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New Zealand tasting notes

text and photographs © 2007 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand's North Island.


Esk Valley, Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Hawke's Bay fruit, with gently tropical, softly citrus aromas. The palate has a rich texture, with fine lemony fruit, that fills the palate with fine, light flavours. Decent length and a nice crisp, well-balanced style with some passionfruit coming through and a touch of grapefruit. £7.49

Villa Maria, Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Marlborough fruit, with plenty of Marlborough zing and herbaceous zest. Much more distinctive style. Very mouthfilling, with that herbal, slightly asparagus character coming through. There's a real juicy, slightly tropical quality, with nectarine and racier, citrus and a huge grapefruity acidity counteracting a touch of RS. £7.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Marlborough. 'Usually great value - Reserve fruit that didn't make the cut, or marketing says they can't sell all the Reserve, so de-classified'. Very low winemaker input. There's a classy, still hallmark Marlborough character, with plenty of leafy, nettly quality and a gooseberry and passionfruit profile. Lovely sweetness and unctuous quality on the palate, with lychee, mango and tropical nuances, with lovely clean, grapefruity finish. £9.99

Villa Maria, Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Distinctly flinty, with a real note of minerality and plenty of asparagus and punchy gooseberry fruit, and really vivid profile. The palate has a searing core of herbal-edged, lemony fruit, with a very vivid, vibrant core that is much edgier and much more defined than Private Bin for example. Very taut acidity. £12.99

Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Graham Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Single vineyard in Awatre Valley. Massively herbal, green-tinged and lots of punch and verve. Big, searingly dry, very precise palate. Stunning aromatics and pungency, with a terrific core and focus, and very, very dry and distinctive. £12.99

Villa Maria, Private Bin East Coast Chardonnay 2005
15% Barrels. Very fine apple fruit, with a fine leesy background. The palate has generous, easy-going acidity and enough orchard fruit, with little hints of the tropical about it. £6.99

Esk Valley, Black Label Chardonnay 2005
Hawke's Bay fruit. A much more prominent vanilla and toast nose. Very ripe, almost minty ripeness to the fruit. A little more confected in style, with plenty of vividness and bangs per buck. £7.49

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Chardonnay Marlborough 2004
Water immersion bent barrel staves. - extra aromatics. Burnt toast, sesame seeds and very fine, fine nutty aromas. Fine citrus fruit and a cool pear quality. Lovely fine fruit, with fine pear and very good fruit quality. Lovely length and lovely finesse. Finishes long and pure. £8.99

Vidal Reserve Chardonnay 2004
Hawke's Bay fruit. Very harmonious, with lovely soft, sweet oak integration. Very good palate sweetness, and integration. But very fine fruit quality and good length. £9.99

Villa Maria, Single Omahu Gravels Vineyard Viognier 2005
Tank sample of this Gimblett Gravels vineyard. Very intense Viognier character, with terrific tropical and peach and apricot aromas, and plenty of spice. There is great quality here, with a clean, fairly light-bodied character. There's plenty of richness, but a clean, savoury style.

Vidal, Riesling 2005
Marlborough fruit. Quite sherbetty and aromatic, with blossom and talcum fragrance. With a fine Mosel-like character, on the definite dry side, but with lovely balance and purity - plenty of citrussy acidity. £6.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Riesling 2004
Marlborough fruit. Very different, with a waxy quality and slight note of Paraffin and lots of good quality fruit. Fine palate, with plenty of buttery weight and a fine, quite racy acidity. Waxy lemon and fine. £8.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2004
Marlborough. Special Italian must-pump that does not 'screw' the wine, but gently paddles it. 10 - 11 days of cold soak. Lovely big, fragrant charry, charcoally nose, with lots of strawberry and soft cherry. Good palate, with texture and a raft of soft berry and strawberry flavours, wrapped in a subtle sheen of vanillin and toast. Quite creamy and spicy into the finish. With lots of grip and savoury character. £11.99

Villa Maria, Reserve Pinot Noir 2004
Marlborough. Partly a vineyard selection, but all barrels tasted blind and reassessed, so best barrels go through too. Fantastically charcoally, schisty minerality. Lovely fruit quality. Very fine, racy fruit quality, with lots of cherry and tight-grained, finessed fruit. Tight, silky, very poised. Lovely fruit. £15.99

Villa Maria, Single Vineyard Rutherford Pinot Noir 2004
Quite a young vineyard. Mostly Pommard clone. Slightly meatier, earthier nose with truffly notes and plenty of earthy quality. Quite a creamy quality to the oak here, but the fruit wins through on the palate, with an almost minty edge of ripeness and plenty of juicy, crisp fruit. Fine length and density. £19.99

Vidal, Hawke's Bay Syrah 2004
All Gimblett Gravels fruit. Nose is quite reserved, with muted, meaty tones. Quite dense. The palate has a densely-textured, quite creamy and red fruited, with a peppery, meaty creamy quality. £9.99

Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet 2004
Quite a rich, gently meaty red fruit quality. Tiny touch of peppercorn. There is delicious sweetness on the palate here, with a ripe, chocolate-edged quality. The palate is quiet mouthfilling and rich. £9.99

Villa Maria, Reserve Cabernet merlot 2002
There's a ripe, warm, earthy tone here and plenty of meaty breadth. A little violetty perfume. Here's a dry, herbal quality and nice balance here. £15.99

Esk Valley, Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet 2002
24% Malbec. Quite meaty and dense, with plenty of weight and density. Plenty of violet and creaminess. The palate has a fine, rich, dry palate, with £14.99

UK Agent: Hatch-Mansfield, Tel: +44 (0)1344 871800

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