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A stylish and supple Italian red with a lovely dried-cherry and spiced-fruit character. A 'baby Amarone', ripasso is made by passing new wine through barrels to which the lees of Valpolicella’s most famous red have been added, bringing extra richness and complexity. Enjoy this wine over three to five years with a remarkable variety of tasty dishes.
Product Code: IT24971
View all products by Cantina Valpantena
It is believed by some that the Valpantena Valley gets its name from the Roman pantheon, and indeed it is thought that the Romans were some of the first to plant vines here. Situated to the north-east of Verona, this valley, which benefits from cooling breezes from the nearby Dolomites, is the same valley from which we source the grapes for The Society’s Pinot Grigio, but the region is better known for its excellent red wines.Cantina Valpantena was formed here in 1958. Today the company has 300 members cultivating over 600 hectares of vines, from appellations all over the Verona hillsides, and the co-op is judged by many to be one of the best in Italy. A further 150 growers produce olive oil.Cantina Valpantena uses mostly corvina veronese, rondinella and corvinone for its red wines, as well as garganega and trebbiano di lugana (identical to the verdicchio grape) for its whites. The company’s winery is, as you might expect, well equipped with modern technology. A wide range of wines are created here – from everyday reds like Valpolicella, to sweet whites like recioto and passito, and premium reds like Amarone. Its best range of wines is Torre del Falasco, especially the Torre del Falasco Ripasso, which provides Amarone style at a fraction of the price thanks to a second fermentation while in contact with Amarone wine lees.
Three regions constitute this wide and varied area. In the very north-east, abutting Slovenia and Croatia lies Friuli-Venezia Giulia. South and east of Venice spreads the broad swathe of the Veneto, one of Italy’s main wine producing areas in terms of volume. Finally, falling from the foothills of the Dolomites is Trentino-Alto Adige.Since the 1970s Friuli-Venezia Giulia has earned a fine reputation for high-quality white wines and a burgeoning one for reds. Most of the estates here are family owned with some co-operatives dotted around. Much of the inland area is hilly or mountainous with flatter vineyards sited around the Isonzo River as it comes down to the sea. The two principal white wine making areas are the Friuli Colli Orientali in the north-west and Collio Goriziano in the centre and east around the curve of the Slovenian border. The Orientali vineyards are in the lee of the Julian Alps and are cooler than the vineyards of Collio Goriziano though they are protected from northerly winds and have a more continental climate. They sit at altitudes of between 330 and 1200 metres on soils that were once beneath the ocean, so marl and sandstone predominate. The Collio Goriziano vineyards enjoy slightly greater influence from the Adriatic to the south, though the cool air draining from the higher ground in the north plays its part, and the vineyards sit upon the many steep slopes in this hilly country.Pinot grigio was an early success here and is still widely made, but chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot bianco have joined local varieties like tocai fiuliano, picolit and verduzzo in producing some of Italy’s freshest and most interesting white wines. Local varieties like schioppetino and refosco have struggled to find an audience outside of the region in the past though this is changing, and some Bordeaux blends from the Grave region of free draining alluvial soils are making people sit up and take notice.Trentino-Alto Adige was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and in the northern parts of the province (Alto Adige) German is still widely spoken. Indeed, the architecture, food and customs owe much to their Teutonic roots and there are elements that remain in the vineyards that echo a Germanic past. Riesling is planted here and the village of Tramin gave its name to the gewürztraminer grape which is now so widely planted in another region with Germanic influences, Alsace. To reinforce that comparison, sylvaner, muscat, müller-thurgau and pinot gris (grigio) are also to be found here. Alto Adige is also known as the Süd-Tyrol (South Tyrol) and lies on the border with Austria and is Italy’s most northerly wine region. Here the vines grow in the foothills of the Alps, on the lower slopes along the Adige Valley. Altitudes vary between 200 and 1000 metres. White wines made the reputation of the region for their lively, fresh purity but reds are grown here too. Schiava and the burlier lagrein are the indigenous varieties much used here, though bracing cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines are made from plantings that can struggle to ripen and escape some greenness. Some very fine pinot noir wines are having an impact for their high-class and poise.The Veneto is something of a vinous bread basket. The soils are fertile, which is not usually propitious for fine wine production, and officially permitted yields are unacceptably high. The region produces enormous quantities of everyday wines for exporting and blending but also embraces the Valpolicella region where the jewel in the crown is Valpolicella Amarone, the sweetly rich, full-bodied expression of semi-dried corvina and rondinella grapes that is sought after the world over. Though bulk production, particularly through large and highly-efficient co-operatives, is still prevalent the improvements in winemaking and viticulture are clear, and there are many producers in formerly workaday DOCs like Valpolicella and Soave who are turning their corvina, rondinella, garganega and trebbiano di lugana (turbiano) grapes into vinous gems. Prosecco is also produced here from the glera grape in the hills around Conigliano almost due north of Venice, and is something of a worldwide phenomenon in terms of sales volume. As ever, there is a lot of basic fizz but the producers who take a little more care in vineyards and wineries are making delicious bubblies at all price levels.
