Thursday, February 21, 2013

Report from ... Zenato Retrospective – November 15, 2012

Today we met with Alberto Zenato, a 3rd generation winemaker form Italy and the man behind the Zenato brand of wines.  Today’s tasting centered around the company’s 20th Anniversary of their trademarked wine “Ripassa” – truth be known, Ripassa is the same wine as the famous Ripasso – the re-passed method invented by Masi in 1964 – but Zenato trademarked the name Ripassa as a marketing tool.

Since the 1960’s Zenato has been focused at making wine in the Lake Garda region of Veneto (just west of Venice).  In the 90’s they challenged themselves to create their own Amarone from their 30 hectares in Veneto and 40 hectares in Lugana – their  motto was “quality without compromise” and it is the banner they continue to fly when talking about all their wines.

‘Ripassa’ came into being in 1992 – and during this 20th Anniversary tour they wanted to try a number of their wines with the media to show how they age … today we tried 9 from the past 20 years: 1993 / 1995 / 1997 / 1998 / 2001 / 2004 / 2006 / 2008 / 2009 … Interesting to note the original blend of grapes was Corvina (85%), Rondinella (10%) and Sangiovese (5%) up to the 2001 wine – after which the Sangiovese was replaced with Oseletta.  Alberto explained that not many of these retrospectives take place just due to the limited quantity of wine they have on hand. 

Alberto calls himself a self-taught winemaker, as his father was before him:  “You never finish your studies of winemaking, it’s an ongoing process with new stuff every year.” 

Alberto took over full-time winemaking duties in 2008 after the passing of his father … the 2009 vintage is the first solo effort by Alberto. 

Of the nice wines tastes here were my top 4:

The 2004 …
The best of the bunch, this 2004 is finally arriving at where you expect your ripasso to eventually go – so expressive and full of rich primary and secondary flavours and aromas: cherry, chocolate, plum; very pretty with good tannins and minerality present along with some dried fruit, licorice, black currant, and vanilla nuances with splashes of balsamic … thick, rich, juicy – delicious.

The 2009 … (currently available $24.95)
This was a warm vintage and marks the first wine that Alberto is credited as the solo winemaker.  Nose of cherry, plum, vanilla and licorice with flavours that incorporate plenty of the good stuff like chocolate and spice, black cherry, and floral notes along with a mineral tightness, but it does also have a robust fruit core – this is a softer version of ripasso, it definitely shows its feminine side.

The 2008 …
Here’s one with lots of aging potential, nicely spiced with good acidity, tartness of sour cherry with the hint of rich red cherries along with a nice backing of wood and some mocha on the finish.

The 1995 …
Another warm vintage wine.  The nose is cherry liqueur, crème de cassis, cedar, vanilla, with dried berries and anise.  Flavours show mocha, cherry, vanilla still holds nice acidity along with anise seed and has a firm tannin grip – very drinkable, even 17 years later.  Really shows the ageability of these wines.

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