Here we go again with another northern Italian red blend, this time it’s from Veneto, not Tuscany. I picked up the Marchesi Biscardo Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Corvina Blend, 2013, from a local wine store, Gibb’s, which I have been visiting since before I could walk, with my parents. You could say I practically grew up there. The first thing I thought when I saw the Ripasso Corvina Blend was “Amarone!”, and you all know how much I love an Amarone. Ripasso is actually a method of winemaking where the wine is “re-passed” over dried grape skins, which generally gives the wine more structure and lower acidity. This method is extremely popular for people who love the style of Amarone wines but don’t always want to spend the big bucks required to get a decent one.
These Ripasso wines remind us so much of Amarone because they are passed over the dried grape skins of fermented Valpolicella grapes, a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and sometimes Molinara. So they pick up that leftover flavor that the Amarone left behind. This is why you sometimes hear Ripasso wines colloquially referred to as “baby Amarone” wines. Cute, huh? That’s not the only reason they have a similarity with the traditional Amarone della Valpolicella, the two wines are made with a similar (but not exactly the same) process, Amarone uses partially dried grapes, too. Ripasso wines are very similar in profile to Amarone, just a little bit less, they aren’t aged for quite as long in most cases, so that makes them more affordable.
I was initially attracted to this bottle because, no matter how cliche it is I don’t care, I really liked the label. I feel like a black label always makes a wine bottle stand out on a shelf among cream and parchment colors. This bottle is nicely complex with flavors of dried fruits, dark cherry, some violet hints and… a bite of beef jerky? The tannins are soft, and acidity is pretty mild, so it goes down easily. It is a standard Ripasso with it’s full body and long finish. 10 out of 10 would drink again. I give this wine easily a 9.5, for a not-quite-amarone it is really an impressive wine. Take it to your next dinner party if you want a big hit for a not so big price tag.
Do you know of a great wine I should feature as a future Bottle of The Week? Let me know!