Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona. The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.
The vineyards are situated in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley. Cool currents blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which helps to moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is a mixture of clay and limestone with good drainage. The vineyards are south-facing and therefore warmer than other parts of Valpolicella.
The 2016 harvest was quite similar to 2015, with a cold winter and abundant rainfall. The beginning of the growing season was characterised by the alternation of dry and rainy periods, which allowed for perfect vine development. The following hot and dry summer led to an abundant harvest with healthy grapes.
Selected grapes were picked in mid September and left to dry in specially ventilated rooms until the end of January. During this time the grapes lost about 40% of their natural weight. The grapes were destemmed and crushed at the end of January. Fermentation temperature was between 18°-22°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 20 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large 'botti' and French oak barriques) for 18 months before bottling.
85% Corvina/Corvinone , 15% Rondinella,
This Amarone is deep and intense on the nose with aromas of dried cherries and blueberries and notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.
ABV = 15.0%.
The Brigaldara winery is located just outside the town of San Floriano, in the heart of the Valpolicella region, north of Verona. It is at the entrance of the Marano valley, one of the four valleys that make up Valpolicella's classical area, the original and oldest wine production area of the region. The estate covers 50 ha, planted with vineyards and olive groves. In 1929, the Cesari family acquired the villa and surrounding land. During the 1960s and 70s the land was reconfigured to specialize in the cultivation of vines and olives. Brigaldara is a founder member of the Families of Amarone – a group of 12 wine producing families dedicated to maintaining high quality Amarone.
This wine has been made using Corvina 55%, Corvinone 25%, Rondinella 20%
To see an information sheet and tasting notes for this wine that have been put together by the team at Brigaldara, please click on the blue link below.
ABV = 15.0%.
The Dal Cero family has transformed their Ca' dei Frati property, situated on the southern shores of Lake Garda, into a model Italian estate over the past two decades. Back in 1987, they had 12 hectares of vineyard but now, following the purchase of a large chunk of prime vineyard in 2008, they have over 160 hectares. This increase in quantity has been matched by an increase in quality and today they remain the best producer in Lugana.
The grapes are grown in the Dal Cero's own vineyards, Ronchedone and La Tür, which are located on the south banks of Lake Garda near the town of Sirmione. The vines from which 'Ronchedone' is made are planted on chalky, limey and sandy clay soils, using single Guyot and cordon training. The yields were eight tonnes per hectare.
Marzemino, an indigenous varietal grown mostly in northern Italy, plus Sangiovese are the main grapes for Ronchedone, together with a maximum of 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon. Maceration and fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with extended skin contact. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrique where the wine remained for 14 months, followed by 10 months in bottle.
45% Marzemino , 45% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rich red fruits, macerated blueberries, maraschino cherries and liberally perfumed. The palate is potent, powerful with good acidity and expressing a strong sense of place.
ABV = 14.5%.
Previously named/badged as the Gold Release.
One of our biggest-selling red wines and the biggest-seller at this price point. It's easy to see why.
Fans of the steeped Valpolicella wines – Amarone, Recioto and Ripasso – will love this, especially as it does what an Amarone does at barely half the price.
This blend of grapes grown and harvested in the Salento area, with picking occurring as late as October. But it is less the varietals and more the winemaking process that makes this special: instead of the traditional Veneto passito method used with the Valpolicellas - in which the grapes are picked and then allowed to dry to concentrate flavours and sugars - the Puglian appassimento method sees the grapes left in-situ on the vines to dry for a fortnight, ahead of picking and winemaking.
During this period 50% of their weight and moisture is lost. After a rigorous hand harvest, the grapes are pressed and the fermentation starts; the skins are left in the must for a long period to extract flavours and the characteristic ruby red colour. Subsequently the wine is left in oak for about 3 or 4 months; this aging gives pleasant notes of spice and vanilla.
The effect is the same: a wine which has deep colour and a rich luscious nose and palate full of sweet ripe dark cherries, plums, vanilla, and raisins. Result: seriously fruity and wonderfully easy drinking. It’s a great wine for roasted and grilled meats and game dishes.
For this wine, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note (some interesting translations) from the winemakers themselves.
~60% Negroamaro, ~25% Merlot, ~15% Malvasia Nera.
This is a wonderful wine at an exceptional price.
ABV = 14.5%.
