What’s in the glass tonight March 31st – Dry Riesling

Villa Maria Dry Riesling 2016

Villa Maria Dry Riesling Marlborough Bay 2016 – $

12% alc. Pale greenish straw colour.

Earlier vintages have been my “WOTY” previously.

This one is not so stellar. Sharp citrus on nose, befitting a drier style of Riesling. Aromas of crisp apple and grapes.

Fresh entry on palate, with soft-ish texture. Quite linear fruit and an acid finish. Moderate intensity. Lacking some focus and intensity. An underwhelming example this time around.

Commended 85 Points

What’s in the glass tonight October 25th – Riesling


From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling Marlborough 2012 – $

Pale gold colour. 12.5% alc. This was VM’s 50th anniversary vintage.

I saw a citrus bite to the nose, some mellowness from wood ageing, and notes of apple, honey and sugar confectionery.

A mouthwatering lime + lemon attack in the mouth. Dry, and a great structure, intensity and freshness for their value/basement tier wine. A mandarin and green apple skin finish, lingering.

Very attractive.

88 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 8th, 9th – A Ramble Around Martinborough

Martinborough Rows

Two Saturdays ago L and I stayed in Martinborough for the weekend. On the recommendation of our friend LH I had booked dinner for us at Tirohana Estate on Puruatanga Road. The proprietors picked us up in their van which was mighty decent.

The restaurant was in a beautiful white-gabled colonial house on the Estate. We enjoyed an amuse bouche, homemade pate, fish and lamb shanks, petit fours for after – so rich and good! Toby our Maitre’D was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about the estate’s wines.


I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2014 to start, which showed apple, pear and petrol /aftershave. Flavours of mandarin peel and Gran Marnier, light, ripe & fleshy. Not a hint of grass or capsicum to be seen. Interesting. With my lamb I had a glass of Tirohana Estate Pinot Noir Martinborough 2013.  The nose exhibited density, florality and spice. The palate was fine, with bright ripe red cherries, fine tannins, and a hottish finish. Good.

The next morning, we wanted to burn off a big cooked breakfast, so we went out for a walk. We headed for a far-away hill track, but it turned out to be a bit further that we reckoned. We had walked for over an hour from our accommodation, and we hadn’t even got to the start of it. And then the morning’s meal caught me short and in trouble. I was about to touch cloth, but luckily we saw a winery open nearby for tastings. Two birds, one stone etc!

Stone Cutter

We got a great welcome from the new owner at Stone Cutter Vineyard on Todds Road. We tried their Stone Cutter Pinot Gris 2013  and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Gris 2013, their Stone Cutter Pinot Noir 2013 and Stone Cutter Syren Pinot Noir 2013. L tried also their Stone Cutter 2014 Topaz – a sweet blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer – & liked & bought a bottle, along with their PG.

Poppies wine list

We had lunch at Poppies Martinborough also on Puruatanga Rd later that afternoon, after the Mothers Day rush had eased (a little). Super-enthusiast winemaker Poppy and her viticulturist husband Shayne made us so very welcome. She led us through a tasting of their wines (they had sold out of their rose & chardonnay alas) – their age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc, fruity Pinot Gris and dusky Pinot Noir wines tasted delightful in the faded-euro elegance of their tasting room.


I selected the Poppies Martinborough Dry Riesling 2015 to have with the fantastically delicious vineyard platter served on the sunny terrace. Nose of apples. Very astringent and lean and fresh, lots of green apple, needs time to ease out of a current austere & angular phase. This too was selling out as we tasted. They are keen to secure additional grapes, as their business in barnstorming along.

Ata Rangi tasting room

We finished our amble at one of Martinborough’s, and New Zealand’s, 1er cru vineyards – Ata Rangi, further along Puruatanga Road. A rustic looking tasting room, containing stunning wines. We tried their current fresh Sauvignon Blanc, ripe and simple Crimson Pinot Noir (second label), their wonderfully rich and age-worthy Celebre red blend, and the fragrant powerful Craighall Vineyard and elegant Petrie Vineyard Chardonnays. A fine way to end the afternoon!


What’s in the glass tonight November 1st – a Dry Riesling

Villa Maria Dry Riesling 2010

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling Marlborough 2010 – $

Pale yellow. 12.5% alc.

Aromatic and phenolic, biting acids, with lemon notes. Not much age complexity showing as yet.

A quite sweet attack, showing very refreshing lemon, citrus flavours. Medium length with a mouthwatering finish.

