e’ll be the first to admit that we’re not very familiar with the Pinot noir coming out of New Zealand. And with such wonderful Pinot noir growing minutes from our home, we don’t often seek out wine from across the globe. But we were pleasantly surprised by the Villa Maria Pinots we had recently. Not only were they quite good but also reasonably priced.
Harvested by hand and machine, the Private Bin Pinot noir was fermented using both indigenous and cultured yeast, then aged in stainless steel and used French barrique barrels for 10 months before bottling. Villa Maria was the first winery in New Zealand to shift over to screw caps and have been championing that cause ever since. Their influence has been great– today, virtually all wineries in New Zealand have abandoned cork and adopted a screw cap enclosure.
The wine was a gorgeous garnet red color with a nose not much different than the Pinots we have in the Willamette Valley. We smelled red fruits including cherries and raspberries which then became more complex. An interesting aroma similar to freshly turned black soil began emitting from our glasses. We also noted eucalyptus, cherry cola, black currant and a smokey quality in this wine. It had lively acidity with a fresh tartness and flavors of black currant, brambly berries and a nice white pepper finish.
The winery suggests pairing this Pinot noir with red meats, smoked salmon and mature cheddar cheese.