Ripassos have proliferated in Italy’s Valpolicella region since the 1980s and are now basically the ‘second wine’ of Amarone. But what are they, exactly? Well, the typical Venetian winery produces an opulent, powerful Amarone from dried Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, and a much more willowy (anaemic?) Valpolicella from fresh ones. When the Amarone ferment is complete the wine is drawn off the grape skins and seeds, and (here comes the science bit – concentrate!) the juvenile Valpolicella is sloshed over this leftover sugar and nutrient-rich ‘pomace’. This ripasso (or re-passing) prompts a secondary fermentation that boosts alcohol, texture, colour and flavour in the resulting mongrel wine, in essence imbuing simple Valpolicella with a touch of Amarone glamour. A unique style, Valpolicella Ripasso attained DOC status in 2009.
2 to try
Villa Belvedere Valpolicella Ripasso 2011 (€13.59 on promo)
Farina ‘Montecorna’ Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2011 (€17.60 on promo)