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edited by Sue Courtney

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

September - December 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 www.firstglass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Dec 2018
Last Tasting of the Year
Wines were tasted blind.

Jean Josselin Cuvée des Jean Champagne NV
The bouquet is softly scented with vanilla and lemon cream and the initially crisp, steely, effervescent taste becomes rich and nutty with savoury yeast autolysis characters emerging from the depths. It's quite full bodied and the lingering complex mouthfeel evokes subtle suggestions of peach. Cuisine Best Buy.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Beaumet Cuvée Brut Champagne NV – Epernay, France
The alluring bouquet has a brioche / apple tart scent and it’s crisp in the yeasty, savoury palate with the depth and complexity Champagne should have. The creamy mouthfeel has a baked apple sweetness, touches of rose hip and a lingering malty richness with a persistent tingle from the fizz. Elegant. Stylish. Cuisine No. 1.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV – Reims, France
Attractive, lightly floral, lightly malty, lightly yeasty aroma and a tingly taste that has a suggestion of salinity. It's yeasty and nutty with a hint of blackcurrant and the lovely full, rich, toasty finish lingers with hints of caramelised apple. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $67.99.

Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2017
Light yellow gold with a peach bubblegum aroma that leads into a decadently rich, toasty palate that is satisfyingly creamy and rounded. Full of tropical and stone fruit with a sliver of lime and lingering malt and burnt caramel, it is silky smooth in its flow.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Golden coloured with buttered sizzled peach and caramel corn aromas that follow through to the seamless flowing, mouthfilling palate that’s fattening out beautifully with bottle age but underpinned nicely by refreshing acidity, nutty oak and touches of gunflint. Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine NZIWS 2017. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Wrights Reserve Organic Gisborne Chardonnay 2016
Light golden in hue with a bouquet suggesting canned peaches and apricot with a touch of passionfruit. In the mouth this is savoury and toasty with a lemon cream richness, a mealy complexity and youthful bubblegum oak, becoming more and more oaky as the flavour evolve – and the lingering aftertaste is juicy and creamy with a touch of spearmint emerging.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Light gold in colour with subtle nuances of butter and peach infusing the toasty oak scent and bright fresh tropical fruit accented with grilled pineapple filling the palate with layers of buttery oak, malt, caramel and peach. Well balanced acidity offsets the creamy richness and there’s a lovely roundness to the mouthfilling finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
A lustrous, deep, rich, plummy red in the glass with blackberry pie aromas infused with hints of tar and leather. Firm tannins are noticeable upfront in the rich, dense palate but soon succumb to the wonderful depth of fruit sweetness. Crammed with cherry, mocha, chocolate and savoury oak with a light smattering of rose pepper and finishing full-bodied and creamy with richness and complexity, this is a stunning example of NZ Syrah. Gold & Trophy NZIWS 2018, Gold NZ Wine of the Year 2018.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Barossa Linke Barossa Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This is a rich deep dark red with a cranberry hue to the edges. Classically spicy on the nose with a creamy chocolate aura and a little more of the same in the plush, velvety palate. It’s big, ripe, juicy and heady with raspberries, mulberries, chocolate-coated craisins, scorched almonds, tingles of pepper, and a deliciously satisfying, long, smooth, creamy finish.
15.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Sons of Eden 'Kennedy' Barossa GSM 2016 – South Australia
Dark crimson red with a little translucency to the edges. The bouquet smells smooth and creamy with scents of chocolate and cherry. A youthful wine hinting of plenty to offer as it unfolds with bitey acidity and tingles of pepper underpinning red and black fruit, and while the tannins are still a little firm the class of this wine shines through as it opens up nicely on the finish where it reveals juicy blackberry and menthol tobacco. A blend of 53% Grenache, 31% Shiraz and 16% Mourvedre from multiple sites in the Barossa Valley.
14.5% alc. Cork/Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz 2013 – Victoria, Australia
This is a lovely rich dark red in the glass. The bouquet is dark and savoury with a berry fruit brightness and a gentle seductiveness. Concentrated in the full-bodied palate with touches of graphite, cigar box, cake spices, juicy mulberries and cherries, vanillin oak and cherry chocolate. A rewarding wine that five years on from vintage is smooth and velvety with beautifully resolved, svelte-textured tannins and impeccable flow.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Riverby Noble Marlborough Riesling 2015
There’s a copper sheen to the deep golden hue. The concentrated bouquet has a heady fragrance of flower nectar, honey, beeswax and orange liqueur macerated white raisins. All this and more in the lightly viscous palate where the hedonistic and finely textured honeyed sweetness is exquisitely balanced by delicious orange marmalade acidity. Multiple golds. Trophy NZIWS 2017. 5 stars Cuisine 2018.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 28 Nov 2018
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Bedin Extra Dry Prosecco NV – Treviso, Italy
Softly sweet and foamy with a light lemon colour, fine lacy bubbles, apple aromas, creamy apple and fleshy green grape flavours, and a crisp steely refreshing and slightly salted tarragon undercurrent that keeps the sweetness in check. Delightful fresh summer fizz attractively presented.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light gold in the glass with a tempting butterscotch aroma and smooth creamy peach and malt flavours framed by polished savoury oak that's bold and spicy on the finish. This has mellowed out nicely with time in the bottle and is seamless drinking now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
