Thursday, March 3, 2011

Villa Maria Pinot Noir Masterclass

Last week was very busy as far as wine tasting is concerned. The other major event was NZ in a glass. I attended the Villa Maria Pinot Noir Masterclass. It was very well prepared and I learnt quite a lot.

The main point was probably that the best Pinot Noir sites in Marlborough are on the clay soils of the southern slopes of the main valley and the Awatere Valley as opposed to the alluvial soils where the Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme.

We tasted the Cellar Selection wines from 2006-08 and two single vineyard wines, the Southern Clays and the Seddon Vineyard.

The best wine of the vertical was the 2007 Villa Maria Selection Pinot Noir. 2007 was a great Pinot vintage across all of New Zealand, and it showed in this wine. It tasted of dark cherry and was quite savoury, herbal, and dry with fairly firm tannins (92 points). The 2006 had less grip, very dark fruit and silkier tannins (92 points). The 2008 was less concentrated with less tannins. It seemed the berries were bigger from this year and there probably was a higher yield (90 points).

The 2009 Villa Maria Southern Clays Pinot Noir is from the southern slopes. It has a very strong cherry aroma and the black and red cherry flavours follow in an elegant style, finishing with silky tannins (92 points).

The 2009 Villa Maria Seddon Vineyard Pinot Noir is from the Awatere Valley. This wine is focused more on structure than fruit, with herbal characters dominating the dark cherry flavours. It finishes a little light (91 points).

Overall, these were serious Pinot Noirs. I am not that familiar with Pinot Noirs from Marlborough. These ones were different from Martinborough and Central Otago by having strong herbal notes - probably not my most favoured attribute, but they would accompany appropriate foods very well.

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