Alpha Zeta was started in 1999 when Liberty Wines set out to produce a range of modern, fruit-driven wines from the hills outside Verona. Working with leading New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson, our aim was to work with growers (rather than buy bulk wine, which is standard among most wines from Verona at this price) to obtain ripe grapes (by reducing yields and picking later) and then, using Matt's expertise, preserve these flavours in the finished wines. The result is a realisation of the potential inherent in Veronese viniculture.
The vineyards are situated between 100 and 300 metres above sea level close to the Verona hills 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.
Flowering was slightly later than in 2016 but the high temperatures and rainfall which followed allowed the vegetative cycle to catch up and harvest took place on time. Grape quality this year is very good with high volumes of healthy fruit.
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 15°-20°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 10-12 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large 'botti' and French oak barriques) for 24 months before bottling.
This Amarone is deep and intense on the nose with aromas of dried cherries, plums, spiced autumn fruit compote and chocolate. On the palate, it is powerful, with a lovely balance of ripe, silky tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.