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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

February 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 – 26 Feb 2014
Cuisine Aromatics and Greystone
Wines were tasted blind

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Dry Marlborough Riesling 2013
A little shy on the nose but fresh and tasty in the palate with orange zest brightness and a lime-rich tang. There's ginger-like spice, a suggestion of honeysuckle and a lively ultra-long and very refreshing finish. A scintillating dry style.
12% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2012
Medium gold. Creamy and toasty on the nose – hokey pokey comes to mind – and smooth and silky as it flows across the palate. It's moderately powerful with mouthcoating richness, savoury nutty oak, funky mealy layers, pineapple and nectarine fruit, a tingle of spice and almost butterscotch-like flavours on the long, rich finish. Natural ferment with 15 months in oak and plenty to like here.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Gris 2012
Another gold-coloured wine, quite deep for young Gris. Classically varietal with spiced pear on the nose carrying through to the palate that has lively tingles of cinnamon and ginger. What's different and quite appealing about this Gris is the richness, the vanilla pod-infused creaminess and underlying funky savouriness. Made in a medium style, it has natural ferment with several weeks on yeast lees and a portion fermented in old oak to add to the textural complexity. Lovely wine with a full mouthfeel and a touch of sweetness to the lingering finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Tupari Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013
Light gold coloured, this has apples and pears on the moderately shy nose and these fruits abound in the palate that is lightly oily and tingly spicy. Made from grapes grown in the inland Awatere, this is reasonably dry with citrus zest adding brightness and freshness, underlying savouriness, then a vanilla nuance emerging on the tangy finish. Even a touch of grapefruit as it lingers. 5 stars and No.1 Pinot Gris in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Zephyr Marlborough Riesling 2013
Light gold with a honeysuckle scent underpinned by a flinty earthy note. Fresh and vibrant tasting with plenty of lemon, orange and lime, a tingle of ginger and a touch of honeysuckle nectar in behind to balance the racy acidity that totally carries the finish of the wine. A very exciting cellar prospect that is bound to take on some toasty notes with age but the big acid needs careful food matching right now. 5 stars and No.3 Riesling in Cuisine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Invivo Central Otago Riesling 2013
Light gold with apple honey on the nose and a very obvious honeyed sweetness in the palate – even when chilled to the bones the concentrated sweetness holds its ground but crisp apple-like acidity adds crunch and bite and the delicious, juicy, succulent finish just lasts and lasts. A wine that can be enjoyed right now. Why wouldn’t you? 5 stars and No.1 Riesling in Cuisine.
11% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013
A fresh, youthful, racy, acid driven style that's straw in colour with an apple blossom fragrance and a taste that is crisp and fresh with a tangy lemon and lime vibrancy and an underlying flinty edge. It simply enlivens the palate and a touch of honeysuckle rounds it out nicely. Gold medal NZIWS.
% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Fromm Winery Marlborough Riesling Spatlese 2013
Wow, this is quite sweet but the Riesling profile is outstanding. Floral, a little slatey, with citrus encompassing all varieties and a grapefruit component that pops. Balanced beautifully by the mouthcoating sweetness with a suggestion of botrytis it seems, it's exhilarating on its own, or perhaps match to pineapple-glazed ham on the bone. 5 stars and No.2 Riesling in Cuisine.
7% alc. Screwcap. $31.99 special.

Spy Valley Envoy Marlborough Riesling 2010
There's a lime-coloured tinge to the light gold hue and while it seems dry in comparison to the Fromm it is actually medium in style. There's a suggestion of kero on the nose and hints that it will develop more kero with time while a toastiness is starting to permeate the juicy citrus, toffee apple and exotic tropical fruit flavour profile. A refined and silky textured wine with exceptional length and drinking beautifully now. No.6 in Cuisine.
10% alc. Screwcap. $30.99 special.

Zephyr Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2013
Straw gold. Aromatic without being overly pungent, but varietal nevertheless. Quite tight in the palate, a little phenolic right now, it's dry in style, a more savoury than floral wine with carnation-like peppery spice and an oily richness evolving as the wine lingers. Perhaps it was the judges' favourite because of its Alsace-like restraint and its potential to age. 5 stars and No.1 Gewurz in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Crossroads Milestone Series Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2013
Hints of rose petals and violets on the nose, and rather more luscious (than the previous wine) but there are underlying phenolics which indicate the wine still needs time – and we know how this Crossroads Milestone Series label can age! There's juicy exotic tropical fruit, peppery spices, underlying smoker lollies and a rounded mouthfeel with violets and musk on the lingering finish. 5 stars and No.3 Gewurz in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Noir 2012
Bright ruby purple with a beguiling aroma of cherries and plums infused with evocative funky tones but surprisingly quite savoury and earthy in the silky textured palate on first tasting. Then that lovely fruit profile wells up through the savoury layers with a sensual smokiness coming into play too. Smooth and fine with a firm touch to the finish and a flourish of oak spice lingering. Described as a 'delicate' Pinot, but the wine is tasty and the finish is long and satisfying. Gold and Champion Pinot Noir Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 19 Feb 2014
Around the World
Wines were tasted blind

Spade Oak Gisborne Chardonnay 2012
Glistening gold with a subtle smoky nuance to the scent, then rich and juicy tasting with tree-ripened stonefruit underpinned by savoury spicy oak becoming bold and toasty then juicy, creamy and mealy with delicious tropical and stonefruit taking over the finish. Seamless. Yummy. The perfect starter wine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Light yellow gold with grilled peach on the nose that carries through to the juicy palate where there is well-balanced savouriness with mealy barrel ferment flavours that are very desirable. Perfect progression from the Spade Oak to this. It's full-bodied, mouthfilling, smooth and satisfying. My rating: Just delicious. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Domaine Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Gewurztraminer 2010 – Alsace, France
There's a bountiful fruit salad aroma and it's full-bodied and spicy in the palate with sweet juicy fruit and no influence of oak. Underlying freshness of the spine brings the perceived sweetness into harmony and there's a touch of toffee apple on the finish. One of the more restrained GWs I've tried given there is no overpowering lychee or Turkish delight. Elegant, silky and long. 12.5% alc. Cork. $45.99 special.

