Sunday, May 21, 2006

You say Ripasso and I say Ripassa; Three versions

Starting with a basic definition of Ripasso
• (Italy) A brilliant concept for increasing the amount of flavor and interest in basic Valpolicella. The Valpolicella wine is passed over unpressed but drained must of an Amarone. The bittersweet intensity of the Amarone is imparted, in a small way, to the basic Valpolicella, possibly with the help of a minor secondary refermentation.

I have narrowed them down to three methods.(although there are several other variations). But for the time this would be a good place to start from.

1) Traditional
Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore DOC
A blend of 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Molinara. After fermentation the wine is put into the vessels recently vacated by the Recioto and Amarone and undergoes a slight re-fermentation that increases both the alcohol and body. (the traditional Ripasso method, where the wine is repassed over the pomace of the partially dried grapes that are used to make Amarone) It remains in tank for 6 months and is then aged in small oak barrels for 18-24 months.

2) Innovative and Fresh

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre IGT
A blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese made in their ripasso style. 70% of the grapes picked are vinified immediately. The remaining 30% are left to dry until the end of December when they are vinified and re-fermented with the wine from the fresh grapes. They feel they have improved upon the traditional Ripasso method, where the wine is repassed over the pomace of the partially dried grapes that are used to make Amarone. They now add whole, partially dried grapes of the same variety to enrich the wine, as opposed to the spent grape skins normally used.

3) Artisanal and Intense (the most complex method of the 3)

Viviani “Campo Morar” Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC
The grapes are harvested the first or second week of October from the vineyard designated Campo Morar. 50% of the harvested grapes are vinified at the time of harvest, macerated for about 10 days, and vinified in glass lined cement containers under controlled temperatures. The other 40% of the grapes go through “appassimento” (a natural withering of the grapes in an ambient environment) for about one month in order to obtain the highest concentration of all the components of the grapes. At the end of November these grapes get crushed and after the maceration period, the wine is mixed with the juice of the grapes that were vinified in October. Around the end of March, a small amount of the ripassato (pomace) of the Amarone, which is rather sweet, is added to the Valpolicella Superiore. This process, our version of “ripasso” allows the wine to re-ferment for several days. The wine ages in barrels for a period of 24 months followed by an additional 6 months in the bottle.
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