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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2018 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

January 2018
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Some of the prices are 'special' prices. Check the First Glass website for current pricing.

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Some of the prices may be 'specials', but were correct at the date noted for the tasting. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 24 Jan 2018
The Summer Theme Continues
Wines were tasted blind.

Bedin Prosecco DOC Treviso NV – Italy
This is a soft, creamy and very approachable bubbles and even though it’s labelled ‘Extra Dry’ and seems quite dry to start there's a honeyed note to the fragrance and a very appealing touch of grapey sweetness to the foamy taste. The bottle looks good and the wine tastes good with touches of baked apple, pear and tropical guava.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tony Bish Fat and Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Quite golden in the glass, savoury on the nose and mellow to the taste with a butterscotch and salted caramel overlay to the banana tropical fruit salad flavours and a soft easy finish. People were saying 'very drinkable’ and it can be well chilled.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Light yellow gold. Gunsmoke, flint and hazelnut biscuits fill the bouquet and its warm, rich and nutty in the palate with funky yeast notes, hints of grapefruit and lingering notes of juicy melon, stone fruit and creamy oak. Fabulous value for the price and has developed beautifully since we tasted it on the Church Road night in June 2017.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Te Kairanga John Martin Martinborough Chardonnay 2015
Light gold in colour with a fragrant toasty nutty note to the more dominant stonefruit bouquet and silky in the palate with a fine textured flow. There’s lovely acidity to the wine that hints it is still evolving and will reward more with time yet with it with its creamy mouth-coating finish infused with peach and dried apricot it’s satisfying to swirl, sip and savour now. Winemaker John Kavanagh (ex Neudorf) has made a head turning wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
Straw gold in hue, a concentrated pear drop bouquet with a shimmy of spice and just off dry to the taste with true-to-variety pear and quince flavours infused with fresh apple acidity and richness to the long creamy finish. A crowd pleasing style. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Mt Maude Vineyard Maude East Block Central Otago Riesling 2017
There's a wet rock after summer rain and a lime nuance to the scent and a tickle of spritz to the lime zest, nectarine and honeysuckle taste which is heading towards medium in sweetness level – like a German spatlese riesling – with acidity and sweetness in impeccable harmony. It seems light and delicate yet there is understated substance. I think it’s just delightful.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Maison Fortant Rosé de Provence 2016 – Provence, France
This has an onion skin hue with tinges of pink, it’s quite savoury on the nose and initially seems very dry to the foremost savoury taste with fresh lemon/apple acidity and a slight herbal note to the finish where a touch of sweetness emerges and the lingering impression is juicy. Not a fruity Rosé in any respects because this is from Provence where wine and food are served together and this attractively presented Rosé definitely needs food to sing.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Invivo Michelle's Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
This Bannockburn pinot is seductive and generous with a dark burgundy hue, a bouquet of spiced bottled cherries, plum jam and subtle woodsmoke and is full of flavour in the ripe, succulent, summer berry fruit palate. Tannins are pillowy with a velvet veneer and there's beautifully balanced spicy oak underpinning the wine all the way through and coming more to the fore on the deliciously long finish. Served ever so sightly chilled on the hot January night it was perfect. Gold and Trophy NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Lurton Piedra Negra Gran Malbec 2011 – Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina
Inky blackberry red with a mirror-like sheen. A heady, concentrated aroma of raspberry, redcurrant, plum and cedar. High-toned in the palate with sumptuous fruit, leather, tobacco and cake spice. A big wine with big tannins yet fine in its flow with fresh acidity that cuts through the succulent, winey, alcohol-driven sweetness leaving behind pure fruit concentration. Dangerously delicious.
15.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 – California, USA
This more medium-bodied wine is a fading red black colour with moderate depth. It has a soft, mellow red fruit bouquet and the taste its quite fruity, perhaps a little confectionary with soft velvet-edged tannins, vanillin oak and underlying herbal spicy notes. Not a big jammy blockbuster just nicely balanced, soft and very pleasant to drink.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
Dark red black, looking youthful but with a watery edge suggesting a little age. The bouquet is quintessential cabernet with eucalypt, mint, cigar box, blackcurrant and cedar. Tannins are firm with the fabulous berry taste welling up and lovely underlying sappy, savoury, cedary notes all the way through. Perhaps even a suggestion of marmite. A classic label at a great price and still developing so if you are looking for wines to cellar you can’t go wrong with this.
14.1% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 17 Jan 2018
Summer Days and Nights
Wines were tasted blind.

