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Future bright for New Zealand viognier

New Zealand's Villa Maria Estate is producing viognier that's so good you can't ignore it, Joelle Thomson blog on MiNDFOOD.

Future bright for New Zealand viognier

I’m sitting in front of 15 glasses of wine at Villa Maria Estate, New Zealand’s only large winery still in Kiwi ownership.

Today’s meeting is a catch-up, a chance for the winery to put forward its most expressive wines, including the predictably out-there varieties of sauvignon blanc, riesling and gewürztraminer, as well as the more subtle chardonnay, pinot gris and viognier.

Viognier can be a bit of a plain Jane prone to dilute, vaguely aromatic flavours. It’s still a relatively rare variety in New Zealand so not all examples are hitting the mark of greatness just yet. But the 2007 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Viognier (RRP$39) is one of the boldest New Zealand white wines that I’ve come across in recent times – it has big bodied, beautifully succulent flavours.

Winemaker Nick Piccone agress with the sentiment that voigner, when at its best, can garner a niche in the Kiwi market. But then he would have to, given that Villa Maria is set to become the largest producer of viognier in New Zealand.

Villa Maria Estate’s managing director, George Fistonich, has a reputation for choosing talented viticulturists, winemakers and staffers that tend to stay long-term with this company. When you taste the wines you can see why.

Villa Maria is often criticised for its traditional looking labels. My guess is that most of their energy is channeled into making what’s inside the bottle, producing a taste so good you can’t ignore it.

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