Straight from la Cantina di Antonio …
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE BIG REDS, but don’t want to break the bank!
Ripasso is a red wine from the Valpolicella zone located north of Verona in the Veneto region of Italy. Ripasso is generally less well known than Valpolicella and Amarone wines, also from this area, even though it shares some features of both wines.
The term “Ripasso” sounds like and in fact means “repassed.” That refers to its production process whereby regular, fermented Valpolicella (which is a blend of three regional native red grape varieties – Corvina, Rondinella and occasionally Molinara) is added to a cask containing the skins and lees left over from fermented Amarone wines. The process of adding (or “repassing”) the lighter Valpolicella wine over the remainders of the “bigger” Amarone wine imparts additional color, texture and flavor to the Valpolicella wine. Also, it induces a second fermentation of the wine that increases the wine’s alcoholic content.
The end result is a wine called Ripasso that retains the vibrancy of Valpolicella but is darker in color, bigger and more flavorful and complex than the original Valpolicella. It’s a wine with sufficient stuffing to go with hearty foods such as stews, braised red meats, game and aged cheeses. In 2009, Ripasso della Valpolicella received its own DOC designation.
Ripasso wines are sometimes casually referred to as “baby Amarones.” The same combination of grape varieties from the Valpolicella zone used to produce Ripasso are also used to produce Amarone. The two wines also share some of the same aroma and flavor profiles.
Ripasso wines can be served with a number dishes such as risotto and hearty pasta dishes. But they are at their best when paired with robust dishes involving roasted veal or lamb or braised or barbequed red meats like steak, sausage and game. Ripasso also goes well with aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano. My recommendation – try it with a porcini mushroom risotto or braised veal shank with herbs.
Valpolicella Ripasso is a fruity, complex red wine from the Valpolicella viticultural zone of Veneto, north-eastern Italy. Because Valpolicella’s wines generally lean towards the lighter end of the scale, for centuries the local winemakers have employed various techniques to improve the depth and complexity of their cuvees. The passito and ripasso methods have been the most successful: the former is used in the Recioto della Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella, while the latter is used to make Valpolicella Ripasso.
For a passito wine, the grapes are dried out for weeks or even months prior to fermentation, during which time their natural sugars and flavors become sufficiently concentrated to produce deeper, more alcoholic wines. The ripasso method is to ‘re-pass’ (re-ferment) thepassito grapes with standard Valpolicella wine, creating a deeper, more character-laden result. The style was granted its own independent DOC title in 2007.
VALPOLICELLA Valpolicella Ripasso (Alberghieri 2010) DOC £ 31.50