Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Villa Maria hails “greatest ever harvest”

Published:  12 July, 2019

Top kiwi winemaker Villa Maria is full of enthusiasm for its wines from the 2019 vintage, with “numerous highlights” from the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne areas leading the winery to declare its best ever harvest.

Villa Maria, which makes wine across Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Auckland on the North Island and Marlborough on the south, said harvest commenced on the 21 February in the Gisborne region and was completed on the 18 April with the last of the Hawkes Bay reds.

These two regions show particular promise, the company said, with “beautiful Chardonnays” now resting in barrel alongside “intensely aromatic and flavorsome Pinot Gris, Rosé and Albarino wines also showing great promise. In a year with such high quality fruit in abundance, winemakers were in a position of increasing the ratio of hand-picking and whole bunch pressing, followed by natural/wild fermentation to yield the best results”.

According to chief winemaker, Nick Picone, the highlight of Hawkes Bay was the Merlot, which Picone believes is potentially the greatest he has seen in the region in 23 vintages.

As a result, and the quality of the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – which were also pegged for ‘exceptional’ promise – the Hawkes Bay brands are now placed to make their full suite of high-end Reserve and Icon level wines across the varietal spectrum.

Harvest for the north island saw an “exceptionally warm, dry summer” with the majority of fruit harvested under clear blue skies that resulted in “incredible flavours” and berries that were in “pristine condition”.

In Marlborough, harvest season was described as “outstanding”.

Cold and drawn out flowering in spring meant fruit set was lower than average, and resulted in “excellent quality fruit” while “balanced crop levels ensured the development of open bunches with small and flavourful berries”.

The region then went on to have the “summer of the century”.

Blenheim’s typically high sunshine hours coupled with a dry season saw crops ripen early without any disease pressure. Long and hot days with moderately cool nights provided the right conditions to ensure physical and flavour ripeness.

As per the north island, the team were able to pick the grapes at their most optimum point without the threat of rain, resulting in small berries and ripe tannins for Pinot Noir which provided “excellent colour, intense concentration and depth of flavour”.

For whites, Chardonnay already shows “elegant structure”: Riesling and Pinot Gris have emerged with ripe flavours and aromatics and were picked early to retain freshness and acidity after the hot summer.

Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc benefitted from the extra hang-time.

Wairau Valley was picked out for packing a fruit-laden a punch, with “thiol, tropical and ripe citrus flavours shining through”.

Last but not least, the Awatere Valley Sauvignon was harvested right at the very end, with “classic” Awatere flavours of intense minerality, zesty lime, jalapeno and herbacousness.

Top photo shows Sir George Fistonich, who founded Villa Maria in 1961.