Transported to New Zealand – Explore the Wines of Villa Maria

As a wine lover, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc.  Sauvignon Blanc has almost become synonymous with New Zealand.  When I had the opportunity to taste through the diverse portfolio of one of New Zealand’s leading winery, Villa Maria, I was enlightened by the many varietals grown in the region. Villa Maria has an extensive portfolio of award-winning wines.  A select group of wines showcasing the very best of the country’s distinct wine regions were chosen for a virtual tasting led by Mark Angelillo, co-founder of Snooth,  along with wine maker Helen Morrison, who joined us live from New Zealand.  We talked, sniffed, tasted and tweeted our way through six wonderful wines.

Villa Maria Wines

The Story

The story of Villa Maria is about passion, dedication and perseverance.  In 1961 George Fistonich leased 5 acres of land from his father and then planted an acre of vines.  He had his first harvest in 1962 and bottled the wines under the Villa Maria brand.  Throughout much of the decade he produced the wines himself.  In the early 70’s he began to hire and expand his brand.  He began exporting wines in 1988.  Committed to the environment, Villa Maria became a role model to other wine growers in the region for sustainable farming practices and became a member of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand in 1995.  In 2001 Villa Maria made a bold and industry changing move, they transitioned to a cork free environment and bottled every wine with a screw cap.  Having spent 50 years pioneering New Zealand’s wine industry, in 2009 George Fistonich received the country’s first knighthood for his dedication, commitment and service to New Zealand’s wine industry.  In 56 years George Fistonich has taken Villa Maria from a one man shop into a globally recognized wine brand. Today Villa Maria has a staff of 250 people and exports wine to over 50 countries.


The accolades for Villa Maria are many. Awarded One of the World’s 50 Great Wine Producers by Wine Spectator Magazine (USA – 2004),  New World Winery of the Year – Wine Enthusiast Magazine (USA – 2007),  and New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year – International Wine & Spirit Competition (UK – 2009, 2007, 2006 & 2004), are just a few.

George Fistonich believes, “That the secret to Villa Maria’s success does not lie in chasing awards but rather focusing on making superior quality wine that consumers can readily enjoy. Get this right and the awards naturally follow.”

Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($15) This wonderfully unique and slightly effervescent wine was pale yellow in color.  On the nose, aromas of grapefruit, lime, and melon.  You immediately sense the fizz on the palate, CO2 is injected directly into the bottle.  The delicate bubbles excite the palate with its zingy, zippy, zest.  Even with the bubbles, the wine captures the true essence of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
 Villa Maria Wines
Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($13) This is a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from vineyards around the  Marlborough region in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys which span a range of different meso-climates.  The aroma is classic, with intense citrus, lemongrass and jalapeno on the nose.  The wine is fresh and vibrant with floral notes. Lovely acidity follows through on the palate.  The wine is best served chilled as an aperitif or paired with a summer salad or shellfish
 Villa Maria Wines
Private Bin Bay Rosé 2016 ($14) This rosé made primarily with Merlot is  beautifully vibrant in color, with a fun pink hue.  The lovely floral aromatics and hints of plum and cherries quickly make you feel like you have summer in your glass.  There is a soft acidity and wonderfully creamy texture on the palate.  Being Merlot based, this wine is a bit more full bodied and the fruit is very expressive, with lots of cherries and strawberries.  Oh yes, this clearly was one of my favorite wines from the tasting.
 Villa Maria Wines
Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2015 ($45)  I was very excited to try this wine from a single vineyard parcel.  The grapes are grown in the Awatere Valley.  The parcel of land lies on the stony part of the vineyard right next to the river, thus a slight flintiness and wonderful minerality are present on the  wine.  The slightly cooler climate of this parcel allows for a wonderful expression of fruit and acidity to shine through. There is fresh citrus, lime, apple and spice on the palate.  A light buttery, creamy, smoky texture shines through on the finish.  This is a wonderful Chardonnay with elegance and finesse.
 Villa Maria Wines
Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2014 ($26)  There is a lot of buzz around New Zealand Pinot Noir’s,  and tasting this wine I can understand why.  This Pinot Noir has a fragrant bouquet of blueberries, cherries and herbs.  The wine is fruit forward and has a richness and roundness that makes it complex yet elegant. The wine will pair wonderfully with cheeses, mushroom risotto and lamb.
Villa Maria Wines

Cellar Selection Merlot-Cabernet 2013 ($20)  This wine is a Bordeaux blend comprised of 60% Merlot 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc.  The fruit for the wine is sourced from Hawkes Bay, a region renowned for producing elegant Merlot and  Cabernet Sauvignon. This medium bodied wine exhibits aromas of blackberries, plum and cassis.  There is a smooth finish on the palate with its supple tannins.

Villa Maria Wines

You too can experience a taste of New Zealand by trying the incredible portfolio of Villa Maria.  Also enter Villa Maria’s contest for a chance to win a trip for two to New Zealand by clicking here.  Contest runs through 9/30/2017.

You can view the Snooth Villa Maria Virtual Tasting by clicking here.

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