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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2014 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

August 2014
[ Click here for index to other months ]

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 – 27 Aug 2014
Our Choices
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Quartz Reef Methode Traditionelle Brut NV – Central Otago
This bubbles emanates sophistication and style. It has an inviting creamy, yeasty, toasted brioche bouquet and tastes bright and tangy with a malty savoury undercurrent, a touch of bitter lemon and a long full creamy finish. It has richness and presence with a vibrant bubbly dressing and while it is not Champagne but you could be fooled.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Full-bodied and creamy with sizzled butter and citrus both on the bouquet and in the palate. Creamy and savoury with smoky oak and grilled peaches that flesh out beautifully and a perfectly honed acid spine. Lovely mouthfeel and flow and an exceptionally long finish. Very good wine. Serve in a big glass. Multiple golds & Champion Chardonnay Air NZ Wine Awards 2013.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Grapefruit on the nose is infused by funky wild yeast scents and the taste is spicy and savoury with sizzled butter and wild yeast characters adding complexity. The citrus fruit profile imparts an incredibly fine acid spine, the silky seamless mouthfeel caresses the palate and the incredibly long and fulfilling finish is almost is immeasurable with smokiness from the French oak emerging as the wine lingers. Sue’s choice and quite simply divine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2012
Peaches and caramel on the nose and tropical fruit punch in the soft creamy palate that's smooth and rounded in its flow. Juicy with integrated oak and a spicy lift to the finish where bright citrus joining fleshy stonefruit. Crafted from certified organic grapes with wild fermentation, this label is now produced by the award winning team at Greystone.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Riverby Eliza Marlborough Riesling 2012
Delectable is the word for this delicious medium-sweet charmer that has fresh tangelo-like acidity cutting through the sweetness to provide impeccable balance. As good as many German Spatleses, this has honeysuckle, citrus, apricot and juicy tropical fruit combining in harmony. The kind of wine to serve very chilled on a hot day or as a pre-dinner titillator. Champion Riesling NZIWS 2013.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Gewurztraminer 2010
Crisp and dry, which is unusual for many homegrown Gewurztraminers, this is focussed and pure with no cloying characters at all. Flower musk, violets, lychees, Moroccan spices, sumac and ginger-like heat combine in harmony. Gorgeously silky in texture and for a 4-year-old of this variety, it is looking exceptionally fine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Bright and youthful in hue with purple plum highlights and the bouquet, infused with cracked red berry fruit, smells velvety and divine. Powerful in its palate presence, with flavours reminiscent of braised mushrooms in anise, smoky bacon, cherries and thyme, this is a big wine in the context of many pinots coming out of Central Otago recently, but it is silky and fine at the same time. Exceptional quality for the price. Delicious wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Brennan B2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
There's a hint of chocolate coming through on the bouquet and it's dark, earthy and savoury in the palate with a cherry brightness pushing through. A complete contrast to the vibrant youthful Terra Sancta, but a more serious wine in the context and could be very long lived. Fruit was downgraded to the 2nd-tier B2 label after a cool season in the Gibbston Valley, but the coolness may have worked in keeping the varietal characters pure. The international show circuit judges respect this, hence the many awards to its name.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Valtier Reserva 2007 – Utiel Requena, Spain
There's an immediate Euro feel to the aroma and taste of this more medium-bodied wine. It's savoury centric with red and black fruits, hints of spice, a gamey meaty undercurrent, chewy tannins and a dry finish with an aftertaste that hints of red liquorice and tobacco. The kind of wine that will go best with food – even a slice of First Glass cheese would be mighty fine. A blend of Tempranillo and the native red variety Bobal, it is the kind of wine that looks expensive with its gilt wire webbing so it's a relative bargain at the price.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
This is a massive wine from almost all angles. It's an inky black red colour with a shiny lustre; the bouquet is tar, roses and leather while black fruits, bitter chocolate, pepper and allspice are the key notes in the palate where tea-like tannins underpin the incredibly juicy fruit that emerge from under a leather wrapping. A blockbuster that has beautifully refined edges but is screaming out for food at this early stage of its life. Champion Syrah and Overall Champion Wine at the Spiegelau IWC.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.90.

