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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2013 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2013
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 24 Apr 2013
Chardonnays – mostly from the Cuisine Top 10
The first seven wines were tasted blind. Nick Picone from Villa Maria presented the last five.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Yellow gold with a warm, mealy, polished oak scent and a mellow aura that suggests some age. A rich nutty style with spicy oak, lemon butter, hints of grilled pineapple, dried mango and grapefruit, and a long, dry, mouth-filling finish. A tasty welcoming tipple. Gold medal NZIWS 2012.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Waimea Estate Nelson Chardonnay 2012
So youthful smelling with estery, floral, bubblegum nuances to the mealy, sweet oak scent then in the palate creamy vanillin oak, a touch of spice, tropical fruit, apple and nectarine, a fresh acid spine and a touch of toast and caramel on the finish. It's a label that's been so consistent over the years and it will fatten up nicely with time.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
A lovely bold mouthfilling wine with hints of grapefruit on the nose and toasty oak, butter caramel and roasted hazelnuts in the palate together with tropical fruit and citrus. So smooth and harmonious with a burst of sweet oak / oak spice, it's dry and rich but not overpowering with grapefruit adding freshness to the finish. Gold Medal Easter show. 4.5 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2011
A blend of Marlborough and Waimauku fruit, this is enticingly fragrant with an evocative floral/spice overtone to the mealy, nutty, citrus-infused scent. It's a warm, creamy/lactic style, harmonious in its flow, with nutty oak, pineapple, hints of nectarine and freshness to the full-bodied finish. Gold medal Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

River Farm Godfrey's Road Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
This smells just gorgeous. It's full-bodied, mouthfilling and mealy with a Burgundian-like, wild ferment character to the aroma that carries through to the palate with a citrus zestiness and a savoury oak finish. Layered with mealy characters and caramel, it's flamboyant in its expression. While perhaps overpowering for all but the boldest food dishes, it's a great conversation starter and developing nicely.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
The enticing tropical fruit aroma of this wine emanates smoothness and harmony with nougat and nuts in the palate, a toasty savoury oak backbone and a spicy, zesty freshness with a long, focussed finish. The oak is skilfully integrated and harmonious but seems a little more obvious as the flavours linger. 4.5 stars and No. 8 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
Served chilled this is tantalising refreshing after a raft of toasty Chardonnays. It's a medium-bodied white, full of apple, pear and tropical fruit salad with a touch of honeysuckle and a twist of citrus. There's no oak influence and the finish seems dry. Like a mid meal sorbet, and purposely designed to break the tasting and refresh the palate, this does the job beautifully. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
Now we have gone up a level, this is Chardonnay as most First Glass Chardonnay lovers like to drink it. There's a caramel layer to the mealy scent and it's full-bodied and malty in the balanced, harmonious palate. Oak is in sync with the rich stonefruit and mealy yeast characters, it's cool and refreshing without any alcoholic heat and the almost luscious finish is fresh and juicy with mouthfilling satisfaction. 5 stars and No 3 in Cuisine. Multiple golds and Trophy @ HB Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
The nutty oak scent is embossed with grapefruit and wild ferment and it's smooth and creamy in the palate, which seems slightly warmer and a little more flinty than the Hawkes Bay Reserve. With mouthfilling stonefruit characters of peach and nectarine, an almost butterscotch-like cheekfilling presence, a harmonious savoury, mealy undercurrent and a seductively smoky and expressive finish, this powerful wine is irresistible already. 5 stars and No 2 in Cuisine. Multiple golds.13.5% alc. Screwcap. 29.99 special.