The creamy peach bubble gum bouquet doesn’t really hint of oak and it’s initially soft in the intriguingly sweetish palate then the power of the wine takes over with nutty oak infusing canned tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and chunky papaya. Ripe and generous and terrific summer quaffing as it can be chilled to the bones.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Yellow gold in the glass with a buttered toast and apricot jam scent that belies the savouriness of the slightly zingy palate with light viscosity to the warm, mouthfilling, lightly viscous texture and a varnishy oak and gunflint note to the incredibly long and fleshy finish where the apricot, now with custard, brims again.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Starborough 'Sons of the Soil' Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018
Straw gold radiating vanilla poached pear / pear drop scents and bright refreshing red apple, pear and zingy citrus flavours nicely balanced by a tickle of ginger on the finish. Just off dry in sweetness level, it's soft, juicy and easy to drink. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2017
A darker coloured, fuller bodied rosé with a hint of orange to the grenadine hue, fruity aromas and an off dry sense to the taste with a lightly viscous texture and a nice touch of earthy savouriness underpinning the slightly confectionary raspberry and cherry fruit, finishing dry.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Rockburn 'Stolen Kiss' Central Otago Rosé 2018
There’s a hint of rose petal on the nose of this alluring pink sapphired-hued wine together with hints of cherry and pear, and it’s off dry to the taste tending at first towards medium in sweetness level with a light earthy savouriness underpinning the apple, pear and watermelon flavours with a lovely touch of tarragon and refreshing acidity reigning in the sweetness for a beautifully rounded and definitely more-ish finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Greystone North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016
Translucent Burgundy-hued hinting of a little age, this emanates a cherry jam scent and is spicy and savoury to the lightly tannic taste with upfront earthy, gamey, truffle-infused, savoury notes falling back to firmly support the dark cherry and Black Doris plum fruit and nicely honed savoury oak. Silky in its flow with the tannins asserting themselves again on the savoury finish with the fruit sweetness kicking in again as the fabulously long and replete flavours linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Te Awa Single Estate Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2016
Inky crimson red in the glass, this emanates Bordeaux-like scents of leather, cedar, plums, brambles and earthy complexities and ripe juicy brambly fruit fills the medium bodied palate with savoury, cedar, cigar box, pencil shavings and sweet leather characters making their presence known. A smooth flowing, classically dry red with a silky edge to the velvety tannins and well balanced acidity completing the package. Gold Hawkes Bay Wine Awards.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Quarisa Wines Caravan Petite Syrah 2016 – South Eastern Australia
Inky black red with a sweet heady raisin and berry scent infused with a gamey, savoury vibe. A big, plump, mouthfilling wine fill of plums, prunes, mulberries and cake spices with a light twist of pepper, this is soft and comfortable despite the power to the tannins while the fruitiness yields to the savouriness on the finish making the wine seem a little more serious than initially thought. Multi gold medal winner.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Sevenhill Inigo Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky crimson black with an alluring and deep winey scent infused with chocolate and dark berries and a beautifully honed palate where the firm and beautifully structured tannins are tamed by the intensity of dark berry fruits. It’s mouthfilling, plush, lush and velvety with vanillin oak, nut chocolate, liquorice, mocha and a gentle touch of spice. A blockbuster wine that punches above its price point. Gold NZIWS.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 21 Nov 2018
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Blind River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Crammed with pungent aromas and fresh tropical fruit salad flavours that brim with pineapple, passionfruit and mango with ripples of summery herbs and a wham bang punch of quiveringly tart grapefruit that leaves behind a vibrant zing. Trophy NZ Wine of the Year Awards.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Butter tossed hazelnut and melon on the nose then bright and zesty in the palate with spicy oak underpinning juicy stonefruit and a toasty finish that increases in complexity as it lingers. Smooth, rounded and gutsy with plenty of flavour and slips down easily.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Glinting like rays of sunshine in the glass, this has toasted grapefruit on the nose and is full of stonefruit, citrus, caramel and malt in the seamless flowing palate with vanilla and spicy cedar. A mouthfilling wine that has opened up beautifully since last tasting. Fabulous drinking now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Marisco Craft Series The Pioneer Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
A little shy on the nose with subtle nuances of butter caramel and tight and restrained in the palate. With noticeable acidity it is made for the long haul yet shows its class with balanced and harmonious (but not intrusive) French oak and its incredibly long and compounding length where the nougat, nutty, white peach flavours emerge and linger beautifully. One to put away. Gold NZIWS. Gold and Trophy at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $65.99.

