The Baby Amarone

We can find any reason to celebrate with a bottle of wine. Today, we acknowledge Ferragosto, a national holiday in Italy that marks the start of its vacation period, spawns an array of local festivals, and sends Italians flocking to the beaches and mountains to celebrate. So, for this, we honor our Italian brethren and open something from Italy.

I love a good value wine on a weeknight so I’ve decided on a Ripasso, affectionately known as a Baby Amarone. To explain, a full-blown Amarone (from the Veneto region of northern Italy) is made from the Corvina grape and is rich and decadent with lots of dried fruit flavors. It picks up its raisin characteristics from the process for making Amarone, which includes drying the grapes and extracting the concentrated juices. Amarone can be expensive and not necessarily a Monday night wine.

To make Baby Amarone, winemakers pour standard Valpolicella wine—also from the Corvina grape—over the pressed skins left from Amarone production, meaning it is repassed (also called a second fermentation). This enriches the Valpolicella and boosts its alcohol level. The resulting outcome is an Amarone-like wine at a more quality price.

wp-1471308830153.jpgTonight we picked the 2012 Zenato Superiore. Now, don’t get fooled by the term Superiore. It does not necessarily mean it is at the top of the class, but rather that it has a higher alcohol level and/or has been aged longer. Priced at about $20, the  Zenato is a solid example of a Ripasso with a sort of sassy elegance one might expect from a younger sibling. It is fruit forward, finishes with spice, and has balanced acidity. 

Okay, off to finish my pizza and vino. Peace out and ciao bello!

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