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There’s something gloriously autumnal about Campofiorin, the original Ripasso Valpolicella from Masi. 2006 was a five-star vintage for Masi, the first since 1997, so this wine, with its lovely dried-cherry aromas, represents brilliant value. Masi pioneered the Ripasso technique 40 years ago. (Ripasso refers to fermenting young wine with the drained skins and lees left over from making the highly coveted Amarone.) Today it’s made by double-fermenting the wine with grapes that have dried for six weeks. It’s very versatile, but near-perfect with a mushroom risotto using portobellos and a few dried porcini.
Elizabeth David’s seminal 1954 Italian Food has a simple fall recipe for pasta with a sauce of melted mascarpone cheese and toasted new-season walnuts. The Tommasi Ripasso is the perfect wine to go with it. Made from a traditional trio of indigenous Veneto grapes—Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Corvinone—and refermented on Amarone lees, it’s deep purple, almost black in the glass. Smoky and meaty, rich and velvety, it’s full of baked plum and raisin, finishing long with anise and cigar-box notes that make it equally delicious with a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano or a handful of nuts.
Ask Andrew Wong, proprietor of Wild Rice, the contemporary Chinese restaurant on Pender at Abbott, what wine he likes and the answer is “anything that tastes good.” That taste for the good stuff began in 1989 when he worked at the Cannery. “Bud Kanke had an incredible wine education program. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 p.m., the staff tasted one or two serious bottles off the huge wine list.” Wong still does that every other week—when we talk his staff are deciding whether a B.C. or a Washington Riesling will be part of his “unique and boutique” wine program. With cooler weather approaching he’s looking to B.C. reds like 2005 Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc and Herder Josephine. “I want customers to ask about the wine, not just order Yellowtail or Woodbridge.”