Waipara Hills Pinot Rosé 2018
Light salmon pink with the bouquet emanating the purity of watermelon and cherry juice with a waft of pink bubble gum and just off dry to the taste that is full of summer berries. It has pleasing concentration and palate weight and a lightly spritzy finish with a zing of peppered strawberry. Gold and Trophy at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards. Gold and Trophy Sydney International.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
There's brightness to the deep Burgundy red hue, the bouquet offers up spiced cranberries, vanilla and nutmeg and while it seems a little mellow in the palate there are slightly furry firm tannins in the background, a typically Martinborough savoury, earthy, gamey undercurrent and bittersweet cherry fruit with tingles of orange zest and pepper and a fabulously long finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
There’s a touch of pink to the Burgundy hue, a sense of black cherries and plums to the scent and it’s fruit forward in the palate with christmas spices infusing the succulent red and black cherry fruit, beautifully balanced savoury notes and silky tannins. Soft, juicy and ready to drink. Best Pinot Noir, Best Red and Best Wine at Sydney International 2019.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2016
This super stylish Bordeaux-styled wine is inky vibrant purple red in the glass with leather, cedar and dark brambly fruit filling the bouquet and it’s tightly framed in the palate at first then succulent plump fleshy fruit spills through. A beautiful mouthful of plum, cassis and polished cedar with touches of liquorice. Four show golds plus Trophy NZIWS and Trophy NZWotY.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Giodorno Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2015 – Torricella, Italy
Deep dark red hinting of a little age. The inviting bouquet seduces with its succulent bottled cherry and raspberry jam scent and the juicy taste is verging on porty. It’s spicy and succulent with crushed velvet tannins and a lingering raisiny sweetness. Soft, delicious and easy to drink.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.

San Marzano 62 Anniversario Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2014 – Salento, Italy
Deep dark red in colour, no indication of its four years of age. A dark juicy wine with a perfumed berry pie scent and mouthfilling flavours of plums, prunes, christmas cake spices, mellow toasty oak and a light dusting of pepper. Smooth and velvety with a fine silky edge and a finish that lingers for ages.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $51.99.

Reillys Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This opulent wine is inky black red with black cherry and dark berry aromas laced with vanilla and more of the same in the full-bodied palate together with a red berry vibrancy, a twist of black pepper, a dusting of red clay, a smidgen of dark chocolate, and the slightest suggestion of mint emerging on the very dry finish. Big alcohol, big tannins, big pleasure. Gold NZIWS.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 14 Nov 2018
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Huntaway Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2016
Served chilled this seems fresh and bright with lemon-infused buttery oak scents and a touch of caramel softening the palate with tropical fruit, accents of citrus and an increasing toasty richness. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Beach House 'Selection' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
There's a hint of apricot and marzipan to the nutty oak scent and juicy stonefruit fills the palate with a creamy malo-influenced softness and savoury oak underpinning the bright, dry finish. Cuisine Best Buy.
13.5% alc.Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Radiating tantalising grapefruit and toasty oak scents that come to the fore again together with stonefruit in the full-flavoured tasty palate, this seamless-flowing wine has touches of gun smoke, hazelnut and a lingering vanilla-tinged finish. Superlative expression of chardonnay and it takes chilling well. Three gold medals so far.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $52.99.

