Villa Maria tasting with Jeremy McKenzie – 30 October 2013

Villa Maria tasting 301013

Hurrah! Another tasting rolls around at Regional Wines.

This time it’s my turn to try some single vineyard and reserve wines from a favourite producer of mine – Villa Maria. The tasting was led by VM winemaker Jeremy McKenzie, who is based in Marlborough. I see that GK is here too. He talks up VM wines as great value for money, especially at auction (I agree – it is hard to walk past their Cellar Selection wines when they are on special at my local). $25 entry.

Fun Facts: 80% of Villa Marias output is Sauvignon Blanc. They produce over 100 different parcels of Pinot Noir. Sir George Fistonich and the people at Villa Maria think a lot about who is drinking their wines, and they try to produce wines that encourage diners in the restaurant to have that second glass. A noble pursuit. But dont drink and drive. Or drink and write…

We had two flights to look at: firstly some white wines including a mini-vertical of Keltern Chardonnays, then a flight of reds including a mini vertical of Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlots from the Gimblett Gravels.

Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – 13% – The 2012 vintage was one of the coldest. It led to smaller bunches and an extended ripening period. This perversely produced wines with very balanced acidity, and Jeremy reported that some winemakers claimed they had made their best wine ever.

This sav is interesting. Being from the Wairau valley in Marlborough this wine is not made in the typical ‘punchy’ style of tomato stalk and herb notes that you find in the classic Marlborough region of the Awatere valley. Rather it has a light aroma, refined, slightly grassy and elegant. The wine is very pale. I taste bright fruit in the mouth, balanced acid, and pronounced passionfruit flavours. Rich and soft and slightly flinty. Fermented in 5% oak which may explain that. V nice. 4

Villa Maria Omahu Gravels Viognier 2010 – 14.5% – Villa Maria is one of NZs largest producer of viognier. This is a hard grape to sell to general consumers as many of them can’t pronounce the name with confidence.

Single vineyard wine from the Gimblett Gravels. 10yr old wines. Light yellow. Warm honey on nose, very leggy. Typically luscious with spice notes. Also typically hot on the back of the throat but this has been deliberately dialled back, and is definitely dryer and more refined than other examples I have tasted. Better for it too. GK sez subtle use of oak. Well textured, very nice example. 4.5

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 – 13% – The Keltern Vineyard is a cool inland site, made up of red metal soils, and lies beside the Ngaroro River. The wine is produced from a mixture of predominately Clone 85 grapes, and 10-20% of Mendoza and Clone 15. Pale straw colour. It is refined on the nose with honey and peaches. Very appealing ripe fruit, acidity, pears and green apples. 4

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 – 13.5% – Pale straw colour. This one smells funkier. Fruit notes and big hint of gunpowder on the nose. The wine is clean and rich and unctuous. Ripe peaches. Top drop. I’ve ordered one for the Pool Room. 4.5

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 – 14% – Yellow pale straw. Deep bouquet, Vanilla. Soft. Big taste. Buttery toast flavours at finish. Mature – drink now. I had a bottle last year and loved it. 4.5

Tasting this vertical has shown up some definite vineyard traits expressed by this Chardonnay. It is consistently refined, with good palate weight, and an intriguingly complex swirl of flavours I can’t all quite name, but can sense and enjoy all the same.

Then its the reds turn at bat…

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2010 – 13% – 100% Marlborough fruit sourced from the Awatere Valley, Wairau southern valley, and selected single vineyard parcels. Jeremy said 2010 was a great vintage – clean, with physiological ripenes, and plenty of ‘hang time’ for the grapes. The wine is a dusky pink magenta. Its lightness and tasting position behind the Kelterns does it no favours. Lightly aromatic; ripe plums and reasonable depth. 3.5

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2009 – 13% – Dark red plum colour. Nose of choc and ripe black plums. Delicious vanilla and more plums to taste, and tannic. Lovely. Quite elegant, and will age well. I have ordered one of these for the Pool Room as well. 4.5

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2007 – 14% – A good year in the Bay. This is funkier than the ’09, and spicy. Colour is rich brown black. Its dry in the mouth and rich and grippy and intense. Fruitcake characters too. Best drinking now. Big Yum. 4.75

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2006 – 14.5% – Dark red plum colour. Grippy and rich and deep, and more fruitcake. I like the way the tannins are still big in this wine and holds the whole thing together, stopping it from getting flabby. This wine should age and develop longer. I would like to try this again in 2016. 4

Villa Maria Reserve Grenache 2007 – 14%In a word, YUM! I WANT THIS. But it’s too expensive for me at over $60 regular price. Deep magenta in the glass. Turkish delight and confectionery on the nose. In the mouth it is light and sweet, lots of rich ripe red fruit jam, bags of flavour. What a wine to finish the tasting! A rare treat. 5

Big thanks to hosts Alistair and Jeremy.

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