Rich and textured, appassimento wines are a calling card for the region of Veneto in Italy. Here are some delicious examples to introduce you to the style...

What is appassimento?

Appassimento is central to the unique style of some of Veneto’s best loved wines, including Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone. It is the process of drying grapes in ventilated drying lodges (fruttai) over the winter months.

Losing around 30% of their water content, the sugars and flavour compounds in the grapes are concentrated. In addition, acidity decreases while resveratrol and glycerin levels increase, lending balance, richness and a unique ‘glossy’ texture to the wines.

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Five appassimento wines to try:

 


Amarone is made from the fermentation of these appassimento grapes, and due to the concentrated sugars these wines can reach 15-17% ABV. This level of alcohol kills off the yeasts, leaving some unconverted sugars in the pomace (the residue from the grapes, including skins and pips).

Recioto is made in the same way but fermentation is stopped early, leaving plenty of remaining sugars for sweetness.

Valpolicella Ripasso starts life as a normal Valpolicella, but makes use of the Amarone pomace to add extra richness and texture to the wine. Once the Amarone has been made, the Valpolicella is poured (or ‘repassed’) over the pomace that is left behind. The remaining sugars kickstart a second fermentation which enhances the flavours of the Valpolicella as well as lending an Amarone-like richness and texture. In fact, Valpolicella Ripasso is often referred to as ‘baby Amarone’.


What is the difference between ripasso and appassimento? – ask Decanter

Dal Forno Amarone: 1988-2010