"Just sampling this along with some Chaource and Camembert. Delicious. Does what it says on the label. "
I would recommend this wine
"A wine of surprising character
Bright yet rich dark tannins on the nose open into a sweet, smooth and equally rich yet light palate that would compliment savoury meats and roasts. Lovely
"Complex, medium-bodied. Cherries, tobacco. "
I would recommend this wine
"Delicious and gets more complex the longer it's opened."
"Nice this, even on first opening. Even nicer the next day. Evoques warm Italian sun and spiced cherries and brambles in the hedgerow. Not a bargain but so many cheaper ones are so disappointing."
"Would agree with the other favourable reviews - well structured Ripasso."
"This is very nice, very Italian, and the bottle just seemed to evaporate, it was gone so quickly. I had a bottle of this a while back and was rather disappointed (even left a poor review, I'm afraid) but that bottle must have been spoilt. I will get a few bottles of this to share over Christmas as it seems the perfect Christmas wine to go with your ham. Not quite up to the previous years release but that was a 5 star!"
"A wine of surprising character
Bright yet rich dark tannins on the nose open into a sweet, smooth and equally rich yet light palate that would compliment savoury meats and roasts. Lovely
"Deep fruity wine
medium+ body and reasonable length with bright finish
cherry and hints of licourice on palate
Pair with autumn and winter dishes like Sunday roast with seasonal roast veg as well as game
"Just sampling this along with some Chaource and Camembert. Delicious. Does what it says on the label. "
Decanter 1st Jan 2019
"Showing hints of
ageing in the glass, this is a complex Valpolicella Ripasso with good levels of
grip, dark red berry fruits and attractive sweetness on the finish. There is
good concentration and depth on the palate, with a lengthy finish. - Andy Howard"
"Delicious: chewy, spicy, with sour cherry tones. Very good with roast duck and lamb, even better after a few hours open. I am a big Amarone fan but at £10 you can afford to open a Ripasso a little more frequently ! "
Mr Alex Heath (08-Oct-2018)
"In line with other reviews this wine needs patience and probably a bit of food. I drank the Ripasso over two nights ,on the first night it was fairly average.On the second night it opened into the supple wine I was expecting . I believe this is a fair wine for the price, no more no less "
Mr John Miller (03-Sep-2018)
"I love Amarone & bought this as a cheaper alternative. It certainly lived up to the requirement, given that you can't buy Amarone for £10.50 I will be buying more."
Mr Nick Parkin (03-Aug-2018)
"My bottle had a slight fizz which it should not have had, but it was easily got rid of. However, the big issue is that it is overly oaked for this style, with the oak dominating and quashing the lovely Ripasso flavours. Disappointing, and the Torre del Valasco is far superior to this and I am sorry it is not still offered. A decent wine, but not worth buying more. Certainly not a wine the Society should put its name to."
Mr Mike Singer (23-Jun-2018)
Mr Alex Downham (15-May-2018)
"I'm a big fan of Valpolicella Ripasso and as I was given membership of the Wine Society for Christmas, bought a botle of the Society's Valpolicella Ripasso to try. Having just finished it, it has a dark Cherry and easy going spicy flavour with a long smooth finish. It's not the best Ripasso I have ever had, but at £10.50, it doesn't have to be. I will definitely buy it again and recommend decanting 1 hour before drinking."
Mr Colin Bell (06-May-2018)
"Very nice. Fruity, sumptuous red. Good for cold nights. Great value."
Mr Matthew A Gamble (12-Feb-2018)
Mr Michael Martin (20-Jan-2018)
"Yeah good stuff. A sort of top line red to keep in stock. Good for drinking on its own."
