Villa Maria 2013 and 2012 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Many would argue the interpretation of quality is both objective and subjective, the former based on physical and technical parameters, whereas the latter is based on style and preference. Both approaches are valid to a degree and most wine judgements can combine the two in a myriad of possible combinations. After all, that’s what makes wine fascinating. The interpretation of quality with Villa Maria’s Bordeaux-varietal reds over 2013 and 2012 shows the interaction of objectivity and subjectivity, with interesting decisions and results.

2013 is now being hailed as one of the outstanding Hawke’s Bay vintages ever for the Bordeaux varieties. There’s no doubt any producer worth his or her salt will make a success of it. I’ve already reviewed the Villa Maria ‘Cellar Selection’ Organic Merlot 2013 highly (click here to see). Here, I review its junior sibling, the ‘Private Bin’ release.

However, 2012 was one of the most challenging vintages with a cold and wet growing season. It may stand to reason that the earlier Merlot would fare better than the late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This is generally the case, and there are many creditable wines made from Merlot in 2012. Here, I review the ‘Cellar Selection’ Merlot/Cabernet blend which includes declassified ‘Reserve’ Merlot material. However, Villa Maria interpreted that certain parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon had the quality to meet the criteria for ‘Reserve’ status bottling, due to the classical expression and completeness of the fruit. So it was a surprise indeed for many to see the release of a Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot in 2012. I review this wine here too.


  • Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ ‘Organic’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013
  • Villa Maria ‘Cellar Selection’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
  • Villa Maria ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2012

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