Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Elegant Pinot Noir From New Zealand

New Zealand's Villa Maria winemaker Kathrin Jankowiec recently guided a group of wine writers through a half dozen of her creations during an online virtual tasting event.

Aotearoa is Māori for New Zealand, and being a full-flavor kinda guy I'm usually pleased with the bold, delicious wines made there.

Villa Maria was founded by George Fistonich in 1961 as a five-acre vineyard in Auckland.  He and his wife ran the show themselves until he expanded in the 1970s.  They now have estate vineyards on both the North and South islands.  Sir George was knighted by his government in 2009 for his service to the nation’s wine industry.  He took Villa Maria 100% screwcap in 2001.

The 2017 Villa Maria Marlborough Pinot Noir was made from grapes grown in the Awatere and Wairau valleys, in the Marlborough region on New Zealand's South Island.  Alcohol is extremely manageable at 12.5% abv and the wine retails for just $20.  I found this wine surprising because it didn't fit my expectations of a bold and dark Pinot, like the ones I've had.

This wine has a light ruby color to highlight its elegant look.  The nose pops of light violets and roses with strawberry and cranberry aromas playing through. In the mouth, this Pinot is as elegant as it looks.  Flavors of cherry and a faint tea note are playful in this easy drinker.  Semi firm tannins back up all those attributes and get to work on meat dishes from foul to feast. The winery suggests a smoked salmon pairing.

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