Mr John Arthur (18-Jan-2018)
"A wine of surprising character
Bright yet rich dark tannins on the nose open into a sweet, smooth and equally rich yet light palate that would compliment savoury meats and roasts. Lovely"
Mr Hugo Allen-Stevens (27-Dec-2017)
"A brilliant example of how the Society does its work, the wow factor was there after an hour in decanter. Thoroughly recommended and to be quite honest it’s delicious on its own but went really well with our bbq’d Barnsley Chops!"
Mr Peter Manley (08-Dec-2017)
"Soft, mellow, easy drinking fresh and fruity with a little bit of tannic back-bone. Pleasant with pasta or as a party wine. I liked it."
Mr Peter McFarlane (08-Nov-2017)
"Another winner from the Society - top marks !!
Decanted and allowed to breathe for 30 minutes prior to our evening meal (steak, mash, spinach & peas) - it was breathtaking.
Fairly light and refreshing for a Ripasso - sadly it disappeared far too quickly.
I will definitely be re-ordering."
Mr Alan Pieroni (10-Oct-2017)
"I've reviewed an earlier vintage before. This is for the 2015 one.
Still drinking well - had it with pasta alla Norma and the wine works well with the tomatoes and aubergines.
I realise it probably breaks some Italian food rules - north versus Sicily but I'm not Italian so I can see through this ;-)
A great wine and cracking value for a Ripasso."
Mr Martin Wingate (25-Sep-2017)
Mr Gerry Hegarty (18-Sep-2017)
"Top tip: leave for at least 30 minutes after opening and chill to about 16c, then it opens up beautifully. At first it can seem a little thin and unbalanced but after an hour it is rich, complex and mouth filling. As good as anything we've had in Italy!"
Mr Nigel T Coulthard (13-Jul-2017)
"A beautiful drop. The Ripasso method adds body and a depth of fruit. Smells divine; spiced dark berries. Silky mouthfeel, round and full...delicious. Lashings of this with a spag bol is good, or if you're pulling out the stops, then a wild boar ragu! Bing bong!!!"
Mr Gavin Lewis (29-May-2017)
"Delightful, a scaled down Amarone that is immensely pleasing and all too easily drinkable."
Mr William Ostrom (15-May-2017)
"We have really enjoyed the Torre del Falasco Ripasso from WS. However, on trying to order some more, I found out it was sold out. We were recommended this 2015 Ripasso as a straight alternative at the same price. Unfortunately, we just did not enjoy it anywhere like as much as the Torre del Falasco - maybe it is personal taste but the price point is the same and, in theory, it is a very similar wine (according to the WS) but we won't be it buying again. The Torre del Falasco is a much better wine in our view in all aspects and we will appreciate the couple of bottles we have left!"
Mrs Sarah-Lynn Spruzen (05-May-2017)
"This is such a bargain - a beautiful baby Amarone at a ridiculous price. It is wines like this that are the epitome of the Wine Society and I have drunk this with food and on its own and always great. It is definitely worth opening in advance of drinking."
Mr Colin W Brewer (03-May-2017)
"Thought I'd try this though with low expectations, very surprised at the quality at this price. A fun, 'soft' wine - not a classic but would recommend.
Mr Rob Young (30-Apr-2017)
Decanter (3rd Jan 2018)
intoxicating Middle Eastern-style wine has aromatic, spiced dried fruit
flavours emanating from the glass that make you shut your eyes and think of
that 1980s Turkish Delight advert as you sniff. Notes of dates, tobacco and
spice; full of Eastern promise. - Simon Reilly"
"Salutory lesson, drink wine upon delivery so you can reorder. Just tried this despite delivery last November, and thought it was very good, particularly the next day, unfortunately it's now out of stock."
Mr Simon Cook (05-Jun-2017)
"I'd leave 3.5 stars if I could. Definitely ripe and slightly dry raisin, full in the mouth with quite a long finish but I would prefer a little more acidity. Can't really complain for a tenner though."
Mr Simon Heape (18-Feb-2017)
"Very nice indeed! Definitely get the fig/chocolatey like smell on the nose and red fruit burst on the palate almost strawberry/raspberry like. Would recommend as an easy to drink wine!"
Mr Daniel Brown (03-Feb-2017)
"Seriously good for the money. Good taste, smooth but not too much so, slightly fruity. A good balance for this wine being not too light."
Mr Clive A Counsell (31-Jan-2017)
"This is a very well balanced Valpolicella, I could not expect any better in this price range. An excellent everyday wine."
