A Look at Villa Maria Estate - New Zealand

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The news could not come at a better time-Villa Maria were celebrating their fifty years since establishment in New Zealand’s North Island. Villa Maria Estate’s founder and owner Sir George Fistonich recently won a Wine Intelligence 10 for 10 Business Award at Vinexpo Asia Pacific. Around Auckland the Dalmatian Coast-Croatian genes run strong in grape circles, along with the motivation to make and sell modern wine from a dozen grape varieties in 50 countries.

image from hosponews.co.nz
I recognised Villa Maria’s proudest moments getting it right making Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot around Hawkes Bay, and that was so long ago, and wines had not arrived tagged with the now famous origin-Gimblett Gravels.
All things have changed remarkably since George Fistonich won his Easter Show award number one in 1963. A  half-hectare of grapes in Mangere has turned into vineyards and wineries in four NZ regions.

I like Villa’s top Merlots. The Single Vineyard Omahu Gravels Vineyard is in the most easterly of vineyards on the Gravels. The Reserve Merlot 2009 rocks, is highly performed in the genre of merlots, often pipping Australian competitors in shows.
These Gimblett Gravels vineyards also consistently produce the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend, now for over a decade.
The free-draining, gravely soils and the warm temperatures naturally encourage low yields and devigourated vines for cabernet in a country where the summers remain cool. The gravels and stones in this area get things perfectly ripe.

In his Hong Kong-Vinexpo acceptance speech, Sir George paid tribute to his fellow Kiwi winemakers: “I'm delighted to be recognised and accept this award on behalf of the New Zealand wine industry.” He can now chalk it up together with being named Drinks Business ‘Man of the Year’ at the London International Wine Fair 2011.