Posted on 27.02.21 Wine of the Week

Villa Maria Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay: a classy steal

Villa Maria Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay is one of those wines that makes you do a double take. Sixteen quid? Surely some mistake? It’s worth more.

I hadn’t encountered this single vineyard wonder from the mighty Villa Maria until a masterclass tasting this week – ‘Chardonnay: the cooling influence of the Southern Oceans, New Zealand v Australia’ (OK, there was no ‘versus’ in the official title, but come on…) and I was really blown away, as were many of my peers.

We were tasting some considerably more expensive wines, yet this was right up there. I think Chardonnay is New Zealand’s most exciting white variety, but there’s not much of it. Even less so in Marlborough, where this comes from. It is, of course, much more synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc.

Villa Maria Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay 2018 (£15.99 a mix six at New Zealand House of Wine) offers enticing layers of ripe nectarine, peach and citrus, the fruit is generous and textured, the acidity thrilling, so it’s perfectly poised right through to the toasty hazelnut brioche finish.

I always describe Villa Maria as ‘the John Lewis of winemaking’ and our masterclass co-host Ronan Sayburn MS describes their top end wines as “phenomenal”. One of my fellow critics suggested this Chardonnay might cost a lot more if it didn’t have Villa Maria on the label, and I think he was probably right, so snap it up before they call it something else!

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