Iittala’s Essence Plus wine glasses, does size matter?

Mar 25, 13 Iittala’s Essence Plus wine glasses, does size matter?

Posted by in Lifestyle

Does the size of a wineglass make a difference in your enjoyment of it? I think so but as a trained wine professional, I get paid to pick out the subtle differences in wine so anything that will help me when I’m tasting a wine is always welcome. But what about the average consumer who just wants to enjoy their glass of wine? I was asked to do a consumer demonstration with Iitalla’s  Essence Plus wineglasses the other day to see if the size of a wine glass does make a difference in one’s enjoyment of wine. The original Essence line from Iittala was released in 2001. Designed by Alfredo Haberli, the concept was focused on design types. The new Essence Plus line was developed with the intention to highlight the characteristics of  the wine. With that in mind, they have created 2 sizes of wine glasses — a larger one for full bodied older wines and a smaller one for lighter, younger wines. The full bodied wine glass having much more of a rounder and bigger bowl to hold the wine. I was intrigued by this idea and we had two wines to try – a Villa Maria Private Reserve pinot noir and a Villa Maria Private Reserve sauvignon blanc. New Zealand pinot noir is darker and heavier then more traditional pinots. In the bigger glass, most people did find that it enhanced the aromas of the wine but on the palate, the wine seemed to lose it’s energy and in the smaller glass showed itself more generously and made for a more enjoyable drinking experience. So, contrary to expectations, this NZ pinot noir was better in the smaller glass. I poured the sauvignon blanc into the smaller, traditional, “white wine” glass as well as the bigger glass. Again it was amusing for me to hear the reactions from the consumers, for them the aromas were more intense and the wine seemed to be lost in the bigger glass, it’s aromas dissipating and...

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“The Rest is Noise” Strauss at the Southbank Centre

Jan 20, 13 “The Rest is Noise” Strauss at the Southbank Centre

Posted by in Lifestyle, New Zealand wine

I was invited to a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra last night to hear a performance of Strauss which was a part of “The Rest is Noise” year long music festival. There are great views of the London Eye and Big Ben from the top of the Centre which is where the Beecham Bar, the members bar of the Southbank Centre is located. Villa Maria is a major sponsor of the LPO and prior to the performance we were invited to sip on Villa Maria’s pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and rosé along with some tasty canapes in the bar. One of the best things about the event was the chance to speak to members of the orchestra during the interval, when we all returned to the Bar for more wine and canapes. The performance itself was a great show. I must confess that I’m not all that familiar with Strauss’ music other than ‘Also sprach Zaruthustra’ which opened the performance,  but watching the orchestra play is an experience in itself: the intense concentration on the players faces, the ramrod straight posture of the violinists and the entire orchestra swaying to the music they were playing. Ok, maybe I did get carried away by the music but it’s hard not to be when the melodies wash over you. Unusually for an orchestral performance, the conductor, Vladimir Jurowski spoke to the audience about each piece of work before it was performed and even had the American baritone, Thomas Hampson, join in on the conversation. It was definitely helpful from a novice’s point of view to have a bit of background about each piece of music. There were two singers that evening, Hampson who performed Notturno, Op.44 No.1 and Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila who sang the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils and the final scene from the, then shocking, opera Salome. Last night’s performance was part of the “Rest is Noise” festival which is based on the eponymous book by Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker. The book and the festival focus...

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Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Sep 19, 12 Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Posted by in New Zealand wine

“I’ve never met a wineblogger before, it was very nice talking to you…” That’s what Sir George Fistonich told me after we had spent about 45 minutes chatting about his Villa Maria Estates’ past, present and future. I was amused that he was amused to meet a “wineblogger”. Sir George was in town last night as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Villa Maria Estates and that’s how I found myself chatting with him.  From the humble beginnings of leased land, George and his wife, Jane, have built Villa Maria into a well respected (and well awarded) wine brand.  I had the opportunity to chat with George and learn a bit  more about Villa Maria before a grand tasting and dinner at the BAFTA in Piccadilly. After initially talking about the history of Villa Maria, I asked George what he thought set Villa Maria apart from the rest and how they had managed to be so successful in a crowded field of brands. “Innovation and quality” was George’s reply. Villa Maria is one of the top 5 family owned wineries in New Zealand and George believes that the fact that it’s still family owned allows them to do things that wineries with shareholders just can’t do. For example, in 2001 when Villa Maria switched to all screwcaps, people thought that they were crazy, but they could do it because they had no one to answer to but themselves. As we now know, George was right in his decision to go all screwcap. Villa Maria also has the luxury of being able to do experimental plantings. They have a few hectares where they can plant basically whatever they want and see what happens. They are currently experimenting with verdelho, vermentino and arneis. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. George had brought along a sample of the arneis which we tried at the tasting and I have to say it was very good. It’s great to see a lesser known variety...

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Villa Maria wines and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Oct 16, 11 Villa Maria wines and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Posted by in New Zealand wine

I went to a performance of the  London  Philharmonic Orchestra the other night as a guest of Villa Maria wines. I remember Villa Maria from my days at Oddbins but haven’t really had an opportunity to try their wines. I see them occasionally in the supermarket but that’s about it. Villa Maria has been supporting the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 4 years and lays on a hospitality bar for the LPO, when they perform at the Southbank  Royal Festival Hall.  It was a civilized way to start the evening, mingling with members of the orchestra and other guests, nibbling on canapes and sipping on Villa Maria wines.There were a variety of wines on tasting including the rose, the sauvingon blanc and the 2009 Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet, a Bordeaux blend. The 2009 was an easy going, very drinkable red wine and perfect as an aperitif, although at 13.5%, you do have to be careful you don’t drink too much of it with canapes. We were there to hear Yannick Nezet-Seguin from Montreal conduct the orchestra. I do enjoy attending such events and one of the highlights has to be the 87 year old pianist, Aldo Ciccolini. He was amazing, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K466 with such energy. I hope I have even a 10th of Aldo’s pizzazz when I’m in my 80’s. I thinks it’s great that Villa Maria supports the arts, especially in light of the recent budget cuts. A big thank you to Villa Maria for inviting me to the performance. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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