Luna Argenta Prosecco DOC Brut NV – Italy
This is a white gold hue with fine bubbles forming a lacy rim. There's the merest hint of vanilla to the apple skin scent and lots of upfront fizz to the crisp steely taste with creamy apple and tropical guava fruit lingering on the long, dry, refreshing finish. Very pleasant with attractive bottle presentation.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – Awatere Valley, Marlborough
It's a lustrous pale gold hue and the aroma is bright and tangy with pineapple, passionfruit and summer herbs wafting out of the glass. The taste is fresh and invigorating with tropical fruit, grapefruit, peach and pungent herb flavours and an intense and terrifically long aftertaste. Gold NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Bright yellow gold in the glass with a butterscotch-coated stonefruit aroma and hints of gunflint and citrus. It’s soft, seamless and almost creamy with butterscotch and honeyed oak nuances, yet desirably dry with brightness to the finish. Served with only light chilling on the night, it really enhanced the texture and the mellow caramel and stonefruit flavours, which makes it hard to resist. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Bay View Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Tempting hazelnut and vanilla leesy notes fill the bouquet of this bright golden coloured wine. It’s one of those flinty reductive styles with loads of intrigue and fascination and while it seems quite linear to start with lifted lemon biscuit acidity, it’s actually quite mouthfilling and complex with elegant stonefruit and a spicy inflection to the cedary oak on the finish. Lovely to try now but will excel with a little more maturity.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Tiki Estate Waipara Pinot Gris 2016
Straw gold with honey, spice and orange blossom aromas – a touch of botrytis I sense that comes through in the beautifully balanced palate with honey and spice and pear drop flavours and fresh apple brightness to the finish. With its lusciousness and texture it will be universally appealing. Very popular on the night. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Gibbston Valley GV Collection Central Otago Riesling 2016
Light glossy gold with a touch of honeysuckle to the scent and maybe the merest hint of kero. It's searingly dry with racy lime and green apple acidity yet leaves behind a juicy and quenching aftertaste. It really does need food if you want to drink now – fish and chips would be perfect – or take the punt on cellaring for several years because it will morph into something absolutely magnificent.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Gibbston Valley GV Collection Central Otago Rosé 2017
A delightful watermelon pink colour with an almost iridescent glow, the bouquet is suggestive of summer berries and it is just off dry to the taste which makes it so approachable and appealing. It’s full of plum and strawberry fruit with a long creamy finish and served chilled it is deliciously quenching. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Alexander Dusty Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Deep rich youthful pinot noir hue. Generous bouquet of ripe cherry with just the most subtle nuance of chocolate. The tannins are supple and silky upfront yet firm on the finish, the fruit is dark, there's a touch of warmed spices and brightness to the finish with a well-balanced underlying savouriness coming through. A medium to full-bodied very drinkable pinot with a mellow, easy going aura. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Cotes du Rhone 2015 – Rhone Valley, France
This is a fairly translucent light red-black colour that’s fading on the edges.The bouquet is soft, almost chocolatey with a touch of dark jammy fruit and just a little bit of oak char and it’s smooth and mouthcoating in the palate with generous blackberry and raspberry fruit and a long warm finish with a subtle tarry note adding well-balanced savoury rusticity. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kingston Valley Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This rich inky blackberry red hued shiraz has a warm rich inviting smoky aroma promising vinous pleasure. Velvety tannins shroud the rich plum and dark cherry fruit with a slightly tarry undercurrent and a long creamy finish with touches of chocolate. Superb value for summer BBQ drinking. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Peter Lehmann 'The Barossan' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Deep dark red with an inviting aroma of berries, cedar and mint. ‘A leafy scent,’ says Steve behind me. It's a juicy, succulent, mouthfilling shiraz full of mint, chocolate, berries and spice with warm supple tannins that impart a velvety smooth flow and a long creamy finish tinged with vanilla. Irresistible wine and for many the wine of the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 10 Jan 2018
New vintages of Successful Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Delaplace Vintage Champagne 2012
Golden coloured with the tiniest bubbles, a tantalising nutty yeasty aroma and a crisp, lemon biscuit yeasty taste with vibrant fizz and just a hint of marmite in the savoury tones that come through. A delicious and very drinkable champagne that’s long and creamy with a satisfying lemony aftertaste and a lightly honeyed overlay. Fantastic way to start the tasting year.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Moderate gold in colour with a hot buttered toast aroma embossed with peach and vanilla and tropical and fleshy stone fruit in the palate. It’s smooth and mellow with a zesty vibe, underlying savouriness and a very long creamy finish.
13.5 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Selaks Founders Limited Edition Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Light gold in hue with an intoxicating toasted oak and mealy biscuity aroma and a fresh, mouthfilling, flavoursome taste with a malty richness, a toffee caramel smoothness and loads of peach and nectarine fruit that fleshes out the finish and reins in the cedary oak. A youthful wine with excellent potential to develop.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017
Light gold in colour with a bright stewed apple and pear aroma, and poached spiced pear in the textural palate with a whisper of viper’s bugloss honey. It's off dry heading toward medium in sweetness level with refreshing acidity and loads of flavour.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Giesen New Zealand Riesling 2016
This bright lemon gold coloured wine is beautifully perfumed with honeysuckle and sweet citrus. It's one of those juicy and deliciously refreshing lower alcohol, Mosel-inspired styles with moderate sweetness offset by quenching apple-like acidity and a lingering zesty zing. Serve chilled to the bones at this time of year.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Two Rivers Isle of Beauty Marlborough Rosé 2017
A trendy light salmon hue with berry aromas and a crisp dry steely taste – probably a little more European influenced than some of the ones we have been enjoying at First Glass lately. There’s hints of black cherry, blackcurrant and pepper and an exceptionally long, lingering aftertaste that is juicy and satisfying.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Lake Hayes Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Youthful purple translucent red with a fragrant and generous bouquet full of black cherry fruit and gamey savoury notes that follow through to the silky palate. It’s warm and spicy with a medley of juicy berry fruit, just a little bit of grip to the tannins and a long creamy finish. A lighter style red that’s soft, smooth and very tasty and would benefit from a little chilling on a scorching summer day.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Castano Hecula Monastrell 2015 – Yecla, Spain
This is a dark red colour, the bouquet is savoury and earthy with a waft of leather, sweet spiced tobacco, some kind of bramble berry and a hint of mocha. The taste is mellow and spicy with underlying earthiness and a smooth tannin flow. A medium-bodied food friendly red with light tannins and a juicy finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Sisters Run McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky blackberry red with crushed chocolate biscuit aromas – dark chocolate with a bit of toast. Smooth flowing in the spicy, creamy, savoury palate that’s accented with pepper and crammed with juicy red and black cherry fruit together with plums and mulberries and lingering chocolate notes. It seems a little young but the sweetness of the fruit makes it seem very drinkable.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Wirra Wirra Woodhenge Basket Press McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Shiny inky blackberry red with a tantalising bouquet of Shiraz spices, vanillin oak and berry fruit. Sappy cedary oak is prominent at first to the taste but the opulence of the focused berry fruit takes over. A gorgeous, full-bodied, lifted red with a long creamy finish and a lovely fine tannin structure that underpins the seductively smooth flow. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Belasco De Baquedano Swinto Old Vine Malbec 2012 – Mendoza, Argentina
The subtle tawny aura to the deep purple red hue suggests a little age. The opulent bouquet is velvety with concentrated bramble berries and perhaps a soupçon of mint and the taste is mouthfilling and sumptuous. It’s a heady wine with loads of oak and masses of fruit, jam, earth and tobacco and while its seems so smooth at first the tannins kick in on the ultra long finish. Should be a very long lived wine.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $46.99.

* * * * * * * * *

I like the Fine Fine Wednesday Tastings held at First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore. All the wines are served blind and unlike the blind tasting assessments I conduct at home (which are usually from producer's samples or, more rarely, wines I have purchased myself), I usually have no idea in advance of what wines are being included in the Fine Wine Wednesday tasting line-up. Exceptions have been the Cuisine Top 10 tastings, 'Super Tastings', or producer-hosted tastings where the line-up of wines is advertised to attract the tasters. All I know is that with Kingsley Wood choosing the wines, anything goes and the wines being tasted may cost from under $10 to over $110 a bottle, though they usually average somewhere in the $15 to $55 price range.

I have continued to attend the tastings over the years as I feel it gives me a good insight to wines currently available in the market place and the general reaction compared to my own. Not everyone likes the searingly dry rieslings that I love, I've found.

It also provides an opportunity to taste some wines I otherwise wouldn't get to see and to retaste those that I have.

Footnote: Prices listed are the retail and or special prices at First Glass Wines and Spirits at the time of tasting (date is at the top of each week's section). Check out for current availability and pricing and New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.
Sue Courtney's recent Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes can also be found on the First Glass website.

Wednesday Wines index
2018 Tastings
January 2018 tasting notes.

2017 Tastings
January 2017 tasting notes.
February 2017 tasting notes.
March 2017 tasting notes.
April 2017 tasting notes.
May 2017 tasting notes.
June 2017 tasting notes.
July / August 2017 tasting notes.
September / October 2017 tasting notes.
November / December 2017 tasting notes.

2016 Tastings
January 2016 tasting notes.
February 2016 tasting notes.
March 2016 tasting notes.
April 2016 tasting notes.
May/Jun 2016 tasting notes.
July 2016 tasting notes.
August 2016 tasting notes.
September / October 2016 tasting notes.
November / December 2016 tasting notes.

