The Cellar: Budget-Friendly Blends from Italy + Portugal

Friday, January 20, 2012


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Save some Euros with two tasty blends.

Last week we tasted the two red blends from California. This week we focus on two European red blends; a classic Ripasso blend from Veneto in Italy and an Alentejano from Portugal. If you have a thirst for more and would like to expand your knowledge about wine in a fun and relaxing atmosphere, you should consider attending an ‘Evening with Wine’ event. The next such event, featuring Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th. For more information visit

2007 Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese, Italy

To me, seeing a Masi label brings back a lot of memories from my childhood. We drank a lot of Italian table wine in my family, and whenever my parents would splurge for a nice bottle it seems the Masi Campofiorin Ripasso always ended up in the shopping cart. I haven’t had the Campofiorin in a few vintages, so when I saw the 2007 vintage on the shelve I had to pick it up.

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Located in Veneto in northeastern Italy, Masi is an iconic producer. The company is considered the creator of the modern ‘ripasso’ technique, which is the process of refermenting or double fermenting the wine, thereby intensifying its flavor. But Masi didn’t stop there. They combined the Ripasso process with the ‘Appassimento’ process, the technique of drying the grape to concentrate its sugars, and made a truly unique product, the first such wine being the 1964 Campofiorin Ripasso.

I remember this wine as being big and bold with concentrated dark fruit flavors, so when I tasted the 2007 vintage, I must admit I was a little disappointed. Even after a solid hour of aeration the wine still didn’t live up to my expectations. The flavors were there however. The classic combination of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara is as unmistakable as its delicious factor is undeniable. I just wish this particular vintage had more structure and density. If you can find the 2006 – be sure to grab it as I have heard good thing about it. The soon-to-be-released 2008 vintage should be a classical one as well. 

2007 Monte Do Pintor, Pequeno Pintor Tinto, Alentejano, Portugal

This week’s second traditional red blend brings us to Portugal where indigenous grape varieties have long been the backbone of the countries wine. Located in the southern half of Portugal, the vast

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Alentejano region covers about a third of the country. Besides producing its fair share of table wine, the Region is also noted for its vast cork production. The Monte do Pintor Estate does it all; wine, corks and then some. In fact, of the Estate’s approximately 500 acres only 75 of it is dedicated to planting vines.

But you wouldn’t know that by tasting the 2007 Pequeno Pintor Tinto. The wine is based primarily on the indigenous grape varietal Trincadeira, a grape that makes full-bodied and rich wines with aromas of blackberries and herbs. The addition of Aragones, aka Tempranillo, and Alicante Bouschet, which adds tannins and color, makes for a delicious wine with complex flavors. After hand-harvesting the grapes the wine goes on to spend 6 months in French oak barrels and 8 months in bottle prior to being released. The result is a delicious medium-plus bodied wine filled with delicious flavors. To me, the wine comes across like an interesting blend of Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo; it is soft and fruity, but has a funky herbaceousness on the nose, as well as on the palate, that I absolutely love. With fresh acidity and length to boot, this is a wine that I would absolutely recommend you seek out. 


Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected]. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook.

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