Sergio and Carla Zenato founded their winery close to Lake Garda in 1960, and having built up an enviable reputation for their Lugana and Valpolicella wines they handed over to their children Nadia and Alberto. Alberto oversees all areas of winemaking, from vineyard to the bottling line, while Nadia markets the wines around the world.
Their 75 hectares of vineyards include land at Santa Cristina in San Benedetto di Lugana, ideal for the turbiano grape (better known as verdicchio in Tuscany), and in the Costalunga estate in Valpolicella where the native varieties corvina, rondinella and oseleta are nurtured.
As well as the well-known Valpolicella wines that they make they also employ the latter three grapes to make fine Amarone, Ripasso and Recioto wines, with a little of the rather obscure, late-ripening oseleta variety, which is used to bring greater tannic structure and darker fruit characters to the wines.
Zenato were pioneers in the revival of the ancient method of Ripasso production. Ripasso lies between casual Valpolicella and meditational Amarone, wherein the former is added to the remains of the dried grapes pressed for the latter, spending seven days in contact with this rich marc. A second fermentation ensues and the result is a supercharged Valpolicella of gorgeous richness and body, aged for 18 months in large oak casks. At Zenato the result is a finer bottle than many a much pricier Amarone. To set it apart, Zenato choose to call it ripassa, the female of the species clearly having more finesse than the male.