Nadia Galati is my favorite importer of Direct to You™ Italian wines at ABC. She just introduced five new products to our stores. As usual, I purchased each and every one of them to review them for my guests. One of them in particular has now become my new favorite wine in our stores. In case you don't know what Amarone is from the Valpolicella (Valley Of The Cellars) region of central Italy is, let me explain. The popular grapes used to make an Amarone are Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Croatina. Amarone is not a grape, it is a process. The process in Italian is called Appassimento, which means those grapes are air dried into raisins for weeks on metal sheets. Obviously that increases the Brix (sugar level) in the grapes which then pushes the alcohol levels way up. Average for an Amarone is 15-16%. They are hedonistic--wines that are big and bold and sometimes quite expensive. Four of Nadia's new wines are from a producer named Nicolis. We carry two Amarones, a Valpolicella and a Ripasso. The 2008 Ripasso Seccal is the one that I think provides the best bang for the buck and closing my eyes without knowing, I would think I was drinking a full blown Amarone. Ripasso means RE-PASSING, and is what Amarone producers refer to as a "baby Amarone.” Here's what they do. They save the skins and seeds and stems from the making of the Amarone and then re-pass the next batch of juice from those same grapes over the used skins, and produce a lighter style or "baby" version of Amarone but the key is the wines run about 1/3 the price.
After following the suggested opening time of one hour before drinking, on the back label of the 2008 Nicolis Seccal Ripasso, I sniffed and tasted for my review. The nose was amazing with floral notes, dried cherries and a slight earthiness. When I took my first sip, I could see that old TV commercial for Hawaiian Punch flash before my eyes...POW!! I felt like someone just launched a flavor packed scud missile into my mouth. I thought I was drinking Amarone. The finish on this wine goes on for eternity. The best part is that although Nicolis is famous for their Amarones you can pick up this Ripasso at the time of this writing at $22.99 per bottle, when others sell for almost $30.00. The 2007 vintage scored 90 points from Wine Spectator and the 2008 has not been rated yet but I am going to score it 91 points. Nadia Galati, I thank you for finding another great producer of wine and I urge all ABC guests to seek this out in your local area. They might call this a "baby Amarone" but like Jackie Gleason said on the classic TV Show "The Honeymooners,” "BABY, YOU'RE THE GREATEST!”
Guest blogger Larry Baker is the wine consultant at our Pembroke Pines store
You can read more of his wine musings at www.larrythewineguy.net