Marlborough is one of the northern regions on the south island of New Zealand. It has hot days and cold nights which produce fruity wines that retain acidity for balance. While best known for zesty Sauvignon Blanc other varieties are taking hold as well. Pinot Noir is just coming into it’s own there with the oldest vines producing the best examples. I’m not sure if this wine comes from older vines but it is still a great example of what the region is offering.
Villa Maria was founded in 1961 by George Fistonich at the young age of 21. Leasing 5 acres off his dad initially his first plantings were only on 1 acre. The winery’s popularity really took off in the 70’s and it started employing people outside of the family to expand. In 2001 Villa Maria made a landmark move and became the first winery in New Zealand to be a “cork-free” zone, relying solely on screw caps as a closure for their bottles. They continue to produce award winning wines that are fruity but keep the original variety character.
Look: This wine has a bright ruby colour with hues of violet, quite translucent with little rim variation. The legs are narrow and slow moving back down the glass.
Smell: The aromas initially are a bit subdued but open up with some time and become more noticeable and distinct. It is characteristic of Pinot Noir with red fruit aromas of sour cherry, pomegranate, and strawberry jam with hints of herbs and an earthy minerally aroma like molasses.
Taste: In the mouth it is lighter bodied with smooth fine tannins, has fresh acidity, and is dry. The red fruit continues with cherry and raspberry mixed in with a dry minerality and oak flavours. A long finish ends with lingering hints of charred wood, cinnamon, and cloves.
Conclusion: While this wine doesn’t have a very complex character it is fruity and stays true to the variety. It is very smooth with elegance not found it most Pinot Noirs in the $20 price range. I asked my local wine store to bring it in after reading an article about Villa Maria. I worried a bit that it wouldn’t sell and then I’d feel bad for requesting a dud. Within a week of being in the store it was almost sold out, so I’d say people find it easy to drink and enjoyable. I think this wine is very good and give it a 8.5+/10 but would rate it higher if it was a bit more complex.
- Pinot Noir
- Marlborough, New Zealand
- 2013 – 13.5% ABV
- Villa Maria
- $21.75 at Chateau Wine and Spirits (Lacombe)
- Screw cap
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