Ripasso Vs. Amarone with Mario Scanu

This week we have Mario Scanu, aka the Sardinian Cowboy will be in store showing us the difference between the the elegant Ripasso and Amarone. We have had Mario in the store before, for those of you that have met him in the store he is a wealth of knowledge! He will help us explore the difference between Amarone and Riposso style wines from two producers. Secondo Marco, more of a modern take on the styles and Zenato a very classic producer. This will certainly be a tasting not to miss!

Valpolicella is typically made from three grape varieties: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. Valpolicella is a winegrowing area east of Lake Garda in the region of Veneto. From this base wine you can make several different styles. Amarone and Ripasso being two of those styles. Let’s start with Amarone! Amarone, is the process of which after harvest the grapes are laid out to dry for a minimum of 120 days, where they will lose 30% to 40% of their body weight. After drying the grapes are pressed to make wine after fermentation the wine must be aged for a minimum of two years for it to be classified as Amarone. Between the drying of the grapes and the aging is why Amarone is sought after and typically pricy.

Enter, Ripasso the ‘Baby Amarone’. Ripasso, is a style that was created to be able to mimic the style of Amarone but for a quarter/half of the price. To make Ripasso you make wine in the traditional fashion but before aging you would pass the wine through the grape pomace of Amarone grape skins. Hence, Ripasso or re-passing the wine over the amarone pressed grapes before discarding to intensify the wine. These wines combine the best of both the freshness of Valpolicella and the intensity of Amarone.

Marco Speri is the son of Benedetto Speri, the patriarch of one of the legendary winemaking families in Valpolicella. Benedetto worked together with the Bertani family to perfect some of the very first Amarones. Marco followed in his father’s footsteps at Speri winery for about 25 years. In 2008, Marco created his own brand, Secondo Marco, to make wines according to his own vision. Marco’s goal is to make elegant, food-friendly wines by focusing on higher acidity, lower alcohol, and less residual sugar. By emphasizing his concept of “drinkability,” or creating softer wines that are not harsh and high in alcohol, the end result is a very personal interpretation of the Valpolicella region. Marco Speri’s 15 hectares of vineyards are located in the town of Fumane, in the heart of Valpolicella Classico appellation and are trained in a high-density pergoletta, a Y-shaped innovation to the traditional pergola system. The “old pergola has a canopy in between the vines,” says Marco, “and produced green-tasting under-ripe grapes. With the pergoletta, we get the benefit of air circulation with more sunlight and easier picking.” Marco takes a practical approach to farming in a sustainable way, weeding mechanically and keeping other treatments to a minimum.


The Zenato winery possesses a strong link to the richness of its local history and culture, and continues to develop this connection today. The estate is based in a territory that surrounds Lake Garda, with an extraordinary microclimate that allows for an optimal growing season. Cherishing a ‘frank and simple’ approach to life, Zenato is committed to producing affordable wine of exceptional quality. With a passion for the land and a dedication to vigorous research, innovation and quality improvement, Sergio Zenato strived to eclipse past results. He crafted wines that are known for their quality and consistency. Founded in 1960 by Sergio and Carla Zenato, the Zenato winery was originally based on the production of quality wines from an indigenous varietal, Trebbiano di Lugana. Over time, the winery has been passed to Sergio and Carla’s children, who have maintained and expanded upon this vision. Their daughter Nadia currently handles the marketing and promotional activity for the company, while their son Alberto oversees all aspects of production, from the growing of the vines to the completion of the bottling process. Zenato has also explored another important area of Italian wine production — Valpolicella. It is here that they have dedicated endless efforts to the improvement and success of Amarone production, a wine of noble attributes and prestige. Zenato has entered into international markets and received the highest accolades from the wine industry’s leading experts, praise that reflects the way in which the company operates on a daily basis. Today, Zenato continues to look to the future and invest in development projects based in the areas of Valpolicella and Lugana. Winemaking Philosophy Today, the winery operates under a philosophy and mission of Quality (from the vineyard to the bottle and consumer), Passion and Tradition (respecting the roots of the territory and local culture).

There is much more to know about the difference between these two wines. If you’d like further information the following article will give you great insight on them. https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/what-is-ripasso/

Zenato Ripasso di Valpolicella, 2013 :: $36 Sale $32

This wine is closely connected to the greatest wine of Valpolicella: Amarone. After pressing the dried grapes from which Amarone is made, the Valpolicella wine is passed over the still warm marc of Amarone. A second alcoholic fermentation begins which increases the alcoholic content and the wine becomes richer in colour, bouquet

Secondo Marco Ripasso di Valpolicella, 2013 :: $36 Sale $32
This Ripasso is a medium-bodied wine with plenty of ripe and dried, red-fruit flavors accented by spice and floral notes. The wine is rich and textural on the palate thanks to the Ripasso method, a short second maceration/fermentation of Valpolicella wine on the Amarone skins to add weight, intensity, and complexity of flavors. Stubbornness, patience and perseverance are all qualities needed to work the land, but above all a deep sense of humility. Something unique yet simple is then created as extraordinary as nature itself. Thanks to its rich texture and ripe fruit flavors, this Ripasso can be paired with a wide range of foods. It is excellent with ripened cow’s milk cheese at the end of a meal, or paired with a mushroom risotto and beef-filled ravioli. Grilled red meats, poultry, and game are equally delicious pairings.

Zenato Amarone, 2013 :: $72 Sale $65

Zenato Amarone is a blend of Corvina and Rondinella, with a touch of Croatina and Oseleta. Corvina is prized not only for its intense marasca cherry flavor, but also its ability to withstand the drying process.  Used in small quantities Rondinella also fares well in drying, and contributes dark color and an alluring floral note.  Oseleta provides tannic structure and minerality; while Croatina is introduced to add youthful fruitiness. All this attention to detail pays off in a wine that is immediately approachable yet unmistakably ageworthy. Ruby red in color, intoxicating aromas of dried black cherries, cassis, truffles, and chocolate fudge leap out of the glass. The resulting wine is silky, luscious, and complex, with a lingering finish. Pair this wine with osso bucco, Bordelaise sauces, wild boar ravioli, or grilled cowboy ribeyes.

Secondo Marco Amarone, 2010 :: $89 Sale $80

This Amarone is produced from hand-harvested grape bunches selected for perfect maturation. After 100 days of drying indoors and with a weight loss of 50%, the wine receives a prolonged pre- and post-fermentation maceration using only indigenous yeasts. The wine is matured in large Slavonian oak casks for 42 months before bottling. Amarone is an intensely concentrated and complex wine known for its power and high alcohol. Marco Speri strives to combine Amarone’s boldness with freshness and elegance by harvesting healthy fruit and working carefully in the cellar to maintain purity of flavor. Aromas and flavors of dried Morello cherries and warm baking spices are followed by a ripe but refreshing palate. Infused with the strength and soul of its native land, its nature tamed and matured to develop such elegant energy. Finally free to express its notes with a refined intensity, it will offer a truly unique experience. Amarone della Valpolicella is a high-alcohol and full-bodied wine, so it requires full flavors at the table. Roasts or braises of beef, game, and lamb, or a rich stew of meat and vegetables work extremely well with Amarone. It is the classic pairing for a red-wine risotto and is one of the world’s great wines for pairing with cheese.

*Saturday Tasting*

We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl and #Neverabadbottle so we can CHEERS! 




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