As some of you know, I am a relatively new wine geek after a pivotal wine moment in 2008 that led me to taste and learn more about wine, eventually landing me in Napa, California with a new career in the wine business. This website and many virtual tastings, including five with Villa Maria (@villamaria_wine in NZ and @villamaria_usa in the US), were instrumental in my journey to where I am today.
On May 22, 2012, I described my first tasting experience with a wine from New Zealand, the 2011 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin. Four years and four website posts later, I am still a fan of Villa Maria wines because they are delicious and accessible. I have had the opportunity to taste and review many recent vintages from Villa Maria including: 2012 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir, 2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin and 2013 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection, 2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin (which just received 90 points from Wine Spectator!) and 2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection, and 2014 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin and 2013 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Cellar Selection.
Therefore, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out that I will be participating in Villa Maria’s First Sip of Summer (Twitter hashtag #FirstSipNZ) on Wednesday, June 15 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time/8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the brand, Villa Maria was founded in 1961 by George Fistonich. The winery is New Zealand’s most awarded winery over the course of the past 50+ years, including being named one of the World’s 50 Great Wine Producers by Wine Spectator, New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year twice by International Wine & Spirits Challenge UK, and New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. George Fistonich has been recognized as one of the most prominent figures in the wine industry by Wine International Magazine UK and earned the title of Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merits (making him an official knight, that’s Sir George Fistonich to you and me), for his commitment to winemaking. (Source: https://www.smwe.com/estates/details/villa_maria_new_zealand). Once a one-man operation, Villa Maria, known for its adoption of 100% screw-cap closures in 2000 and sustainable winemaking practices, now produces wine in Auckland and Marlborough, employs more than 250 staff, and exports its wines to more than 60 countries. Villa Maria’s current winemaking team includes chief winemaker Nick Picone (@PiconeNick) and Marlborough winemaker Helen Morrison (@helen_wine), who will be participating on June 15.
During the tasting, we will be the first to taste the 2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $14.99), available in the United States around August, and the 2015 Villa Maria Private Bin Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $14.99), available now in the following markets: CA, FL, IL, MA, NY, and TX. What I’ve discovered through the years is that the Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc has consistently proven itself to be a great example of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a great value, perfect for everyday drinking and summer parties. I am especially intrigued by the bubbly Sauvignon Blanc as it will be my first. It’s made in the frizzante style similar to Moscato d’Asti and Vinho Verde, which means that while it is less effervescent than Champagne, spumante, and other sparkling wines, but it still shows fine, refreshing bubbles. The combination of light effervescence and the zingy acidity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should prove to be a fantastic and affordable alternative to traditional method sparkling wines.
In addition to tasting and sharing these new wines, participants during the June 15 tasting will have a chance to win some nice prizes, like a Bamboo Picnic Wine Table, GoVino Shatterproof Wine Glasses, a picnic blanket, and copies of The Winemaker: George Fistonich and the Villa Maria Story. There will also be a chance to win a trip to New Zealand and a visit to Villa Maria (entries will be accepted between June 1 and August 31, 2016). I hope you will make your plans now to join the Villa Maria team, some fabulous wine writers, and me for a delightful evening of Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc.
Villa Maria’s First Sip of Summer
Twitter hashtag #FirstSipNZ
Wednesday, June 15
5:00 p.m. Pacific Time/8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
To find Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc in your area, visit this link for where to purchase.
See you online for #FirstSipNZ!