Wine Reviews: New Zealand wines from Loveblock & Villa Maria

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-27-2018

This week I’m focusing on two producers from New Zealand: Loveblock and Villa Maria.

Loveblock is a Marlborough-based project of Erica and Kim Crawford. This winery was founded after Kim Crawford was sold to Constellation Brands. Erica describes Loveblock as, “the product of my journey to organics, which started about 15 years ago.” The organic farm is home to vineyards, beef cattle, chickens, etc. The wines really surprised me, showing more focus and intrigue than a lot of Kim Crawford wines I’ve tasted recently. And the wines (priced between $23 and $30) show a lot of quality and value.

I have also included reviews of Villa Maria’s new releases. Recently, I attended an on-line video tasting with Villa Maria winemaker Kathrin Jankowiec, who came from a teaching background in Germany before she decided to take a break and travel the world. She found herself in New Zealand about a dozen years ago, and she was low on travel money. Kathrin scored a harvest job at a small winery, and immediately knew she had found her niche. “I decided this is what I want to do with my life… I’m going to make wine. I’m not leaving New Zealand.”

I’ve always found Villa Maria wines to be reliably good, reliably inexpensive, classic takes on the New Zealand staples. But I hadn’t before tasted the single-vineyard Taylors Pass wines, and I was very impressed.

All of these wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.Loveblock

2016 Loveblock Pinot Gris- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $23
Generous yellow color. Aromas burst with yellow apples, peaches, lemons, limes, with lots of honeysuckle, daisies, notes of sea salt and honeycomb. This wine is vibrant and live-wire on the palate with crisp acidity and lovely depth, texture, richness. Lime, apricot, green and yellow apples. I love this complex combination of salty seashells, dusty minerals with white pepper, flowers, perfume, lamp oil, all sorts of complex spice and floral elements. Vibrant, deep, delicious. 12.5% alcohol. (90 points IJB)

2017 Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $22
Pale yellow color. Bursting with thyme, basil, white pepper and dandelion aromas, on top of green apples, green melon and limes. Brisk and so fresh on the palate yet some nice weight, too. Green apples, green melon and kiwi fruit is loaded with spicy nettle, white pepper, honeysuckle, thyme, sweet basil. Some salty and mineral notes, too. Pretty but delicious and bursting with flavor. 13% alcohol. (89 points IJB)

2015 Loveblock Pinot Noir- New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago
SRP: $30
Medium ruby color. So pretty on the nose with fresh strawberries, wild raspberries, red apple peel, along with rhubarb, warm clay, rose petals and some spicy clove and pepper notes. Medium+ bodied with a velvety feel, smooth tannins, and refreshing, tingling acidity, it’s all balanced very nice in a fresh and vibrant whole. Complex notes of white pepper, rose petals, bay leaf, rhubarb, some cola and cedar woven in nicely. Very well-done, delicious, balanced stuff. 14% alcohol, aged eight months in old oak. (90 points IJB)

2017 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Bubbly- New Zealand, South Island
SRP: $15
Very pale straw color with a slight spritz. Aromas of white peaches, limes, kiwis, along with bell pepper and nettle. Crisp and bright on the palate with very faint bubbles, this wine has a fresh and appealing approach. Green apples, white peaches, some bell pepper, saline and nettle. Fun, pleasant stuff, classic New Zealand Sauv Blanc with light bubbles (C02 injected at bottling). (86 points IJB)

2017 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $14
Pale lemon color. Bursting with aromas of gooseberry, white peach, pineapple, kiwi, along with spicy oregano and sliced cucumbers. Medium-bodied with zippy acidity and juicy tropical fruits (peach, pineapple, kiwi). Notes of sliced cucumbers, dandelion and oregano are woven in well (not too dominant). Classic Marlborough Sauv Blanc but I love the more nuanced flavors and balance style. (87 points IJB)

2017 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Taylors Pass- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough, Awatere Valley
SRP: $26
Pale lemon color. Spicy aromas of jalapeno, habanero, ruby red grapefruit, lemons, some oregano, a lot going on. Crisp and clean and bright on the palate, the texture is deep and rich at the same time. Lemon, ruby red grapefruit, kiwi, along with lemongrass, habanero, with sea salt and mineral tones. Lots of depth, texture and complexity in here. (90 points IJB)

2017 Villa Maria Private Bin Rosé- New Zealand, North Island, East Coast
SRP: $15
Pale copper color. Spicy, herbal and floral on the nose, like a rosebush with honeysuckle and nettle, mixed in with grapefruit and white cherry. Juicy on the palate, plenty of texture and fruit (ruby red grapefruit, strawberry, orange pith), with some white pepper, baby’s breath and those kind of spicy/floral tones. Attractive, balanced, well-made, Merlot-based pink. (87 points IJB)DpLufQ_WkAAVH3N

2017 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $18
Bright, light ruby color. Super spicy on the nose with white pepper, leather, clove an rose petals, over top of red cherries and juicy strawberries. Light/medium-bodied (12.5% alcohol) with dusty tannins and fresh acidity. Raspberries, black cherries, mixed with sweet cola and roses and some tea. Light, refreshing and fun. (87 points IJB)

2015 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Taylors Pass- New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
SRP: $42
Medium ruby color. Suave and savory on the nose with raspberries, strawberries, cherries, mixed with mulling spices, loamy soil and mushroom notes. Silky but structured with fine-grained tannins and crisp, lip-smacking acidity. Black and red cherries and strawberries, doused with rose hips, bay leaf and tobacco. Nice concentration, balance and freshness, in just the right amounts, with some cola and cedar woven in nicely. Very pretty stuff. (90 points IJB)

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