Okay, I promise that next time I will write about something a little different! This week’s bottle, however, harkens back to some of my favorites, Amarone. If you are thinking “how many bottles of almost-but-not-quite-Amarone wine can one person drink?” my answer is “a lot”. This is mostly because I love Amarone but, like most 20-somethings, cannot afford to drink it very often. So, here we are with another “knock-off”.
There is a reason that Ripasso is becoming more and more popular. As my fellow Amarone lovers know, Ripasso shares more than just its country of origin with the esteemed varietal. Both are produced in the Valpolicella area, both utilize primarily the same grapes (Corvina and Rondinella), and they are produced in similar manners. So, what’s the difference? The word Ripasso literally means re-passed, if you haven’t figured that out already, and it describes the winemaking process in a word. The Ripasso wines are actually poured over the dried bits of the fermented grapes that were used to make Amarone della Valpolicella, picking up some of their flavors on the way. This much cheaper way to make an Amarone style wine became so popular that winemakers outside Valpolicella began to imitate it, as is done with most quality things. In order to keep Ripasso wine slightly more exclusive a state seal is applied to all bottles of Valpolicella Ripasso since 2011. Also, winemakers are not allowed to produce up to twice as much Ripasso as they produce Amarone, to make sure the quality of the Ripasso is not diluted.
Now, to say that this wine is a suitable replacement for Amarone would be practically heretical. It is, however, a similarly structured substitution when on a budget. This particular bottle, the Bertani Valpolicella Ripasso 2011, has the typical floral nose associated with the style of wine, as well as the rich blackberry and ripe cherry flavors. Followed up by some light, smooth tannins that are nicely blended with a rather long finish that ends with a bit of spice. A lovely addition to any seafood pasta dinner, I would rate this bottle a solid 9.0.