Vavasour Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017
Bright and fruity on the nose and soft in the palate with ripe fleshy pear, a fruit salad brightness and a lemonade tingle. A touch of passionfruit emerges as the flavours linger. Easy drinking. Juicy. A crowd pleaser. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Maude Mt Maude East Block Central Otago Riesling 2018
There’s a soft scent of apple on the nose and the crisp refreshing taste is bright and tangy with the most subtle suggestion of tarragon. Delicate to start but with increasing power and the medium sweetness is offset by racy acidity that makes it seem more dry. Gold NZIWS 2018. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Te Kano Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
This beautifully presented wine is watermelon pink in hue with strawberry, raspberry and pink bubble gum scents and juicy ripe berry fruit flavours that flesh out the mid palate, and the finish is crisp and dry. Two gold medals.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
Moderately deep bright pinky red, bragging of its youth. Attractively scented and full of flavour, this medium-bodied, smooth-flowing and immensely drinkable pinot gushes with chocolate-coated cherries nicely honed by the freshness of wild berries with lovely savoury notes emerging on the long tasty finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Dark Burgundy red with moderate colour intensity. Appealing aromas of chocolate and cherries underpinned by savoury oak follow through to the silky palate that is ultra smooth in its flow. Full of juicy cherry and raspberry fruit with touches of chocolate, vanilla and cake spices, this soft and beautifully balanced pinot is long, savoury and satisfying. Trophy for Best Wellington wine at NZ Wine of the Year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Giesen Ridge Block Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
A deep coloured pinot with alluring meaty, savoury aromas that follow through to the voluptuous, velvety, bright-fruited palate that is framed by leather, cigar box and lovingly polished cedar with hints of anise on the full, satisfying and juicy finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. Not for sale.

Quarisa Q Malbec 2017 – South Eastern Australia
Inky crimson-edged dark red with a savoury, earthy aroma embellished with concentrated berries and the slightest suggestion of mint. Spicy and bright in the silky palate that’s crammed with dark plums, jammy blueberries, vanilla, smoky oak and leather with a sprinkle of pepper and a firm, ripe finish that lingers more-ishly. Gold NZIWS 2018.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Quarisa The Great Bonza Shiraz Cabernet 2017 – South Eastern Australia
Dark red with the slightest suggestion of bricking to the edges. The sweet fruited scent leads into a seemingly medium-bodied palate with upfront juicy red and black currant fruit and stewed plum flavours balancing out the slight edgy and subtle herb notes with an underpinning of tar, leather and spice. Soft. Easy going. Perfect BBQ wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Reillys Dry Land Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky black red, intense, bright, deep. Seductive spices infuse the deep winey scent and it is intensely concentrated in the succulent palate. Full of black and blue berries, plums, prunes and a raspberry jam brightness with dark smoky cigar box vibes and peppery spices, this opulent wine is framed by massive tannins that will soften over time. One to buy for the cellar right now. Trophy for Champion Shiraz, NZIWS 2018.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 7 Nov 2018
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Radiating pungent aromas of freshly picked summer herbs and capsicum with wafts of pineapple and passionfruit all overflowing into the vibrantly fruity taste. The juicy tropical fruit is laced with mandarin-like citrus and purple passionfruit lingers on the bright tangy finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.he

