Glengarry’s Sunday ramblings of all things vinous, grain and glorious. Villa Maria and George’s cellar comes from The Sunday Sediment.
A true New Zealand original, Villa Maria Wine Estates, is over 55 years old, proudly displayed the Glengarry Wineletters from the early days, front and centre. You do have to appreciate what it has taken over the years to get this world-class, family-owned winery to its prestigious position, and you can put it down to the talent, attention to detail, and sheer determination of its founder Sir George Fistonich and his team.
Consisting of Villa Maria itself, plus the Vidal, Esk Valley and Te Awa Collection, we tip our hats to the wonderful consistency of quality that exists across VMs entire portfolio. Nick Picone is Villa Marias Group Chief Winemaker and has been with the company for 18 years and counting. A multiple winner of Winemaker of the Year titles and listed as one of the worlds young winemakers to watch, he is an asset to the New Zealand wine industry.
The nowadays iconic George Fistonich (that’s ‘Sir George’ to you mere mortals) decided a while ago to start selecting wines from exceptional parcels with a thought to aging them and releasing them in very limited quantities via the cellar door and through selected retailers (that would be us). The wines are at the ultra-premium level, and having been already aged by Villa Maria themselves, they are good to go, and very favourably priced for what’s in the bottle. Villa Maria, then, at its finest. Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.
On 13 March 2017, Bob Campbell MW spent the afternoon in Hawke’s Bay, blind tasting his way through a sea of 2014 vintage Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot Cabernet blends concealed in brown paper bags. Mr Campbell then selected the top 12 2014 vintage wines to represent Hawke’s Bay, only finding out himself on Wednesday which wines he had selected.
Bob Campbell was the second New Zealander, and is one of just over 300 people in the world to hold the Master of Wine qualification. Mr Campbell is an internationally acclaimed wine judge and is widely regarded as the New Zealand’s foremost wine educator.
Melisa Beight, Executive Officer of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. said that the boards and members were thrilled that Bob Campbell MW had agreed to judge the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection. “This is the first year we have produced a Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection and it marks a real milestone for the region. The Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection will be judged by Bob Campbell every year from now on, with the top 12 wines representing the best of Hawke’s Bay being sent out to global key opinion leaders, so that they can make their own assessment.”
“The overall standard was very high indeed” declared Bob Campbell MW. “Clearly 2014 was a truly top vintage. A range of different Chardonnay styles added extra interest, and a degree of difficulty in choosing the ultimate winners. Syrah was stylistically more consistent as well as being the highest performer of the three classes. Blended reds were a pleasure to judge – all of the entries merited selection.”
The 2014 Hawke’s Bay Vintage Collection (in no particular order):
Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Chardonnay 2014
Bilancia Chardonnay 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014
Te Awa Single Estate Merlot Cabernet 2014
Craggy Range Te Kahu, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2014
Vidal Legacy Syrah 2014
Church Road Grand Reserve Syrah 2014
Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2014
Craggy Range Syrah, Gimblett Gravels Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay 2014
About Hawke’s Bay Wine: Founded in 2006, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association Inc. represents all wineries and growers in the region and its mission is to achieve international recognition as one of the great wine regions of the world.
An Auckland Chardonnay and a Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot both shone at this year’s Romeo Bragato Wine Awards.
Grown by Brett Donaldson, the Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014 won the coveted Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard and the Bill Irwin Trophy for Champion Chardonnay.
“This Chardonnay demonstrated exceptional respect to the variety and is a shining example of what hard graft in the vineyard and soft touch in the winery can achieve. It shows wonderful expression and captures the essence of the Ihumatao vineyard. Simply stunning!,” said Chairman of Judges Ben Glover.
The Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014, made from grapes grown on the Vidal vineyard by Phil Holden, won the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine.
“High quality, perfectly ripened fruit was allowed to shine through in this expertly crafted wine. It had superb balance and respect for the fruit, providing seamless delicacy, acidity and palate weight,” said Mr Glover.
The Bragato Wine Awards are held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, and recognise the grower for viticultural excellence. The competition acknowledges that growing excellent grapes is the foundation of making wines of true quality. The Trophies were presented at the Bragato Dinner in Marlborough last night.
To be awarded the Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard Wine, a minimum of 95% of the grape juice content must come from a single vineyard.
To be awarded the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine, a minimum of 85% of the grape juice content must come from a single vineyard.
Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy and Champion Single Vineyard Wine
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014 Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Brett Donaldson
Richard Smart Trophy and Champion Domaine Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014 Vidal Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Phil Holden
Friedrich Wohnsiedler Trophy Winner and Champion Riesling
Maude, Mt Maude Vineyard East Block Riesling Central Otago 2016 Mt Maude Vineyard, Central Otago Dawn and Terry Wilson
Brother Cyprian Trophy Winner and Champion Pinot Gris
Aronui Pinot Gris Single Vineyard Nelson 2016 Whenua Matua Vineyard, Nelson Jonny Hiscox
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Gewürztraminer 2014 Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Brett Donaldson
Champion Other Red Wine
Coopers Creek SV Hawke’s Bay Malbec ‘Saint John’ 2013 Saint John Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Wayne Morrow
Champion Sweet Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Noble Riesling Botrytis Selection 2015 Rocenvin Vineyard, Marlborough Chris Fletcher
New Zealand Wine Cellars Spence Brothers Trophy Winner and Champion Sauvignon Blanc
Tohu Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 Tohu Awatere Vineyard, Marlborough Mondo Kopua
Bill Irwin Trophy Winner and Champion Chardonnay
Brett Donaldson Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014
Wooing Tree Rosé Central Otago 2016 Wooing Tree Vineyard, Central Otago Geoff Bews
Mike Wolter Memorial Trophy Winner and Champion Pinot Noir
Black Quail Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013 Keillor Vineyard, Central Otago Rod and Mirani Kellior
Tom McDonald Memorial Trophy Winner and Champion Classical Red Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014 Vidal Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Phil Holden
Alan Limmer Trophy Winner and Champion Syrah
Falcon Ridge Estate Syrah Nelson 2015 Falcon Ridge Estate, Nelson Alan J Eggers
Judges gearing up for Bragato Wine Awards 2016
(9 August 2016)
A 13 strong judging team, including international judges Andrea Frost and Nick Ryan, is gearing up to judge over 600 entries for this year’s Bragato Wine Awards in Auckland on 16 and 17 August.
Andrea Frost is an award-winning wine writer, columnist and author based in Melbourne, Australia. In 2013, Andrea was named Wine Communicator of the Year and her first book, ‘Through a Sparkling Glass, an A-Z of the Wonderland of Wine’, was awarded Best Wine Publication. In 2012 and 2013, Andrea was named Wine Business Monthly’s ‘50 Stars’ of the year.
Fellow countryman Nick Ryan is a wine writer, judge and educator based in Adelaide. Nick used the knowledge he had gained from raiding his father’s wine cellar to land a job with one of Sydney’s leading wine merchants. Realising that writing about it was easier than lifting it has led him to where he is now. Nick is a regular contributor to Men’s Style Australia and Gourmet Traveller Wine and has judged in many Australian and international wine shows.
Leading the Bragato Wine Awards team is Chair of Judges Ben Glover, Group Winemaker for Accolade Wines New Zealand.
“This is always a wonderful opportunity and privilege to view, assess and reward our industry peers’ wines”, said Mr Glover. “The Bragato Wine Awards is a unique forum on the wine industry calendar that champions the grape grower, recognises the vineyard and awards viticultural excellence.”
The Bragato Wine Awards, held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, recognises that exceptional grape growing is the foundation of making wines that express true quality of place. Judging takes place on 16 and 17 August at AUT in Auckland City. The trophy winning wines will be revealed at the Bragato Dinner at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Marlborough on 25 August.
Judging Team: Chair of Judges – Ben Glover Judges – Rod Easthope, Helen Masters, James Millton, Helen Morrison, Simon Nunns, Barry Riwai, John Saker International Judges – Andrea Frost (Australia), Nick Ryan (Australia) Associate Judges – Lauren Swift, Liz Wheadon, Stephen Wong MW
Wine experts have settled on a list of close to 50 wines, some costing more than $100 a bottle, for Air New Zealand to select from for its business class passengers.
Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have selected “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – to serve in planes from September.
A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.
One of the key criteria was consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an ”exceptional standard” for a minimum of five consecutive years.
Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton says the airline had been a longstanding supporter of New Zealand’s wine industry.
It spends about $6 million a year on wine for passengers throughout aircraft.
“We believe we can help further build awareness and appreciation of these world class wines with international travellers and propel leading New Zealand wineries to even greater commercial success,” Parton said.
The wines would be promoted through its inflight entertainment system, at offshore events and using contacts internationally to help open up key export markets for the wineries should they need this support.
The airline’s specialist inflight wine consultants, who are based in New Zealand, China and the United States, will select wines from the list for serving in business premier cabins. Not all on the list of 47 would make it on board as some do not react well to high altitudes or are available in sufficient quantities.
Parton said it was important that the wines were selected independently of its existing wine programme.