Mr Matthew Norman (16-Jan-2017)
"Delicious! Well balanced, beautiful ruby red, fruity, complex in its simplicity...shame it is out of stock now."
Ms Aline Moreira (12-Nov-2016)
Chase Magazine (2nd Feb 2017)
"Produced by passing
young Valpolicella through oak barrels to which the lees and spent grape
pressings from Amarone are added. The wine produced is more intense and complex,
and far cheaper than Amarone. It goes great with strong-flavoured dishes, but I
like it on its own. - David Clay"
"I'm a ripasso fan but this wine can only have had a passing acquaintance with the amarone lees and whilst inexpensive isn't worth the money. If you can find it (not Wine Society currently) the Luigi Richetti 2013 version is superb."
Mr Peter D Hodgson (30-Aug-2016)
"A cheap "amarone" is unusual. It is very light. I would prefer to pay more for a proper amarone."
Dr Gareth Smith (13-Aug-2016)
"very good value - tasting notes spot on"
Mr Christopher Woodhead (11-Aug-2016)
Miss Louise Byrne (11-Aug-2016)
"New to Ripasso, I opened this to go with cheese. The first taste, pre-cheese, had me hooked. Rich and warm, with such a smooth finish. It overwhelmed the milder cheeses, but a nutty vintage cheddar and Blackstick's Blue balanced it beautifully. The manchego really made it shine, bringing out spice and heat, but still with that smooth finish. Have ordered more."
Mr Timothy Strong (22-Jul-2016)
"A bit of a bargain given the price. Have just re-ordered a couple of cases. A really good example of a value for money ripasso. It is very juicy, is smooth and has a decent finish. Definitely recommend in this price range"
Mrs Sarah-Lynn Spruzen (04-Jul-2016)
"My colleagues and I tasted this with other Valpolicellas, including a sister wine, marginally cheaper. We had the latter first, and it was lovely -- but the WS version is smoother, fruitier, with a longer finish. I love ripassos, and this is one of the nicest I have ever had. Don't miss it!"
Professor Alan Hertz (22-May-2016)
"I found this exactly as described by the society - lovely plump juicy fruit, and an elegant finish of dried fruits."
Mr Bryn Jones (20-May-2016)
"My boyfriend and I had this with dinner last night (pork loin chop wrapped in parma ham with stilton and apple) and we were both impressed by it. There is some real elegance here (yet also hearty enough to stand up to and complement the food) as well as great value for money. I really recommend!"
Miss Cordelia Jackson (06-Apr-2016)
"Lovely light red very drinkable so far my favourite 9 out of 10"
Mr Andrew Sully (15-Feb-2016)
"I now believe this is the best Italian red I have ever tasted. Smooth and full of fruit I have drank this with strong cheeses and spag bol'/pasta, but also without food. Under £9 this is a real bargain and just about to top up with a few more after Christmas."
Mr Terry Bates (02-Jan-2016)
"I love this wine ........wonderful with cheese ........great on it's own and very easy to to convince your friends they are drinking £30 bottle of Amarone."
Mr Michael Gould (02-Oct-2015)
"Full bodied but holding a lot of fruit. Versatile and it could handle any robust meat dishes but I also think it would work well with tomato based pasta. I had it with a top quality, 55 day old ribeye-trimmings BBQ'd cheeseburger and some spicy fries. Very good wine"
Mr Martin Wingate (10-Sep-2015)
"Well this is rather lovely - intense dark and fruity with just a hint of sweetness, but leaves a long dry finish. If you like Amaraone, give this a go."
Mr David Woolcock (07-Apr-2015)
Mr Stephen Wenlock (12-Mar-2015)
Decanter (27th Apr 2016)
one of Italy's most consistent co-ops, with 700ha. Round and soft yet
complex, this is packed with dried cherry and plum fruit with a hint of
sultanas. It’s showing development but still has freshness, plus cinnamon
spice on the finish.
- Christelle Guibert
JancisRobinson.com (23rd Nov 2015)
"Dried cherries. Bit
of rich sweet cherry fruit. Lovely cinnamon note running through. Soft tannins.
Juicy. Bit of anise. Good value. - Tamlyn Currin"
Wine-pages.com (7th Aug 2015)
"A Ripasso, fermented
on the dry skins of Amarone, this is a classic Valpolicella blend of Corvina
and Rondinella aged in barrel and wonderfully deep and autumnal in character.
