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Tasting Note: Zenato Ripassa

Let's wrap up the week with an exceptionally pleasing Italian red wine, a ripe and fruity Valpolicella from the Veneto region that's been put through the unusual "Ripasso" process to give it body and warmth.

Standard Valpolicella is usually a lightweight red, but the ripasso form is something else entirely. The name means "re-passed" in English, and that's a fair summary of the process: Select batches of Valpolicella are fermented over the winter in the usual way, but then are transferred in the spring into barrels that contain the crushed, dried grapeskins left over from the production of Amarone (the region's BIG red wine). "Re-passing" the lighter wine over its bigger brother's grape skins adds body, color and flavor and may even kick off a bit of additional fermentation which boosts its alcoholic content. The result is a much fuller-bodied, flavorful and intense wine than the standard Valpolicella.

Zenato Zenato 1998 Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa ($14.99)
Very dark garnet in color, this ripe, full-bodied wine breathes the characteristic dried-cherry and licorice aromas of Valpolicella. Big, fruity and tart, full flavors follow the nose, with intense dried fruit and a pleasant bitterness in a long finish. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC; Leonardo Loscascio Selections. (Oct. 12, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: The winery recommends it with grilled-meat dishes, particularly rabbit. However, it made an exceptional vegetarian match with a Veneto specialty, a meatless risotto cooked with bitter red radicchio. The wine's intense fruit and slightly bitter finish went beautifully with this dish.

WEB LINKS: The winery Website (in Italian and English) is at For an English-language fact sheet on this wine, go to and click on the link for "Ripassa Valpolicella DOC Superiore." The importer's Website is, with a page on Zenato and its wines at

Join me on a trip to
the Rhone and Provence

We're trying something new and different, and I would like to offer you in the Wine Advisor community the first opportunity to join me.

Early next summer, I will lead a seven-day journey through the southern Rhone Valley and Provence. For this project, joins with French Wine Explorers, a high-quality American tour company that specializes in wine tours of France.

Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour. Lauriann and Jean-Pierre take a down-to-earth, plain-talk approach to wine, sharing my commitment to make the often daunting world of wine simple and to take the mystery out of it in a friendly, non-snob environment that's equally welcoming to wine novices and advanced experts.

With Lauriann, an American who is fluent in French, as our translator, we'll spend a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions, with extensive tastings, elegant hotels and excellent restaurants. We're planning winery visits, tastings and interviews with wine makers of some of the best producers in Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venise, the Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel, Baux-de-Provence, Coteaux du Luberon and one of my favorites, Bandol, where we will visit the stunning mountaintop property Domaine de Pibarnon, whose excellent red wine I reviewed in yesterday's edition. With all the wine, there'll still be time for visits to Roman ruins and romantic chateaux, and a "gala" dinner along the way in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The trip begins and ends in Paris, with high-speed TGV train connections; and those who wish may extend their stay with a two-night extension in Paris, touring the city on your own by day, and hitting interesting wine bars and restaurants with your guides in the evening.

The tour will be June 11 through 17, 2002; it is strictly limited to 16 guests. I'll be posting more information about it soon on, but you can learn more today (or even make a reservation) on the French Wine Explorers' Website,; or send E-mail to, or call 1-877-261-1500 (toll-free in the U.S. & Canada) to request a reservation form.

If you're worried about overseas travel in these troublesome times, I would be happy to tell you about my experiences traveling from the U.S. to Italy and back last week. Feel free to drop me a note at if you would like to discuss this or ask questions about the tour. I would be delighted to meet a group of you in France next year!

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page,

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Friday, Oct. 19, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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