** NOW IN STOCK! **
Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
The famous and spectacular scenery of the Langhe of Piedmont is the backdrop to the small family business of (now) Claudio Alario, which was founded in the early 1900s. They are located in Diano d’Alba, a small rural village, situated on soft, green hills to the east of the main Barolo zone. For three generations, the business had solely dedicated itself to the care and cultivation of vines and the sale of grapes, and it is only thanks to Claudio that they have - relatively recently - arrived at their own winemaking and bottling of their own wines. In 1988, Claudio, fresh out of oenology college with his degree, set to at producing his own Langhe wines. He/they started by producing only Dolcetto, progressively advancing with Barbera to Nebbiolo, arriving in 1995 at their first Barolo. Their vineyards, situated in the municipalities of Diano d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba and Verduno, vary in age between 20 and 50 years old; all enjoy particularly privileged exposures.
This Barolo hails from the Serralunga municipality, and is drawn from the Sorano cru which lies at the very north of the crus of that zone (with an exposure to the SW).
Although quite brief, see the link below - a fiche technique/technical note from the winemaker himself - for more details of the winemaking and elevage.
Only 4,000 bottles of the 2015 were made.
Tasting note: as the DWWA19 panel said,"This authoritative and complex Barolo is a great harbinger for everything the 2015 vintage holds, as well as being an outstanding representative of its DOCG. It's relatively deep in colour, with lifted, seductive, pristine aromas which suggest roses, threshed grain and straw matting as well as refined plum, redcurrant and pomegranate fruits. It's still deep-textured and detaining, with choice gastronomic tannins, yet the beautifully stewarded fruits are already offering complexity and nuance. Further bottle age will only add to the allusive layers. An effortless classic, into which much effort has doubtless gone".
ABV = 14.5%.
Corte Giara is the negociant label of Allegrini. The wines are made by Allegrini from fruit brought in from outside their own vineyards. They have a similar stamp of quality that sets them apart from most of the Veronese wines produced at this level.
The grapes for this wine are grown in vineyards situated in the Eastern morenic hills of Lake Garda. The vineyards are approximately 200 metres above sea level and face south/southwest. The soils are of fluvial-glacial origin. There are 3,000 vines per hectare, approximately 26 years old and trained according to the pergola trellising system. The grapes were hand picked in September.
This year the harvest was long, with slow ripening, and abundant, high-quality grapes. Spring was particularly wet and as a result, in early July, due to the considerable number of bunches, they carried out some thinning to restore the equilibrium of the vineyard. A drier period started in July, interspersed with some timely showers. In September, temperatures rose again, reaching highs of up to 33°C, but equally high fluctuations between daytime and night-time temperatures (as much as 15°C), enabled the grapes to attain ideal ripeness. Grapes reached full maturity in the last third of September.
After destemming and gentle crushing, the must was macerated briefly on the skins before cold stabilisation. Fermentation took place with selected yeasts at 26-30°C for a period of eight days with frequent pumping over. Malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place naturally during the month of December. The wine was aged on the lees in stainless steel tank for three months until January when it was bottled.
This wine is made using Corvina 50%, Rondinella 35%, Molinara 15%.
In the glass, this wine has a ruby red colour with purple highlights. Intense and fragrant, dominant notes of vibrant red berries accompany the characteristic spiciness of pepper and rosehip blossom. Dry and harmonious, it captivates the palate with its elegance and succulent easy-drinking style.
ABV = 12.5%.
Fatalone are a small, historic, family winery. In the late 19th Century, ancestor Petrera Nicola decided to build his home within the winery and chose the hill called Spinomarino, for its lofty, well-aired and sunny position, among the best in the entire area of Gaudella (south-eastern area of Gioia del Colle) to grow Primitivo grapes. Fatalone's tradition of artisan vine-dressers can be traced back to that time. The land was cleared, with the trees replanted in another area of the property, and cisterns were dug out to ensure an adequate water supply. The excavated stones were used to build the ancient farm or Masseria. A triangle, carved on the highest stone of the building and used as a symbol for the winery, defines the farm as the oldest historical building in the countryside and as a cartographic point of reference. Nicola Petrera’s passion for Primitivo grapes has been handed down from father to son along with the following words: “Who loves and respects Nature, loves God and himself”.
