In the late 20th century, a new style of wine known as 'Ripasso' (meaning: re-passed, re-ferment) emerged with more frequency. This unique winemaking technique utilises the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of 'Recioto' and 'Amarone' - which are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration.
The Valpolicella wine made during the current vintage is saved, and placed on top of the pressed grape skins and other particulate residue in the vats just used and allowed to ferment further with the skins and other grape residue, thereby acquiring additional flavour and body. This process, which can last from 2 to 3 weeks, adds colour, tannins, complex flavours and palate texture.
The additional food source for the remaining fermenting yeasts helps boost the alcohol level and body of the wines while also leaching additional glycerin and some phenolic compounds that contribute to a wine's complexity and length.
As the production of Amarone has increased considerably at the start of the 21st century, so too has the occurrence of 'ripasso' style wines appearing on the wine market. As most Amarone producers are also producing a 'ripasso' as a type of 'second wine'. An alternative method is to use partially dried grapes, instead of leftover pomace, which can contain less bitter tannins and even more phenolic compounds.
One of the most well-known Valpolicella producers to commercially market a 'ripasso' wine is the Pasqua family. When the style first became popular in the late 20th century, it was rarely noted on the wine label. There was also debate about whether it was even permitted to be included under DOC regulations. If it was mentioned at all it was relegated to the back label wine description notes.
Today the term 'ripasso' is freely permitted to be used, with several examples on the wine market labeled as being made in the 'ripasso' style. Then in late 2007, 'Ripasso della Valpolicella' received its own DOC designation.