Ippolito, “Ripe del Falco” Ciro Rosso Riserva DOC 2002 (about $39)

Italian Wine for june, 2017

Founded in 1845, the Azienda Ippolito winery is the oldest in Calabria. Located near the town of Ciro Marina on the edge of the Ionian Sea the 250-acre estate produces a number of red and white wines made with indigenous varieties such as Gaglioppo, Calabrese and Greco Bianco, among others.  

Gaglioppo (gahl yolp’ poh) is the most important red variety in the Cirò DOC appellation. It is a hardy, thick-skinned, late-ripening variety ideally suited for Calabria’s hot and dry environment. Gaglioppo-based wines generally exhibit some of the same characteristics as Nebbiolo-based wines i.e., full-bodied with dark fruit flavors, good structure and pronounced tannins. However, Gaglioppo wines from higher elevation vineyards where Ionian Sea breezes help take some of the edge off the heat and thereby slow the ripening process will exhibit more acidity and spicy flavors and lower tannins.

Ippolito’s 2002 “Ripe del Falco” Ciro Rosso Riserva is made entirely of Gaglioppo grapes from 40 year-old vines in the estate’s Mancuso vineyard. The grapes are harvested in late October which is pretty late for this far south but they want to push the variety to its full phenolic ripeness. The grapes undergo “cold soaking” for 2 weeks in order to extract color and flavor from the grape skins prior to fermentation that takes place in cement vats for 7 days.

After fermentation is complete the wine is transferred to French Oak barriques where it ages for a year before bottling. The wine undergoes further ageing in the bottle and not released for sale until it is determined that the wine has come of age. The ’02 Ripe del Falco wasn’t released for sale until 10 years after harvest, a remarkably generous ageing regimen. The wine clocks in with 15 percent alcohol.

Ippolito, "Ripe del Falco" Ciro Rosso Riserva 2002I have sampled this wine on three different occasions in the last 6 months, most recently at VinItaly in Verona where the ’02 Ripe del Falco was celebrated as one of Italy’s 100 best wines of the year. And the wine is getting better each time.

A gentle swishing of the glass releases intoxicating aromas of cedar, balsamic and dried spices. This is followed by dark, brooding plum, black currant and some cassis flavors that coat the mouth with pleasing richness and depth. It has a firm structure with good acidity, prominent tannins and an earthy edge sure to appeal to those that favor wines with a distinctive sense of place. The ’02 Ripe del Falco also has a full, grippy finish that foretells a long life for this wine despite its already extended ageing.

This wine would be an excellent companion at any dinner table where grilled beef or lamb is on the menu.


©Richard Marcis
June 8, 2017

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