Villa Maria Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2011
At first it seems tight, dry and almost steely in comparison to the previous two with a bit of a struck match / flinty character but then the fruit bursts through. There's Gisborne's distinctive tropical fruit signature with juicy peach joining in and mealy yeast characters and oak playing a harmonious tune in the background. A softer, rounded, more lightly creamy style, enjoyable with or without food. 5 stars and No 4 in Cuisine. Multiple golds.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Vidal Legacy Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
Creamy, full-bodied, nougatty and mealy with distinctive grapefruit leesy characters on the nose, this is an expression of harmony as it flows across the palate with savoury, smoky, toasty oak and wild ferment characters, a little bit of flint, grilled peach and grapefruit. A wine that gently caresses and then empowers with its full mouthfeel and fruit richness that epitomises the best that Hawkes Bay can deliver. 5 stars and No.1 in Cuisine. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99 special.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
This mature smelling, glossy gold coloured wine gives an impression that it will be quite mellow in the palate, but is actually quite juicy and fresh when you taste it. It's mealy with smoky, struck match characters, biscuity oak and stonefruit and a satisfying fat, rounded peachy finish – and then those mellow characters you first expected come in. Not too overpowering and a lovely food wine / conversation wine at this stage of its life. 14% alc. Screwcap. $45.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 17 Apr 2013
Pask with Kate Radburnd
Hosted by Kate Radburnd. Wines were not tasted blind.

Kate Radburnd Bud Burst Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Light gold with fresh vivacious tropical fruit and summer herb aromas and vibrantly juicy tropical fruit salad flavours – there's pineapple, passionfruit and a healthy squeeze of citrus, just the right amount of sweet and sour, and a long tangy finish. A radiant sauv made from Awatere Valley fruit.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Kate Radburnd Sun Kissed Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2012
Pear and quince on the nose carry through to the palate where there's an underlying sense of lusciousness without being overly sweet – in fact the wine finishes exceptionally crisp and dry. Kate explains it is the yeast contact during the winemaking process that imparts the full mouthfeel. There's a hint of creaming soda / vanilla, a suggestion of strudel spices and fresh apple brightness at the end. Silver Medal NZIWS.
12% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Kate Radburnd Liquid Gold Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
There's a hint of butterscotch to the scent, even more in the palate. It's smooth and creamy with a mouth coating texture, a broad range of tropical fruit flavours, an appealing hint of wood smoke, a spiced nut backbone, a warm mid palate and a fresh citrussy finish. From the estate's Gimblett Road vineyards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Pask Gimblett Road Viognier 2012
A whimsically fragrant, floral bouquet and dry and nutty in the palate with musky florals and spice coming through perhaps not as luscious as I would have expected from past renditions of this wine, but Kate explains this is a result of winemaking decisions to combine early pick and late pick fruit, but the cool 2012 vintage just didn’t allow the fully ripe flavours in the late pick portion (quite the opposite of 2013). Partial barrel ferment has help to build up the texture in this wine. It's youthful and fresh and I think will fatten out with time.
12% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pask Gimblett Road Chardonnay 2009
There's an intriguing smoky character in this wine (similar to that in the KR) and it tastes dry and nutty with a firm savoury undercurrent. At four years on from vintage still lovely freshness to the fruit which is in the melon and citrus spectrum. But there's also a mellow butter layer that adds to the enjoyment, with honey and lemons lingering on the creamy finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pask Declaration Chardonnay 2011
This is full-bodied and striking from the get-go. Bold toasty oak, smoky nuances to the grilled peach fruit, a mid-palate burst of citrus freshness that continues through to the roasted nut finish, and all the way through it is interweaved with butterscotch and caramel and savoury yeast flavours. 100% barrel ferment with wild yeasts in new French oak for 11 months, this is undeniably the star of the Chardonnay trio tonight and already so harmonious and enjoyable but an excellent cellaring proposition too.
13% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Pask Gimblett Road Syrah 2010
Deep ruby-edged red. Concentrated and aromatic plummy bouquet with a discreet suggestion of cake spices, and vibrantly fruity in the palate with pepper and allspice. The plum/prune fruit is ripe, almost jammy in bursts, with herbal layers, a firm tannin backbone and a long, dry finish with a hint of cocoa coming through. There's 2% viognier in this Syrah, which Kate describes as, "An expression of subtlety and elegance." 12.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pask Declaration Syrah 2009
An evocative bouquet of vanillin oak, concentrated redcurrant and black cherry fruit, and cake spices – not really peppery at all on the nose but full of characteristic pepper in the palate. A full-bodied, sumptuous style with harmonious fruit and oak, a deep savoury backbone, velvet coated tannins and lovely mouthfeel and flow Creamy oak layers and a lingering concentrated purple fruit sweetness really add to the enjoyment of this excellent Syrah. Two gold medals.
13% alc. Screwcap. $43.99 special.

