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valpolicella classico superiore

Ain’t no Semonte high enough

Venturini 2003 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso “Semonte Alto” (Veneto) – If someone poured this for me from an unmarked container and told me it was a slightly fresher take on Amarone, I would not be the least bit surprised. Ripasso flavors cranked past 11 to about 15, leaving a thick paste of licorice, strawberry, and quince of incredible density. It seems like it should be structured, but even the tannin can’t really rise to this level of density, and there’s no useful acidity to speak of. It’s actually not bad at all, and would be extremely appealing for those who love this sort of specific gravity in all their wines, but to say it’s more of a spread for toast than it is a wine would not be unreasonable. (11/10)

Come to Pipa

Castellani “Collezione Ca’ del Pipa” 2004 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” San Michele “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Corked. (1/09)

Righetti & meatballs

Righetti 2004 “Campolieti” Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Starting to show the desiccated layer of rot that eventually dominates many of its Amarone uncles, but right now it’s just a pleasantly complexing element, alongside concentrated strawberry jam, and…well, OK, that’s it. It’s a highly drinkable Valpolicella…sluggable, slurpable, gluggable, and all those other words that turn wine into a children’s boxed juice drink…with a little edge (not just the dry rot, but also a prickle of heat), but I wouldn’t hold it any longer. (12/08)


Quintarelli 1998 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” (Veneto) – Concentrated and dense. Black licorice, strawberry, black cherry, and a solid, graphite-textured structure. Gorgeous but still fairly repressed; this isn’t done going wherever it’s going. (2/08)

Castellani Anderson

Castellani 2003 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” San Michele “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Dense and concentrated, with a good deal of ripe structure and a dried-fruit darkness at its core. Licorice over strawberry, perhaps a bit blacker at heart than a Valpolicella (even a ripasso) should be, but then that may be the vintage. Add this to the tiny handful of appealing 2003 reds from Western Europe. (2/08)

Righetti foundation

Righetti 2004 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” Ripasso “Campolieti” (Veneto) – Strawberry and anise seed, but also a touch of bubblegum; I’m served this blind, and waver back and forth between Valpolicella and grenache for a while, finally settling on the former due to balanced alcohol. It’s good, if somewhat slick, and lacks the concentrated, paste-like consistency of most modern ripassos…whether that’s a good or bad thing I can’t quite decide. (1/08)