Villa Maria Estate is a well-known producer of quality wines from New Zealand. I look forward to trying their new vintages each year. Recently I received a bottle of their Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Gris 2012 to sample. This wine has won the “Pure Gold” award at Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2012. While many of us think of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir when they think of New Zealand wine, we should look at the other grape varieties that are produced such as Pinot Gris, Merlot, Riesling and Syrah. I have had some excellent sips in the past from these grapes.
The Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Gris 2012 was fermented at a cool temperature to promote the aromatics of the Pinot Gris grapes in stainless steel tanks. In addition the yeast lees were stirred on a regular basis over a 6 month period to add texture and an additional flavour complement to the wine. I tried this wine twice over a two day period so that I could see what the wine tasted like straight out of the bottle and then after it had 24 hrs exposure to air, as we know wines may change in flavour and aroma with air exposure. This wine is medium lemon in colour with a clean, medium intensity, youthful aromas. Utmost was pear and stone fruit, followed by citrus and a whiff of tropical fruit. I also picked up on the lees.
On the palate the wine was dry with a medium plus acidity and an acidic prickle on the tongue, on the first opening of this wine. 24 hrs later that prickle had dropped significantly and the wine felt more weighty and round in the mouth. Medium plus intensity flavours of again pear, stone fruit, followed with citrus and tropical fruit. The lees were also evident on the palate giving roundness to the mouth feel. I also picked up a bitter blackcurrant type leaf on the mid palate to the finish. The wine finished with pepperiness, high acidity and citrus flavours. Day 3 update: Spartan apple aroma and flavour is starting to become more evident in this wine.
If you drink this wine immediately upon opening, that intense acidity and prickle will require some food, like a soft cheese or shrimp cocktail to balance it out. If you are willing to let the wine breathe for a while the wine should become more round and the acidity lower, so you could enjoy sipping this wine on your patio, or with your dish of choice.
Overall this is a high quality wine and will reward you if you give it a chance to open itself up to you. Enjoy!