Chalk Hill Luna McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013
Inky black red in hue with a dark chocolate, cake spice and mocha aroma and a creamy oak presence to the mouthfilling flavours. Plums, blackberries and cake spices fill the palate with a touch of chocolate in behind. A baby yet already so velvety and smooth. Our first real look at the 2013 vintage from the Vale and it appears to be a ripper.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Krohn Vineyard Rio Torto Reserva Port
This 'ruby' style port is an incredible crimson purple black hue and is opulently aromatic with wafts of liquorice, dark fruit cake and macerated red berries. Seductively silky yet vibrant and exhilarating in the smooth, velvety textured palate with plump black berries, chocolate raisins, spice, hints of liquorice and heady alcohol sensations. Rich and powerful, the perfect end to an evening, especially with a full creamy cheese.
20% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $74.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 20 Aug 2014
Cuisine Magazine Top Ten Shiraz Selection and others
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Mission Vineyard Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light gold. Initially this seems moderately tight and austere with smoky oak and fresh tropical fruit scents. Similarly in the palate with tropical fruit flavours, spicy oak, a touch of zest and a hint of smoky bacon. It expands nicely in the mouth with appealing savoury undertones and a bright citrussy finish. Rather more-ish. Terrific starter wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Marisco The Kings Bastard Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Light gold. Youthful and estery with a bubble gum scent that carries through to the palate where tropical fruit abounds with melon and banana chips the highlights. The ripe fruit is foiled by a bright citrussy zing and caramel emerging as the wine lingers. "Still desperately young with a long way to go yet," says Kingsley.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Ostler Lakeside Vines Waitaki Pinot Gris 2012
Heading towards the sweeter side of medium, this enticingly fragrant wine has an exotic spice and floral bouquet then in the palate apples and pears join tropical fruit with a spritzy zing in behind. It seems to be on the riper side of the Pinot Gris spectrum with some delicate Gewurztraminer-like lychee, spice and musk flavours accruing. Exciting.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Renzo Mazi Basciano Chianti Rufina 2012 - Italy
Rich blood red. Earthy, slightly herbal, Euro-centric scent. The flavours evoke cigar box, dried herbs with the slightest suggestion of menthol, a hint of pepper, plums and berries. In fact 'berry, cherry & violet' is the descriptor on the back label and we think that is spot on. A succulent juicy wine with a savoury backbone and a dry finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Cape Barren Native Goose Shiraz McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Inky purple red. Inviting succulent berry and vanillin oak bouquet. Bright and spicy in the palate with vanilla, mocha, jelly babies, blackcurrant jubes, cedar and pepper. Warm, rich, smooth and creamy with fresh brightness in behind, crushed velvet tannins and an attractive chocolatey oak finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Gemtree Uncut McLaren Shiraz 2012 - South Australia
This purple black number oozes class immediately. Ripe berry aromas infuse the smoky oak scent and the taste is all purple and black berries with layers of pepper, chocolate, charcoal and cedar. Full-bodied with fine textured tannins that are firm and smooth at the same time and the finish is long and creamy. A very seductive wine. 5 stars and No. 7 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Morambro Creek Padthaway Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Inky black red with the merest hint of bricking. The hazelnut-filled chocolate scent has a savoury oak aura and it is super smooth in the velvet cream palate where fruitcake cherries, dark chocolate, pepper and mint are key features. A full-bodied wine with a silky texture and a seamless flow, tonight is very hard to resist. 5 stars and No. 6 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Kirrihill Tullymore Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 - South Australia
Shiny purple black. Blueberries and blackberries are joined by creamy oak on the bouquet and the taste is vibrant and spicy with pepper, mint, chocolate, liquorice and cedar, and a pillowy plumpness to the silk-coated tannins that impart seamless mouthfeel and flow. Impressive wine with great depth of berry fruit and exceptional length. 5 stars and No.
1 in Cuisine.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Serafino Shark Tooth McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Shiny purple black. Chocolate and cocoa dust on the nose. Concentrated and intense in the palate with a deep savoury undercurrent, sweet oak, dried berries, sappy cedar, a touch of mint and a spicy brightness to the chocolatey finish. However this bottle seems a little unforgiving, like it would benefit from decanting. What some would call 'serious', it is a definite keeper. 5 stars and No. 5 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $57.99.

Brown Brothers 'Patricia' Heathcote Shiraz 2009 - Victoria
The inky purple black hue belies the age of this wine and the aroma is intriguing with an attractive red berry vinosity wafting through but in the context of the tasting tonight it is also a little rustic and herbal. The rustic character continues to the full-bodied palate with nut chocolate, mint, vanillin oak and juicy sweet blueberry fruit. The firm silky tannins have a little sense of grip and the finish is long, rich and dry. 5 stars and No. 3 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $51.99.

