Wine for the Month of September—under $25
Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese 2004 ($14)
Masi’s Campofiorin is a super-Venetian red that combines the best features of a Valpolicella with an Amarone and has a very reasonable price tag that is a fraction of the price of an Amarone. But this IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wine is a really different kind of Italian wine and may not be for everybody. It is a hearty, macho wine with intense flavors and tastes.
What makes Campofiorin special is its vinification procedure. In the mid-1960’s, Masi revived and updated the ancient ripasso procedure whereby a regular, dry Valpolicella wine that has already undergone fermentation has partially dried grapes from the same harvest added to the wine. The concentrated sugars in the semi-dried grapes induce a second fermentation that enhances the wine’s color, increases its body and weight, softens the tannins and introduces new flavors and aromas. Think of it as a Valpolicella on steroids.
Campofiorin is a blended wine, consisting of the classic Valpolicella mix of 70 percent Corvina, 25 percent Rondinella and 5 percent Molinara. The wine takes its name from the name of the vineyard near Verona in the Veneto region of northern Italy that is the primary source of the grapes for this wine although grapes are also sourced from other nearby, similarly-situated vineyards.
The wine is aged for 18 months in oak barrels and receives 3 months of bottle ageing prior to release for sale.
With a deep, brooding, ruby-red color that borders on black and intense perfumed aromas of plums and raisins, it is full-bodied and loaded with spice and dark fruit flavors. Rich and round with soft tannins, it is a vinous interpretation of liquid velvet and has an intense, earthy finish.
Campofiorin is a versatile wine that can be served with a variety of dishes including pasta with tomato-based meat sauce, grilled red meat, roast pork, veal, game and mature, full-bodied cheese. It is an excellent choice to accompany Thanksgiving turkey with all the fixings.
It is also a long-lived wine with an ageing potential of 12 to 15 years. You can drink the ’04 now or hold it for later.
Masi also produces another variant of Campofiorin called “Brolo di Campofiorin” which is essentially a single-vineyard version of the wine. It is slightly more expensive than the basic Campofiorin but still considerably less expensive than an Amarone.
Available from Circle Wine and Liquor, Total wines and More, Montgomery County Liquor Stores, Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits (’05 vintage) and other stores.
Wine for the Month of September—over $25
The Agricola Querciabella (coo ER cha BEL la) estate is close by Greve-in-Chianti, which is about mid-way between Siena and Florence in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone.
Despite the fact that Querciabella (which translates as “beautiful oak tree”) is a relatively new estate by Italian standards, it has been winning wine awards almost since it opened in the mid-1970’s and its super-Tuscan Camartina wine has achieved what can only be described as superstar status. The estate has also garnered favorable attention for its application of biodynamic principles with both vineyard management and wine making practices adhering to strict biodynamic standards.
A lot of care and attention goes into the production of all their wines and the Querciabella 2005 Chianti Classico is no exception. The grapes are hand selected from low-yielding vines in prime southeast and southwest-facing vineyards. The ’05 Querciabella is a blend of 90 percent Sangiovese and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are aged separately for 14 months in French oak (30 percent new oak for the Sangiovese and 80 percent new for the Cabernet) after which the separate lots are combined into the final blend. The final product is the result of numerous tasting tests to determine the optimal mix which will vary from year to year.
Medium-bodied with fresh acidity and moderate tannins, it is a great example of a modern Chianti Classico. The aromas are opulent and complex with cherry, plum and some vanilla flavors. A big, juicy berry taste is followed by a long, graceful finish with a touch of vanilla. It is sinewy and masculine and yet incredibly elegant with alcohol, acidity and fruit in perfect harmony.
While drinkable now, it will age well for another 10-12 years.
It’s always a pleasure to recommend a wine that is both remarkable and reasonably priced. Buy the ’05 Querciabella Chianti Classico and sock it away for that special occasion dinner, especially if it involves veal or pork.
Available at MacArthur Beverages, Calvert Woodley and The Wine Specialist (’04).
Note – prices indicated are generally the lowest available and will vary from store to store. While in stock at time of writing, stores may sell out of the selections so availability is not guaranteed. Call to check on price and availability before making the trip.