Friday, December 23, 2016
Valpolocella Ripasso (PDO) Revises It's Identity
VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO: FOLLOWING CHANGES TO THE RULES PASSED ON DECEMBER 14TH, THE NAME OF THE PDO CHANGES TO REFLECT THE QUALITY THAT STARTS IN THE VINEYARD AND IS CONSOLIDATED BY CLEARER DEFINITION OF THE PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES IN THE WINERY, GETTING RID OF THE THIRD FERMENTATION AND THE BLEND
Six years after the “birth” of the “Valpolicella Ripasso” Protected Designation of Origin, the production chain makes its first major revision to more precisely and accurately identify “Ripasso style”. After the resolution at the extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on December 14th, the name of the PDO changes to reflect the quality that starts in the vineyard and is consolidated by clearer definition of the production techniques in the winery, getting rid of the third fermentation and the blend.
A crucial and rightful step for this Valpolicella wine that has become the top wine from Valpolicella in terms of volume—210,000 hL in 2015, compared to the almost 15,000 of Valpolicella wine and approximately 10,000 of Amarone, for a variation of 46.7%, -15.9%, and +8.1% respectively over the past five years—and comes in second after Amarone in terms of value.
“Valpolicella Ripasso wine,” comments Christian Marchesini, Chairman of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Valpolicella, “is an important driver for the designation, both as far as sales and the more delicate sphere of production balances of the Valpolicella PDO. With about 26 million bottles per year and an outstanding price-quality ratio, it is a driver for the other wines in many markets where Amarone remains the luxury product for special occasions.”
A premise must be laid concerning the production method for this wine that bears the name of an ancient practice in the Verona area: “ripasso”, to be precise. This process involves a second fermentation of Valpolicella wine on a bed of marc and wine meant to become Recioto or Amarone. However, originally this process was used to strengthen the structure of the wine from the harvest in less auspicious years; over time it has morphed into a real genuine style choice for companies.
The huge success of Ripasso wine on international markets (Usa 21%; United Kingdom 16%; Germany 13%; other EU markets 10%; Sweden 5%; Russia and China 5%) and the consequent demand arising from the consumers’ tastes, together with certain vague parts of the rules, have made it necessary to add some clarifications to anchor Ripasso to the recognizability bestowed by its terroir, without trading off the interpretation of single producers.
The changes to the production rules for Valpolicella Ripasso proposed by the Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella clarify certain technical parts neglected in 2010.
“The process of review,” explains Olga Bussinello, Director of the protection body, “started almost 2 years ago through an analysis of the products on the market, various and sometimes too modern. We have sought to underscore a common thread for the organoleptic characteristics, to translate them in a style that exalts the savoir-faire of the producer with the provenance of the wine.”
The introduction of the term “Superiore” in the designation’s name confirms the leap in quality starting right from choices in the harvest. Only grapes that meet the minimum requirements linked to the term “Superiore”, like for example, the minimum natural alcohol by volume of 11% ABV, will be allowed to produce Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, which—another quality parameter set—must have at least a 13% actual alcohol by volume on the shelf.
Other changes shed light on the technique to be used in the winery with the goal of raising
the bar in a uniform manner.
The operation of ripasso will be defined by the new rules as “one- time only additional fermentation”, clearing the field of equivocations on the third fermentation, a practice that has wrongly spread. The marc used must include a liquid fraction of wine meant to become Amarone or Recioto accounting for 10 to 15% of the total of Valpolicella wine to perform the process on. This is a very important specification since it clearly gets rid of the blend, that is, the use of declassed wine that can no longer ferment. The marc must have at least 10 g/L of minimum residual sugar and the operation of ripasso must last at least three days.
Consorzio Valpolicella Press Office
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