Valpolicella, a wine region in Verona, Italy, is known for producing light-bodied red wines. It’s also known for producing Amarone, a full-bodied fine red wine that undergoes a process called appassimento, making it expensive and time-consuming to make.
In between those two styles of Valpolicella wine is one known as ripasso.
To make Amarone with the same grapes — usually Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara — used to make standard light-bodied Valpolicella red wines, the grapes are dried on straw mats for 100 to 120 days, concentrating the flavours and sugars as they lose up to 40 per cent of their original weight. Because the resulting juice is so sweet, fermentation of Amarone takes four to five months. The time factor compounded with the fact that the drying process reduces the amount of juice, and thus the amount of wine, are two reasons Amarone tends to be very expensive.
With the ripasso process, however, fresh Valpolicella wines are poured over the leftover skins and seeds of the grapes used to make Amarone. Yeast is added to induce a second fermentation. The result is a medium-bodied wine with characteristics similar to Amarone, which is why it is often called “baby Amarone” or a”Super Venetian” wine.
Masi eventually tweaked the ripasso process. Instead of pouring fresh wine over the skins and seeds of semi-dried grapes, it dries whole grapes for one month and then adds them to fresh Valpolicella wine before inducing a second fermentation. This method creates full-bodied wines more similar to Amarone than the standard ripasso method, but at less than half the price of Amarone.
Masi Campofiorin, the original Super Venetian wine launched in 1964, has a deep ruby colour and flavours of ripe red cherries. Already a good value for dry red wines, Masi Campofiorin is an even better value this month at West Indies Wine Company, where it is priced at CI$16.49.