Reynella Basket Pressed McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Shiny black red with an inky depth. Chocolate, cigar box and spiced plums on the nose. In the palate the tannins are super fine yet firm in their presence. Complex, multi-layered, nutty and dry – there is massive concentration in this wine. The flavours evolve to reveal a hint of mint, a touch of cedar, a shot of mocha and a touch of chocolate on the smoky oak finish. Would benefit from decanting. 5 stars and No. 4 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Shiny purple black. The generous bouquet is rich, ripe and raisiny with an appealing infusion of chocolate and cedar. Concentrated in its palate presence yet juicy and succulent at the same time with delicious berry fruit, spices, chocolate, mocha and a fine, creamy texture. Ripe and juicy, besotting already but with excellent cellaring potential. 5 stars and No.
10 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $55.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 13 Aug 2014
Spain, Western Australia, Alsace and more
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Le Vieille Ferme Rosι 2013 – Ventoux, France
Delicate salmon pink hue. Rosehips, pink bubblegum and summer berries on the nose, and refreshing to the taste with strawberries, zesty citrus and a zing of white pepper giving a bright, spicy feel to the finish with a pleasing touch of savouriness in behind. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah from the southern Rhone, it is crisp, dry and deliciously juicy. Champion Rosι at the Spiegelau IWC 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Xanadu Margaret River Chardonnay 2010
Lemon gold coloured with a delectable bouquet of creamed nuts and nougat, and juicy and creamy in the palate with grapefruit, nutty mealy yeast flavours and bright lifted tropical fruit with pineapple playing a starring role. Beautifully balanced toasty savoury oak brings the wine into harmony and the flow is seamless all the way through. "One of the best value Chardonnays out of Margaret River," says Kingsley enthusiastically.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Xanadu Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay 2011
Light gold with freshly cut peach infusing the smoky savoury mealy aroma and loads of spicy savoury flavours filling the creamy, full-bodied, rounded palate. Everything the standard Xanadu has but more, with tropical fruit, stonefruit, sweet oak melding into a super smooth, seamless package with a touch of butter caramel and a spicy, zesty flare to the ultra-long finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $83.99.

Mt Difficult Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2013
Straw gold with an apple and pear skin aroma and an abundance of apple in the palate together with mandarin, and an intriguing touch of aniseed that emerges on the tasty finish. Textural and moderately dry, it is starting to looking very good with the time it has accrued in the bottle and as the wine lingers, fleshy stonefruit comes into play.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Gruss Les Argiles Blanches Pinot Gris 2011 – Alsace, France
Light golden coloured with a fresh fruit salad aroma infused with something exotic – horned melon perhaps and momentary notions of green passionfruit. A fascinating tasting and alluring wine, it seems very ripe with juicy tropical fruit, a whisper of passionfruit and a touch of exotic spice. Just on the cusp of luscious, it is a sophisticated, off dry style.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Gruss Les Roches Gewurztraminer 2011 – Alsace, France
Bright in its golden coloured hue. Fragrantly aromatic scent of exotic spices, lemongrass and cottage garden flowers then in the palate it is opulent and honeyed with a touch of beeswax, cumin and coriander spices, candied oranges and musk. A luscious, creamy wine that finishes dry, it is concentrated and unctuous with a rounded weighty richness. Very impressive.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Campo Viejo Tempranillo 2011 – Rioja, Spain
This blackberry-red hued, medium-bodied, fruit-driven wine is bright and spicy on the nose with raspberry jam (like in the middle of Shrewsbury biscuits) and juicy and spicy in the palate with dusty brambles, rosehips, underlying savoury notes. A touch of grip to the tannins balances the wine nicely and the long savoury finish is bright and tasty. What you open when you want a young fresh red (but not a Rosι).
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99 .

Pago de Cirsus Single Vineyard Oak Aged Red 2011 – Navarra, Spain
Rich black red. A deep tar and leather aroma with smoky oak and rich plummy fruit in behind. Fleshy and full in the palate with smooth supple tannins, plums and fruitcake cherries, cocoa, leather and pepper. Lots to like in this Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah blend.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Septima Mendoza Malbec 2012 – Argentina
Red black with almost impenetrable depth. Sweet fruit, rosehips and creamy oak on the nose with a slightly European sense even though it is from South America. Spicy and bright in the palate in a medium to full-bodied package, it is smooth and fine all the way through with juicy blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, velvety tannins and a creamy depth to the lingering finish where some herb tea notes come to mind. A fulfilling and satisfying wine with a Bordeaux character coming through.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Xanadu Next of Kin Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Dark blackcurrant red with a scent that evokes leather, brambles and cigar box. Juicy bramble fruit fills the palate with a flourish of mint together with cigar box and leather. A dry wine with firm fine tannins, a silky flow and an appealing and satisfying vinous-rich finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99 .

