Valpolicella is a wine district in state of Veneto where Venice(Venzia) is the capital. It ranks 1st in value of all Italian appellations and 2nd in production volume behind Chianti. Valpolicella, which literally means “valley of many cellars”, is located just north of the city of Verona, west of Venice and east of beautiful Lake Garda. Valpolicella wine are red blends of Corvina, Rondinella and sometimes Molinara grapes.
VALPOLICELLA DOC – This is the basic lighter fruit forward red blend of Corvina, Rondinella & Molinara red grapes varieties
VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO DOC - the basic Valpolicella which has been refermented or re-passed with Amarone lees. Usually higher alcohol and pricier than regular Valpolicella. “Baby Amarone”
AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA DOCG – Aged up to five years this wine has full appassimento processing with richer full bodied complex character and higher alcohol. One of Italy’s big three wine types that commands the highest prices.
RECIOTO DELLA VALPOLICELLA DOCG – A passito “sweet” dessert wine. Very Simply put Amarone fermentation is stopped early leaving much sweeter product.
For Wine Geeks & Cork Dorks:
What is Appassimento and what does it have to do with Ripasso?
Appassimento is the process of drying grapes on mats for several weeks up to several months to slightly dehydrate(as much as 30%) the grape berries thereby concentrating their sugars and flavors. These dried grapes are then crushed and used to make Amarone and Recioto types of wine. Since sugar is more concentrated these wines yield more alcohol, up to 16.5%, and are more complex than a typical wine. Traditionally bamboo or straw mats were used in old wineries. Currently wineries use stackable plastic racks placed in temperature/humidity controlled drying areas. This more controlled process limits threats of diseases & rot which damaged grapes in the past.
Ripasso is commonly a type Valpolicella wine. Usually Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes which have been processed normally are refermented with the lees of either Amarone or Recioto obtained from their first racking. Lees, pomace, heavies or leftovers are the solids(skins, seeds, etc) first filtered off the highly dried grape wines and still contain some of the sugars & raisonation of the wines from which they came. Thus the Valpolicella Ripasso has higher alcohol and takes on some of the characteristics of the Amarone. In fact some have named Ripasso “baby Amarone.”