Villa Maria reserve Merlot 2002 (review)

82 points.

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. 14.5%

Very very dark and shiny.

Quite closed aromas, tiny whiff of smoke, and a little simple.

Fresh merlot fruit with obvious and rather deft oak handling. The 14.5% alcohol is not noticeable. Flavours are simple, concentrated. Leaves a slight coconut ice finish in the mouth – not nice.

This is an ultra modern well crafted wine. A real show pony. And to be honest not a lot of fun to drink. Very manufactured. It is less sumptuous than top Australian cabernets like Moss Wood, less creamy, but still likely to stand out in wine tastings, and to do very well at wine shows.

Sadly a lot of winemakers are seeing this style as a (commercially successful) benchmark to aspire to.

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