Masi is one of the Veneto's (northeastern Italy) largest producers. There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact, I have thoroughly enjoyed Masi's Mazzano Amarone Classico on several occasions. Perhaps this positive impression is what led me to a new wine from Masi's cellar - Campofiorin. The wine is designated a "SuperVenetian" (in the vein of Super Tuscans, I suppose). This buzzword isn't what caused me to pick up the bottle. Rather, I noticed the term, "ripasso" on the bottle (see pic, at right). I've always been intrigued by wines made using the ripasso technique.
Ripasso literally means 'repassed' in Italian. It's a technique wherein the winemaker adds extra flavor, tannin, and alcohol by adding the unpressed skins of Amarone wine (Amarone is made from grapes that are slowly dried out on mats or wicker shelves). The risks associated with this technique are that ripasso-ing can also impart oxidized flavors and botrytis (noble rot) to the wine. Of course some see this as a fault (hi there Huge!), while others may enjoy these flavors (that'd be me).
Now I was really curious about this seemingly modern wine (SuperVenitian) made with an old timey technique (ripasso).
Masi Campofiorin "Ripasso Nectar Angelorum Hominibus" (editor's note: sheeesh) 2001 ($16)
- 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara (traditional grapes of Valpolicella)
- Deep ruby core fading to a salmon-colored, narrow rim
- The wine seemed very closed for quite some time. As it began to open up I detected scents of herb, cherries, and earth
- The wine's flavor belies it's age - it tastes quite young with simple flavors of red cherry along with hints of cedar and tobacco. The wine isn't noticeably structured in terms of tannin, flavor intensity, or alcohol. In fact the wine is medium-bodied, with slightly abrasive tannins and a finish of moderate length (ending with tart, bitter fruit flavors). I didn't notice any ripasso characteristics
**.5 (2.5 stars out of 5)
Campofiorin was fairly pleasant to drink, but it offered approximately zero traits of any ripasso wine I've tasted in the past. Thus, I was quite disappointed by the seemingly misapplied term on the label. And to make things slightly more annoying, Masi has somehow made the term 'Ripasso' a registered trademark. How exactly does a winery trademark a technique? Instead of the fantasy name "Ripasso Nectar Angelorum Hominibus" I call this wine "Ri-poser" as in ripasso poser.