We Taste Three Ripasso
I first drank a Ripasso wine during my Bristol University days in the early 1990s. Our group was gathering for a casual dinner where we wanted to drink some different wines. When I went to my local Oddbins in Clifton it was recommended that I try a Masi Ripasso. Later on I tried another bottle from Masi, the 1988 Masi, Campo Fiorin of which I noted “tannic” and “Hides alcohol well.” Perhaps not the most useful tasting note but I still remember trying the wines some 20 years later.
Amarone grew in popularity starting in the 1950s with Ripasso wines making their first appearance in the 1980s. I did not realize there is some variation in Ripasso production. Many producers take a Valpolicella wine then mixing it with the leftover Amarone skins which causes a secondary fermentation. This adds complexity, power, and alcohol. Some styles of Ripasso involve a percentage of Appassimento wine which makes it more Amarone in style. The Romans are credited with creating the Appassimento style of wine which is produced from fruit that was air-dried on mats All three wines featured in this post are produced in a Ripasso style but the Nicolis, Testal is a blend, being 90% Corvina, not recognized by the Ripasso DOC.
My favorite of the three was by Tommaso Bussola for you get the enjoyable Ripasso flavors but the wine maintains freshness and acidity despite the higher alcohol level. The Nicolis is simply young at this point and best left in the cellar. It also illustrates the benefits of tasting a wine over two nights. I am not sure what was up with the Briagaldara. The initial flavors lightened then thinned up and never revealed anything interesting. Perhaps an under performing bottle? These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2007 Nicolis, Testal, Rosso del Veronese – $17
Imported by Grappoli Imports. This wine is a blend of 90% Corvina and 10% Indigenous grapes sourced from vineyards in the Valpolicella Classico zone. The fruit is dried for three weeks after the branches have been cut. It was aged for 16 months in tonneaux. Alcohol 13.5%. The light now was muted with ripe fruit, dried stems, and vintage perfume. In the mouth the red fruit showed some weight along with black fruit and acidity which hits the back of the throat. After a few hours of air it becomes attractive and perfumed in the finish. I would cellar for the short-term. **(*) 2015-2023.
2007 Tommaso Bussola, Ca’ del Laito, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore – $22
A Rare Wines Selection imported by Vieux Vins. This wine is a blend of 40% Corvina and Corvinone, 40% Rondinella, 10% Molinara, and 10% Others. The Ca’ del Laito vineyard was planted in 2002 on soils of clay at 380-400 meters. After the initial fermentation 90% of the wine was refermented on Amarone skins for one week. All of the wine was assembled and aged in used Styrian oak for 17 months. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium garnet. The light nose bore ripe fruit and a hint of raisins and dried fruit but maintained a fresh aspect. In the mouth this medium bodied wine was well-balanced with flavors that follow the nose. There was plenty of acidity, fine, ripe textured tannins, and a little tang in the finish. The flavors were drier in the finish. With air black fruit developed and a little residual sugar was noticeable on the lips. There were lifted, cherry notes. *** Now-2020.
2009 Azienda Agricola Briagaldara, il Vegro, Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports. This wine is a blend of 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Others. The wine is added to the Amarone grape skins for five days then aged in stainless steel vats followed by Slavonian oak vats. Alcohol 14%. There was dried fruit flavor and chocolate which was generally dry but in a somewhat rounded delivery. The flavors lightened up in the middle. There was acidity and tang on the side of the tongue. The mouthfeel continues through the finish but the flavors thin out. ** Now-?