2018 Villa Maria "Taylor's Pass" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (Elsewhere $25)

SKU #1424731 97 points Decanter

 Our sole Sauvignon Blanc representative in the Best In Show class this year comes from Marlborough rather than any of the key Northern Hemisphere sites, but our judges loved the way in which this was not necessarily obvious from its profile. With its fresh, sappy, crushed-spring-leaf aromas and limpid, long, vinous yet tender profile in the mouth, this is simply great Sauvignon from an outstanding site rather than one of the overt or flamboyant Marlborough Sauvignons drinkers have become used to (and sometimes bored by). There's no shortage of charm either, though, with its whispered sweet-pea floral notes. Pretty and distracting enough to serve on its own on a warm afternoon, but with all the structure and sap to accompany food well, too. Marlborough is moving on. Drink 2019-2022

94 points James Suckling

 This is the top of Villa’s Sauvignon offering. Attractive, fine lime and grapefruit fragrance here, as well as some lighter, almost perfumed notes and fresh, green-leafed herbs. The palate is wrapped in neatly with a nicely cut interplay of concentrated fruit in the nectarine and green-mango spectrum and assertive acidity. A refined style.  (8/2018)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2018 Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Sauvignon Blanc features greenish notes of celery leaves and green tomatoes, but there's a core of pineapple and citrus fruit. It's medium-bodied, crisp, clean and long, with admirable concentration. Villa Maria is undoubtedly one of New Zealand's great success stories. Proprietor George Fistonich built the winery from nothing, only to almost lose it in receivership in 1985. He and the company rebounded, and it is now a terrific ambassador for New Zealand wine, delivering high quality at a range of price points. (JC)  (2/2019)

90 points Wine Enthusiast

 This is a highly fragrant wine bursting with aromas of lime juice, pineapple rind and honeysuckle, and just a hint of snow pea greenness. It's both chalky and slippery in texture, with a grass and nettle note creeping in on the palate and a long pineapple-rind finish. (CP)  (7/2019)

90 points Wine Spectator

 Fresh green herbal notes and a dash of saline add a savory side to the Key lime and green papaya flavors. Shows good intensity and a succulent, juicy finish. (MW)  (6/2019)

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Price: $19.99

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By: Elsa Baez | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/25/2019 | Send Email
This is not just another sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. I've had my fair share of tasting sauvignon blanc from NZ and have to say that the Villa Maria Taylor's Pass is a stand out. I get aromatics of stone fruit and white flowers with a hint of guava finishing with good balanced acid, grapefruit zest, salinity undertones, fresh and clean. This wine is bound to please any discerning palate!

By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/25/2019 | Send Email
So just about everyone in the wine world knows that New Zealand makes some downright delicious Sauvignon Blanc (among many other things). However this brilliant bottling from Villa Maria is compelling evidence that they make world-class Sauv Blanc that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best of Sancerre and alike. The 2018 Taylor's Pass combines NZ's unrivaled ability to produce explosively aromatic, fresh, zesty expressions of this grape with intense minerality, palate presence, length and complexity. This is not just a simple fruity wine, it has layers of citrus, feijoa, kumquat, key lime, bread crust, stony minerals, salt, cilantro. It's fascinating, electric, dynamic wine that people need to taste.
Top Value!

By: Thomas Smith | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/24/2019 | Send Email
Perched on a sequence of terraces above the Awatere river, Taylor’s Pass Vineyard is an exceptional site for Sauvignon Blanc, sheltered from cooler easterly winds and planted on gravelly soils. The 2018 is one of the most strikingly aromatic Sauvignon Blancs I have ever had. Ripe Papaya and guava notes abound among hints of white pepper. There’s aromatic richness here that is flat-out off the charts. The palate follows up equally with big fruit and well balanced acidity. Elderflower liqueur, preserved pineapple, and a breathtaking mineral finish. What makes this wine truly stand out is not that it tastes different from Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it's that it manages to turn the volume up to 11 while maintaining balance. Possibly the best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had this year?

By: Keith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/24/2019 | Send Email
Reaching way beyond the "cheap and cheerful" designation of Marlborough Sauv Blanc, the Villa Maria has real class and elegance in its bottle. From nose to pallet, this delightful white has aromas and flavors of white peach, Kaffir lime leaf and fresh lemon grass. The finish is long and intense and gives the suggestion that this has a good long life ahead of it. There's no reason not to forget a couple of bottles for discovery in a year or two but mine's chilled and ready to go.

By: Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 7/23/2019 | Send Email
The nose of this wine caught my attention immediately. I was expecting more of the classic jalapeno-laden, kiwi character that one finds regularly in New Zealand. This wine was a revelation--the nose was so much deeper, more complex, savory, and saline, and couldn't be pigeon-holed, as new aromatics emerged with every swirl. On the palate the wine shows decisive richness, supple power that gave one the sense of Chardonnay weight, but with a complex array of Loire-like flavors. It reminded me of Francois Cotat Sancerre, it had that kind of allure. The finish was long, persistent, and very complex. I'm going to buy this myself.

Additional Information:


Sauvignon Blanc

- One of the best known "international" varieties originally cultivated in France and considered the parent of, with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon's wonderfully distinctive aromatics generate some of wine's most colorful descriptors, among them "cat pee," herbaceous, grassy, citrusy the world over. In France, the apex of Sauvignon Blanc production is the Loire Valley, in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where the terroir expresses itself most beautifully through the grape. Sauvignon Blanc is also the leading white grape varietal in Bordeaux, where it is paired with the fatter, richer Sémillon to varying degrees. Relatively easy to cultivate, though more suited to cool climates, Sauvignon Blanc has made inroads in Europe outside of France, especially in Northeastern Italy's Friuli and Alto Adige, but also on the Slovenian border. These lovely wines are often overshadowed by Sauvignon Blanc's achievements in the New World, namely New Zealand, South Africa and California. New Zealand's Sauvignon Blancs, more conspicuously fruity than most French examples, landed the small island nation on the world wine map in the late-1980s and 1990s. South African Sauvignons are one of the most successful international varieties produced in that country and are often quite elegant and affordable. In California, Robert Mondavi managed to, almost single-handedly, created a market for Sauvignon Blanc by renaming his oak-fermented version Fumé Blanc. While some wineries still use the name, California Sauvignon Blanc has secured its place in the California wine pantheon, particularly those from the Napa Valley. Washington State, Chile and Argentina also have considerable plantings of the grape.

New Zealand

- New Zealand is an extremely diverse wine-growing nation. The long history of producing wine started in the 1830s with wineries such as Mission Estate (1850) and Te Mata Estate (1896) still producing wine today. The two islands hold a multitude of different growing climates ranging from warmer areas such as Hawke’s Bay to very cool regions such as Waitaki, and Awatere. Most regions are defined as Maritime with the exception being Central Otago that has a moderate Continental climate with the high elevation creating dramatic diurnal swings in temperature. The plethora of grapes grown in New Zealand reflects this diverse microclimate make up. Everything has a place here, Bordeaux varietals and Syrah in Hawke’s Bay, Chardonnay and Pinot in Nelson, Pinot Noir and Riesling in Central Otago , aromatic whites in Waipara and pretty much everything you can imagine in Marlborough. New Zealand is also one of the “greenest” wine producing nations on earth (94% of wine certified sustainable in 2013) with a strong focus on organic and Biodynamic farming.