Wine reviews: Villa Maria 2009 Cellar Selection Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc

Villa Maria 2009 Sauvignon BlancA few months ago, Villa Maria Estate got a Vitamin B-12 shot in their marketing. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates — the sales and marketing powerhouse behind Ste. Michelle Winery, Columbia Crest and Erath — began importing and marketing New Zealand’s “biggest boutique winery.” Gwyneth Olsen, Villa Maria’s Operations Winemaker, came through town this week and blew me away with the quality level of the juice. And now they’re even better priced, thanks to their new friends. The Cellar Selection wines especially.

Villa Maria Estate remains family-owned since 1961, lovingly tended by founder George Fistonich. 15 winemakers craft over 1 million cases of wine divided into over 40 different labels.  So you’d think something would suck… or fall through the cracks… or fail in some way. Nope. The staff focuses on sustainability of the land and the quality of the fruit, knowing that keeping attention on these will produce a better wine. So far, it’s working.

I tasted through 12 of their wines and my favorites before this tasting remained on the top after the glasses were drained: Villa Maria 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection Marlborough and 2009 Riesling Cellar Selection Marlborough. And Olsen mentioned that if you like the 2009 vintage, you’ll love the 2010 wines… she declared 2010 an “incredible vintage” for wines from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. You mean, it gets better?

Villa Maria 2009 Riesling Cellar Selection Marlborough
Low in alcohol with nectarine, lime, limestone minerality, clean, refreshing and floral. Classy, lively and slightly sweet but the acidity balances it out, much like German Riesling. Dry, steely, lemony finish that keeps the party going. Simply breathtaking. Really.

Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating:
5 stars
Price
: $20- $22
Occasion
: Enjoyed with the winemaker but also sent as a sample from the winery and paired with Indian curry.
Food pairing: Spicy, aromatic dishes, especially anything with Thai or Indian curry
Availability
: At fine wine shops
In Tampa, Villa Maria wines are available at Bern’s Fine Wines

Villa Maria 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection Marlborough
Tart and fragrant like so many Marlborough Sauv Blancs but it’s more graceful and subtle. It’s also not one-dimensional. Apricots, peaches, red apple and honeydew melon accent this medium-bodied, delicious wine. Salavacious but the acidity is tempered by a richness and it finishes crisp with grapefruit and lime. Lots of layers, like Shrek. The Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc isn’t as complex but it’s still an incredible value at $15.

Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating:
5 stars
Price
: $20- $22
Occasion
: Sent as a sample from the winery and thoroughly rocked on a hot summer evening
Food pairing: Seafood in  light citrus sauce, fresh goat cheese
Availability: At fine wine shops
In Tampa, Villa Maria wines are available at Bern’s Fine Wines

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One Comment

  1. I met with the wine maker George Geris of Villa Maria. Excellent wines indeed. I was impressed by the Rieslings – Alsace in style. Heady and serious. And the Pinots were not shabby either!

     

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