Pask Declaration Merlot 2007
Deep rich dark plumy red coloured. There's harmony to the scent with vanilla, Christmas cake, rose petal and a kind of funky note too. Full flavoured and texturally plush in the palate, it's has a bottle-aged mellow meaty savouriness, a red currant-like fruit sweetness, a dry savoury backbone and a lingering finish where hints of nut chocolate come through. Still plenty of life in this wine, it spent over two years in French and American oak and was released after some further bottle age. Gold medal NZIWS 2012.
14% alc. Screwcap. $43.99 special.

Pask Gimblett Road Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2009
Currants, spices, chocolate and florals are immediately triggered in this juicy, savoury, deep meaty wine with a plummy fruit intensity, an exciting flourish of brightness and rose petals emerging as the flavours linger. A generous wine with a dark red colour, soft tannins, creamy oak and warmth to the finish, it's a blend of 51% Cab Sauv, 25% Merlot, 22% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pask Declaration Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2007
Deep dark red. Smoky, creamy mellow oak on the nose with a hint of violets and concentrated in the palate where chocolate biscuits immediately come to mind. It's deep and meaty with sweetness to the oak and harmonious red and black fruits that are starting to mellow. Velvety and seductive as it flows across the palate with tannins that are still undeniably present. Dry and spicy with great presence and length, yet still with brightness at the end. Matured in new French and American oak for 28 months, it's a blend of 40% Cab Sauv, 38% Merlot and 22% Malbec. Gold NZIWS 2010.
14% alc. Screwcap. $43.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 12 Apr 2013
A Touch of Class
Wines were tasted blind.

Morton Estate Blanc de Blanc Methode Traditionelle 2002
Glowing golden with a stream of tiny bubbles, this has a creamy, nutty, yeasty bouquet and a full rich Champagne-like flavour. Disgorged after seven years on lees, it's dry and tasty with a nut butter richness, a citrus freshness, a sliver of peach sweetness and all the yeasty savouriness that you expect from classy fizz.
12.5% alc. Cork. $21.99 special.