In 1988, inside the small cellar dug out within the rocks, the first bottle of Primitivo DOC Gioia del Colle marked Fatalone (vintage 1987) was born. The brand name of the wine originated with Filippo Petrera (2nd generation), Nicola’s son, who was, in his time, nicknamed Il Fatalone. It quickly caught on becoming the family nickname. Fatalone translates literally into “Lady Killer” or “one who can boast to be an irresistible seducer of women” much like the legendary Don Juan. Filippo Petrera lived until the age of 98, metaphorically speaking between Bacchus and Venus, having breakfast every morning till his last day with half a litre of Primitivo and half a litre of fresh milk.
In 1987, Fatalone were the first winery to produce and bottle the Gioia del Colle DOC. Primitivo as a single varietal wine. Their winery, with its strict family management, has always practiced organic farming; since 2000, we have been Certified Organic by the Institute for Ecology and Ethics Certification (ICEA).
For this wine, there is spontaneous fermentation of the must in contact with the skin for 240-300 hours at controlled temperature and just with autochthonous yeasts. Open-cycle process with frequent pumping of the must over the pomace. Natural malolactic fermentation. No addition of sulphites during the whole vinification process. Only after the end of the malolactic, re-integration of the sulphites lost during the vinification steps to restore the initial natural value.
This wine spends 12 months in stainless steel tanks, 12 months in Slavonic oak 750-liter-casks with the application of music therapy to optimize the spontaneous microxigenation process and improve the fining of the wine, 6 months in bottle.
Ruby red intense colour with slight burgundy hues. Scent typical of very ripe fruits and slightly toasted wood and spices, with some balsamic notes. Full bodied, rich in minerality and freshness, balanced smooth taste of black sour cherry and plum tending to velvety with ripe fruity notes of blackberry and mulberry, and spices like clove and cacao. The feature that makes our natural authentic Primitivo of Gioia del Colle unique is the toasted almond aftertaste.
This wine is best when served with strong flavoured dishes like pasta with rich sauces, roasted beef, game, grilled meat as well as fish and aged cheese. The Riserva is also particularly fine with dark chocolate sweets.
An Exel Wines Perth shop favourite!!
Alessandro Candido’s range is perhaps the most diverse and innovative to be found in Puglia, yet the wines continue to offer unbeatable value-for-money. The climate is Mediterranean with low rainfall, and ripening takes place slowly due to the striking contrast between day and night-time temperatures, resulting in a strong development of aromas, richness and concentration. This historic, family-owned property continues to amaze under the guiding hand of one of Italy’s top winemakers, Donato Lanati.
The must is fermented on the skins at a controlled temperature for about five days. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation have taken place in stainless steel tanks, the wine is matured in large oak casks.
For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
95% Negroamaro, 5% Malvasia Nera.
This wine is a delightful ruby colour which develops hints of orange on the rim with maturity. The nose has an ethereal bouquet and distinctive aromas of cocoa and leather. On the palate, it has a pleasant enveloping structure with the typical rich and warm black fruit notes well combined with the typical French oak aromas.
ABV = 13.5%.
** JUST ARRIVING INTO STOCK MONDAY 30th MARCH, 36 BOTTLES NOW, ANOTHER LARGER BLOCK ONE WEEK LATER. **
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition panel tasting of top-end Chianti Classico (see blue link below).
Tenuta Perano is an immaculate estate located in Gaiole, in the heart of the Chianti Classico region and is the latest addition to the collection of estates owned by the Frescobaldi family. It covers 250 hectares, of which 52 are planted with vines. The vineyard is planted on steep slopes and is situated on a natural amphitheatre profile, which captures and amplifies the sunlight onto the vines. This unique setting combines elevation, exposure and a natural topography to produce wines with intensely fruit driven aromas and a great tannic structure, which are enveloped in elegance. Gambero Rosso awarded Frescobaldi with the prestigious ‘Tre Bicchieri Winery of the Year Award 2020’, in recognition of its uncompromising commitment to quality and innovation.
The grapes are grown on the steep hillsides of Gaiole with a gradient of 15 to 20 degrees, up to 500 metres above sea level. The vines are planted with a southern exposure, in an amphitheatre shaped vineyard which helps to maximise the exposure to the sun and concentrates the heat onto the vines. The topography and altitude help to keep the vines ventilated with the Tramontana wind which blows from the north during the night, and daytime breezes approaching from the south. The climate provides warm, dry summers with marked temperature differences in September, which helps to extend the ripening period and concentrate the fruit flavours, while retaining balancing acidity. The soil is notable for its rich stone content and is free draining.
