grapes that have been previously fermented to make Amarone with freshly pressed wine. Now, in a further progression of the Ripasso style, they are also pioneering winemakers of Baby Amarone like this, where the wine is fermented from a quarter dried Amarone grapes not-previously fermented and the balance fresh. The results are supple, generous and oh so drinkable – soft power, its what the best Ripassos are all about.
There are now many producers of Ripasso, but here is the real deal, the original, and while certainly worth copying, it’s even better to have the true thing. Salute!