Saturday, April 10, 2010

You Say "Ripasso"...

I've mentioned a couple of times in my little Wine Odyssey that I have a bit of jones about ripasso wines. It's not necessarily that they always knock my socks off - they don't - but I love the concept behind the production method. And the thought of potentially finding a baby brother to Amarone wines - that doesn't tax the pocketbook quite as much - is extremely appealing.

Tonight's wine may be just the ticket.

404. 2006 Zenato Ripassa (Valpolicella DOC Superiore - Italy)

Ripasso wines are a relatively new addition to the world of wine. Italian producer, Masi, is credited with being the first to commercially market a ripasso and that was only in the early 1980's. Indeed, Ripasso della Valpolicella only received its own DOC designation in 2009. The premise behind a ripasso wine is that, once the fermentation of the dried grapes is completed with a winery's Amarone wines, Valpollicella wine is then "re-passed" or added to the pomace of the Amarone grapes for a period of extended maceration. Pomace is the solid remains of grapes after they have been pressed and it will consist of skins, pulp, seeds and stems.

Introducing the Valpolicella wine to the Amarone pomace initiates a second fermentation, the desired result being a slightly increased alcohol content, deeper colour and higher concentrations of flavour and aroma. Voila, a wine that's bigger than a Valpolicella but not as rich, complex - or expensive to make - as an Amarone.

That is, when it works. Me, I suppose I'm really just looking for a poor man's Amarone. I want the rich, full bodied wines that hint of a Port's deep flavours - and I don't know that you can regularly expect that from just a "re-passing through some old grape leftovers. The majority of the flavour profile from the original grapes will have been drawn out in the Amarone. And, if all you're really incorporating from the pomace is more tannins (potentially bitter ones at that), the added components to the Ripasso may not be that profile that I'm looking for.

This one did work though.

At $33, it's still not an everyday price point, but it beats the $60-plus that is Amarone.

The Valpolicella region is in the Veneto, above Venice. I could so picture myself smack in the middle of any number of scenarios that would involve Venice (or the countryside), mouth-watering nibbles and a bottle of this wine.
Tonight, was simply a bit of lasagna and the wiles of Survivor, but, Oh, the imagination abounds.

This is the first bottle of wine I've tried from Zenato. I certainly hope that it won't be the last.

For the time being anyhow, when you say "Ripasso," I'll say "Ripassa."

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