Tenuta Sant'Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monti Garbi 2017
The 2017 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monti Garbi is a ruby red color. Aromas of red fruit and cherry exude from the glass. The palate is semi-dry, soft, caressing, fresh, savory, and fairly tannic with a spicy aftertaste.
Pair this red wine with rich entrees such as pasta with meat ragout and Italian sauces, grilled, roasted, or stewed white meats, and hard medium-ripe cheeses.
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Most of the historic producers of Valpolicella are located on the western side of the denomination, but the Valpolicella district stretches east across several hills and valleys almost to Soave, and it is in this eastern zone that some new, exciting, and innovative wineries have been established in recent years. The soils in the eastern Valpolicella have a higher component of calcium carbonate, which imparts a higher acidity and bolder cherry fruit character to the wines.
Antonio Castagnedi was a winegrower in the Illasi Valley of eastern Valpolicella in the late 20th century who left 50 acres of vineyards to his four sons. The brothers Armando, Tiziano, Paolo, and Massimo worked as consultants for other wine estates in Italy and continued to grow grapes on their inherited land in Colognola ai Colli, but had bigger dreams. In 1989, they took the next step, buying another 75 acres of top-quality vineyard land on the high terrain of Monti Garbi (also in eastern Valpolicella) and making the leap into wine production as a family. The first vintage of Tenuta Sant’Antonio came in 1995.
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicellas are made from 100% estate-grown fruit from the Illasi Valley and Monti Garbi. They make three Amarone wines, Selezione Castignedi, Campo dei Gigli and Lilium Est and a Ripasso wine named for the estate, Monti Garbi and an everyday Valpolicella called “Nanfre”.
Among the ranks of Italy’s quintessential red wines, Valpolicella literally translates to the “valley of cellars” and is composed of a series of valleys (named Fumane, Marano and Negrare) that start in the pre-alpine Lissini Mountains and end in the southern plains of the Veneto. Here vineyards adorn the valley hillsides, rising up to just over 1,300 feet.
The classification of its red wines makes this appellation unique. Whereas most Italian regions claim the wines from one or two grapes as superior, or specific vineyards or communes most admirable, Valpolicella ranks the caliber of its red wines based on delimited production methods, and every tier uses the same basic blending grapes.
Corvina holds the most esteem among varieties here and provides the backbone of the best reds of Valpolicella. Also typical in the blends, in lesser quantities, are Rondinella, Molinara, Oseleta, Croatina, Corvinone and a few other minor red varieties.
Valpolicella Classico, the simplest category, is where the region’s top values are found and resembles in style light and fruity Beaujolais. The next tier of reds, called Valpolicella Superiore, represents a darker and more serious and concentrated expression of Valpolicella, capable of pairing with red meat, roast poultry and hard cheeses.
Most prestigious in Valpolicella are the dry red, Amarone della Valpolicella, and its sweet counterpart, Recioto della Valpolicella. Both are created from harvested grapes left to dry for three to five months before going to press, resulting in intensely rich, lush, cerebral and cellar-worthy wines.
Falling in between Valpolicella Superiore and Amarone is a style called Valpolicella Ripasso, which has become immensely popular only since the turn of the century. Ripasso literally means “repassed” and is made by macerating fresh Valpolicella on the pressed grape skins of Amarone. As a result, a Ripasso will have more depth and complexity compared to a regular Superiore but is more approachable than an Amarone.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.