What were you doing in 1964? I guess that many who are reading this weren’t even born then. I was at school at the time and my main interest was the Beatles, then the most famous pop band in the world. As for wine – I doubt that I’d ever tasted any by then and I certainly knew nothing about it. But an Italian company, Masi, did; that was the year that they launched a new wine, Campofiorin – a wine that has subsequently become an iconic name and whose 2014 vintage, currently in the shops (Waitrose, £12.99) celebrates the brand’s 50th Anniversary with a specially designed ‘50’ label.
Although sold as a Rosso Verona IGT (IGT is the Italian equivalent of the French term ‘Vin de Pays’), Campofiorin is effectively a high quality Valpolicella in disguise. It’s made using the traditional grapes from that DOC – Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella – the main difference here is that the grapes are slightly dried before fermentation. This concentrates the sugars in them and so produces a wine with more body and power than a normal Valpolicella – a technique borrowed from the prestigious Amarone wines from the same region.
Here, the method gives a lovely deep coloured wine with aromas of bitter cherry, prunes and spice. The same flavours, especially the spices, carry through to quite a rich and full palate with hints of chocolate, figs and vanilla on an attractive, long finish.
With good Amarones fetching £20 and more, this really is a bargain for those who like this chunky style – I admit it’s not to everyone’s taste – and no surprise that it is still on the shelves in its 50th vintage.
Shame about all those wasted years listening to the Beatles and drinking something else!