New Zealander Matt Thomson began his winemaking career in the late 1980s after graduating from the University of Otago. Since 1992 he has been building a reputation as a premium producer of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, but for almost just as long he has also acted as a consultant at wineries in France and Italy.
In 1999, he decided to realise his ambition of creating a range of modern, good quality wine from vines in the beautiful hillsides surrounding the city of Verona, and the Alpha Zeta brand was born.
Many brands from this area of the north-eastern Veneto region buy their grapes in bulk from a range of sources, but Matt knew that he could have better control over quality and vineyard practice if he instead chose to work with a select handful of growers. He now works with just two co-operatives whose vineyards cover 1,900 hectares in theValpantena Valley to the north of Verona. The star grapes for Matt's wines are pinot grigio and the cherry-scentedcorvina variety.
Cool breezes sweep the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, moderating the temperature and helping the grapes to ripen at a slow and steady pace. This means that harvesting grapeslater - something Matt ensures the growers do - helps the fruitto reach itsideal ripeness. The poor, chalky soil also means the roots dig deeper for moisture, putting the vines under stress and increasing the grapes' concentration, andthe Alpha Zeta growers restrict yields to enhance this flavour intensity even further.
In the winery, grapes undergo cool fermentation in order to retain their fruity aromas. Matt's skill at realising the huge potential of Veronese wines made him the obvious choice for The Society's Pinot Grigio, which comes from a single vineyard for added precision of flavour.
Grower profile: updated 22/10/2013