Annual reviewand financial statements
Tastings & EventsBrowse our NEW calendar
Pre-order the top wines
There’s a lot of very poor pinot grigio out there. This, however, is the real deal selected from a single vineyard north-east of Verona, and made by New Zealander Matt Thomson who has become a dab hand at bringing out the typical breadcrust aroma of the grape with full-bodied clean, fresh fruit on the palate.
Product Code: WS-IT24981
View all products by Alpha Zeta
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 the Valpantena Valley to the north of Verona. The star grapes for Matt’s wines are pinot grigio and the cherry-scented corvina 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 grapes later – something Matt ensures the growers do – helps the fruit to reach its ideal ripeness. The poor, chalky soil also means the roots dig deeper for moisture, putting the vines under stress and increasing the grapes’ concentration, and the 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.
Three regions constitute this wide and varied area. In the very north-east, abutting Slovenia and Croatia lies Friuli-Venezia Giulia. South and east of Venice spreads the broad swathe of the Veneto, one of Italy’s main wine producing areas in terms of volume. Finally, falling from the foothills of the Dolomites is Trentino-Alto Adige.Since the 1970s Friuli-Venezia Giulia has earned a fine reputation for high-quality white wines and a burgeoning one for reds. Most of the estates here are family owned with some co-operatives dotted around. Much of the inland area is hilly or mountainous with flatter vineyards sited around the Isonzo River as it comes down to the sea. The two principal white wine making areas are the Friuli Colli Orientali in the north-west and Collio Goriziano in the centre and east around the curve of the Slovenian border. The Orientali vineyards are in the lee of the Julian Alps and are cooler than the vineyards of Collio Goriziano though they are protected from northerly winds and have a more continental climate. They sit at altitudes of between 330 and 1200 metres on soils that were once beneath the ocean, so marl and sandstone predominate. The Collio Goriziano vineyards enjoy slightly greater influence from the Adriatic to the south, though the cool air draining from the higher ground in the north plays its part, and the vineyards sit upon the many steep slopes in this hilly country.Pinot grigio was an early success here and is still widely made, but chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot bianco have joined local varieties like tocai fiuliano, picolit and verduzzo in producing some of Italy’s freshest and most interesting white wines. Local varieties like schioppetino and refosco have struggled to find an audience outside of the region in the past though this is changing, and some Bordeaux blends from the Grave region of free draining alluvial soils are making people sit up and take notice.Trentino-Alto Adige was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and in the northern parts of the province (Alto Adige) German is still widely spoken. Indeed, the architecture, food and customs owe much to their Teutonic roots and there are elements that remain in the vineyards that echo a Germanic past. Riesling is planted here and the village of Tramin gave its name to the gewürztraminer grape which is now so widely planted in another region with Germanic influences, Alsace. To reinforce that comparison, sylvaner, muscat, müller-thurgau and pinot gris (grigio) are also to be found here. Alto Adige is also known as the Süd-Tyrol (South Tyrol) and lies on the border with Austria and is Italy’s most northerly wine region. Here the vines grow in the foothills of the Alps, on the lower slopes along the Adige Valley. Altitudes vary between 200 and 1000 metres. White wines made the reputation of the region for their lively, fresh purity but reds are grown here too. Schiava and the burlier lagrein are the indigenous varieties much used here, though bracing cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines are made from plantings that can struggle to ripen and escape some greenness. Some very fine pinot noir wines are having an impact for their high-class and poise.The Veneto is something of a vinous bread basket. The soils are fertile, which is not usually propitious for fine wine production, and officially permitted yields are unacceptably high. The region produces enormous quantities of everyday wines for exporting and blending but also embraces the Valpolicella region where the jewel in the crown is Valpolicella Amarone, the sweetly rich, full-bodied expression of semi-dried corvina and rondinella grapes that is sought after the world over. Though bulk production, particularly through large and highly-efficient co-operatives, is still prevalent the improvements in winemaking and viticulture are clear, and there are many producers in formerly workaday DOCs like Valpolicella and Soave who are turning their corvina, rondinella, garganega and trebbiano di lugana (turbiano) grapes into vinous gems. Prosecco is also produced here from the glera grape in the hills around Conigliano almost due north of Venice, and is something of a worldwide phenomenon in terms of sales volume. As ever, there is a lot of basic fizz but the producers who take a little more care in vineyards and wineries are making delicious bubblies at all price levels.
"if your like me and a bit bored with pinot grigio but find sauvignon and chardenay a bit of a mouth full this is definitely worth giving a go"
"Wine is inoffensive, with a sharp apple crispness and slight acidity. Flavours are generally quite muted however. Would pair well with a variety of dishes but isn’t that exciting to drink on its own."
"if your like me and a bit bored with pinot grigio but find sauvignon and chardenay a bit of a mouth full this is definitely worth giving a go"
There are no press reviews for this product.
