I Miss Being A Wine Buyer!
Every so often since I am not the head honcho of Wine Buying, I get to feel like a Restaurant Sommelier again when aWine Supplier surprises me with a visit to taste me on some wines. Even better when it is an Italian Wine Broker who supplies ABC with some nice additions to our Sourced and Certified Wines and has some new stuff to taste.
My wine visitor was the Sommelier and Sales Ambassador (He made fun of my job titles lol) Federico Tacchella from Export Leader Marketing and Sales based in Italy. His wines hand Sourced by Italian Wine Buyer Paul Quaglini for ABC’s Sourced and Certified Exclusives are a nice balance to the already branded and amazing selections of Italian Wine Importer Nadia Galati. Their wines don’t interfere with each other as they are different in style from each other. Added bonus, Nadia is much better looking than Federico but he gave me a bottle of wine to review so I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth.
What is Amarone and Ripasso?
We have gone over this before but one more time couldn’t hurt. These wines are not grapes. They are methods in which these wines are produced. The Valpolicella Classico region is located near Verona, Italy. With Amarone, and Ripassos the main grape is always Corvina with some having Rondinella and come Molinara and some Croatina. It is the method that is the key. With Amarone these grapes are air dried for 3 months at least before pressing and that leads to high sugar content but then that high sugar is converted into high alcohol and and big bold colors and flavors of dried fruits. It also can lead to very high cost. Almost every producer who makes Amarone then uses the leftover Skins and “Re-Passes” or Ripasso method the juice over these skins for wine that has lots of similar flavors that is not as high in alcohol and certainly not as high in price and known as a Baby Amarone. The second fermentation.
2015 “Rengo” Ripasso Delle Valpolicella
This is Lamberti tower in the heart of Verona. The tower also housed those two lovebirds Romeo And Juliet. This goes back centuries. The tower houses still functional BELLS … the “Rengo and the Marangona, which kept time and regulated city life. The Marangona signaled the end of the working day for the artisans (marangon) and also sounded the alarm in case of fire, whilst the Rengo summoned the town Council and citizens of Verona in times of war. The bells still ring during funerals. The view of the city from this tower (you can go up by stair-way and lift) is spectacular. ,,, My View not as Spectacular …..
Normally, I don’t like labels that don’t specify who is behind this estate grown fruit. I was going to wait for my guest to email me some facts but Larry The Wine Guy did his own research.
Crafted by Michele Castellani & Figli, (Sons) Rengo takes its name from the historic bell in the tower overlooking the Piazza delle Erbe in Verona. Their estate consists of about 40 hectares of directly owned or grown vineyards situated in the hillside area of the Valpolicella. Today, the estate is run by third generation Michele, Martina and Mara who have witnessed a rebirth at Castellani over the past few years, with huge scores from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Gambero Rosso…. To us in the biz Castellani is a big name in the Valpolicella region. This rich red wine is obtained from 70% Corvina and 30% Rondinella and re-fermented on the whole Amarone lees (Dead Yeast) to ensure more color, flavor and concentration. It is then aged for 18 months in large Slovenian oak barrels.THE KEY TO THIS RIPASSO is something Federico shared with me… After the Ripasso Method they then add 15% Of the actual Amarone Wine into the Barrels. This gives a richness and color to the wine that I have not tasted in other Ripassos. Let’s Review
14% Alcohol for a Ripasso is a tiny bit high but it works for this style. The color is about as dark and extracted as I have seen for a Baby Amarone. I think that 15% added really works. It sure worked on the nose once it opened up. Very floral of Violets, strong dried bitter cherry, plums with hints of cocoa and toasted oak on the nose. On the palate a very ripe core of intense Red Currant, Marasca Cherry, loaded with plums, hints of red licorice and ending with young but ripe tannins a hint of spice and strong minerality in a juicy long lasting finish. The price tag on this True BABY AMARONE is $17.99. The reason we brought in the Amarone itself is because although we love the Nicolis family as some of the best Amarone on the market today and well respected and highly reviewed, many consumers are uneducated about the Sticker Shock prices of an Amarone of that Caliber. $53- $64 per bottle and some producers as high as $100 or more. The Rengo Ripasso and Amarone are different in style but 1- they are great for newbies to these wines and made with quality and 2- you can’t beat the quality to price ratio of $17.99 for the Ripasso and…$35.99 for a silky smooth Amarone with a big name like Castellani behind it all. Ring the RENGO BELL…. We have a winner!!! I will score the Rengo Ripasso 90 out of 100 points and the Amarone which I have tasted before a solid 88 out of 100!
It is coming around that holiday season. Starting with Thanksgiving… This Ripasso would be a home run with a well brined Turkey and the Amarone with a Prime Rib Roast on Christmas or the classic “Feast of The 7 Fishes” . It gives many consumers on a budget some options who only dreamed of drinking this class of wines only to find out they couldn’t afford it. We all like OPTIONS especially with financial options when purchasing a wine. These Rengo Wines are all for people ready for a test drive before moving on to the next level of price range and styles from the Valpolicella Region.. Now Federico… also has options too. As an Ambassador for his wines tasting with me, he could have arrived in a dress shirt and slacks, a golf shirt and jeans. He chose an option of shorts and a pair of Shoes that even Elvis Presley wouldn’t have been able to pull off…. I gave his wine Rengo Ripasso a 90… His Shoes… 25 out of 100 .,..Hahaha. Seek this wine out. It has many applications with many types of foods. For Footwear, I leave it up to you!!
Grape-fully yours, Larry