This is wine. It’s correct and it’s doing its thing, but there isn’t anything about it that makes you sit up and take notice, write poetry or break into song.
In fact, the most exciting thing about this wine is the story of its owner and founder.
Villa Maria is big business. No, scratch that. It’s absolutely enormous. Established in 1961 by Croatian immigrant George Fistonich who left school at 15, it has become one of the wildest success stories in New Zealand wine and is still mostly family-owned.
Now ‘Sir’ George, Mr. Fistonich started out with one acre of land leased from his father and purchased grapes from other vineyards until he had enough of his own to produce estate grown wines. Today the ‘Villa Group’ owns more than 900 acres extending from Auckland to Marlborough and produces wines at entry, mid, premium and single vineyard categories as well as a line of organic wines and one called ‘Research and Development’ or R+D.
The company has six wine makers (including an MW) and winemaking teams at its major plants, 11 country managers overseas and an additional 11 market and brand ambassadors located around the world. Like I said, big business and a leader with regard to the international breakthrough of New Zealand wines in the 1970s.
This wine is one you’ll find everywhere – on restaurant menus and wine stores. It’s an entry-level Pinot Noir from the Private Bin series, medium ruby with legs. On the nose, it has medium plus aromas of cherries, pomegranate, earth, moss and wood, but is also quite alcoholic.
The palate is dry with medium body, medium and ripe tannins with no grain or grip. There’s a medium acidity and medium plus flavours of more red fruit – cherry, plum and pomegranate – alongside licorice fern, cedar and black pepper. The finish is medium.
WSET ‘Good’ – ever-so-slightly watery with a bit of blowy alcohol, it nevertheless has solid and fruity flavours and aromas.
Drink now; not meant for ageing.