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Villa Maria Estate, Marlborough
by
Terry Sullivan

Villa Maria Winery, MarlboroughSummary: When visiting Marlborough, travelers will want to stop at the Cellar Door to taste wines from this world-renowned winery.

Villa Maria Winery, MarlboroughThe bus pulled up next to the outdoor section of the Villa Maria winery in Marlborough. The winemakers in the group were quick to see four stainless steel tanks with hydraulic arms attached. We soon learned that these tipping tanks were used in the production of Sauvignon Blanc. Twenty tons of grapes are placed in the tanks and allowed to sit on the skins from four to six hours. The free run juice is drawn off from the tanks. Using the hydraulic arms the tanks are tipped 180º and the must flows into a press. Four tipping tanks give one the realization that Sauvignon Blanc is in high production at this winery.

We met senior winemaker, Jeremy McKenzie, who gave a tour of the winery and conducted our tasting. Jeremy pointed out the four presses inside the winery and informed visitors of four more presses outside the building. The winery can press 800 tons a day. Circular stainless steel tanks are used to ferment white grape juice while rectangular stainless steel tanks are used to ferment Pinot Noir. The majority of wines, with the exception of Chardonnay and small parcel reserve/single vineyard, pass through a centrifuge filter once before sending to the Villa Maria, Auckland winery for bottling.

Villa Maria Winery, MarlboroughThere was interest in the centrifuge-filtering machine. Jeremy led the tour into a separate building with cement floors and walls. The gleaming stainless steel of the centrifuge and pipes contrasted with the gray walls and floor. Only one pass is needed through the centrifuge that filters at speeds between 15,000 and 20,000 liters per hour. Almost no dissolved oxygen is picked up by going through the centrifuge. This is an ideal filtering technique for white wines since it does not remove aromatics.

Our tour group viewed the barrel room where Pinot Noir ages in French oak. Many of the barrels are from Boutes and Vicard cooperages. Some are stacked up to six high. The wine racks fit together to form another level similar to the way Legos fit together.

Vineyards around the winery property comprise ten hectares (25 acres) with two hectares of organic Sauvignon Blanc and potential to continue the park-like theme or more vineyard around the winery. These vineyards are on the floor of the valley between two mountain ranges. Other vineyards are nearby.

Villa Maria Winery, Marlborough

Wine Tasting

Villa Maria Winery, MarlboroughOur wine tasting took place in the tank room. Tables were set with white tablecloths and sixteen wines poured. A water glass, plastic cup for use as a spittoon and wine descriptions were included with each place setting. Non-salted crackers were provided. All the wines tasted were from the Marlborough wine region. Some of the wines tasted included the following.

White Wines

The 2010 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc was a straw color and offered tropical fruit aromas and lemon grass. The taste was of tropical fruits with lemon and the wine had a crisp finish. Over 200,000 cases of this wine were produced. The 2009 Single Vineyard Southern Clays Sauvignon Blanc was a straw color that had a flint and fruit aroma. There was lemon and mineral on the taste and the wine had a crisp finish. Jeremy pointed out that although Marlborough is world famous for its Sauvignon Blancs it also produces other whites including Riesling. The 2009 Private Bin Riesling was a straw color. The aroma was floral with hints of roses and honeysuckle. The taste offered yellow stone fruits with hints of roses and honeysuckle. The fruity finish was dry. The 2008 Single Vineyard Fletcher Riesling had a floral and bread dough aroma. The bread dough yielded to fruit with a hint of petrol on the taste. The finish was fruity and slightly sweet.

Villa Maria Winery, MarlboroughRed Wines

Several red wines were tasted. Of these the 2008 Private Bin Pinot Noir was a ruby translucent color. It offered a red cherry and strawberry aroma and taste. The finish was crisp and fruity. The 2009 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir was a ruby to purple color. There were red berry fruit nuances on the aroma and taste while the finish had mild tannins and was fruity.

The Cellar Door offers wine tastings and a retail shop for visitors. In addition to wines the Cellar Door has aprons, shirts, caps, vests and A Cook’s Calendar available. When visiting the winery have a camera handy while viewing the facility and vineyards.

Villa Maria Winery, Marlborough
New Renwick Road
Blenheim 7201
Marlborough, New Zealand

 

 


 

 

                                      

 


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