Vavasour Marlborough Chardonnay 2017
Light buttery oak scents and more of the same in the soft, smooth, creamy palate that has a captivating coating of caramel with the voluptuous curvaceousness brought into check by soft citrus, touches of peach and spicy oak tingles. Great for socialising / ice breaker drinks.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Match Book Old Head Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay 2016 - California
Savoury oak tinged with sizzled butter, nougat and candied fig emanates from the bouquet and it's fine and silky flowing in the opulent palate with touches of caramel, ‘banana bike’ candy and lingering fleshy flavours of apricot and peach with the savoury oak more noticeable again on the seamless finish.
13.9% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
The extravagant and compelling bouquet radiates toasty oak, grapefruit, butterscotch and grilled peach and it's a complex wine in the concentrated palate with reductive characters of gun smoke and struck match together with butterscotch-coated oak framing the focussed tropical fruit and peach with the grapefruit detected on the bouquet emerging again to linger on the classy finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Archangel Lace Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
Like a pink sapphire gemstone in hue, the prettiness of this wine continues into the bouquet and taste. There’s red cherries on the nose and it’s initially crisp and delightfully dry in the palate that has soft creamy flavours of apple, pear, raspberry and morello cherry with unexpected richness to the texture with a touch of pepper to the lingering finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.Gold & Trophy NZWotY Awards 2018.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
This deep Burgundy-hued wine has an attractive and inviting bouquet of bottled cherries, berries and cream, followed by spicy, savoury flavours with Martinborough’s classic earthiness in the lightly jammy palate where the silky tannins provide a firm bed for the plump berry fruits while the finish lingers with vibrant accents of cake spice. Gold NZIWS 2017.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
This remarkably opaque hued pinot is a deep pinky red with a shiny allure. The bouquet is embellished with savoury gamey notes that carry through to the concentrated, fruit driven yet deeply profound palate with plums, black cherries, subtle woody herb notes, silky tannins and the sought after 'peacock tail' flare to the finish. An opulent and succulent pinot with a phenomenally long finish. Awarded overall Wine of the Year at the NZWotY Awards 2018.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay 2015
An inky, vibrant, purple-stained, crimson-edged hue. Plum jam fills the bouquet with a touch of smokey oak in the background and the blackcurrant, plum and blackberry fruit profile is juicy and ripe with beautifully honed savoury cedary oak, velvet-cloaked tannins, touches of vanilla, a whisper of mint and hints of Christmas cake spices. A massive wine that will continue to develop in the bottle if you can resist the urge to drink it right now. Five gold and four trophies.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Kirrihill Gleeson & Co Clare Valley Shiraz 2016
This striking red black-hued wine has a touch of boot leather on the nose together with plums cooking down for jam and the oft-found Clare Valley mint, and it's firm yet juicy in the silky palate with dark savoury leathery notes, touches of nut chocolate, creamy oak, a twist of pepper and more obvious mint on the long, succulent finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mister Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
This beautifully honed cabernet is a deep black red hue and the bouquet that reveals dark chocolate, cassis and cedar gives an impression the wine will be smooth and creamy. It’s firmly framed in the palate, however. Crammed with flavours of mint, cedar, redcurrants and blackcurrants, peppermint and a lingering sense of vanilla and jaffa, it’s bright and exciting with the initial tannins seemingly dissolving with every sip. Gold NZIWS 2017.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Piedra Negro Gran Malbec Malbec 2011 – Mendoza, Argentina
Deep dark inky red with saturated colour intensity. The jammy, almost porty bouquet hints of cranberry and plum and the taste is savoury, spicy and gamey with a tangy peppery vibe, firm tannins and concentrated plum, cherry and cranberry fruit. It's a big wine with sweetness from the alcohol and a heady sense to the finish with a lingering taste that is like Christmas cake in a glass.
15.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 31 Oct 2018
Gold Medals from the 2018 NZIWS
Wines were tasted blind.

Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Flamboyantly scented with passionfruit, lime, mango and fragrant summer herbs. Juicy and quenching to the taste with vibrant zesty citrus and peppery pawpaw seed vibes, moderate palate weight with a pleasing lightly oily texture, and lingering tropical fruit salad, tangelo and passionfruit underpinned by an exciting savoury complexity. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2017
Glorious scents of vanilla, hazelnut, lemon-scented oak and cream then powerful and flavoursome in the flavour-packed palate with a touch of gunflint to start then bursts of juicy grilled peach, touches of melon and an oaky, savoury finish with underlying orange zest and grapefruit acidity. A crowd pleaser on the night. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Starborough Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
From grapes grown in the Awatere Valley, the nutty bouquet has delicate hints of peach and it’s dry on entry to the nutty savoury palate which is super smooth with a seamless flow. Subtle peach and hokey pokey notes are embellished with harmonious oak spices and the underlying youthful acidity is balanced by the wine’s creaminess. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
There’s a sunshine glow to this enticing wine with the bouquet emanating nougat, white chocolate, lemon biscuits, toasted nuts and vanilla cream. Mouthfilling and savoury with lovely flinty gun smoke tones abating to let the harmonious flavours of creamed nuts, peaches, vanilla and toasty oak sing. Concentrated and powerful with an irresistible spicy vibrancy. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Two Rivers Juliet Marlborough Riesling 2018
Evocatively scented with hints of lemon and butter poached apple. An off dry style that served chilled is mouth watering and quenching with crisp, refreshing acidity, a slippery slatey texture, vibrant citrus and granny smith apple vibes and accents of pineapple on the lingering finish. Gold and Trophy at both NZIWS and NZWotY Awards. 12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Farnese Fantini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2017 - Italy
Intensely coloured with touches of crimson to the deep red hue. The bouquet offers up chocolate-coated cherries with an underlying leathery vibe and the taste is youthful and refreshing with tingly acidity, touches of pepper and profuse brambly fruit together with plums and prunes. It’s juicy and drinkable with smooth rounded tannins and a sweet jammy finish where the chocolate detected on the bouquet lingers. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Paulett's Polish Hill River Clare Valley Cabernet Merlot 2014 – South Australia
A fruit-filled Aussie red that’s dark red in hue with a deep core and bricking emerging on the edges. There’s a hint of mint to the bouquet together with beautifully balanced oak and sweet juicy cherry, plum and blackcurrant fruit that all flow through to the velvety smooth palate that’s accented with spicy oak, berry pie and after dinner chocolate-coated mints with lashings of pepper, velvety smooth tannins and a long creamy finish. Delivers for the price, ready to go. Gold NZIWS.
14.4% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot 2015
Intense purple red, vibrant and youthful in appearance. Deep and dark on the nose with suggestions of chocolate, plum, vanilla, pencil box and cacao. Beautifully structured in the seemingly still youthful palate where refreshing acidity balances out the power of the tannins that succumb to the intensity of the dark red and black fruit framed by the lovely savoury tones of cigar box, sweet leather and spicy cedar with lift and length to the long dry finish. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

d'Arenberg The High Trellis McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – South Australia
Inky red black in hue. A little brooding on the nose slowly revealing cigar box, leather, dark blackcurrant fruit and the most faintest hint of menthol that adds fragrance and vibrancy. Moderately firm in the palate with earthy tones enhanced by the brightness of the underlying acidity and the waves of concentrated sweet juicy plum, black cherry and black currant fruit with lingering hints of chocolate and mint. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Don't Tell Gary Shiraz 2017 – Grampians, Victoria, Australia
Light purple with youthful resplendence. The bouquet is redolent of crushed mint chocolate biscuits together with savoury leather tones and concentrated bursts of freeze dried plum and raspberry. The palate is crammed with juicy berry fruit on a cushion of soft, plump, smooth flowing tannins with creamy oak, cake spices, crushed pepper and menthol tobacco. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Vigne Vecchie Leggenda Primitivo di Manduria 2016 – Italy
Youthful deep red with a pinky glow. A muscular wine on the nose with a suggestion of iron wafting through the prune-like scent. Concentrated, powerful, sumptuous and spicy in the dense, full-bodied palate with plush voluptuous tannins that dissolve into the plump dark berry fruit with touches of musk and spice and chocolate emerging on the long creamy and very gratifying finish. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $52.99.