2015 Tastings
January 2015 tasting notes.
February 2015 tasting notes.
March 2015 tasting notes.
April 2015 tasting notes.
May 2015 tasting notes.
Jun / Jul / Aug 2015 tasting notes.
Sep / Oct 2015 tasting notes.
Nov / Dec 2015 tasting notes.

2014 Tastings
January 2014 tasting notes.
February 2014 tasting notes.
March 2014 tasting notes.
April 2014 tasting notes.
May 2014 tasting notes.
June 2014 tasting notes.
July 2014 tasting notes.
August 2014 tasting notes.
September 2014 tasting notes.
October 2014 tasting notes.
November / December 2014 tasting notes.

2013 Tastings
January 2013 tasting notes.
February 2013 tasting notes.
March 2013 tasting notes.
April 2013 tasting notes.
May 2013 tasting notes.
July 2013 tasting notes.
July / Aug 2013 tasting notes.
September 2013 tasting notes.
October 2013 tasting notes.
November/ December 2013 tasting notes.

2012 Tastings
January 2012 tasting notes.
February 2012 tasting notes.
March 2012 tasting notes.
April 2012 tasting notes.
May 2012 tasting notes.
July 2012 tasting notes.
July 2012 tasting notes.
August 2012 tasting notes.
September 2012 tasting notes.
October 2012 tasting notes.
November/December 2012 tasting notes.

2011 Tastings
January 2011 tasting notes.
February 2011 tasting notes.
March 2011 tasting notes.
April 2011 tasting notes.
May 2011 tasting notes.
July 2011 tasting notes.
July 2011 tasting notes.
August 2011 tasting notes.
September 2011 tasting notes.
October 2011 tasting notes.
November 2011 tasting notes.
December 2011 tasting notes.

2010 Tastings
January 2010 tasting notes.
February 2010 tasting notes.
March / April 2010 tasting notes.
May 2010 tasting notes.
July 2010 tasting notes.
July 2010 tasting notes.
August 2010 tasting notes.
September 2010 tasting notes.
October 2010 tasting notes.
November 2010 tasting notes.
December 2010 tasting notes.

2009 Tastings
January 2009 tasting notes.
February 2009 tasting notes.
March 2009 tasting notes.
April 2009 tasting notes.
May 2009 tasting notes.
July 2009 tasting notes.
July 2009 tasting notes.
August 2009 tasting notes.
September 2009 tasting notes.
October 2009 tasting notes.
November 2009 tasting notes.
December 2009 tasting notes.

2008 Tastings
January 2008 tasting notes.
February 2008 tasting notes.
March 2008 tasting notes.
Apr / May 2008 tasting notes.
Jun / Jul 2008 tasting notes.
Aug / Sep 2008 tasting notes.
October 2008 tasting notes.
November 2008 tasting notes.
December 2008 tasting notes.

2007 Tastings
January 2007 tasting notes.
February 2007 tasting notes.
March 2007 tasting notes.
April 2007 tasting notes.
May 2007 tasting notes.
July 2007 tasting notes.
July 2007 tasting notes.
August 2007 tasting notes.
September 2007 tasting notes.
October 2007 tasting notes.
November 2007 tasting notes.
December 2007 tasting notes.

2006 Tastings
January 2006 tasting notes.
February 2006 tasting notes.
March/April 2006 tasting notes.
May 2006 tasting notes.
July 2006 tasting notes.
July 2006 tasting notes.
August 2006 tasting notes.
September 2006 tasting notes.
October 2006 tasting notes.
November 2006 tasting notes.
December 2006 tasting notes.

2005 Tastings
January 2005 tasting notes.
February 2005 tasting notes.
March 2005 tasting notes.
April 2005 tasting notes.
May 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
August 2005 tasting notes.
September 2005 tasting notes.
October 2005 tasting notes.
November 2005 tasting notes.
December 2005 tasting notes.

2004 Tastings
Jan-Feb 2004 tasting notes.
Mar-Apr 2004 tasting notes.
May 2004 tasting notes.
July 2004 tasting notes.
July 2004 tasting notes.
August 2004 tasting notes.
September 2004 tasting notes.
October 2004 tasting notes.
November/December 2004 tasting notes.

2003 Tastings
January 2003 tasting notes.
February 2003 tasting notes.
March 2003 tasting notes.
April 2003 tasting notes.
May 2003 tasting notes.
July 2003 tasting notes.
July 2003 tasting notes.
August 2003 tasting notes.
September 2003 tasting notes.
October 2003 tasting notes.
November 2003 tasting notes.
December 2003 tasting notes.

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