Domenico Fraccaroli, "Grotta del Ninfeo" Valpolicella Ripasso 2017

Corvina Blend|Valpolicella, Italy

In fair Verona where we set our scene we bring you a heady, powerful aged wine from the house of Domenico Fraccaroli, in their historic "Grotta del Ninfeo" estate in Valpolicella.

Welcome to one of the most unique in the wine world. The style is a ripasso: a wine re-fermented ("re-passed") on the skins of Amarone – a bold, powerful wine that regularly fetches hundreds of dollars in the market.

Amarone wines are made from the same family of grapes as this Ripasso (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara), in a process that involves letting very ripe grapes raisinate, evaporating the water and concentrating the flavors.

The grapes are a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara, traditional local varieties. The oldest vines planted in this vineyard are 35+ years old. The harvests are carried out by hand, and the fresh juice is added to the Amarone skins, pulp, etc. and co-fermented together (the ripasso process), extracting the concentrated, port-like qualities from the Amarone, over a period of four days, before aging again in French oak for over a year, then refined in bottle for eight months before release. All of this work and love for a mere $35 – incredible for such a labor-intensive process.

The nose on this wine is intoxicating and complex. Savory, rich, soft-fruited, and oh so long. One gets cigar box, woodsy spice, cedar, cracked pepper, dried flowers, black raspberry, and brandied cherry. The palate has loads of sweet spice, that Amarone-esque concentration, ripe tannins, and a lip-smacking, plummy, velvety finish. 

With food, go big – pair it alongside something braised or stewed, with some gremolata (a lemon, parsley, garlic condiment typical to this region) and voila: instant, effortless magic.

The elder Domenico founded the estate in 1958; his son Tiziano eventually bought the "Grotta del Ninfeo" estate in Lavagno, the heart of Amarone country. Now, Domenico Jr. and Luca Fraccaroli run the farm, the 3rd generation to do so. All family-owned, hand-harvested, made lovingly and old-school!

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