Kirrihill Vineyard Selection Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Bright black red. Creamy chocolate on the nose with a hint of jaffa and the most subtle yet delightfully alluring suggestion of mint. Rich and concentrated in the palate that’s brimming with juicy, plump redcurrant, raspberry and cherry fruit that’s beautifully magnified by the moderately firm tannins with underlying spices and savoury oak and a long smooth creamy finish with touches of tobacco and rosehip. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Sep 2018
New and Not So New
Wines were tasted blind.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2017 – California, USA
Lightly toasted nutty oak fills the bouquet and it's full of caramel and citrus in the creamy, lightly honeyed palate that has a nice little savoury twist and a lingering butterscotch taste. Value plus.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016 – Hawkes Bay
Grilled peaches and cream tantalise the nose and toasty oak and creamed nut flavours fill the warm, rounded, mouthfilling palate. It's savoury, spicy and zesty with nicely balanced peach and nectarine fruit and a tangy and satisfying finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Albarino 2016
The bouquet radiates pear and tropical fruit, and there's mouthwatering pineapple-laced tropical fruit and honeydew melon in the palate with a touch of honey and beeswax to the just off dry and slightly salty and salivating finish. Refreshing and summery and while seemingly light to start there’s increasing complexity to the texture. Gold Medal Sydney Top 100.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Gisborne Viognier 2015
Moderately gold in hue with a bouquet of apricot and honey following through to the rich, oily palate with a bees-waxy sweetness beautifully balanced by a nutty savouriness, a zing of exotic spices and a juicy green melon aftertaste.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Conde Valdemar Rioja Reserva 2010 – Rioja, Spain
Starting to show bricking to the burgundy hue, this has spiced cherries and vanillin oak on the soft bouquet and an edgy bite and slightly furry tannins to the upfront savoury taste, then cherry and blueberry fruit comes to the fore and the mellow finish is creamy and satisfying with touches of cake spices, oak and anise. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Chateau Loudenne Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2012 – Bordeaux, France
Dark red in the glass with signs of bricking. Smoky and brambly on the nose and strong and moderately tannic to the taste. A savoury wine embellished with smoke, spices, pencil box and leather with a refreshing undercurrent of acidity and a juicy berry sweetness on the velvety, almost creamy finish. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet.
13.5 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Paritua Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Black red with crimson edges. Dark berry fruit wafts through the savoury bouquet that has a faint suggestion of barnyard and game. Full-bodied and mouthfilling in the silky palate crammed with dark berry fruit and layered with Black Doris plum chocolate with a sprinkling of cake spice and pepper and a savoury oak frame. Soft and velvety as the flavours linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $41.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Purple red with crimson edges. Hints of Black Forest chocolate on the nose and nicely honed peppery notes in the palate with plump plum and berry fruit, harmonious nutty savoury oak and sweet spices. Velvety and long with enveloping fruit sweetness. Drinking beautifully.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Cape Barren Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
Purple red with crimson edges. The bouquet is reminiscent of chocolate chip biscuits and the taste is rich and smooth with a savoury spine, a vibrancy of pepper and spice, mulberry and plum fruit and touches of menthol emerging as the wine lingers. A juicy wine with a velvety flow.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Grant Burge Barossa Ink Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Inky black red. Dusty on the nose with concentrated cherry jam and blackcurrant fruit, hints of tar and leather. Deep and dark at first in the soft juicy palate, the brambly fruit infusing almost milk chocolate-like notes with touches of praline and brightness to the lingering finish with subtle nuances of mint.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Linke Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015
Inky black red in the glass. Crushed chocolate biscuits, plum, cherry and savoury vanillin oak laced with mint fill the bouquet and there is all this and more in the velvet cloaked palate. This is a massive wine, a heady wine, an opulent wine with a smooth seamless flow, raisined cherry fruit, pepper, anise, nut chocolate, cedar and vanilla with a touch of mint adding to the bright lifted finish. Kapow! 15.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

* * * * * * * * *

These notes are from the Fine Fine Wednesday Tastings held at First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore. I liked these tastings becuase mostly the wines are served blind and unlike the blind tasting assessments I conducted at home (which are usually from producer's samples or, more rarely, wines I have purchased myself), I usually had 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 attended these tastings for many years until the end of 2018. It gave me a good insight to wines currently available in the market place and the general reaction compared to my own, which was very helpful in the wine columns I wrote for consumers.

It also provided an opportunity to taste 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 www.firstglass.co.nz 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.
February 2018 tasting notes.
March 2018 tasting notes.
April 2018 tasting notes.
May 2018 tasting notes.
July 2018 tasting notes.
August 2018 tasting notes.
September - December 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.

Other Wine Reviews.
Wine of the Week archives.


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