What is the Difference Between Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso?

Montigoli Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2020

 Deciphering the Difference Between Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso

We want to examine the difference between valpolicella and valpolicella ripasso:

The enchanting region of Valpolicella in Veneto, Italy, is home to two renowned wine varieties, the both renowned for their rich flavors and enchanting aromas. While their names share a common thread, their production methods and resulting characteristics set them apart, offering distinct gastronomic experiences.

Valpolicella is traditionally made from a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. These grapes undergo a careful harvesting process and are carefully selected for optimal ripeness and flavor profile. The resulting wine shows a lively ruby ​​red color with aromas of cherry, plum and a little spice. The palate is characterized by a delicate balance of acidity and tannins, creating a harmonious and refreshing experience.

Valpolicella Ripasso takes its name from its unique production method. After the initial fermentation of the Valpolicella blend, the partially fermented wine is subjected to a second fermentation, known as ripasso, using the skins of dried Corvina grapes, called Amarone. This secondary fermentation imparts a richer, more intense flavor profile, with notes of dark cherry, blackberry, and licorice. The tannins are also enhanced, creating a fuller-bodied experience.

Similarities and Shared Roots: The Common Ground of Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso

Both  are produced in the Valpolicella region of Veneto, Italy, utilizing the same primary grape varieties: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. These grapes, grown on the volcanic soils of the region, contribute to the wines’ vibrant red fruit flavors, balanced acidity, and distinctive aromatic profile.

The Ripasso Method: A Key Distinction

 Valpolicella is produced through a straightforward fermentation process, while Valpolicella Ripasso undergoes a secondary fermentation. During this secondary fermentation, the Valpolicella wine is macerated with dried Appassimento grapes, which have been concentrated by being dried on straw mats.

The Impact of the Ripasso Method: A Deeper, Richer Flavor

The secondary fermentation with Appassimento grapes imparts a deeper color, a higher alcohol content, and a more intense, complex flavor profile to Valpolicella Ripasso. The concentrated sugars from the dried grapes contribute to the wine’s sweetness, while the added tannins enhance its structure and aging potential.

Sensory Differences: Unveiling the Flavor Profiles

Distinctive production methods of both wines lead to noticeable differences in their flavor profiles. Valpolicella typically exhibits a brighter, fresher expression of red fruits, with notes of cherry, raspberry, and plum balanced by lively acidity. Valpolicella Ripasso, on the other hand, boasts a richer, more concentrated flavor profile, with deeper notes of blackberry, cherry liqueur, and spice, complemented by a touch of sweetness and velvety tannins.

Pairing Possibilities: A Culinary Symphony

Both wines can be paired with a wide range of dishes, reflecting their versatility and adaptability. Valpolicella pairs beautifully with simple grilled meats, savory cheeses, and light pasta dishes. Valpolicella Ripasso, with its richer, spicier character, can handle bolder dishes, such as hearty stews, game meats, and spicy Asian cuisine.

Conclusion: A Journey of Flavor and Discovery

After exploring the world of Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso, we have witnessed how these two distinct wines embody the essence of Italian winemaking. Valpolicella, with its bright freshness and balanced acidity, captures the essence of Italian passion and versatility. Valpolicella Ripasso, with its rich intensity and complex flavors, showcases the power of tradition and innovation.

Whether you prefer the vibrant charm of Valpolicella or the rich complexity of Valpolicella Ripasso, both wines invite you to embark on a journey of flavor discovery. As you savor these exquisite wines, allow yourself to be transported to the sun-kissed vineyards of Valpolicella, where passion and tradition intertwine to create something truly special.

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