Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monte Garbi 2015

Musky maturity and decadent overtones in a wine that’s sultry, soft and smooth.

Compact ruby colour with garnet reflections, somewhat subdued on the nose with aromas of stewed dark fruits, amarena cherry and chocolate with earthy undertones of moss, forest floor and tabacco, more intense on the palate, soft and mineral with smooth tannins, medium acidity and medium body, well balanced with a spicy finish.

Food pairings:

This wine is a bit lighter in body compared to most ripasso wines, but is nonetheless concentrated showing both complexity and intensity making it a versatile pair for pasta dishes, meat courses and aged cheeses. Some examples include pasta Bolognese, roast beef and aged parmesan cheese with fruit compote.

The abundantly green and hilly region of Valpolicella in Veneto, Italy
The abundantly green and hilly region of Valpolicella in Veneto, Italy

Ripasso is a traditional wine from the Valpolicella region of Veneto in northern Italy, alongside Amarone, Recioto and Valpolicella Classico. It is also known as “Baby Amarone” or “The Poor Man’s Amarone” given the fact that the dried grapes used in the production of Amarone are “Ripassate”, re-passed, in this wine, conferring to it some of the typical aromas and characteristics of Amarone.

Dried grape skins used in the production of Amarone and Ripasso
Dried grape skins used in the production of Amarone and Ripasso

Ripasso is, in effect, an elaboration of the easy-drinking Valpolicella Classico. The dried grape skins used in Amarone contain a higher concentration of sugar, colour pigments, tannins and aromas, which give a more compact colour while adding structure and complexity to the original wine. The aromas themselves are more evolved including stewed fruit, dried flowers, and spices.

The result is a concentrated and rich wine that is still round, balanced and ready to drink. So, even though the grapes used for both of these wines are exactly the same, these differences in production create distinct wines of unique character, all without loosing their original identity.

The four Castagnedi brothers who run Tenuta Sant’Antonio winery
The four Castagnedi brothers who run Tenuta Sant’Antonio winery

Tenuta Sant’Antonio is a winery run by four brothers from the Castagnedi family. The vineyards were purchased in 1989 and since then the brothers have been focused on creating wines with personality, incorporating both innovation and natural farming techniques.

The winery does not seem to be certified organic yet, but many of their farming practices certainly seem to be pointing that way including the use of vegetable compost, encouraging natural green cover, and the use of insects instead of chemicals to defend the vines.

The vineyards at Tenuta Sant’Antonio
The vineyards at Tenuta Sant’Antonio
The vineyards at Tenuta Sant’Antonio
The vineyards at Tenuta Sant’Antonio

This wine is a traditional blend of 70% Corvina/Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 10% Oseleta (a lesser known autochthonous grape of Valpolicella). It is fermented at a low temperature for 8 days with organic yeasts after harvest in October. It then undergoes a second fermentation around December when the grape skins used in the production of Amarone are added to the young wine, followed by malolactic fermentation. It is aged in large oak barrels for 12 months in contact with the grape skins, with regular battonage to ensure a complete extraction of phenolic components. The grape skins are only removed just before the wine is bottled, a particular technique of the winery used with all wines they produce.

Wine ageing in oak barrels in contact with their grape skins at Tenuta Sant’Antonio
Wine ageing in oak barrels in contact with its grape skins at Tenuta Sant’Antonio

Here’s a useful info graphic showing the production of Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso and Amarone, also used by the Tommasi winery, a renowned producer in the Valpolicella region:

Info graphic showing the production of Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso and Amarone from Tommasi winery

10 Comments

  1. About a year ago my daughter, her husband and I had a lengthy tasting at home of 6-7 Italian reds and the Ripasso amongst them won hands down. At that point I didn’t know anything about Ripasso but it made me read quite a bit about the production method. Of course I still have an actual Amarone you recommended too and that will probably be drunk over Christmas.
    Now, back to those tasting notes …..
    “Musky maturity and decadent overtones in a wine that’s sultry, soft and smooth.”
    I can’t wait to meet up in Florence with Dr C and you, opening a bottle of red in a lovely wine bar in central Florence and you say ….. “Musky maturity and decadent overtones, it’s sultry, soft and smooth.” 👍🍷🍷 Hope the holiday is going well. 🎄

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ripasso is such a likeable wine and it was my personal favourite for a long time. I’m honoured that one of my wine recommendations will be part of your holidays. My Christmas wine is Sossó from Livio Felluga, an interesting blend of Refesco and Merlot, and I’m very much looking forward to it! About the tasting notes, I feel like you’re laughing at me, but I won’t be petulant, I’ll just have to persuade you to get in touch with your inner-poet in Florence 😅 Merry Christmas 🎄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds marvellous. One of the things I miss about the States is surprisingly being able to get Italian wine (here in Spain you’re lucky to find one or two even at a wine shop). I guess it just means I’ll have to hop on over to Italy to try them 😉 Thanks for the graphic, it was really helpful in understanding the difference between the two winemaking styles!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well coming from the East Coast where you can basically take I-95 down from Jersey to Georgia without encountering much change in the landscapes, mostly what I love about Spain is the micro-climates where you can literally walk or drive 20 kilometers and you’re in a different world – and one of the best ways to experience this is through the wine. When you can actually taste how high up a hill a vine was grown… it’s so evocative to me. So I find Spanish wine fascinating, except when (like the most famous low-to-mid-range Riojas and Riberas) it’s monolithic. I’m sure it’s similar in Italy, I look forward to learning more through your blog! Happy Holidays!!!

    Like

    1. Very true, and Spain has such a wide variety of autochthonous grapes, similar to Italy. Unfortunately, after the devastation of phylloxera much of the surviving wine production was focused on quantity rather than quality, at least in Italy and I immagine in Spain as well. But with more and more people becoming interested and knowledgeable about wine, hopefully that trend will start to change, if it hasn’t already. Thanks for your interest in my blog and Happy holidays! 🥂

      Like

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