Wine: One red, one white
During the past year, I’ve highlighted many great wines. Today I’m revisiting two of them that are well worth trying.
The first is Valpolicella Ripasso by Zenato and originates north of Verona in the Veneto region in Italy. Ripasso is generally less well-known than Valpolicella and Amarone wines, also from this area, even though it shares some features of both wines.
Winemaking in the region has existed since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. The name "Valpolicella" appeared in charters of the mid-12th Century, combining two valleys previously thought of independently. Unfortunately, its etymology is unknown; but it might derive from a Latin and Greek mixture for "Valley of Cellars." Today Valpolicella's economy is heavily based on wine production and it's even called the "pearl of Verona."
"Ripasso" is a new style created in the 20th century, and it means "repassed," the process of adding the lighter Valpolicella wine over the remainders of the "bigger" Amarone. Also, it induces a second fermentation of the wine that increases the wine's alcoholic content. Ripasso wines are sometimes referred as a "baby Amarone." The two wines also share some of the same aroma and flavor profiles.
The end result is a wine called Ripasso that retains the vibrancy of Valpolicella but is darker in color, bigger and more flavorful and complex than the original Valpolicella.
Ripasso wines are also rich and full-bodied, as they share the same aroma and flavor profiles as Amarone wines, but Ripasso wines are more approachable and less expensive than Amarone wines. So, if you like Amarone, but it's slightly above the price point — this wine is for you!
Ripasso wine is perfect with pasta and risotto dishes.
Next is a another personal favorite I’ve written about, and it’s worth highlighting again - Tiefenbrunner pinot grigio.
Also Italian, it is absolutely delicious. Clean, fun, with a dash of mineral taste on your tongue, full of crisp, juicy citrus and honeydew flavors, with a gentle aroma of pears.
Tiefenbrunner's vineyards are located along the enchanting Südtyroler Weinstrasse, the Wine Route of South Tyrol, in one of the most beautiful wine-growing areas in Alto Adige.
The vines are grown mainly on the mountain slopes around the Turmhof Castle, with other vines located in the flatter areas of the valley. The Mediterranean climate, characterized by moderate rainfall and cooling evening winds, allows for a substantial difference between day and night temperatures, providing ideal conditions for the perfect ripening of the grapes; at 3,280 feet above sea level, it is the highest vineyard in Europe.
Wine has been cultivated at Castel Turmhof for more than 300 years. The castle itself, known for its Roman Gothic fairy tale-like figures and breathtaking swan lake, has been dated back to the late 12th century.
Today the Tiefenbrunner family is still fully committed to this tradition. The estate owners, Herbert Tiefenbrunner and his son Christof, produce about 700,000 bottles per year here, of which 70 percent are white wines and the remainder red.
Made with 100 percent Pinot Grigio grapes, this wine has a straw lemon color, youthful and bright. This wine is great as a starter, and it can be paired with some seafood appetizers, such as calamari or ceviche, and it goes perfectly with light fish or some pasta dishes. Buon appetito.
Adamo Serravalle is a wine expert and co-owner of Marco Prime and DaVinci's restaurants at Marco Walk. Along with Laura Owen of CJ’s on the Bay and Marco Porto of chop239, he is a regular contributor to this column.