Villa Maria has released the latest wine in its Icon collection, Woven Sauvignon Blanc, which joins Keltern Chardonnay, Attorney Pinot Noir, and Ngakirikiri.
The Icon range highlights structured and ageable wines that reflect their individual regions. Sauvignon Blanc is an important varietal for New Zealand, especially in the Marlborough region, but Senior Winemaker Dave Roper said that it took some experimentation to make a Sauvignon Blanc to the Icon standards.
“Sauvignon Blanc was always one that we wanted to add into the Icon collection, but we needed a wine that aged well and reflected the signature style. The style that we see in Woven is quite a distinct and purposeful departure from what you would describe as a classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
“It took a few years of refining, vineyard management and winemaking to actually get to the end point, so it’s exciting to finally have Woven in the bottle and to have people tasting it and giving their feedback,” he said.
The fruit used in Woven is sourced from the Wairau Valley, with the oldest vines planted in 1999. Woven’s tasting notes describe the wine as having “citrus aromas, lifted florals and smoky notes on the nose, with an acid backbone and structured mineral texture”. The current release is from 2021, during which time Marlborough had dry and mild summer, resulting in a lower yielding but flavourful crop.
“We’ve used Woven as an opportunity to present quite a complex style of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s barrel fermented, it’s handpicked, and it has full maturation on lees. You’re looking at a wine that has a lovely flinty complexity, and it’s got this lovely saline nature to it. It’s a different take on Sauvignon Blanc,” Roper said.
Villa Maria has also released the 2020 vintage of Ngakirikiri, a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend. Ngakirikiri, meaning “the gravels” in te reo Māori comes from the 800-hectare region of the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay. The inaugural 2013 vintage was the first member of the Icon range, and 2020 is the sixth vintage to be released.
“Bordeaux varietals perhaps fly under the radar in New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc has really put New Zealand on the map as a wine growing country, followed by Pinot Noir, but I think that a lot of people who visit New Zealand for wine tourism fall in love with New Zealand Chardonnays, Syrahs, and Cabernets. I think New Zealand Bordeaux-style wines could be the next big thing,” Roper said.
The 2021 vintage of Ngakirikiri has been bottled and will be released later this year, with 2023 currently in barrel.
The New Zealand wine industry continues to grow in size and in quality, and Roper is confident that there will be new wines worthy of entering the Icon range in coming years.
“New Zealand is a very young winemaking country, and the wine industry has come quite a long way in a short period of time. Last year, Marlborough celebrated 50 years as a wine region, but the last 30 years has seen the biggest changes and the biggest growth. The future is pretty bright. It’s a dynamic industry to be in and New Zealand’s pretty well placed to keep growing.
“We just need to work out what’s the next addition to the Icon range now. I’ve got a few ideas already,” he said.