The Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC “R” Alpha Zeta was made using a modern variation of the traditional Veronese practice known as “ripasso”. Traditionally, the young wine was re-fermented on the skins of the Amarone grapes once they had finished fermenting in March. The modern approach is to ferment the young wine together with dried grapes in the January following the vintage, giving the wine more body and depth. Following fermentation, this Ripasso was aged for 12 months in oak prior to bottling. This blend of modern and traditional winemaking produces a wine with a combination of freshness, structure and depth that is rare among Ripasso wines.
The vineyards are situated at 100-400 metres above sea level in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley and are south/south-east facing. Cool breezes blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is poor and chalky so the vines are put under stress and produce superior quality fruit. The vines are 20-30 years old on average and are trained using both the traditional Pergola Veronese and Guyot system.
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, the 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.