92 Points & Silver Medal, International Wine Challenge 2020
In every respect, the 2018 seems to have an extra layer to it, richer, more full in body, and more complex than any other vintage. Still incredibly fresh and pure in fruit, but with a rounder, richer feel. Works well with meaty stews, casseroles, and game dishes as well as prime cuts of beef.
This is a refreshing, balanced alternative to the “modernized/consumerist” Ripasso that most of the region’s wineries are producing these days – Reused skins only on the repass, no dried grape additions, no artificial heating. DOC guidelines allow 2 bottles of Ripasso for every bottle of Amarone a winery produces, and Rizzardi’s ratio is unusually low at 1.2, meaning more impact and character from the skins.
Pojega is a historic “cru” vineyard that sits next to the world-renowned garden of the same name that was purchased by the Rizzardi family in the 1600’s. These widely spaced vines are old for the region and therefore loaded with character. This cuvee is produced from the Southernmost parcels of the vineyard, where a larger than normal proportion of the grapes planted are the late-ripening Corvinone a.k.a. “super Corvina”. Following traditional practice for the style, the wine sees a second fermentation with still-warm raisined pomace from the winery’s Amarone. Our Pojega vineyard in Negrar is situated near the celebrated gardens created by Conte Antonio Rizzardi in 1783. Ripasso is a strictly controlled, traditional, and unique wine-making method crafted only from grapes grown in Valpolicella. The name Ripasso comes from the re-fermentation of our Valpolicella wine from Pojega over the pressed skins of our two Amarone wines (“Ripasso” is to re-pass). After this secondary fermentation, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months.
Elaboration: Hand picked and hand sorted. In the winery in Negar, the alcoholic fermentation and maceration of de-stemmed grapes is carried out over usually 10 days at a temperature of 25°C. Followed by the secondary fermentation technique of “Ripasso”. 12 months in Slavonian and French oak. Cellared in barrels previously used for the winery’s Amarone.
Guerrieri-Rizzardi, the historic house in Veneto, dates back to the unification of two ancient estates in 1913, when Carlo Rizzardi from Valpolicella, married Guiseppina Guerrieri of Bardolino. The new winery is completely solar-powered, combining the best that technology offers in a carbon-neutral way with vineyards that have been in the family for centuries. With the energy of the new younger generation in the family, Guerrieri-Rizzardi has experienced a renaissance of sorts over the last twenty years and is known throughout Europe as one of the finest, most classical producers in the region, with wines built on tension and “cut.”
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We’ve been lucky in the past to be reviewers for casemates. So imagine our joy to find out that we’d been picked again!! Upon receiving the wine, we were really excited to see a bottle from Italy…one of our favorite wine producing countries. Guerrieri Rizzardi winemaker, Pojega 2018 Valpolicella Ripasso DOC.
Onto the wine. We left the bottle on the counter, rather than putting it in our wine fridge. The ambient room temperature was perfect for a red wine. We opened the wine, poured 2 glasses, & let it breath for about 30 minutes. The initial nose was fairly mellow, light berries with wood & smokey undertones. The color leans more to cherry red, rather than a deep plum. The wine produced little to no “legs” in the glass. Now to the good stuff…taste!! The best way to describe this wine is smooth. Not many tannins at all, very pleasant and easy to drink. Light, refreshing red which is very drinkable without food pairing. However, it would go well with light creamy cheeses, or light meat dishes.
We are definitely recommend this wine, at the right price (anything under $25.00). If you’re expecting a big red - pass. But if you’re looking for an excellent daily drinker this is the one for you! This wine would be perfect for someone who finds heavier reds a little too much.
I lived on the border of FVG & Veneto when this wine was harvested and released. I’ve been to Rizzardi a couple of times randomly and bought a few Pojega over the years! 2018 was cool start to the year and ended up a little hotter than normal. Overall, the 2018s Ripasso & Amarone are in the mid to just upper-mid tier on vintages. It’s a very nice Ripasso with typical features and goes great with a veal or roast.
Most of the 2018s are in their prime to start of past prime time, but highly recommend Rizzardi — this won’t cellar much longer! I paid in the €15-€17 range at the winery looking at my cellar notes from back then, so great price here! I love Ripasso & Amarone, so always happy to see an old fave!
@dianefreda I haven’t had a bottle in 2-3 years, so in the drinkablilty now vs then could differ. However, living there, Negrar was my favorite region of Veneto for Ripasso & Amarone. It was an excellent Ripasso then and believe it would still be. I just wouldn’t cellar this for 2-3 years and make it a quick(er) drink. I still live in Europe, otherwise I would’ve ordered this when I saw it go live. If that helps at all.
Also agreed. On the fence on this one. I have suggested in the past when the offer goes up the first post could be from the casemate people how many bottles were sent out for rattage so we would know what to expect. Obviously that suggestion has gained no traction. And I realize that would not be a guarantee that people receiving bottles would actually report in. My guess however is that percentage is extremely low.