Enjoying Ripasso in Amsterdam

Ripasso is one of my favorite wines and I have been enjoying plenty of it recently in Amsterdam.

Ripasso is an intense yet smooth red wine from Valpolicella, a well-known wine region in the Italian Veneto province.

Valpolicella wines are made from Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes. In general, the wines are considered light and fruity. The exception is the precious Amarone – Italian for ‘the big bitter’ – an expensive wine classic. Amarone can be found on many a wine list and is known for its extreme, almost raisiny dryness and big, often daunting body. Grapes are dried for several weeks before pressing to make Amarone wines. The drying process causes them to lose over 50% of their water, resulting in wines that are intense and rich in tannins.

Ripasso wines are made by an additional pressing – or re-passing – of fresh Valpolicella grapes over the pomace of dried grapes that were used to make Amarone. The re-passing causes an additional fermentation that gives Ripasso wines a lot more body and tannins than regular Valpolicellas without making them as dry or bitter as Amarone. If you’re like me and enjoy complex and flavorful wines that are not too dry, you will love Ripasso!

A good Ripasso will have a deep ruby color and a nose of raspberry and cherry that is incredibly persistent. Ripasso wine is full bodied with a warm, balanced, almost velvety taste. It’s great with red meat, poultry, cheese and, if you ask me, almost anything else.

Several shops in Amsterdam sell Ripasso and a number of restaurants have it on their wine list. My recent Ripasso cravings were quenched by the Montresor Capitel della Crosara, Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco, Tommasi, Tinnazi Ca de Rocchi Monteré and Salvalai Monile.

Ripasso Bottles from Amsterdam

I found both the Tommasi and the Montresor at liquor store Ton Overmars on Hoofddorpplein. The Tommasi, the best of the selection in my opinion, goes for € 18. Well worth it for an incredibly smooth yet strong wine. And at € 9,- the Montresor is the best value Ripasso. Not quite as accomplished and balanced but still pleasant and harmonious. Ton also has a Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Ripasso Monti Garbi that he imports directly and sells for € 11.

Just around the corner on Haarlemmerstraat, newly opened Vino di Pino sold me a few bottles of Monteré Ripasso for € 23,- each. Expensive, since the Monteré does not have the quality of Tommasi. They did have a three-for-two deal for the opening of their shop, which made it good value after all. Mr Alaimo, the owner of Vino di Pino, also stocks the Masi Campofiorin Supervenetian, which claims to be the first Ripasso ever made when Amarone pomace was forgotten in a barrel…

The Salvalai is on the wine list of Vooges one of my favorite eetcafes, which is located on Utrechtsestraat. And finally Frenzi Cucina has the Tedeschi Ripasso in both their restaurant on Zwanenburgwal and for sale in their shop on Overtoom.

Unusual Pasta at Puyck

Last weekend, I discovered an unusual type of pasta at Mediterranean restaurant cum deli Puyck on Ceintuurbaan in de Pijp.

My regular source for ingredients for Italian food is Feduzzi on Scheldestraat near the RAI. They have the best Parmaham and Parmesan in Amsterdam. I was, however, in de Pijp on the other side of town. And simply in need of some decent tomato sauce. Feduzzi was too far away and I remembered a little Italian traiteur by Sarphatipark. It’s called Puyck and belongs to the restaurant with the same name on Ceintuurbaan.

So I went there, had a look around, and discovered an unusual type of pasta – gnocchi filled with basil and mozzarella. Unlike regular gnocchi, they have a round shape. The flavor and texture is almost like German-style dumplings. And they have a mozzarella and basil filling.

puyck amsterdam - filled gnocchi raw puyck amsterdam - filled gnocchi cookedpuyck amsterdam - filled gnocchi with tomato sauce

Other than that, I thought Puyck was ok but certainly not worth going out of my way to pick up ingredients. The service was obnoxious. I was asked if I needed any help and replied that I wanted to have a look around. Unfortunately, the owner followed me around the entire store, breathing down my neck and commenting on everything. He was knowledgeable, but also annoying. Puyck has a large selection of different kinds of olive oil that they fill in little bottles. And they sell all the wines that the restaurant has on its wine list. It’s an interesting selection and I went home with a bottle of Sicilian Viognier that I have not tried yet.

wijninfo.nl Yea – wijnenwijn.nl Nay!

Over the last few weeks several wine-related posts on smaak.blogo.nl have mentioned and linked to wijnenwijn.nl, a recently launched portal for online wine shops.

smaak.blogo.nl is one of the food blogs I follow regularly. It’s the food channel of blogo.nl, a Dutch blog network, and written by professional food enthusiasts.

6 wine-related articles were posted over the course of the last 2 months on topics including Dutch wine and Christmas wine. All posts were written by new blogo contributor Karel Hoenderdos, wine lover, writer and also founder of wijnenwijn.nl. Karel did not fail to link to wijnenwijn.nl in any of his articles – so I was curious on what it had to offer.

wijnenwijn has three features – wine news, a wine agenda and search. The news and agenda features are basically empty. The last news article dates from 13 November and there is only a single event – a wine tasting scheduled for 14 December.

Then there is the main feature, wine search. There is full-text as well as an advanced search tab where you can filter by country, region, price and other data. wijnenwijn.nl also has some predefined search queries such as “champagne for EUR 30 or more” and a search service where you can ask a question and leave your email address.

I decided to test search using two of my favorite and somewhat unusual wines as examples. The first test was searching for Ripasso, a red Italian Valpolicella that is pressed a second time on Amarone grapes. The second term was Pacherenc, a spicy French white wine that I discovered recently and have enjoyed a few times since.

wijnenwijn.nl came back with 8 Ripasso wines including well-known Ripasso Tommasi. There was only one result for Pacherenc. For comparison, Dutch wine import database wijninfo.nl contains 23 Ripasso entries and 26 for Pacherenc wines.

wijnenwijn.nl - 1 result for pacherenc

There is no information such as reviews or descriptions of the wines on wijnenwijn.nl. Also the search parameters are spotty – information about the year was missing on about half the wines, the color was specified sometimes as “red”, sometimes as “red wine” and also often missing, and the price of the Tommasi Ripasso turned out to be EUR 22,95 instead of the EUR 21,95 listed on wijnenwijn.nl.

wijnenwijn.nl currently aggregates 13 online wine shops with a total of 4.111 wines. The database of wijninfo.nl that I use frequently contains 38.197 wines from 513 wine importers.

wijninfo.nl - search screen

In summary, it would be great to have a wine portal where you could find wines, get information and compare prices. However, wijnenwijn.nl currently falls short. There are too few wines and shops and the necessary information such as independent reviews is missing. I will continue to use wijninfo.nl, which has a very complete database, good descriptions and lists shop that sell the wines, although it does not link to them.