Peter Yealands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Straw gold with a bright fresh bouquet of a lush grassy summer together with SB's signature herbaceous zing and the taste so juicy and tangy with a seam of freshly squeezed tangelo and oodles of tropical fruit salad crammed with pineapple, passionfruit and mango. Outrageously impressive and tasty. Six gold medals.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Light yellow gold with a grapefruit, wild yeast ferment and polished oak bouquet – just from the bouquet this seems such a class act and the taste lives up to the tantalising promise. A gorgeous, creamy Chardonnay with flavours of spicy oak, peach, grapefruit, perhaps even a hint of pineapple, and an inspired touch of caramel with a harmonious savoury undercurrent from the wild ferment and a hint of smoky bacon. Silky and seamless with layer upon layer of flavour, it's simply outstanding.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Misha's Vineyard Central Otago Limelight Riesling 2011
Despite the fact that Riesling is meant to be distinctively aromatic, tasted immediately after the gloriously scented Greywacke, the bouquet of the Limelight, although undeniably floral, seems shy. But everything is there in the palate of this off dry to medium style where fresh lime acidity is in harmony to the honeysuckle sweetness with a hint of tarragon and a flinty backbone that makes the finish seem a little dry. Sam says it is an inspired accompaniment to Vietnamese fare.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling 2012
Similarly shy on the bouquet with a delicate white flower and citrus blossom scent, but fresh and tangy in the palate with juicy citrus and apple and a freshness from the tickle of tropical fruit sherbert-like spritz. A low alcohol style, but absolutely overflowing with flavour. Wonderful aperitif, after dinner or drink anytime style. 8.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Burnt Spur Martinborough Pinot Gris 2012
There's a nutty warmth to the orchard fruit and citrus scent and the taste is initially quite citrussy and zesty but the acidity drops out quickly leaving a oily rich pear flavour, with a touch of pineapple sage. Made in an off dry (8g/l residual sugar) style, it's powerful on its own and would be best with food – Asian springs to mind.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
A lovely soft, well balanced, juicy, deep coloured Pinot Noir with chocolate on the nose that carries through to the palate with masses of bittersweet red and purple berries. Generously fruity but with Pinot's intrinsic and seductive savouriness, velvet silk tannins, an infusion of spices, hints of rosemary and a lingering harmonious finish with underlying freshness indicating potential to cellar for a while. Typical Villa Maria flare. Five gold medals. Five stars Winestate.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Ernie Els 'Big Easy' 2011 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
Deep dark red with magenta edges. Savoury and even a little tarry on the nose with an attractive rose petal muskiness, it tastes juicy and savoury with creamy chocolatey oak, moderately firm but pillowy tannins and blueberries. A blend of Shiraz (61%), Cab Sauv (20%), Grenache (7%), Cinsault (4%), Mourvedre (4%), Viognier (4%), it has a new world freshness and an old world charm and like the man's golf swing, effortless flow.
14.5% alc. Cork. $27.99 special.

Yalumba Patchwork Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010
Inky black red with glowing edges. The bouquet seduces with biscuits, creamy vanillin oak and allspice and the taste is awash with peppery spice, chilli-infused chocolate, creamy oak, juicy berries and even a suggestion of mint. It's smooth, concentrated and harmonious with fine tannins, a savoury depth and a long, dry finish. Heading towards irresistible.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba The Scribbler Barossa Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2010
Purple red in colour, tarry and savoury on the nose, and earthy and beefy in the palate with dried herbs to the fore while black and red currants ebb and flow in the background. It's a dry wine that parts its savoury cloak to reveal fruit sweetness and then a flourish of pepper swishes through. With its firm tannins this 57/43 blend is still evolving.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Henschke Henry's Seven 2010 – Eden Valley, South Australia
A rich dark red with purple flashes to the edges; there's a vinous sweetness to the deep biscuity oak scent and concentration and power to the palate. A dry wine with fine tannins, allspice, a bright fruit expression (blueberries and strawberries come to mind), a touch of menthol, vanillin oak and a hint of dark chocolate welling through. Lots going on in this wine, which is not surprising given that it is a Shiraz, Grenache, Viognier, Mourvedre blend.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $46.99 special.

Grant Burge 10 year Old Tawny Port
Clear orange amber in hue with a heady, spirity scent like brandy-macerated raisins and lots of spirity almost pepper-like heat in the palate with toffee layers. There's a rancio cedar character and fruitcake coming through with an alcohol lusciousness to the end and an intriguing smoky character as the smooth mouthcoating taste lingers.
19% alc. Cork. $45.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Apr 2013
Happy 14th Birthday First Glass
Most of the wines were tasted blind.

Asti Gancia NV – Italy
Straw gold with a fine bead of bubbles. Restrained on the nose but with a luscious and full of flavour with a juicy muscat grape sweetness and a rounded finish that's crisp, refreshing and clean. Fabulous to have chilled to the bone as a pre dinner, post dinner or mid course sorbet. And it goes surprisingly well with fruit and nut chocolate.
7.5% alc. $15.99 special.