The nose has hints of mint and tobacco, a plush blueberry darkness of fruit, and
definite hints of violet and kirsch-like lift. In the mouth it makes its
presence felt with 14% alcohol, but that super-sweetness of fruit floods across
the tongue, the bittersweet cherry and plum-skin grip is savoury, and the tight
tannins are spicy and slick. It's a hell of a lot of wine for the money once
again. 89/100 - Tom Cannavan"
The Independent on Sunday (16th Aug 2015)
"ripasso" method is where the young, cherry fruit and
chocolate-flavoured Valpolicello wine is mixed with the residue of venerable
Amarone, giving a richer, more structured taste at a fraction of the price of
true Amarone. Goes with all roast meats and pasta with ragu. - Terry Kirby"
Moneyweek (31st Jul 2015)
"A serious, dense,
brooding stallion of a wine with a full frame and dark, foresty, black fruit.
This is more of an autumnal wine, but I would buy it now because I venture that
if you wait it will sell out. - Matthew Jukes"
"Wonderful wine and great value. Terrific fruit and depth of flavour and an intense wine. Snap it up."
Mr Peter J H Devlin (13-Jan-2015)
"Fantastic! Lovely cherry nose with a wiff of smoke. I found it soft, juicey and well balanced with a lingering tang. Delicious."
Mr Timothy Rouse (12-Jan-2015)
"Opened a bottle of this last week expecting a typical Valpolicella Ripaso (a favourite of mine) and was completely blown away. The 'Ripaso' part really brought a strong influence of Amarone with it, but without overpowering the Valpolicella. Only once had a wine remotely like it, and that was in Italy. So I have ordered more - I'd be crazy to let this slip through my fingers! You get a wine like this only once in a blue moon."
Mr Mike Singer (12-Dec-2014)
"Just what I was expecting, a beautifully rich and warming wine bursting with red fruits but with a hint of sweetness from the ripasso method of leaving the grapes to dry in the sun a little thus concentrating the flavours and adding a hint of sweet jammy ripe fruit flavours which are well balanced. Known as baby amarone as the wine has to be passed over amarone lees to add extra complexity and depth. Hearty food wine which we enjoyed with lasagne."
Miss Joanna Taylor (30-Nov-2014)
"Expressive nose with cherry notes, full palate with ripe raspberry and decent length. I typically prefer full reds but it is intense and almost over-concentrated. A previous post mentions it was 'gluggable', disagree. Found it hard to drink on its own. Would probably improve with food but at £9.50 can't help but feel there is better value not far away..."
Dr James Reynolds (15-Nov-2014)
"My wine of 2014 so far. Complex but gluggable. Worth the money!"
Dr Alexander Jones (20-Sep-2014)
"Had bottle of this to go along with a meaty tomato based stew and it worked well. A great food wine, deep, bold and smoother than expected. Worth the money and the hype, will need to buy more of this."
Mr Samuel Black (26-Aug-2014)
"As you would expect from the wine description and Wine-pages press review, this is a fuller flavoured wine than one would typically associate with a Valpolicella. But whatever flavour subtleties the experts can detect, I'm afraid they are lost on me. Just found it to be a pretty average wine and for me personally not worth the money."
Dr Robert Feltham (17-Aug-2014)
Wine-pages.com (13th Jun 2014)
"From Valpolicella in
the Veneto and weighing in with 14% abv, this is mostly Corvina, fermented on
the lees of Amarone. There's a bright, ashy and dry, intense and lifted
character on the nose, hints of smokiness and of bright red fruits. On the
palate it is really dry, with mouth-coating tannins and dry extract, the
cherry-ish hint of plushness giving a softening, sweetening roundness and the
finish long and really quite elegant with a hint of chocolate in there too. - Tom Cannavan"
"A superb wine, complex, delicious, and an absolute steal at the price."
Mr Andrew Woodward (24-Mar-2014)
"Intense, rich, smoky even. Very good indeed."
Mr Brian Donnelly (02-Feb-2014)
"I echo all the comments here - this is delicious and a bargain. My reason for reviewing is to post a request - I would like to see the Society get more from this producer's range - their Amarone is the best value Amarone I think I've ever tasted - delicious and a bargain. I think there is a theme."
Mr James Heath (14-Jan-2014)
"We've just opened our 100th bottle since being members of The Society. It's our absolute stock wine and never disappoints."
Mr Adam Caplan (13-Dec-2013)
"There is only one thing bad about this wine - it is recommended by the Daily Mail!"
