(2019) Though I strenuously avoid 'tall poppy syndrom' - taking a swipe at a best-selling wine, just because it is best-selling - there is still a tendency to overlook big selling brands and wines that appear to be consistent vintage after vintage, in favour of always seeking something new. Villa Maria are synoymous with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and produce a number of different cuvées, so they do tend to the ubiquitous: it's rare to visit a major retailer and not see at least one of their wines on the shelves - and often at a promotional price. So how to honestly assess this vintage of the Cellar Selection SB? It's really very good: more in the tropical and ripe spectrum than out-and-out herbaceous, yet there is enough elderflower and pea-shoot character to pin-point its roots precisely. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit sits atop grapefruity acidity that is tangy and juicy, the wine has a bit of texture and mouthfeel too giving a sense of richness, and it is intense and vibrant. A model Marlborough Sauvignon, with style. £10.99 as part of a mixed six at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2017) The reserve has a higher percentage of Awatre fruit, and comes from the best vineyards, "and the same plots every year," according to Hugh. A rich, figgy character, with more orange and more of an asparagus lift, but a lovely racing palate, loads of lime and citrus Awatare purity and zip.
(2015) Marlborough Sauvignon prices may be softening a little I suspect, which they've done before in times of big harvests and global supply and demand. Though this has a single bottle price of £11.99, I've no doubt it's current 'any mixed six' price of £8.99 is exactly what Majestic intended to sell it for from day one - but at that it is a bit of a bargain. Totally classic, flint and green bean, hints of lychee and mango, and that elderflower hit of pungency. Very nicely done on the palate, with fresh, mountain-stream clarity with no residual sugar to speak of and a dry lemon pith and grapefruit finish. Note the £8.99 price is also available on single bottles in Scottish branches of Majestic due to different licensing laws north of the border. Watch the video for my full review.
(2013) Subtle, concentrated and a little closed, but typical herbaceousness comes through, this stays an restrained affair all round, with a sense of cool fruit and mineral precision. The palate has delicious and vivacious personality: fresh squeezed lime, a shot of tequila and a long, shimmering finish. Terrific example of the style.
(2012) This 2012 vintage wine is fresh as a daisy of course, and delightfully sippable either as an aperitif or with fish, seafood or lighter starters. Marlborough Riesling may be hardly as well knows as their Sauvignon Blanc, but the wines, like this one, are often beautifully pitched: not as austere as most Australian examples, with fleeting impression of sweetness softening the mandarin-orange and lime freshness and crunch, but with an icy precision in the finish. Delicious and a handy 10% alcohol if you have a long day of eating and drinking ahead.
(2011) First crop. All in 50cls - 450 bottles. Very cool climate, understated nose, with herbs and those earthy, mealy notes over cool pear fruit and apricot notes just subtly present. Fabulous acidity, streaking through with such concentration. Glowing, lip-smacking acidity and chicory bitterness.
(2011) Old barrels, a portion wild fermented, handpicked and whole bunch pressed. Quite aromatic, with pear and a slightly toffee quality. Smooth, silky textured stuff on the palate with a flood of sweet fruit building on the mid [palate before a pithy grapefruit acidity take over, pushing this through into a long, dry but just off-dry sweetness with the old wood phenolic giving a little edge that suggests it is drier than its 9g/l.
(2011) 13%. Subdued spice and pepper nose, with some green bean and pepper, but all the fruit nicely focused and pure. The palate has a nice salty lick of minerality and that forma a nice, lean framework for the peachier, riper fruit to hang off of. A nice, well-tempered wine.
(2011) A touch of the sweaty, elderflower nose here too with lots of lift and pungency, and deliciously tangy lime flavours. The palate has all the tang you could ask for, but also a clean, fresh, dry and savoury finish.
(2011) A little bit of barrel ferment. Very bright, focused, limey and clean with sherbetty tones, with lots of really crisp, lemony fruit and a lovely crispness and focus. Has lovely dryness and mineral, river-stone freshness. Lots of punch and currant dryness.
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