Ngakirikiri, a Bordeaux-style wine from New Zealand's Gimblett Gravels district of Hawke's Bay , is establishing itself as a flagship label for Villa Maria, with the inaugural 2013 vintage already on sale in the U.K. and elsewhere and the 2014 still maturing.
Villa Maria's roots go back to 1961, when founder George Fistonich leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland. His first harvest was the following year, he started exporting back in 1988 and now the company has grown to employ more than 250 full-time people selling into around 60 countries around the globe.
Among its multiple vineyard sites across New Zealand, it has some 600 acres (243 hectares) in the Gimblett Gravels, the prime North Island region for Bordeaux-style wines, and its vines there have an average age of about 25 years. The 2013 Ngakirikiri is made under the supervision of NIck Picone, the company's chief winemaker, from a blend of 97 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 percent Merlot. while the 2014 will be a pure 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
"The '14 was a fabulous vintage," Karen Fistonich, George's daughter and now chair of the company, said during a visit to London. "Nick won't release it until he decides it's ready."
Ngakirikiri will only be made in years when the vintage and grape quality is suitable, and no decision has been taken yet on whether there will a 2015 bottling. The 2013 retails for just over 80 pounds ($102) in the U.K.