This Argentine wine is not just a great deal, it's wholly unique – an experimental wine that blurs the line between old-world and new-world winemaking. Masi is one of northern Italy's most respected vintners, famous for two Venetian specialties: the legendarily potent "Amarone" made from partially dried grapes, and "Valpolicella Ripasso" made by refermenting the much lighter local red wine on the raisiny Amarone's remnants to boost flavor. When the Masi family sought to expand, they chose land at the foot of an ancient volcano in the Argentine Andes, Tupungato. In addition to cultivating the local malbec, they planted corvina, the grape of the Valpolicella region, and brought with them the "appassimento" technique that gives Amarone its power. Passo Doble is a South American spin on Valpolicella Ripasso. At harvest, the malbec base wine is vinified normally, but the corvina grapes are dried on bamboo mats. After two to three weeks, when the malbec fermentation is complete, 30 percent raisinated corvina is added and refermented a second time, a process that turbocharges the wine's flavor. Malbec's signature flavors of blueberry pie and roasted beets shine through with aromatic accents of dried herbs and violets. The dried corvina enriches the wine's texture and complexity while adding a faint raisiny scent of rum-soaked fruit cake.
Masi Tupungato "Passo Doble" Valle de Uco, Argentina, $11.99 (regularly $14.99, sale price through Dec. 31). PLCB Item #2073.