Charles Melton Voices of Angels Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
This saturated inky black red has an opulent and seductive scent of cedar, vanilla, black cherry fruit and spices, then in the palate the opulence continues. Concentrated and complex with masses of fruit, smoky vanillin oak, pepper, cake spices and luxurious velvet tannins that seal the deal. A big wine in every sense with a gorgeous rich ripe fruit finish and lingering persistence, it comes from a block near Mt Pleasant in the Adelaide Hills. A treat to taste and red WOTN for many.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $76.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 6 Aug 2014
Two Great years - 2010 and 2012
All of the wines were tasted blind.

OBV Omaha Bay Pinot Gris 2010- Matakana
Golden hued with grilled peach infusing the lightly smoky bouquet and a mellow aura to the taste with intriguing mushroom notes coming to mind. Underlying zingy acidity pulsates through and stonefruit fleshes out the rich, dry, savoury finish. A full-bodied style, atypical for Pinot Gris, in fact many people thought it was Chardonnay.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $25.99.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
A touch of citrus brightens up the smoky oak bouquet and oodles of toasty oak and juicy ripe stonefruit dance around the palate. Deliciously tasty with a well-balanced spicy, mealy savouriness and a zingy finish, and as the wine lingers bottled apricots and caramel also come to mind. Lovely presence and palate weight. Beautiful wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $36.99.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2012
Sweet leesy nuances infiltrate the smoky oak bouquet with woodsmoke in the distance while smoky French oak and funky barrel ferment wild yeast flavours seduce the palate. Nutty and savoury with sweet oak and touches of grapefruit, it is developing beautifully and delicious to drink now. Outstanding value for this classy wine. Double gold medal winner.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $22.99.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Gewurztraminer 2012
Honey, Moroccan spices, rose petals and violets on the nose with the violets a keynote in the almost luscious palate together with lychee, orange water, a zing of ginger tickling the tongue and an intriguing musky savouriness lingering on the full-bodied finish. A rich, complex and delicious example. 5 stars Winestate.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $16.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
Youthful in appearance with purple hints. Sweet smoky oak and spiced cherry scents. Cherry and chocolate in the palate with fine silky tannins, woodsmoke and a touch of bacon. Looking exceptional in the glass right now, it's rounded and smooth all the way through. Multiple gold medal winner.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Nanny Goat 'Super Nanny' Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Exciting woodsmoke on the nose, then in the palate it is lifted and spicy with beautifully balanced oak in the background together with hints of thyme, Xmas cake spices, plums and cherries and appealing smoky savoury flavours lingering. It seems soft, sensual and velvety but the firm, assertive finish shows its youth. Gold NZIWS.
14.2% alc. Screwcap First Glass Price $45.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2010
Inky purple red. Enticingly fragrant with plump red fruits and hints of liquorice. Supple and juicy in the palate although there is noticeable firmness in behind. Smoky oak, plums, chocolate, liquorice. Harmonious texture and flow. Four years on from vintage this is sensational drinking and hard to beat for value. Gold medal and Cuisine Top 10.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $15.99.

Caruso & Minini Terra di Guimara Nero D'Avola 2012 - Sicily
Purple red. Xmas cake bouquet. Very plush and ripe tasting, this fruit forward medium to full-bodied wine has fruit reminiscent of currants and prunes as well as a slightly confectionery / jube-like character together with underlying tar, nugget and leather and a firmly-structured finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $18.99.

Zolla Primitivo di Manduria 2012 - Puglia, Italy
Rich purple red. The fragrant bouquet is reminiscent of mulled wine spices while cinnamon and cedar surge through the taste. It's rich, ripe and porty with juicy purple plums and berries, and a silky texture. Full-bodied, generous, oaky and heady.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $23.99v

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 - California, USA
Black red with an attractive cherry and currant scent over vanillin oak in the background. Spicy and peppery in the palate with juicy ripe brambly fruit and a tingly zing – yet this is an incredibly cosy wine with an enveloping smooth velvety texture and a well backed savoury undercurrent – it fills the palate nicely and lingers for a while.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $27.99.

Penny's Hill 'Edwards Road' McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Black red. This is exactly what we expect from Australia – minty nuances to the bouquet and absolutely full of flavour with rich ripe berry and plum fruit, spice, cedar, a touch of eucalypt and cigar box coming through. It has well-balanced savouriness and a firm structure in behind. A very stylish wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap.. First Glass Price $24.99.

Chalk Hill Cabernet McLaren Vale Sauvignon 2012
Inky black red in hue with cinnamon to the forefront of the mulled wine spice bouquet. Spicy, zingy, full, rich and creamy with a lovely savoury undercurrent, juicy plum and berry fruit, cake spices and a pleasing touch of vanilla and chocolate on the lasting mouthfilling finish. Still firm and structured at this youthful stage of its life so can be cellared confidently for several years. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $24.99.

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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