New Zealand's Villa Maria
New Zealand winery Villa Maria produces well-made reliable wines with a New-World clean-ripeness and a cool-climate freshness. They are always well-balanced and drinkable.
But they rarely make a wine enthusiast's heart beat faster - they are as safe, reliable and unexciting as a Volvo, a bit pipe-and-slippers.
These two wines would be safe options if you have a mixed audience of people to entertain and want something of above average quality, or if you want to make a first foray into New Zealand wine and are looking for an easy start point with nothing strange or challenging.
There's nothing not to like here.
Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2013, £12.99 (Asda, Budgens, Co-op, Morrisons, Taurus Wines, Vino’s Edinburgh. Hailsham Cellars, Matthew Clark, www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk)
Sweet ripe red fruits and plums, very Burgundian nose with mushrooms and woodsy undergrowth and spice with a touch of toasty oak. Clean and fresh; well put-together. Very pleasant.
Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, £12.99 (Majestic, Morrisons, Globe Wines, Matthew Clark, www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk