Wine Review – Central Co-Operative – Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc


My wine review this month for the Central England Co-Operative We Like Wine blog is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria.

The Villa Maria vineyard started in 1961 when George Fistonich, at the age of 21, leased 5 acres of land from his father in Auckland, New Zealand.  His first harvest of grapes the following year, in 1962, saw him produce his first wine under the Villa Maria name. In the 1980s, Villa Maria instigated the first grape grower bonus where grapes were no longer paid for based on quantity but on the quality of the grape. Export began in 1988 and the winery became an accredited member of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) in 1995.  The new Marlborough winery opened in 2000 and the following year, Villa Maria decided to move 100% to screw caps and became a cork-free zone.  In 2009, George Fistonich was awarded the country’s first Knighthood for services to the New Zealand wine industry.  The brand has continued to evolve since that day in 1961, from that single handed business, to a company that operates from three sites in Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough, employs over 250 personnel and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide, whilst still remaining a family owned business.

This 2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc produced from grapes sourced from vineyards across the Marlborough region has a beautiful, very pale straw colour and an incredibly fresh smell.  Close your eyes and inhale the citrus undertones of the acidic fruits.  Raise the glass to your mouth and savour the sharpness of the gooseberries, the citrus notes and the balance of melon and passionfruit. It’s the perfect accompaniment to white meat and fish so we chose to serve it with my Chicken and Leek Stroganoff.  They say that you should never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink.  Well, in reply to that, I say buy two bottles of this so there’s plenty left to drink and enjoy before, during and after you’ve cooked and eaten.

I wish 2015 to be happy, healthy and prosperous for you all.  I raise my glass to you all. Cheers!

I was sent a voucher with which to purchase a bottle of white wine. I chose the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc currently priced at £11.25 (Price as at 15/12/2014).

Chicken and Leek Stroganoff


I’ve previously reviewed Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food book that I bought for my husband.  There are several recipes in there that have become firm family favourites and that my husband often cooks for us; this recipe being one of them as it’s quick, tasty and very easy to prepare. Leeks give a wonderful flavour to a meal – coming from the Allium family which includes the onion and garlic, their flavour is much more subtle and delicate.

This recipe is based on Jamie’s from his book.

2 Large leeks
4 Chicken breasts
2tbs Olive oil
20g Butter
250ml White wine (if it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with)
100ml Water
15ml Wholegrain mustard
300g Basmati Rice
Bunch fresh, flat leaved parsley
300ml Single cream
1/2 Lemon
Salt & pepper

1. Put a large pan of lightly salted water on to boil.
2. Wash your leeks then cut them lengthways into quarters, from top to bottom, then slice across the stems (whites and greens) into 1cm thicknesses.

3. Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, approx. 1cm x 2cm .
4. Heat a large frying pan and add the olive oil and butter.  Heat until melted.
5. Add the leeks, wine, water, mustard, salt and pepper.
6. Stir together then bring to the boil and cover loosely with a lid or foil.
7. Put your rice in your boiling water, stir once and return to the boil.  Simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes (according to packet instructions).
8. Chop the parsley, leaves and stalks, finely.
9. Add the chicken, parsley and the cream to the frying pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

10. Drain the cooked rice.
11. Add the juice of your lemon half to the stroganoff and stir just before serving.
12. Place a pile of rice on your plate and add a generous couple of spoons of the stroganoff.

Serve with a perfectly chilled glass of the white wine that you used to cook this dish with.

Aldi Wines

Thanks to Aldi’s PR company, I was recently sent a box of wines and beers to review.  The box included:

Grapevine Tempranillo Ganache Rosé fron Spain.
Toro Loco (‘Crazy Bull’) red from the Tempranillo grapes.
Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere from Chile.
Freeman’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Bavaria Beer from Holland.
Having now turned 18, my son was able to help review the drinks this time and poured himself one of the well chilled bottles of the Bavaria Beer, whilst pouring the other bottle for his dad.  They both enjoyed the drink while sitting in the garden on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My husband says it’s got a lovely clean and fresh hoppy taste which he’d certainly go out and buy more of ready for warmer days to come!  Hopefully we’ll we haven’t quite seen the last of those days and may get a couple more before the season is out!

I went for a glass from the chilled bottle of Rosé.  A perfect drink for a lady, don’t you think?  So cool, calm and collected and such a pretty colour too!! It’s a crisp, clean tasting wine that’s light and fruity on flavouring.  A thoroughly refreshing glass of wine, in my opinion.
The red Toro Loco is a full bodied, fruity red with loads of body.  Perfect to enjoy with a meal or just on its’ own. Totally enjoyed by himself as he’s my red wine drinker in this house.  A glass, poured and savoured whilst chilling listening to music is his idea of a relaxing end to the working day.
Cheers!  Here’s to opening the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Sauvingnon Blanc.
The wines and beers were sent to me free of charge by the PR company representing Aldi.  I was not under any obligation to review the products sent to me, favourably or otherwise.  All opinions are those of my husband and myself.

Aldi Wine Review

There’s nothing better than being sent a bottle of wine, other than being sent 4 bottles of wine that is! Thanks to Aldi’s PR company, that’s exactly what I was sent; two bottles of red and two of white to review.

Aldi has long been a ‘go to’ place to buy our wine and I know several of our friends rate their wines highly too, so it was lovely to be sent 4 different ones to try.

The first to be opened was the Bordeaux Supérieur 2011 at £4.99 a bottle. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from the Bordeaux region of France.  Hubby is the red wine drinker in the house and found this to be both richly fruity and well rounded; a perfect accompaniment to a roast beef dinner, perhaps. Though it’s equally enjoyable after a long day at work.  The tasting notes detail this wine as having the aroma of raspberry & blackberry with spicy notes and a tannin structure. 

The white I chose to open first was the Chardonnay from the Limestone Coast of South Australia at £5.99 a bottle. This was a 2013 What Food/What Wine winner that they matched with a Chicken Korma. In my opinion, it’s certainly a light, crisp and well balanced wine which is very drinkable when nicely chilled, with your feet up & relaxing after a day in the office. What comes across initially from this wine are the flowery scents followed by a light fruity taste. The tasting notes actually tell you that these come from honeysuckle, white peach and pineapple.
It’s my birthday this Sunday, so, as I’m sure you can imagine, a glass or two will be enjoyed with family and friends and a toast raised to the generosity of Aldi and their PR company who kindly sent me these wines to review.  I’ll let you know how we find the Rioja at £6.29 and the Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier at £5.99.

These wines were sent to me free of charge by Clarion Communications; the PR company for ALDI UK. I was under no obligation to provide a favourable review of the products that I was sent. The opinions stated are those of myself and my husband.