Villa Maria Arneis and CS Pinot Noir
The Arneis variety is becoming increasingly seen in New Zealand, which is exciting as it is not widely grown around the world. This north-west Italian variety has transplanted well to these shores, and it may not deserve its ‘Little Rascal' moniker it has in Italy for its difficulty to grow and susceptibility to certain vineyard pests and diseases. The first release of an Arneis from Villa Maria was with the 2010 vintage in the 'Cellar Selection' range, and for 2011, it is under the ‘Private Bin' label as well, a brave move for a relatively unknown variety – or is it that Villa Maria predicts a popular up-take of it? Villa Maria sources a major proportion of the fruit from its ‘VPL' vineyard near Clive, established by the fastidious and characterful viticulturist Drazen Mijatov. The vines, planted in 2008 yielded their first crop in 2010.
Also reviewed here is the current ‘Cellar Selection' Marlborough Pinot Noir from the 2010 vintage. This label has had wonderful success in tastings and competitions, often bettering the ‘Reserve' and ‘Single Vineyard' offerings from Villa Maria. This not only shows the increasing quality and maturity of the base fruit for all of the company's Pinot Noir, but also the supple, user-friendly style that enables immediate accessibility, which is often well-rewarded in wine competitions. www.villamaria.co.nz