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%.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition's panel tasting of Valpolicella Ripassos (see blue link below).
In 1957, the Bertani family bought the Tenuta Novare, a unique place in the heart of the Valpolicella Classica area. The estate is situated in a green hollow, in a sort of natural amphitheatre, where the vineyards alternate with woods and lush nature. It is an extraordinary land where constant water is guaranteed by 7 natural springs. Amarone Bertani wouldn’t be the authentic and distinctive wine we know today, if this unique place didn’t exist.
Tenuta Novare has a continuous and unusual alternation of soils: clay at the bottom of the valley, calcareous soils rich in iron and manganese and soils rich in basalt, ideal for producing grapes destined to making great red wines.
The mild climate, as shown by the presence of cypresses and olive trees, defines this welcoming and noble profile of Valpolicella.
From this same site, the Catullo Ripasso is produced, an elegant, balanced and harmonious wine with a classic style made with the second fermentation ripasso technique.
70% Corvina Veronese, 20% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella.
For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
This is a wine of medium body, with gentle spicy notes of vanilla and chocolate and the typical notes of cherry, black cherry and white pepper. On the palate, freshness and drinkability (typical of Valpolicella) combine with a silky tannic structure and an intense aromatic persistence, more typical of Amarone. Fresh, soft and sapid finish.
Exel note: it has a markedly lower residual sugar level than many ripassos.
ABV = 13.0%.
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition article on the next generation of Italian wine producers (see blue link below).
Pieropan's estate covers 58 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, took over the running of the estate in 2017 when Nino fell ill and before he passed away in April 2018. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.
In 1999, The Pieropan family bought uncultivated land on the hill of Garzon, which is 400 metres above sea level in Cellore Illasi. The Illasi valley is to the west of Soave and has long been known for the quality of its Valpolicella. Pieropan planted vines here in 2000. The vineyard is south-facing with good exposure that ensures excellent ripening of the Valpolicella varieties (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina). The limestone and clay soil and the windy and dry micro-climate are all ideal conditions for the production of rich yet elegant wines. The vines are trained using the Guyot system, with 5,800 vines per hectare. The vineyard is certified organic.
Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the vines’ growth cycle saw abundant rain, but was thankfully followed by a hot and dry period. This allowed for perfect health and organoleptic qualities in the grapes, making this 2015 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.
The grapes were hand-picked and dried naturally, then pressed and de-stemmed. The must was fermented at 23-24ºC for approximately 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap took place every day. The wine was aged in 500 litre barrels for 36 months followed by a year in bottle before release.
This wine is made using 60% Corvina, 15% Croatina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Other Native Red Varietals.
To see an excellent technical sheet for this wine with a tasting note from the winemakers, please click on the blue link below.
Brilliant and intense ruby red in colour, this is a wine with a heady perfume of black cherries and red summer fruits with notes of pepper and sweet spice. On the palate it is complex and rounded, with a powerful structure supporting the fruit and a lovely freshness on the finish. A wine with plenty of character with the potential to age well.
ABV = 16.5%.