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Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2003
Zenato is a company that 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, an area with an extraordinary microclimate that allows for an optimal growing season. The Zenato family is passionate in their dedication, vigorous research and innovation.
The company started with Sergio Zenato and his wife Carla as they began to produce quality wines from an indigenous varietal, Trebbiano di Lugana, and it has been passed down through the generations to their children. Currently, their daughter Nadia handles the marketing and promotional activity for the company, and their son Alberto oversees all aspects of production, from the growing of the vines to the time when the bottling process is complete.
Over time Zenato has explored another very important area of Italian wine production, Valpolicella, where 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. Today, Zenato continues to look forward and make investments to develop projects based both in the area of Valpolicella and the area of Lugana.
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.