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2011
A nuance of peach on the nose, full bodied and slippery smooth in the palate with flavours full of peach and apricot, honeysuckle and biscuit spices. There's a vibrancy to the finish, which is heady and long. Served blind, it's obviously inspired by the rich, luscious wines of Alsace.
13 % alc. Cork. $55.99 special.

Seifried Barrique Ferment Nelson Chardonnay 2011
Already quite gold this is smoky with tropical fruit on the nose and toasty in the palate – it's full-bodied and oaky with a super smooth texture, savoury and nutty characters to the fore and harmonious layers of melons, grilled peaches, tropical fruit with a fresh acid spine that will mellow with time. Just starting to hint of some delectable caramel too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay 2009
Bountifully fragrant with a sweet nutty oak and nougat bouquet, it's very dry to the taste with a fine texture, bright tropical fruit that hints of pineapple, citrus, sizzled butter and polished cedar. Stylish and classy with a very long finish and although still very tight in its core, enjoy now with seafood and a beurre blanc sauce, or confidently cellar.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99 special.

Chocolate Box Barossa Valley Sparkling Shiraz 2009
A deep berry red hue with pink mouse and fine bubbles only visible on the edges. Plum jam, vanilla and violets on the nose, even more of the violet character in the palate – and plenty of chocolate too. There's a savoury depth and a subdued spiciness. Quite a dry wine, it goes well with a chocolate, such as a dark nut chocolate or milk chocolate with a strawberry filling.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
Dark ruby garnet with a hint of smoky oak, wild thyme and strawberry on the bouquet, the taste is savoury and sensual with velvety tannins, black cherries, spice and even a touch of chocolate with an underlying freshness that adds brightness and flare. The Trophy winner at the 2012 Air NZ Wine Awards, it oozes class and flavour.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99 special.

La Bastide Saint Dominique Chateauneuf du Pape 2010
Deep dark red. Bitter chocolate, macerated plums and blueberries on the nose. Full-bodied and spicy in the palate with incredible fruit concentration and depth. There's spiced plums, currants, dried herbs, pepper, liquorice, mocha and allspice with bitter chocolate again to the fore and a firm dry finish. But that concentrated, almost porty, fruit sweetness prevails making it almost irresistible. A treat!
15% alc. Cork. $55.99 special.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Dark purple red with dried herbs, creamy oak and pepper on the nose. Very dry and spicy in the palate with underlying vanillin sweetness, crushed velvet tannins and layers of chocolate, like a cream filled wafer biscuit – a crisp dryness and a creamy sweetness in harmony. The fruit is in the red spectrum – strawberries and cherries come to mind and the finish is quite savoury with a flourish of cracked pepper.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Shot in the Dark Shiraz Petit Syrah 2010 – NSW
This smooth generous wine is a dark red colour with chocolate nuances to the dark berry fruit scent and expansive flavours in the palate. There's mulberries dripping in juiciness with cherries, prunes, milk chocolate, liquorice, leather and integrated creamy oak. The one with the white 'O' on the label this is simply outstanding for the price.
14% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Peter Lehmann The Futures Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Inky dark red with a suggestion of brick to the rims; blackberry jam and chocolate on the nose and smooth and seamless in the palate with fine silky tannins, plum and cherry fruit, hints of chocolate and liquorice and a well balanced savoury backbone. Still very youthful with its primary fruit expression.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
This is so rich, so powerful, so sensuous, a massive wine in the context of tonight's tasting. It's inky black purple with an immensely attractive deep rich creamy oak scent and in palate it has everything with juicy red fruits, spice, oak and tannins all in sync. Vanilla permeates through the backbone and violets, liquorice, allspice and mint join in. Already incredibly harmonious but knowing the heritage of this label - and the underlying acidity that is there but skilfully masked - it will still be irresistible in 21 years time. A blend of fruit from all over South Australia including Barossa, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills, the ratio is 51% Cabernet and 49% Shiraz.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $63.99 special.

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.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page should have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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