Wine of the Week: Cesari Mara Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC 2009

I know, I know, the wine name is absurdly long.  But trust me, it’s great wine.

Valpolicella is the region where the wine is made in northeastern Italy called the Veneto.  The grapes are three – possibly three you’ve never heard of: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.

Sometimes called a “baby Amarone,” the secret to this wine is the Ripasso method—a technique that passes the juice over the skins and seeds from an Amarone fermentation. This sets off another fermentation, taking the cherry fruit flavors of Valpolicella and creating a much richer, spicier wine with more tannin, and a bit more alcohol. You get lots of blackfruit, coffee, figs, and raisins, and much of the intensity and pleasure of Amarones at perhaps a quarter to a third of their cost.

You can find this wine at about $13-16 in most good wine shops.