This year sees the release of the 2020 vintage of Masi’s Campofiorin, with a bright restyling of its iconic label and a fine-tuning of its vinification. It is the latest stage in an evolutionary journey which began almost 60 years ago, with the ground-breaking 1964 vintage.
The origins of Masi’s innovative ‘Super Venetian’ Campofiorin go back to the traditional practice of ‘ripasso’, the refermenting of new vintage Valpolicella on the fresh, moist pomace of Amarone. The complex transformation that follows produces a wine that acquires structure and aroma from the pressed skins of the Amarone, while retaining the freshness of the younger wine: a rural practice that is, in the words of Masi President Sandro Boscaini, ‘simple but at the same time ingenious.’
That first vintage of Campofiorin came out in 1967 and was met with immediate critical acclaim. Burton Anderson described it as ‘a prototype for a new style of Veronese red’, and so the much emulated Campofiorin proved to be in the years that followed. Fast-forwarding to the 1980s, a period of intensive research at Masi which led to a fundamental change in the vinification of Campofiorion. The challenge was to maintain the wine’s authentic character, but with a more refined profile. The solution? Referment young Valpolicella on partially dried grapes rather than the pommace of Amarone, a technique which became known as ‘Masi’s double fermentation’.
Jumping forward again, the newly released 2020 sees a further evolution of Masi’s flagship wine. Technically, the 2020 represents an update, rather than a revolution, aimed at meeting modern tastes for ripe fruit flavours and smooth textures. Fine-tuning of the winemaking shifts the balance between the freshness of the young Valpolicella and the richness of the partially dried grape in the direction of the latter. There is a small increase in the percentage of Corvina in the blend, the base wine is harvested a little later for slightly lower acidity and softer tannins and the percentage of partially dried grapes in the refermentation passes from 25% to 30%. The label, designed specifically for the launch of the 2020 vintage, is a sophisticated revisitation of an Italian classic, reframing the charm of the original baroque motifs against a modern graphic background, with ‘Campofiorin’ picked out by a delicate gold outline and printed in an elegant raised lettering.
Campofiorin is currently distributed in 140 countries; Masi is probably the most widely distributed Italian producer in the world today. The secret of its extraordinary global success certainly lies in part with the international appeal of the sophisticated Italian lifestyle that it represents, with all its associations with fashion and design. In the glass, it echoes this same elegance, faithfully communicating its terroir in the middle ground between the fresh, dry flavours of a young Valpolicella and the majestic weight and complexity of an Amarone. This in turn makes it a highly adaptable food wine; a perfect companion to a wide array of flavours, delicate and intense alike. The fact that it generously over-achieves for its price point is not to be overlooked, but possibly the key to its enduring popularity is that it is perennially contemporary, as the new 2020 so ably demonstrates, evolving with the times while always remaining true to its identity.
Masi Campofiorin 2020 Rosso Verona IGT
72% Corvina 23% Rondinella 5% Molinara; 13.2% abv
Bright, concentrated, mid-ruby centre with a pale rim. Immediately expressive, with dark plums, mulberry and cherry jam in the foreground, backed up by delicate notes of sweet spices, carob and a hint of vanilla pod. Very fresh, but with the concentration to develop a complex bouquet with bottle age. Intense, vibrant fruit entry with juicy acidity and a seamless progression to a mid-palate with refined, well-integrated tannins and a finish with the authentic bitter-sweet tang of Veronese reds. Corvina gives the dominant fruit, Rondinella the structure and Molinara the freshness in a perfectly balanced blend, drinking now, but not afraid of bottle age. An ideal partner for a wide range of classic Italian pasta and rice dishes, as well as roasted and grilled meats and mature cheeses. Drink 2024-2034