Appassimento Alert

Still hard at work in the renowned and garden-like vineyards surrounding Verona,
an unbroken line of vignaiolo at Masi have built up, then diligently passed on their
wine-making knowledge. As of acquiring the Vaio dei Masi namesake property in
1772, these family vintners have steadily developed a largely unrivalled mastery
with the region’s indigenous grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Up until
the early medieval period, the desirable hillside tracts of fertile soil and prolific
vines, dependably fed by a lattice of brooks in the Adige River watershed, were
independently named valleys: Vallis Provinianensis; rolling out northwest of the
famed city and vallis Veriacus to the east. In time, the reference to these and an adjacent plain were combined, becoming vallis Pulicella. Modern Italians along
with the rest of an appreciative wine world, now succinctly call it Valpolicella.

Circa the 12th century and onwards, the ‘valley of many cellars’ has been under
the stewardship of the Veronese nobility and prosperous mercantile collaborators
who would follow in their footsteps. Multi-generational family oversight of long
standing estates while drawing on locally rooted agricultural expertise, has been
a guiding formula for consistently good winemaking. Since the glory days of the
Serenissima Republia (‘Serene Republic of Venice’), promoting distinctive quality
levels while also bolstering the export potential, has developed hand-in-hand. It
makes for very good business. It might also reveal that the process of becoming
a large and successful vintner doesn’t necessarily translate into production of
unremarkable wine. It is possible to output large amounts of well-made wine, so
long as basic cultivation balances are maintained: judicious pruning to compact
yields, optimal planting density and an indispensable hands-on tending to the fruit.

This week’s DéClassé featured Boscaini family are doing well at balancing scale
with the maintenance of quality–by continuing to explore innovation and applying
the updated techniques to traditional recipes. Among the host of noteworthy
wines from this globally recognized brand is a so-called ‘Super Venetian.’ Making
a relatively modern debut in the mid-1960’s, this wine’s finishing process is yet
another variant of the Greek grape drying technique called passito, then further
refined in Roman winemaking. Historically used to create sweet wine styles such
as Recioto della Valpolicella, it was gradually adapted under the umbrella term of Appassimento, yielding a range of drier, though still immensely rich wines such
as Amarone and various types of Doppio Passo or Ripasso: like the 2011 vintage
of Campofiorin, whose striking label bears a bold Latin subtitle and aspiration:
Nectar Angelorum Hominibus (‘Nectar of the angels for men’)!

When this bottling and it’s patented finishing process was introduced 50 years
ago, it was hailed as a new category of wine. The innovate use of freshly dried
grapes, as opposed to second-use of Amarone must, prompts a slightly more
vigourous 
second fermentation and enriching of the young base wine. Practiced
drinkers of Ripasso will nonetheless recognize its heritage, conveying a plummy,
plush and fulsome style; one which always seems more at home with the richer
food fare around Christmas. Usually selling just above the traditional DéClassé
price-point, the current $3-off sale makes it a bargain; as a robust dinner wine
addition. Remarkably, this 
has sufficient body to withstand several decades of
cellaring–buy plenty and see if you’re able to hold onto some!

Campofiorin

MASI CAMPOFIORIN 2011
LCBO Product #155051 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 19.95
Sale $ 16.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Veneto, Italy
By: Masi Agricola S.P.A.
Release Date: Sale through November 28, 2015

Tasting Note
This has a densely layered set of aromas and flavours including cherry and plum,
currants and sweet spices. As expected from a Ripasso wine, it’s velvety and
versatile; suitable to richer food fare. Try as apéritif with spicy meat-filled Phyllo
wraps, baked and well-aged cheeses, or to keep up with Bavette steak, grilled
lamb kabobs and suckling pork with fire-roasted vegetables.

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