Zeni, “Marogne” Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2017 (about $18)

Italian Wine for april, 2020

Ripasso is one of my favorite go-to wines and I always keep several bottles at the ready for unexpected, drop-by visits by family or friends - ahem, that is after the pandemic recedes and social interaction restrictions have been lifted!

Ripasso wines consistently hit that “sweet spot” in the wine price-quality continuum. They are rich, full-bodied, flavorsome and share some of the same aroma and flavor features as other more high-profile red wines such as Amarone with which they share a similar but not identical production and ageing process.

But because of their less intense production and ageing requirements, Ripasso wines are more approachable and considerably less expensive than Amarone and most other big red wines. As such, they can be enjoyed regularly while saving the other big reds for those special occasions when a wine with some greater gravitas would be appropriate.

My experience is that Ripasso wines seldom disappoint and Zeni’s “Marogne” Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore is a good example. The 2017 “Marogne” is made with hand-selected clusters of grapes from its hillside vineyard near Lake Garda. It is a blended wine made with Valpolicella’s traditional varieties, in this case 60 percent Corvina, 30 percent Rondinella and 10 percent Molinara.

Several passes of the vineyard are made during the grape harvest. The grapes picked at the beginning of the harvest are collected in small crates and left to partially dry before being combined with grapes picked later in the 2017 "Marogne" Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore from Zeni wineryharvest and then vinified. The grapes undergo a traditional 2-week fermentation and maceration.

The newly fermented Valpolicella wine is then decanted on i.e., “passed over” the fresh pomace (leftover grape skins and yeast cells) from the estate’s recently-fermented Amarone wine. This induces a second fermentation that imparts additional structure and concentration and also increases the Valpolicella’s alcohol content. The Ripasso wine is then aged in oak barrels for 12 months followed by a short stay in stainless steel vats prior to bottling.

The 2017 “Marogne” is a real winner with intense perfumed aromas of a dried fruit compote. A sip reveals a full bodied, seductively smooth wine with ripe dark cherry and berry flavors, controlled tannins and acidity and a lengthy, pleasantly earthy finish.

This Ripasso checks in with food-friendly 14 percent alcohol and is a perfect companion to hearty dishes like grilled red meats, most full-flavored pasta and risotto dishes and strong cheeses where the Ripasso’s flavors will complement rather than overwhelm the food.


©Richard Marcis
April 6, 2020

To see reviews of other selected wines of the month, see Wines of the Month.

For reviews of other Ripasso wines, see For Those Who Love Big Reds But Can’t Always Afford Amarone

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