The 2016 winter was characterised by high rainfall combined with intense frosts and snow. Budding took place in the second half of April. Mild spring temperatures favoured the vine’s development and flowering took place during the first week of June. The hot, sunny, breezy summer days created the best possible opportunity for photosynthesis. Véraison took place in August, a period during which two beneficial rains occurred, allowing the grapes to achieve perfect ripeness and succulence. 2016 produced wines with intense aromas and good structure.
The grapes were harvested at optimum maturity and were vinified maintaining the maximum The hand-harvested grapes were picked at optimum maturity and carefully selected. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with frequent ‘pigeage’ or cap punch-downs allow for the desired levels of polyphenolic extraction, determining typicity in the colour and structure of this Chianti Classico Riserva. Prolonged maturation for 24 months in 20 to 80 hectolitre casks contributed to the structural intensity of this wine. Further bottle ageing took place, prior to release.
Sangiovese 95%, Merlot 5%.
A complex expression of the Sangiovese grape, delivering floral aromatics dominated by violet and rosehip underpinned by blackcurrant and blueberry fruit. Spicy highlights of black pepper, nutmeg and cocoa powder give way to an elegant balsamic sensation. Fresh and rich on the palate, with dense tannins and hints of fine tobacco and leather, this is long and harmonious.
ABV = 14.5%.
Founded by Abruzzo native Gianni Masciarelli in 1981, Masciarelli and its wines have become the standard-bearer for the Abruzzo region, and an inspiration to all emerging Italian wine regions. After a summer in Champagne in his youth, Gianni Masciarelli returned home convinced that world-class wines could be produced in Abruzzo. Through tremendous vision and endless innovation, Masciarelli became one of the most admired wineries in Italy. Gianni firstly brought a strong focus on vineyard sites and management, not a typical point of focus at the time. Reducing yields, working sustainably, and bringing vineyard planting and management techniques new to the region, he greatly increased fruit quality. In the winery he broke the mold by gently and precisely and gently handling fruit, and introducing the high quality substance he had to extended aging, adding depth and complexity to his wines and resulting in better integration of tannin.
Masicarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is the benchmark for Montepulciano in Italy and the world. Pioneering winemaker Gianni Masciarelli, who put winemaking Abruzzo on the map, elevated the wines from his native region to new heights, and his Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a tribute to his home as well as a perfect introduction to the grape and to Abruzzo. This wine shows how, when handled with care, the late ripening Montepulciano grape produces refined wines of soft acidity, ripe and moderate tannins, and bright red berry and cherry notes with a distinct, spicy character.
- 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
- ABV: 13.5%
- First year of production: 2012.
- Number of bottles produced: 180,000.
- Municipality of production and altitude of vineyard: Loreto Aprutino (Cocciapazza and Remartello), 350 mt asl.
- Training system: Abruzzo’s pergola and single Guyot.
- Time of harvest: second half of October.
The Masciarelli Montepulciano is the entry into the fabulous world of Masciarelli. It has a deep ruby colour with aromas of sweet cherries, dark berries, plums, violets, dark chocolate, pepper, smoke, leather and tobacco. Lovely full-bodied taste experience. The acidity is still very present, the tannins are rounded off and the last sip has a pleasant fruity-spicy finish.
ABV = 13.5%.
Il Palagio di Panzano produces wines that mirror the unique character of the area. They are members of the Unione Viticoltori di Panzano and have made the decision to produce organic wine. For the family, sustainability for us is a synonym for “family-run”, too. They have the belief that they can guarantee the high quality of their wines by remaining as a small, family-run winery
The Torgentile is an unusual wine for the very heart of Chianti Classico country. It is 100% Merlot, but made with all the same love, care and attention used for Il Palagio's Chianti Classicos. Chianti Classico must (absolutely must) be 80% Sangiovese, and although that allows for a blend light on Merlot, it does not allow for a full Merlot blend... which is a shame given how very well it grows here. Hence, the Torgentile steps outside the Chianti Classico DOCG rules and into the denominazione of IGT Toscana which allows for the use of Merlot.