”We look forward to working closely with the wine masters in the coming years to compile this list annually.”
In 2014 Air New Zealand moved to a three-year deal with a single supplier, Villa Maria, in its economy section which upset some in the wine industry, but which the airline said had been part of simplifying the supply chain.
The Fine Wines of New Zealand for 2016:
Aromatics Felton Road Dry Riesling 2014 Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2015 Framingham F series Riesling Kabinett 2015 Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2014 Stonecroft Gewürztraminer 2015 Te Whare Ra Toru SV5182 2014 Millton Vineyards Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc 2014 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris 2014 Dry River Pinot Gris 2014
Pinot Noir Felton Road Block 3 2013 Burn Cottage 2014 Valli Bannockburn 2014 Rippon Vineyards Tinkers Field 2012 Bell Hill 2012 Ata Rangi 2013 Dry River 2013 Craggy Range Aroha 2013 Kusuda 2013
Bordeaux style Te Mata Coleraine 2014 Craggy Range Sophia 2013 Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Esk Valley The Terraces 2013 Stonyridge Vineyard Larose 2014 Church Road Tom 2013
Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011 Astrolabe Province 2015 Dog Point 2015 Greywacke 2015 Saint Clair Reserve Wairau 2015 Vavasour 2015
Chardonnay Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard 2014 Neudorf Moutere 2011 Sacred Hill Riflemans 2014 Dog Point 2013 Felton Road Block 2 2010 Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard 2014
Check this out, Villa Maria wine has a place at the BAFTA.
The Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.99 from VM) was served in the same company as Taittinger to the twinkling stars of the screen.
You can understand why after reading what goes into the food and wine matching. Read Megan Nisbet’s exclusive and everything you need to know about the British Academy Film Awards – EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes at the BAFTA Awards 2016.
It is now official that Ash Ridge has the best young winemaker in the country. Lauren Swift was awarded the Young Winemaker of the Year trophy last night at the Bragato Dinner, by Mike McRoberts of TV3. Obviously we are all absolutely thrilled. Another huge feather in the cap for this extremely talented winemaker, and I think you can see this in the wines that are being made.
And while on the Bragato Awards….
Romeo Bragato Wine Awards 2015
An Auckland Chardonnay and a Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot shine at this year’s Romeo Bragato Wine Awards. Grown by Brett Donaldson, the Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2013 won the coveted Bragato Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard Wine and the Bill Irwin Trophy for Champion Chardonnay. “The Bragato Trophy went to this beautifully handled Chardonnay because in simple terms – it was exceptional. The wine had a sense of place and it was a pleasure to savour and taste” said Chairman of Judges Ben Glover.
Villa Maria’s Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013, made from grapes grown on the Vidal Vineyard by Phil Holden won the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine. “This was just a beautifully crafted wine – well done to all on allowing the fruit to shine with deft and subtle winemaking” said Mr Glover.
The Bragato Wine Awards, held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, are awarded to the grower for viticultural excellence. The competition recognises that growing excellent grapes is the foundation of making wines of true quality. The Trophies were presented at the Bragato Dinner in Hawke’s Bay last night.
This meeting was excellent with Jonathan (Jono) Hamlet being an interesting and enthusiastic speaker concentrating on the organic viticulture rather than the wine. It was a very informative balanced presentation, leading to a good level of orders. A good follow up with the newspaper item included in the newsletter.
To recap, the wines presented included; a Gerwurtz quaffer, then two wines from the Private Bin range, two Cellar Selections and two single vineyard wines, all organic offerings. In order to show some more ‘interesting’ varieties, Jono arranged for some barrel samples of wines produced from grapes from their organic vineyards ie Chenin Blanc.
A good tasting, could be interesting to follow up at a later date to follow the development of organic wines.
Interesting that only a week after Jono Hamlet spoke at our October meeting the item included on this site ‘In the News – Oct 2014‘ appeared in the Dominion Post. Clearly organic production is getting increasing attention. See Organic Vineyards & Wineries.
Looking forward our December dinner at Strawberry Fare, and a great price has been negotiated.
Download the payment advice form for the November and December events. Either pay online or bring the form with you when you come to the November tasting.
We are anticipating the usual strong support for these events.
Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, 30 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 – Directions.
