This is based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin

2013 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection



Villa Maria Logo




In mid-May I received an invite to participate in this online tasting event.  It was easy to accept the offer since Sauvignon Blanc, especially ones from New Zealand, are enjoyed in copious amounts over the Summer in my house.  Then something caught my eye, one of the wines was Villa Maria’s 2014 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s only May and I’ll be able to get a taste of the 2014 vintage.  I avoid the Northern Hemisphere’s attempt to get the current year’s wine in consumer’s hands immediately, namely Beaujolais Nouveau, but a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, let me at it.



Seddon Vineyard



About the region:

Grapes were first brought into New Zealand in 1836 British resident and amateur winemaker James Busby.  For the next 100+ years, most of the wine produced in the country was for religious use or family consumption.  This began to change in the 1960’s.  As more people immigrated into New Zealand and residents began traveling, the wine industry started to grow and blossom.  By the early 1980’s experience led the growers to replace the originally planter Muller Thurgau grape with Sauvignon Blanc.  It didn’t take long for the UK and then the rest of the world to take notice.


One of my favorite descriptions of a wine came from a critic describing a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine, describing the wine as the experience of being strapped naked to Elle McPherson while bungy-jumping into a bottomless pit of fresh Gooseberry leaves!


The Winery

The winery’s history starts in 1961.  George Fistonich leased five acres of land, one with vines, from his father.  He harvested his first grapes in 1962 and made his first wine calling it Villa Maria.  For several years, Villa Maria was a one man operation.  George made both white and red wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Aukland region.  By the early 1970’s the operation was getting too big for one person so George started to employ a staff.  The company quickly expanded.  Today Villa Maria has over 250 employees and exports wine to over 50 countries.


In 2001 George decided, for quality reasons, Villa Maria would be a “cork free zone”.  All wines starting with 2002 would be sealed with a screw cap.  In those days, this was a very risky decision; a lot of people only wanted wine sealed with a cork.  Needless to say now, the decision was a good one.



Much more about the winery and its history is available on their website by clicking here.



On twitter, you can get additional insight by following the winery @villamaria_wine or the General Manager of Winemaking and Viticulture, Alastair Mailing MW @alastairmailing.  The winery also has an active presence on Facebook, consider checking them out there by clicking here.



TaTu logo


I want to thank the winery and especially Tatu Digital Media for providing me with this opportunity to try these wines.


About Tatu Digital Media

We are not trend chasers.  If it doesn’t serve the needs of our clients what’s the point?  As we have watched the Internet mature certain features have developed naturally in our service line.  What was once called online community is now social media, and as consumers demand more from a business online we’re here to help you make the most of your online presence.


For more information on Tatu, please click here.




Here is the line up for this tasting:

NZSavvy - New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs



2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin- SRP $14.99

The grapes for this wine were harvested between early March and mid-April from vineyards in the Wairau and Awatere valleys in the Marlborough region.  The wine was slowly cool fermented in stainless steel tanks.


The wine has 12.5% alcohol by volume and as usual for the winery; the bottle is sealed with a twist off closure.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a very light yellow with a slight greenish tint.  The nose has fresh cut grass, grapefruit, apples, minerals and orange blossoms.  The wine has light to medium body with tart acidity.  On the palate apples, grapefruit zest and a soft herbal element coat the palate with minerals coming in on the back end.  The finish has good length with a touch of sweetness and very good mouthwatering grapefruit providing the perfect balance.  (90 pts)

2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin

2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin




2013 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection – SRP $19.99

The grapes for this wine were split evenly between the Awatere and Wairau valley in Marlborough.  A portion of the grapes received some skin contact to enhance the flavor and intensity before being pressed.  After a slow, cool fermentation the wine was aged on the lees for several months to build a bit more depth and mouth feel.  Afterwards, the lots were racked, blended, gently fined, filtered and bottled.


The wine has 13.0% alcohol by volume and the bottle is again sealed with a twist off cap.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a very light yellow with a slight green tint.  The crisp and fresh nose has apples, fresh cut grass, grapefruit zest, stony minerals, melon and a touch of baking spices from the lees aging.  This has light to medium body with crisp acidity and just a touch of sweetness.  On the palate ripe apples and grapefruit coat the palate, eventually allowing melon and minerals to come into the picture.  The finish has good length with some spice coming into play.  This has a touch of residual sweetness but enough crisp, citrusy acidity to keep it in check.  (89 pts)

2013 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection

2013 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection



Closing Thoughts

This was a very nice introduction to the different styles of Sauvignon Blanc the winery produces.  One was bright, fresh and tart and would be perfect on a hot day.  The other, due to the skin contact and extended aging on the lees was a bit fuller with more depth and richness.


I recommend grabbing a bottle of each and conducting your own comparison.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.





This is original to  Copyright 2014 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.




Breaking news from Klout:




Cliff’s Wine Picks mentions or other posts

Here are posts, newsletters, blogs or other articles that either mention this site or that I have written:


Click here or on the “Cliff’s Wine Picks On Other Sites” link in the top right corner to see links to other sites that either have my reviews, my thoughts or other posts I have written.




Remember to support your local wine store!




* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.