Thursday, April 07, 2005

Villa Maria 2002 Private Bin Riesling, and finding wine

Villa MariaKelly was going to be whipping up some Kung Pao chicken last night and I like to have a Riesling with a spicer dish like that. In keeping with my recent theme of checking out New Zealand wines, I wanted to find a New Zealand Riesling. I know they do some very nice ones in Marlborough because I tasted a few when I was there. Here in Austin, that goal was easier said than done.

First I checked out Grape Vine Market. 4000 wines, but no New Zealand Riesling. Then I checked out Whole Foods up the road a bit. Nope. Finally the usually average HEB selection. They had one, the Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling. That was more than enough searching for one day so that was going to have to be it. Click the link above for the winemaker’s comments. They’re plenty accurate. And when they say “off-dry sweetness” they really mean it. This is not like a typical German Riesling. In fact, all of the ones I remember tasting in NZ were similar in that regard.

Villa Maria is a huge wine maker. In fact, by my reading, they are the largest in NZ. They have a range of five distinct wine offerings. The Single Vineyard, Reserve, Cellar Selection, Private Bin and finally the Vintage Selection. They offer a Riesling in all but the cheapest Vintage Selection offerings. As far as I’m concerned, those segment names alone give you very little clue as to level of quality you should expect. But I’m glad I explored it. Given their size, it’s likely that I’ll find more from Villa Maria available in this area. And at least now I’ll know what part of the range of offerings I’m looking at.

My difficulty in finding this wine is not unlike my search in general for anything I see recommended on the web. I may read about it on the web or in print, but it seems 9 times out of 10 I won’t find the specific recommendation. I need a better system. In fact, what I think I need is just a deeper system. If the list I was carrying included several hundred options, or thousands, my odds at the store would be a lot better. I need a PDA database. There must be such a thing.

Ultimately, this wine was a nice complement to a dinner of Kung Pao chicken. Grab a bottle if you find it. Although, if I have the option, I’ll try one from the Cellar Selection or Reserve range to see if they’re just a bit more inspirational.

$10 at HEB in NW Austin.
 Good. A nice complement to some Asian food.


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