Looking for a resonably priced wine for dinner tonite ? Pass the
ripasso. Quebec has been buying up these wines like crazy. Here’s
what all the fuss is all about.
The word ripasso comes from the italian meaning
«re-passed». It represents an old school
method of winemaking in the Veneto region of Italy.
A region known for the canals in Venice and the story of Romeo and
Juliet in Verona. Famous Veneto citizens include Giovanni Caboto
(John Cabot), Antonio Vivaldi and Roberto Baggio. Travelling westbound
from Venice and north west from Verona we arrive in the zone of
Valpolicella. Val-poli-cella in Latin means valley
of many cellars.
In Valpolicella, different styles of wine are made. Three which
I ’d like to focus on is the Valpolicella, Ripasso
and Amarone trio. All three are related
and are made from the same red grapes. Think of the three wines
in a vertically in terms of body and complexity. Valpolicella on
the bottom, Ripassa in the middle and Amarone on top. I’ll
Valpolicella is a wine made from three principal red
grapes ; Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. It is a light to medium
bodied, easy to drink wine that is paired with simple pasta dishes
Amarone is a full bodied and powerful wine made from
the appasimento method. The same three grapes varieties
are harvested in September and left to dry for about three months.
Then they are fermented and pressed. With at least half of the
water evaporated, the sugars are concentrated and the alcohol
in the finished wine is a few points higher. Amarone is born out
of this process. A big bold full bodied wine with concentrated
flavours of cherries, figs and raisins. Suggested food pairings
would be Monte Veronese or other similar aged sharp cheeses or
a good book near a warm fireplace.
Ripassa- This method of winemaking is credited
to the Masi winery and the first vintage was 1964 right around
the time of the Beatles’ debut on Ed Sullivan. This process
is whereby the leftover lees (skins, seeds, pips, stalks) from
the fermentation of Amarone wine is «re-passed» or
re-pumped in the fermentation tank with Valpolicella wine in it.
Therefore Valpolicella wine gets energized or boosted with Amarone
lees that contain, colour, alcohol and tannin. A new Valpolicella
Ripasso wine is born. Darker colour, stronger in alcohol and tannin
more complex flavours.
More versatile than Valpolicella, but not a monster like Amarone,
Valpolicella ripasso pairs well with a wide range of foods from
ossobuco to porcini risotto and is less expensive !