Wine: Villa Maria Dry Riesling
Grape: Riesling (100%)
Region: Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
Price: $ 5.99 per bottle.
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors
In the Glass: This Villa Maria Riesling is a pale wheat straw yellow with a faint lemon yellow core going out into a glass-clear rim definition and medium-high viscosity.
On the Nose: There is a plethora of lovely exotic white fruit, lychee sorbet, elder flowers, apricot jam, peach skins, crushed almonds and marzipan, then some notes of fine chalky minerality and Asian pears.
On the Palate: There is tremendous delineation and balance between the pungent white fruit and the mellow acidity. There is also characteristic Riesling fruit with lots of cooked apples and pears, then phenols, citrus rind and key lime pie. The mid-palate is soft and supple with good mouth-feel and the finish is simply outstanding for a New World Riesling, lingering and teasing for quite a while.
Odds and Ends: Sir George Fistonich has really been an incredible Ambassador for the wines of New Zealand, even though he started modestly with just 1 acre in 1961 outside of Auckland. Villa Maria is his company and while it is named for his mother, it has also become synonymous with especially great white wines from the now legendary Marlborough region of New Zealand. Marlborough, which is one of the best areas for growing cold-climate white grape varietals in the New World, sees Villa Maria’s Riesling vineyards scattered throughout both the Awatere and Wairau valleys of the region. What is further very intriguing about this wine, apart from its refreshing characteristics, is the price. You would normally expect to pay upwards of $20 per bottle for a Riesling of this quality level, but this Villa Maria Dry Riesling is less than $6 per bottle or under half of what it normally can be found for. With the mercury threatening to explode in the thermometers, this is a wonderfully refreshing wine for all occasions during the hot summer months, and great quality to price ratio to boot. A superbly made wine from this interesting estate and while fully mature should drink well now through 2016 and will be a great companion to spicy Thai food. Riesling — by the way — is one of the few beverages that can dull the little red chili peppers the Thais love to put in their food.