The grapes for the Torgentile are always harvested by hand from Il Palagio's single hectare of Merlot. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a maximum temperature of 28° for 21 days. Malolactic fermentation is then allowed to occur before a full 24 months of maturation in French oak barriques.
The Torgentile is bright ruby red in colour with light reflections. The aromas are intense with hints of red fruits, spices and oak. The palate is well structured and harmonious with well-rounded, persistent tannins. The finish is reminiscent of spices, oak and liquorice.
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded 94 points by Decanter in their February 2019 tasting of Ornellaia(s) (see blue link below).
NB: the label in the review differs from ours; that in the review is on the "art" edition - see here - but the wine in the bottle is the same!
For 700 years, the Frescobaldi family who own Ornellaia have combined tradition, experience and innovation with creativity and the pursuit of excellence. The family has always looked to develop and celebrate the diversity of Tuscany’s terroir, being proud owners of some of the greatest vineyards in this region. The production philosophy at Ornellaia revolves around their obsession with excellence – at all levels. Every choice they make is of absolute importance and implies an all-consuming attention to detail. At no point in the production process are shortcuts allowed or tolerated, and this is how they succeed in harvesting grapes that are of the very highest quality irrespective of the climatic conditions in any particular year.
56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot.
To see Ornellaia's excellent information and tasting sheet for this wine, please click on the blue link below.
Ornellaia 2012 appears a deep ruby, and a remarkably beguiling bouquet boasts rich fruit and spices notes. The palate shows well-rounded, full, and generous, with glossy tannins and a complete absence of any roughness. The 2012 lacks none of the proverbial concentration that distinguishes Ornellaia’s, great vintages, but this vintage adroitly masks that richness behind an expansive, magisterial structure, then concludes with a near-endless finish.
ABV = 14.5%.
The 2012 vintage was Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in August 2017 (see blue link below).
Molise is located in the southern part of Central Italy. Only 2% of its production is graded as DOC. Hillside vineyards with excellent exposure, morainic and calcareous soils together with a combination of maritime and continental climate provide a favorable terroir for the cultivation of vines. The 15 to 25 year old vines are trained in the Sylvoz and Spur Cordon fashion, with 2800 to 3300 vines planted per hectare, yields are around 110 hl/ha. Grapes were hand and machine harvested in late September.
Made from equal thirds of Aglianico, Montepulciano and Trebbiano. Traditional vinification with 10-12 days of maceration at a controlled temperature of 25°-26°C. The wine is aged for 18 months in large oak barrels, and the for 18 months in stainless steel tanks.
Purply red colour that will develop to garnet with age. The bouquet is complex and intense with hints of blackberry jam. On the palate the wine is velvety and harmonious with pleasant, firm tannins.
The wine pairs well with roast meats, game, pheasant or salami. Serve at 18-20° (ie really quite warm!)
ABV = 13.0%.
95 Points James Suckling.
Established in 1881, Pio Cesare, now run by fifth generation Pio Boffa, was one of the very first producers to believe in the potential and quality of the great wines of Piemonte and to export to the UK. A ceaseless devotion to the individuality of each of the region’s wines informs Pio’s choices in the vineyards and cellar. He applies a ‘minimal intervention’ philosophy to wine making, creating wines that year after year, are ranked among the world’s best wines.
The grapes are sourced exclusively from the single vineyard ‘Il Bricco’ estate, one of the prime sites within the Barberesco appellation situated in the village of Trieso.
The grapes are hand-harvested, then gently pressed and fermented on the skins for 15 days at 25° to 26°C in stainless steel. 70% of the wine is then aged in mid-toasted French oak (a third new) for 30 months. The remaining 30% is aged in 20 to 50 hectolitre casks.
Heavy rain in the winter months replenished water reserves in the soil. This meant that later in the year, when the weather was extremely hot and dry, especially in mid-August, the vines did not suffer hydric stress. Consequently, harvest was brought forward but the wines produced were elegant and well-balanced.
Ruby red in colour, the Il Bricco 2009 has an array of aromas from dark berry fruit, raspberry with underlying liquorice and herbal notes which follow to the palate. Rich, with delicious juicy fruit, super fine tannins and a long, expressive finish with a touch of spice from the new oak.
See also blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the team at Pio Cesare.
ABV = 14.5%.