Mr Michael Elsom (04-Oct-2013)
"Fantastic value. Black cherries and something I can't quite find a description of on the palate and an excellent match for tomato and pan fried chorizo. Altogether, a top buy."
Mr Kieran Hynes (04-Aug-2013)
"This wine is so good for the price that I don't want to encourage others to deplete the Society's stocks and leave less for me. I can't do posh wine descriptions so I'll just say that it is a smashing spicy perfumed red wine that I would quite cheerfully pay 50% more for. You're potty not to but it."
Mr Colin W Brewer (13-Jun-2013)
"My word, this is delicious. Deep, rich, concentrated black cherry flavours, beautiful balance and a long, lingering fruity finish. Just terrific."
Mr Tim Rowbottom (04-Jun-2013)
"This wine represents exceptional value for money, with the complexity and depth of far more expensive offerings!! This will definately be a regular purchase for me.
Mr Gilbert Bosson (10-May-2013)
"Another stunning Italian red from the Society. A wine of great structure, full bodied, subtle tannins, mouth filling fruit. A great marriage with homemade Neopolitian lasagne. Highly recommended."
Mr Malcolm J Davies (01-Apr-2013)
The Observer (2nd Feb 2014)
"A happy mid-point
between the simple cherry freshness of straight Valpolicella and the brooding,
raisiny weight of Amarone. - David Williams"
Daily Mail (18th May 2013)
"There is an awful lot of flavour in this terrific Valpol thanks to the clever Ripasso technique which increases the depth and intensity by passing it over lees and pressings from mighty Amarone wines. Huge flavour, great price – looks smart, too! - Matthew Jukes"
Manchester Evening News (23rd May 2013)
"... Jason Athertons's duck leg with watercress and orange slices ... makes for a tricky wine pairing, [but this] was one of the most satisfying pairings imaginable. Made by one of Italy’s top co-operatives this is a very full-bodied, jammy wine but it retains the requisite bite and acidity to combat food. The aromatic spiciness of the fruit matched the orange flavours superbly. - Andy Cronshaw"
"Unbelievable. Full, round, fruity and spicy, like a really good Brunello di Montalcino. Thouroughbred wine at a third of the price. Why drink watery cheap burgundy when you have this."
Mr Charles Stokes (01-May-2013)
"Worth every penny. Reminds me of a Rioja but with a soft finish. I will buy more."
Mr Richard Morton (14-Apr-2013)
"Thanks to the reviews on the website, we bought a couple of bottles. Wow! What a great wine. Needless to say we have ordered more. Sorry Mr Caplan."
Mr Mark Dibble (17-Feb-2013)
"Just as an update for anyone considering this wine. We have now had at least 25 bottles of this Ripasso. Don't order it! That way there will be more for me! It's been out of stock for a while and my last bottle just ran out. Fortunately it's coming back in shortly, so I'll be ordering large quantities. This is one of the best value wines I have ever come across, amazing value, drinks like a wine twice its price. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Mr Adam Caplan (22-Jan-2013)
"I have always enjoyed Valpolicella but never tried Amarone, so gave this a try as a 'half way house'. I loved it. Darker and richer than a standard Valpolicella with a firmer structure, and for the price, a bargain. I will be re-ordering."
Mr Aron Hills (28-Dec-2012)
"Thanks to you Mr Caplan. Based on his review I bought a couple of bottles and it has now become a firm favourite."
Mr Andrew Mason (26-Oct-2012)
"We bought six bottles on the recommendation of someone in the Stevenage Cellar. Usually drink Aglianico, Amarone or other full bodied reds. The Ripasso is excellent. It's Amarone Lite, yet extremely enjoyable for that.
We couldn't drink Amarone every day, (price alone would prevent that) yet this ripasso has become one of our favourites. Just bought 3 more cases to see us through. Recommended."
Mr Adam Caplan (26-Sep-2012)
Manchester Evening News (11th May 2013)
"Jason Athertons's duck leg with watercress and orange slices ... makes for a tricky wine pairing, [but this] was one of the most satisfying pairings imaginable. Made by one of Italy’s top co-operatives this is a very full-bodied, jammy wine but it retains the requisite bite and acidity to combat food. The aromatic spiciness of the fruit matched the orange flavours superbly. - Andy Cronshaw"
"A lovely Ripasso. Plenty of fruit with a well rounded sweetness and good length. Not too heavy."
Mr David Manley (03-Feb-2011)
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.