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Villa Maria Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay 2014

This wine won a gold medal at the 2016 Royal Easter Wine Show so it is obviously a good wine, or a wine the judges like. It has a delicious texture, a texture that is full and weighty yet balanced with just the right amount of fresh acidity and is packed with flavour but one of those flavours is where I personally have an issue - sulphur. Sulphur flavours come from several sources in the wine making process and not so many years ago obvious sulphur flavours were considered a fault. Sulphur compounds occur naturally in the fermentation process and sulphur is used to stop fermentation and as a preservative, and winemakers walked the fine line of needing to use sulphur compunds in one form or another and avoiding overt sulphur flavours. The current trend in winemaking, particularly with Chardonnay, is to use sulfites that result from the natural winemaking process to add texture and complexity to the wine and some wine show judges love the resulting characters, often referring to French wines that often have these characters. My argument to that is we are making wine in NZ not France and our wines are famous around the world for their bright fruit flavours and winemakers need to make sure they don't compromise our fruity wine style just because they want to make something a little different. Sulphur is also a compound that some people detect in very low levels while others need lots of it before they can taste it, I am one of those people whose senses pick it up in very low levels so for me the sulphur flavours walk a very fine line of almost, but not quite, being offensive to my palate. So I have given this wine four stars and would probably rate it a silver medal wine because for me the sulphur flavours detract from the beautiful rich fruit characters that are hiding behind the sulphur compound flavours.    




Villa Maria


Bright, sparkling mid-gold

Layers of aromas with firm creamy notes and ripe stone fruits. However the sulfite characters that are there to add complexity tend to come to the fore.

Date tasted
27 May 2016


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