The first tasting of the day was 2015 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Templar Organic Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough). Delicious whiffs of grapefruit and lime and a cheeky fresh herb note and nuttiness were teamed splendidly with cubes of watermelon topped with a spicy shake of toasty furikaki seasoning and cashew nut, and salmon cubes coated in chermoula. This is the fourth harvest of organic grapes at this vineyard and the berries were kept intact so that they don’t mix with oxygen until they get to the press. Off to a good start.
2015 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough). A basket of just-picked fresh spring shoots and broad bean tendrils, a soft floral trail and a nice fresh acidity. Yes, truly! This would be the one to team with a creamy pasta sauce of broad beans, fresh peas and smattering of mint, or it will be fabulous with Linguine with feta, broad beans, pine nuts and rocket.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com
2014 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Gris (Marlborough). Oh, this one knocked my socks off. An amazing whiff of lightly toasted almonds leapt from the glass, and the taste was pure almond, light spice, stonefruit and a hint of fresh grapefruit, with a gorgeous creamy toasted almond finish. I’d match it with a buttery roast chicken made with good chicken stock, or a salad of still-warm roasted chicken with grilled peaches or nectarines. On Christmas day it would be a cracker with pan-fried turkey breasts with almonds and green grapes. Or try this salad Pan-fried Chicken Salad with Grapes, Almonds & Raspberry Vinegar
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com
2013 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Organic Verdelho (Auckland). This is a newish variety for me, and to be fair, I’m probably not in love with it. I found sniffs of freshly grated nutmeg, a hint of fennel, and a fresh spicy finish. I reckon it would go well with pan-fried pork cutlets with a fruity relish and a white bean salad on the side.
2014 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay (Marlborough). ‘Delicious’ sums this up. Yes, I know, that says nothing, so here goes: biscuity, toasty, nutty, fresh baked brioche, with a fruity acidity and creamy succulence. All in one glass! I’d like this on my Christmas table for sure. It would equally make a great match with rich seafood like pan-fried scallops, or mussels cooked in a creamy wine sauce, as it would to being served as an elegant aperitif with a bowl of toasted almonds or skewer or two of prosciutto with wedges of buffalo mozzarella.
2014 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay (Hawkes Bay). There’s less of the biscuit in this one but a nice toasty note nonetheless. And, a sniff of sun-on-tomato-plant. Truly! I’d treat this to fairly simple food, pan-fried fish fillets, maybe lightly smoked white fish like snapper … that makes me think of a fabulous standout Greek combo of perfectly ripe sun-kissed nectarines topped with flakes of delicate moist smoked fish with a lemon and chopped mint dressing. You’d be matching an elegant wine with an impressive finger food. Go for it!
2014 Villa Maria Barrique Fermented Chardonnay (Gisborne). This is a stunner. Lovely soft fruit to begin, then a big zingy medley of tropical fruits with melon at the forefront comes in, with a whack of grapefruit and handful of nuts. Ha! This wine says ‘sit up and take notice of me’. That’s easy to do. It’s gorgeous. Think grilled quail, crispy-skinned duck with a fruity salsa, that sort of thing.
2013 Villa Maria Single Vineyard The Attorney Organic Pinot Noir (Marlborough). Mmmm. This was one to linger over. Think fresh earth after a smattering of rain, gravel and stone, running through blackberry bushes, then enjoy cherry-berry fruit, not too sweet, more like an extract of cherry than fresh juicy fruit, with tannins coming in at the end to give a nice plump mouth-feel. This could happily take on red meats and game, with smoky bacony flavours, garlic-stuffed mushrooms with pine nuts, and a velvety rich parsnip mash. Yum!
These views are entirely my own and may be quite different to the winemakers’ views, or to that of wine critics, but that is the fun of tasting and drinking wine, discovering for yourself what you like, and agreeing with, or not, what the experts or critics say. Wine often goes down the throat with nary a thought, but it is fun to pause and linger over a glass. Pour wine into a glass, cover the top of the glass with one hand, give the glass a gentle swirl, remove hand, then stick your beak right into the glass and sniff hard. You’ll be surprised at what you smell!
Villa Maria Library Release Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
2010 was a great year in Hawkes Bay for Chardonnay, Syrah and Bordeaux reds. This wine was bursting with stonefruit flavours, especially sweet nectarine, and dollops of buttery praline. The match of seared scallops with cauliflower puree, prosciutto, capers and raisins looked a curious one on paper, but tiny dots of crisp-cooked prosciutto and minerally jabs of capers with scoops of velvety cauliflower puree was inspired. Capers referenced the briny tang of scallops, raisins picked up sweet fruit notes in the wine, the prosciutto seasoned the dish, and the creamy texture of cauliflower puree was like a soft blanket billowing over top keeping everything in balance. Nice.
Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling Marlborough 2012
A delicious end to a sumptuous feast. This wine was fresh and sweet but not cloying, with lovely notes of apricot and honeysuckle. The dessert of coconut panna cotta infused with kaffir lime, with smoked pineapple, raspberries and lychee was a standout.