Valpolicella Ripasso doc is obtained from the contact between basic Valpolicella and residual Amarone lees for about 15/20 days. It is characterized by a heavier structure and longevity. If compared to basic Valpolicella the alcohol content is higher, the acidity lower, the roundness more marked and the values of the phenolic substances and extracts are higher.
Ruby-red in colour with garnet shades, it offers a slightly ethereal perfume of red fruits with notes of vanilla. The palate is fine, harmonious, dry and velvety.
For its pleasant characteristics it perfectly pairs with winter first courses, main courses, cold cuts and medium-seasoned cheese.
A successful wine
Wrongly considered a lower rank product compared to Amarone, "Valpolicella Ripasso" has recently been subject to an exponential increase in consumers' liking. This is surely due to its high quality/price ratio, in part also due to market trends (linked to a name which currently is a registered trade mark) and to the fascination of a wine appreciated by the younger generations. "Valpolicella Ripasso" has had a big success abroad as well and this has boosted the Veronese oenology.
The technique of Ripasso
Valpolicella producers and experts have always used the word "Ripasso" to refer to a specific technique in the making of "Valpolicella" which has a long and established tradition and has, as far as we know, no equivalent in other regions.
The only term that can somehow remind of "Ripasso" is a technique called "governo" mainly practiced in Tuscany, above all in the past. It consists of a re-fermentation of the wine on dried grapes and not on already fermented lees as it happens for Ripasso.
Valpolicella Ripasso received the controlled designation of origin in April 2010 and this requires a maceration of the wine on fermented lees from dried grapes previously used to make Recioto or Amarone.
Practically, when the must-wine is poured out of the fermentation vat, the lees left are statically drained and some Valpolicella, obtained from freshly crushed grapes, is added in the same vat directly on the partly still fermentating lees.
From a quality point of view, the results depend on: the type of wine used to make Valpolicella Ripasso; the ratio between the quality of this wine and the quality of lees; the quantity of liquid still contained in the fermented lees; and the length of the contact.
The general tendency is to avoid long maceration periods because the lees have been impoverished in colour compounds and precious phenolics by the previous maceration and the residue is bitter tannins with a high molecular weight, mainly present in grape seeds; tannins are easily extracted when in contact with alcohol, often resulting in a strong dry sensation in the wine and too intense evolutionary notes. For this reason the period of contact tends to be the shortest possible so as to obtain a simple percolation of the wine imbued in the lees.