Three Wise Birds Cider – Villa Maria Reds


On Tuesday we had the pleasure to host George from Three Wise Birds Cider in the Hawke’s Bay to show 4 of their special and interesting ciders, including a Methode Traditionelle and a liquer.

We also welcomed back Jasmine and Alyssa from Villa Maria Wines to show 4 of the premium reds, Reserve Merlot, Cellar Selection Syrah, Cellar Selection Grenache and a Reserve Cab Sav Merlot.

The team at Decanta Tapas Bar excelled yet again with service, pouring and matched tapas – If you haven’t been to a tasting here yet, come along and join the group.

“Three Wise Birds are crushing their dads local Hawkes Bay fruit; and they’re doing it in their jandals because they say ‘it has to be New Zealand style cider. Hawkes Bay apples are recognised as some of the best around the world. So why not use these to craft a new age of cider, New Zealand’s own style of cider.” (Three Wise Birds)

Here are my scribbled notes on the Ciders (I’m not an expert in ciders so used my wine palate to describe them) We started the evening with:

Three Wise Birds Methode Traditionelle
Made from Braeburn Apples, this cider is treated the same as a champagne style wine would be, aged in riddling racks for two – three years – tonight’s example was made in 2014 and exhibited a fine bead, pale lemon in colour, soft yeasty / citrus nose, fresh apples on a creamy palate. 11% Abv matched with mini shot-glass Apple Crumbles. Yum start!

Three Wise Birds Batch Life
Made from 100% Granny Smith Apples and at 5.7% Abv packed a wee punch; Fresh green apples in the nose, although quite dry it was juicy, mouthfilling and textured, with a great tart finish – refreshing but not a session cider!

Three Wise Birds Summer Fling
This is available only in draught on tap – made from Pink Lady apples it was off dry, quite fruit forward with a nice acid / sweet balance and although 7% Abv seemed softer on the palate; well matched with mini pork belly sliders!

Alyssa then gave us a bit of background on Villa Maria Wines, Sir George Fistonich and his journey, from planting the first vines, starting and developing the wine brand, to being the first to bottle all wines under screw caps in 2001. Villa Maria is now one of the most respected and trusted wine brands in the world.

A copy of Kerry Tyak’s book “The Winemaker: George Fistonich and the Story of Villa Maria” was offered as a spot prize too.

Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2013
100% Gimblett Gravels, Deep purple coloured, plum, berries and floral notes in the nose, layers of flavour, rich and complex! Cellar untill 2030?

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah 2015
60% Gimblet Gravels / 40% Hawke’s Bay fruit. Indigo almost black in clolour, with pepper, red berries and earthy notes, wonderful grippy tannins & oak, long moreish finish! Matched perfectly with a Steak/Mushroom pastry in red wine joux!. 

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Grenache 2014

Fermented in Barrel! Bright red / purple, cherries tobacco and smoke, dark fruit, lovely acid / tannin / oak balance, medium bodied but powerful flavours! Blue cheese and walnut chioux pastry puff!

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2014

75% Cab Sav / 25% Merlot. Dark purple / garnet violet rim, lots of cassis / blackcurrants, herbal, chocolate, coffee, balanced – elegant long finish, My pick of the tasting!

To finish the evening we were privileged to get a taste of Three Wise Birds Apple Liquer (n/a for sale) – Made from 100% Sturmer apples, this One year old 22% Abv sip was onion-skin coloured, all apples and alcohol in the nose and palate. In a word “voluptuous” with a smooth kick – WHOAR!!!

Thanks again to George from Three Wise Birds, Jasmine and Alyssa from Villa Maria and John and team at Decanta Tapas Bar – Another excellent evening – next month we have Ngatarawa presenting.