Villa Maria is a familiar name to wine lovers in India and 2012 celebrates the 50th vintage of this award-winning winery. Sir George Fistonich, owner and founder, would have liked to visit India on his world tour but since he couldn’t make it, the Shanghai-based Market Manager, Asia/Middle East, Charlotte Read, who knows India well, happily stepped in, writes Reva K. Singh. Pictured: Sir George Fistonich
Charlotte was in Delhi in November, which became the occasion to taste these highly awarded wines, felicitously paired with a four-course dinner at the 360° private dining room of The Oberoi New Delhi. It was also a good time to remember the iconic status that this winery has achieved in the forefront of New Zealand wine.
Sir George Fistonich started from small beginnings in 1961 by leasing two hectares of land in Mangere, Auckland, from his father to grow grapes. “When I began this adventure in 1961,” he says, “I was a young man with just a few vines and an overwhelming desire to create quality wines. I could never have dreamed that creating Villa Maria would have been such an exciting and fulfilling journey.”
The founder’s passion and conviction, however, propelled Villa Maria into the top league. The estate has been hugely successful over the years making it one of New Zealand’s leading wineries due to Sir George’s pioneering vision and unrelenting focus on quality, which led him to take several pathbreaking decisions.
The Fistonichs came to New Zealand from Croatia, where making wine is a family tradition, a tradition which the next generation is carrying on. Villa Maria is now the largest family owned winery in New Zealand and the fifth largest in the country.
Today, Villa Maria Estate produces a vast range of consistently excellent wines and exports to more than 50 countries around the world. It has become a global brand, winning national and international awards as well as personal recognition for the founder through a knighthood in 2009. (The first for a New Zealand wine producer). As Villa Maria Estate celebrates its 50th vintage, there are many reasons to talk about this pioneering wine estate. To mention just a few —
* In the early 80s, Villa Maria was the first to start the grape grower bonus system where grapes were paid for based on quality and not quantity.
* In 2001 it became the first major wine company in the world to switch to 100% screwcap closures for all its wine in all markets, for quality reasons. (The Reserve Red wines were the first to be bottled under the new closure).
* Another landmark decision was to go organic, which made Villa Maria the first major New Zealand winery to achieve BioGro certification, extending over the entire winemaking process from viticulture through to production and export.
In other words, if you are looking for a New World white or red wine that is known for producing consistently top quality and is still great value for money, look no further than the Villa Maria label from New Zealand.
Villa Maria Wine Dinner with Charlotte Read
Celebrating 50 Years
Thursday, 29th November 2012
Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling, Marlborough 2012. Welcome Drink (Great natural acidity, makes a super palate cleanser or aperitif). Rs 2120 MRP
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2012. (My personal favourite, with the most delicious aromas, intensity and lasting finish). Rs 2890
California Grapes with Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crust
Villa Maria Private Bin Chardonnay, East Coast 2011. (Well integrated oak, rounded, rich wine). Rs 2120
Chardonnay Poached Pears, Palm Heart and Sundried Cranberry Salad with Maple Vinaigrette dressing
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2010. (The most planted red variety and very site specific. Produced by the most accomplished winemakers and described by Charlotte as the “holy grail” of winemaking). Rs 3820
Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Hawkes Bay 2011. (A ready drinking, fruit oriented wine, predominantly Merlot; not for laying down, best drunk within three to four years. A wine that’s predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon can be cellared for longer.) Rs 2120
Homemade Fettucini with Mushroom and Black Truffle
Pan Fried Sea Bass (pictured) with Artichokes and Parsnip Purée
Grilled Halloumi with Baby Carrots and Asparagus
New Zealand Lamb Rack with Pave of Celeriac and Merlot Jus with Salsify Crisps
Dessert – Wild Berry Mousse with Mascarpone Foam
For more details, visit: www.villamaria.co.nz. Villa Maria wines are distributed in India by Brindco Limited and are available at The Liquor World, Terminal T3 domesitc arrivals as well as House of Spirits, Select City Walk, Saket, New Delhi.