A simple wine, well made and well structured. Very more-ish

VG 4

What’s in the glass tonight February 9th

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2010

From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling Marlborough 2010 – $

I seem to be running a mini-festival of Villa Maria wines. I can’t help it – they are such good value. No point drinking trash eh?

This exhibits the typical Riesling nose; that I’d-Know-That-Anywhere citrus bouquet and tang of TDN and bicarb.

In the mouth it is dry, natch, with a hint of bitterness under the bright citrus fruit flavours. Lots of grapefruit character. Hint of butterscotch at the finish – that bitterness again. The wine tastes young and quite fresh still though, and somewhat austere. Puckering, mouthwatering. A delight.

A gold medal winner. This will live quite a bit longer still. Luckily I have another two bottles to savour…

VG 4

If aliens ever invade

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2013

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Dry Riesling Marlborough 2013 – $$

If aliens ever swoop down upon us from the heavens, they will not be coming for our oil, our water or our flesh, but for our wine. It’s always after 5pm somewhere in the cosmos.

Aliens may possess anti-gravity, droids and fearsome implacable intelligence, but they won’t have Beaune, the Barossa or Marlborough…

In my opinion, Riesling duels with Pinot Noir for the title of the planet’s finest wine variety. It is the Queen of Wines, the perfect aperitif. It would be the first taken aboard…

So here I am, mixing all four alien attractants together – sea water, sausages, olive oil and Villa Maria Dry Riesling – at a BBQ down at our local beach. The sun is shining, the water is warm, life is great!

The wine is a bright straw colour in the glass. 12.5%.

Bright fragrant nose. Storied, typical varietal ‘tang’. Nose of lychees. ‘Vinous’. There is that familiar ‘catch’ in the back of the nostrils. Makes memories.

In the mouth – ripe and fresh. Bags of citrus zing. Lemons, mandarins. Luscious. So much zest and character! A mouthwatering finish. Quite astounding in its way. BTVG 4+

I have loved this wine since ages ago. Elite Gold Medal winner – Air NZ Wine Awards 2014

What’s in the glass tonight April 17th


From the Cellar: Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling 2010 – $

This wine was lauded back in the day. I bought a brace or three. First bottle opened. I haven’t picked the best night to drink this. Outside blows the first of Wellington’s early winter storms…

Pale green straw. 12.5%. Pears meet melons meet citrus on nose. Emerging Riesling ‘chem-trail’ age characters starting to show. Classy.

Bright fresh fruit acidity on palate. Bracing and zippy. Pleasant weight and finish. Moreish. Went surprisingly well with the fruit and butter of my Hot X Buns. 3+

Happy Easter!

What’s in the glass tonight Dec 8th

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2012 2

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012 – $

This is my third-go-round with this beauty. I just can’t get enough. The wine just keeps getting better.

Acidic and fruity, and fresh and enlivening.

Bursting with limes and pears. Delicious.

Buy half a case and go book a beach holiday now. Outstanding. 5

What’s in the glass tonight July 2nd

Vidal Dry Riesling 2011

Vidal White Series Marlborough Dry Riesling 2011 – $$

This is a lovely easy-drinking wine, better than the enjoyable 2010 vintage I tasted back in March. It smells like the first wine you try at a vineyard when it is all early morning summer sunshine outside: lots of promise.

Very pale and greenish-tinted; fresh light aromas of limes. Dry, with fresh citrus flavours and green apple again; acidic and delicious, a med finish this time.

A bargain. I could drink a lot of this. It handled the spicy laksa I served up for dinner quite well too – the sweetness came forward in the wine, oddly.

My message to you all – put away the pretender pinot gris, and embrace riesling as your white wine of choice, whenever you can’t get Chardonnay! 3.5

NB: Regular readers might wonder what happened to that magnum of Spanish Sangiovese I was gonna sup. Well, I did, over four nights. Not much to write about there. And the caravan travelled on, and the dogs kept barking…

What’s in the glass tonight June 3rd

Villa Maria CS Dry Riesling 2012

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012 – $$

Gold in the glass.  Essence of summertime. And don’t we need a bit of that about now, it’s cold outside…

There is fragrant pears and white blossom on the nose, very clean. The wine is tangy and zesty and fresh and juicy to taste – all lemons and limes. Complex and forward, this is my second-go-round with this mid-tier wine this year and it just keeps getting better. B-buy! 4