"Entirely inoffensive, but anonymous, and struck us all as lacking something, whether it was a tingle of alcohol, a kick of acidity, or just some more liveliness of flavour. £7.95 seems a little steep for what could have been a supermarket white."
Mr Maximilian Yuen (07-Mar-2018)
Mr Piers Beckley (03-Jan-2018)
"Lovely, easy drinking PG - maybe a little too easy! Great value and will be ordering more."
Mr Jonathan Reed (29-Dec-2017)
"* * *"
Mr Michal Slavik (08-Nov-2017)
"Very nice PG compared to some. Fresh and easy drinking. One of the best I've had this year. Thoroughly recommend."
Mr Tom Rodger (22-Oct-2017)
"There's an ocean of Pinot Grigios out there but I just loved this one. It seems to have just the right amount of everything in just the right order. At this price... 5 star."
Mr Alan Kingsbury (15-Sep-2017)
"Very enjoyable Pinot Grigio, slightly honeyed on the nose with perhaps a touch of almond. A hint of minerality and reasonable length for a wine at this price point. Probably 3.5 stars but halves are not an option and only 3 seems churlish."
Mr Bob White (18-Jun-2017)
Mr Robert Hudson (12-Aug-2016)
"Characterful medium-bodied Pinot Grigio with ripe fruit (pears, apples) rather than the neutral thinness one finds in the brands. A repeat order."
Dr Andrew Rawnsley (12-Aug-2016)
"I'm fairly new to the Wine Society and am building a repeat order list. This Pinot Grigio finds a place, it's got body and a refreshing finish, good value and a satisfying drink."
Mr Tom Bulley (04-May-2016)
"Good solid Pinot Grigio"
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (09-Mar-2016)
"I have been prepared to pay over the odds for good Italia Pinot Grigio. Not anymore, this flavoursome wine was excellent to drink on its own or with food, Fantastic value! I shall be ordering lots more."
Mr Bill Raftery (11-Mar-2014)
"Having just returned from holiday in this area and tried plenty of local stuff, this is fine example and excellent value. I will be back for more, and no need to travel to Verona."
Mr Philip Hesketh (03-Sep-2013)
"Opened this for the family after a very busy, hot day and it certainly hit the spot. Comes from a single vineyard and the attention to detail shows. Light golden colour, with a full rounded body containing excellent fruit. A tad sweet at the end for some perhaps, but not the least bit cloying. Very good value and would suit a patio/BBQ very well indeed, without implying it is in any way middle of the road/average; a lot more work than that has gone into this offering. Will re-order with confidence and recommend to members."
Mr Terence Eastham (03-Sep-2013)
"A pleasant everyday wine, having tried it with a chicken and pancetta salad would say it is a big improvement on the previous Society Pinot Grigio."
Mr Christopher M Holmes (19-Aug-2013)
Cambridge Evening News (9th Mar 2014)
"Recently I was
impressed with this example of flavoursome pinot grigio. - Mark Anstead"
"I am afraid to say I did not enjoy this wine, which had a very strange chemical aftertaste. The first Society Label I will not repeat, after many years happy buying.
Mr Thomas G Christopherson (11-May-2013)
"I have found this wine to be very unreliable. Some batches are fantastic, but some are very poor with a rather unpleasant vermouth type after taste. Personally I have stopped buying this wine and would not recommend it. The unreliability makes it poor value I feel.
Mr Simon Raybould (14-May-2012)
"Pleasant but unexciting wine..."
Mr Najam Asghar (06-Dec-2011)
"Current Society pinot grigio unexciting and feeble? A tad frizzante also?"
Mr John Brocklesby (27-Feb-2011)
"Dry but not too dry - tasting of granny smiths and a hint of gooseberry. Good with shellfish and light chicken meals. Having stayed away from Pinot Grigio for a long time this was an extremely pleasant surprise"
Miss Carolyn A Dakers (16-Aug-2009)
"Much enjoyed the Pinot Grigio and I have no qualm about recommending it to other members."
Dr Duncan C Kerr (11-Aug-2009)
"Excellent wine, with or without food. Refreshing, well balanced, excellent value. It gets our evenings off to a great start - and is always well received by guests."
Mr Jeffrey Jaycock (08-Aug-2009)
"I buy quite a lot of the Society's Pinot Grigio. I think it is excellent. You can buy cheaper PG elsewhere, but the quality is nowhere near that of the Society wine and it is well worth paying that little bit more."
Mr Graham B Marsh (07-Aug-2009)
Log in to view notes
We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
If a review or comment does not meet the rules above, then we may remove it from the site, and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Where we choose not to publish a rating, comment or review for a reason other than those listed here, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that their input can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
Your review and your name will be displayed on our website. We may wish to use your comments and ratings in our literature or elsewhere online. Unless you specify otherwise, you are therefore agreeing in posting your comments that The Society has the right to use, edit, publish in any media, delete and/or store the whole or any part or parts of that post, and may quote you by name, without charge and without reference to you or anyone else.
The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.