2006 Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore. By Jethro Kang.
What is it? It’s a wine whose name has more syllables than Asia has gap year English teachers. But while I labour over the pronunciation, the taste is another matter altogether: smooth, riveting and so drinkable that I inhaled it.
How is it made? Fussy as it may be, the name spells out how this wine is made. It’s from Valpolicella, a DOC in Verona, northeast Italy. Valpolicella wines are typically red blends and they must contain a majority of the grape variety corvina. This has 85 per cent of that, with ten per cent rondinella and five per cent oseleta. The word Ripassa plays on the Ripasso method: after the grapes are macerated, they’re passed over the leftover berries used in making amarone, another wine from the same region. This starts a second fermentation in valpolicella to raise the abv and add complexity. The wine is also a Superiore, which means it’s been aged for at least a year (Zenato puts theirs in oak casks for 18 months) and contains a minimum of 12 per cent abv (14, in this case).
How does it taste? It’s like smelling fresh flowers just planted in dirt, and tastes like tart cherry and dark chocolate with a jolt of acidity. But when tried blind in a vertical tasting from 2006 to 2012 (#humblebrag), it stood out for its velvety texture and round finish. A bottle that’s finished faster than saying its 15-syllable name.