Cost: Members $12 Guests $16
Presenter: Jonathan (Jono) Hamlet, Manager and Viticulturist, Joseph Soler Vineyard
Details: Villa Maria Estate Viticulturist Jono Hamlet presented a range of VM’s organic range of wines including:
2011 Private Bin Organic Gewürztraminer
2013 Private Bin Organic Merlot
2013 Cellar Selection Organic Sauvignon Blanc
2013 Cellar Selection Organic Merlot
2012 Single Vineyard Ihumatao Organic Verdelho
2013 Single Vineyard Templar Sauvignon Blanc
We were also be treated to some more interesting varieties from some of the 15 varieties of ‘barrel samples’ produced across the Hawkes Bay. We won’t be tasting them all on the night but these will provide us with an interesting wine experience.
A bit about Jono
Jono plays an integral part in managing Villa Maria’s 65 hectare Joseph Soler Vineyard in the Hawkes Bay, 21 hectares of which are fully certified with BioGro. His role involves the challenge of managing the vineyards organically, while meeting the economic and quality parameters set out by the company and industry.
The Joseph Soler Vineyard currently produces 15 grape varieties and supplies to all three company wineries, Villa Maria Estate (Auckland), Vidal (Hawkes Bay), and Esk Valley (Hawkes Bay).
Over the next five to seven years, Jonathan will take the lead role in bringing the entire Joseph Soler Vineyard (44 hectares remaining) into organic production.
Seeing the opportunities in viticulture, he spent several years growing grapes on Waiheke Island before migrating south to the Hawkes Bay, to work for CJ Pask and Ngatarawa wineries. He was later employed by Villa Maria to manage the organic vineyard, Joseph Soler.
Jono is the vice president of the NZ Organic Winegrowers Association.
Jono’s roadshow show was a polished display of art, chemistry, showmanship combined with facts and superb organic wines.
What was of great interest was the breadth of Jono’s knowledge of viticulture, winemaking and the impacts and trends he is apart of at Villa Maria. This includes moving the Joseph Soler Vineyard from a traditional vineyard to organic, about 5% of total Villa Maria wine production, and the biodynamic trends Villa Maria have set in the wine industry.
Passionate about his role at Villa Maria, Jono expressed the impact that terroir has on vine growth and took his time in explaining in some detail how this has impacted on the various Villa Maria vineyards in all wine growing regions of New Zealand.
The wines selected for the night showcased a small proportion of Villa Maria’s stable of wines. The quaffer, Gewürztraminer, was fairly typical of the varietal. The two Sauvignon Blancs again typical except the Templar very refined and is a likable type for those not as passionate about Sauv’s as some. Villa Maria is one of only a few vineyards to produce Verdelho in New Zealand. Another vineyard is Esk Valley, one of Villa Maria’s other brands.
Jono then produced two barrel samples, a Chenin Blanc and a Merlot, which were both unfined and cloudy. For many members it was their first taste of barrel samples and a great way to understand the development of wine from barrel to bottle to glass to lips. A unique and a great touch to the night. The night wasn’t finished there.
From Jono’s box of tricks he produced a beautiful Chenin Blanc sticky. Superb considering where it came from. After a wet summer in 2012 left the Chenin Blanc underdeveloped Jono left the grapes on the vine until May. By this time there was not a lot left to the grapes but wow what depth of flavour. Shame it was in such a small amount.
Thanks Jono and Villa Maria.
Want to find more about Villa Maria? Have a look at the playlist.
Jonathan plays an integral part in managing Villa Maria’s 65 hectare Joseph Soler Vineyard in the Hawkes Bay, 21 hectares of which are fully certified with BioGro.
His role involves the challenge of managing the vineyards organically, while meeting the economic and quality parameters set out by the company and industry. The Joseph Soler Vineyard currently produces 15 grape varieties and supplies to all three company wineries, Villa Maria Estate (Auckland), Vidal (Hawkes Bay), and Esk Valley (Hawkes Bay). Over the next five to seven years, Jonathan will take the lead role in bringing the entire Joseph Soler Vineyard (44 hectares remaining) into organic production.
Jonathan has always had an interest in wine, however, it wasn’t until he had completed his University degree majoring in conservation ecology and discovered work opportunities were scarce, that he began travelling around Europe and learning more about the industry.
His exposure to wine regions throughout Europe piqued his interest so much, that, on returning to New Zealand, Jonathan headed back to University to pursue a postgraduate diploma in Viticulture and Oenology.
Seeing the opportunities in viticulture, he spent several years growing grapes on Waiheke Island (off the coast of Auckland) before migrating south to the Hawkes Bay, to work for CJ Pask and Ngatarawa wineries. He was later employed by Villa Maria to manage the organic vineyard, Joseph Soler.
Jonathan says the key motivation for his work is simply to “grow great wine”. He has great confidence in organic production as a commercially viable management system and believes the sustainable benefits are important for the wine industry as a whole.