The Zenato family has always been at the forefront of innovation in Valpolicella and often at odds with both tradition and the authorities – pushing boundaries to make the best wines possible regardless of what they’re forced to put on the label.
But this passion project doesn’t make any financial sense whatsoever. It’s drawn from one of the most precious and expensive vineyards in the entire region – the Costalunga Estate – the same vineyard (and grapes) from which Zenato crafts their seventy dollar Amarone.
The vineyard is a special place – perfectly positioned above Lake Garda – basking in the reflections off the lake allowing generally late-harvested Corvina to reach perfection year in and year out.
But the Zenato’s decided something was missing from the wines they were crafting off the vineyard that had to adhere to rigid and arcane wine laws. So they began to test breaking those rules. The effort took decades of experimentation but finally found perfection in a bottle made much like Amarone and from the same hillsides but cannot even bear the name Valpolicella.
Zenato Alanera combines three traditional Valpolicella grapes (55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone) with the remainder an even split of Merlot and Cabernet. Half of the grapes undergo partial drying – including the Cabernet & Merlot – which is something I’ve never tasted before.
93 Points, James Suckling
Loads of peppery and spicy, ripe cherry and berry character on the nose and palate. Hints of coffee and chocolate, too. Full to medium palate, where the spicy tannins push the fruit into a long finish. I like the full-throttle drive to this red. Will improve in the bottle. Drink or hold.