Ripasso Della Valpolicella

Often thought of as a singular wine style, the prodigious vineyards of the Valpolicella DOC, a Veneto sub-region in north-eastern Italy, now produce a broad range of grapes and blends. Rightfully known for light and fruity wines intended for early consumption, the bulk of the vines planted here include Rondinella, Molinara, and Corvina Veronese. Up until the early medieval age, these hillside tracts of fertile soil that are dependably fed by a lattice of brooks in the Adige River watershed were individually named valleys: Vallis Provinianensis, rolling out northwest of famed Verona, and Vallis Veriacus to the east. In time, the reference to these and an adjacent plain were combined, becoming Vallis Pulicella. Modern day Italians, along with the rest of an appreciative wine world, now succinctly call the region Valpolicella. Circa the 12th-century onwards, stewardship of the ‘valley of many cellars’ was first overseen by the Veronese nobility and then the prosperous mercantile class who followed in their footsteps. As regional contributors to the glory age known as the Serenissima Republia (‘Serene Republic of Venice’), this partnership of multi-generational families coupled with local agricultural expertise has been a winning formula for distinctive winemaking and export know-how. Viva Verona!

Ripasso (to ‘go over again’) is a relatively ancient vinification technique which has again become popular with red wine lovers looking for bolder versions of standard Valpolicella; lighter than the complex, heavyweight, and significantly more expensive Amarone, another specialty in the region. For this week’s DéClassé selection of Storia Antica Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2014, the ‘Ripasso’ designation refers to a multi-step process beginning with selective, hand picking and sorting of grapes that include a predominate blend of Corvina Veronese and Corvinone Nero, as well as, a splash of Rondinella. The fruit macerates in contact with the skins for approximately 10 days before filtering, after which it settles and matures while stored in Inox (stainless steel tanks) for several months. In January/February of the following year, the second fermentation stage that characterizes Ripasso wines is achieved by reusing the pumice of dried grapes discarded after a complicated production process in making Amarone. Blending this mash, which still holds a concentration of unconverted sugars, with the young Valpolicella prompts the re-fermentation. The wine is filtered again, then left to age for 12 months in large oak barrels and 6 months in the bottle. If executed with care, these steps create a richer wine with noticeably more tannin, pigment, and an alcohol content boosted from 11% to at least 13%.

A great deal of time and effort has been invested in this production style, so paying a few dollars above the baseline price-point for generic Valpolicella is more than justified. As this bottling is from the 2014 vintage, it’s ready to drink now – it may also be enjoyed over the next 3-5 years if for some reason you misplace your corkscrew!

STORIA ANTICA RIPASSO VALPOLICELLA 2014
VINTAGES – Product #273672 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 17.95
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D

Made in: Veneto, Italy
By: Le Ville Di Antane S.R.L.
Release Date: March 18, 2017

Tasting Note
With its dominant flavours of dark fruit, some chocolate and savoury notes, and the signature yet subtle raisinated quality, this ruby coloured wine is a signature Ripasso Della Valpolicella. Dry, flavourful and smooth, the bottling’s balance of oak and fruit combine in a refinement that’s not always achieved in the sometimes, heavy-handed Appassimento styles. An excellent wine choice for barbecued steaks and ribs, lamb tagine, roasted butternut squash, or Ratatouille with crispy herbed croutons.

2 thoughts on “Ripasso Della Valpolicella

  1. I see you are going upscale in your price selections…I’m okay with occasionally but being a cheap wino, I would ask for more under $14 wines

    • Well, that’s a challenging target in the context of the LCBO’s markup %.
      Moreover, your requested price-point is below the stated threshold of DeClasse,
      as detailed in the website’s description/mission.
      If you scroll through the last 10 postings or so,
      you’ll note that the average sticker price is $15 – $16,
      and more occasionally, $16 – $18.
      Though a great deal of wine pricing defies justification in terms of production cost, experience has taught me:
      if one’s expectation of wine quality/value is based on the attributes of being ‘noteworthy and overachieving’,
      then one should reasonably expect a $17 mid-point (in Ontario).
      As for what’s on offer in the $10 – $14 range, by and large, this references commercially bottled bulk wines.
      To my tastes, there are many examples of well-made and ‘quaffable’ versions – perfectly satisfying as ‘everyday’ wine,
      but not really worthy of deeper examination/documentation.
      Lastly, the wines that I elect to promote, are ones which are destined for shorter-term cellaring,
      and then in a considered manner, selectively offered to friends/guests at Brunch, Lunch and Dinner!
      p.s. if one were having said meals in Southern France, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Argentina or Chile,
      then all the price-point distinctions above would be far less relevant; $6 – $8 would get you some exceptional, local wines!
      Warm regards,
      Stephan

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