Menhir Nº Zero Negroamaro 2011 – Salento, Italy
Youthful red black with freshly picked juicy bramble scents. Very smooth on entry to the juicy medium-bodied palate where there is a bounty of juicy red and blue berry flavours underpinned by a well-balanced savouriness with a bit of a rustic edge in behind and a touch of menthol tobacco on the lingering finish. New vintage of a favourite and perhaps destined to follow the award winning 2010.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

El Burro Kick Ass Garnacha 2012 - Carinena, Spain
This has brightness to the dark red hue and again there's a bounty of berry fruit scents. In the palate it seems very ripe, a little jammy – redcurrant jelly perhaps, with a touch of strawberry chocolate and a tingle of peppery spice. Super smooth, almost creamy, with well-balanced savouriness and a bright, fresh and super juicy finish. Another new vintage of an old favourite and looking good too.
14% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Belasco de Baquedano Llama Old Vine Malbec 2012 - Argentina
Rich red black with creamy oak infusing the spiced plum and blackberry scent, this initially seems quite savoury and smoky in the palate with super ripe fruit and creamy oak. It has great depth that seems to go to the core of the earth. Spice surges forth and the tannins have great presence in a velvet cloaking kind of way. A full-bodied wine with fruit sweetness to the finish.
14% alc. Cork. $24.99.

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2010 – Chile
Another seemingly super ripe, super smooth wine but super concentrated too. It's rich dark red with a smoky oak and red fruit aroma and crammed with flavours of juicy spiced plums and blackberry fruit with savoury oak, a touch of rosemary, hints of liquorice and leather and a full bodied, super creamy, chocolate-coated finish. Sumptuous and satisfying. Trophy winner NZIWS 2012.
14.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Kanonkop Estate Stellenbosch Pinotage – South Africa
Bright red black with a crimson glow. There's a lovely savouriness both on the nose and in the palate of this juicy, succulent wine. It's spicy with cherry fruit, a savoury earthy undercurrent and a suggestion of roasted meat and herbs. With firm but fine tannins imparting great mouthfeel and presence, it seems very modern in style and a very classy introduction to Pinotage to those who have never tasted it before.
14.5% alc. Cork. $49.99 special.

Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – California, USA
Rich dark red with a violet glow, there are currants and creamy oak on the nose and it's super creamy in the palate with a pleasing dark spicy savouriness in behind. Fruit is warm climate and super ripe with currants and black cherries coming to mind. Full-bodied and mouthfilling with waves of sweet and savoury as it traverses the palate and a touch of liquorice and spice on the persistent and uber succulent finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Inky red black with lots of sheen. Smoky and savoury on the nose with spice and leather. Firm in the palate with bright red fruits, savoury oak, graphite, leather, underlying woody herbs and very desirable vinous sweetness emerging on the lingering finish. A smidgen of chocolate too. 2012 was a super vintage in the McLaren and in the context of the tonight's tasting this is one of the most structured in the line-up.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Kirrihill Single Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2010
Inky purple black. Mint is the word that's buzzing around the room and the wine emits this eucalypt character resplendently but more so on the nose than in the palate. The taste is initially dry and dusty with sweet coconut-infused vanillin oak, peppery spices and plum and blackberry fruit that ensures a succulent finish. The firm mouthcoating tannins mean this is food wine right now. So enjoy with a rare steak to cut through the tannins or cellar for a while.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Warre's Otima 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Clear tawny / golden amber. Quite spirituous with heady brandy-macerated muscatel raisin scents replicated on the exquisite fine silky palate that's endowed with all those exciting and unique rancio characters. Unctuous, opulent, lasting. A treat.
20% alc. Screwcap. $125 500-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 12 Feb 2014
More Variety
Wines were tasted blind

Kumeu River Kumeu Village Chardonnay 2011
Clear and bright in the glass, served quite chilled there's lemon butter on the nose and it's rich and oily in the palate with a fresh steely undercurrent and flavours of apricot, orange oil, pineapple and honeyed oak with lingering mealy, creamed nut flavours. Very different from the rather more oaky 2010. "Needs a little bit more time," say some of the guys.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Coopers Creek 'The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Apple and roasted nuts on the nose and seemingly lightly oaked in the palate with creamy malo characters to the fore. Spicy on first tasting, becoming more powerful as the wine traverses the palate building to a bold finish with sweet oak lingering but the malo characters really do dominate in this youthful stage of its life. "Worth buying and putting away on spec," says Andrew. 14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
Golden hued with smoky oak and grilled peach scents, this is seamless and rounded in the rich, full-bodied palate with harmonious flavours of stonefruit, roasted nuts and toasted savoury oak building to a powerful persistent finish. "Drinks beautifully chilled or unchilled," says Kingsley.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Kairos Wild Barrique Ferment Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
A golden coloured, oily textured wine with subtle musky notes and an earthy nuance to the quince-like flavours with a slightly puckery citrus / lemongrass edge. There's underlying richness from the wild yeast and barrel ferment, and the full-bodied finish persists. Not your typical Kiwi Pinot Gris.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2010
There's a yellow glow to the hue of this vibrantly aromatic, incredibly refreshing, weighty, persistent, just off-dry style. There's honeysuckle on the nose and a slight suggestion of kero in the palate with tangy lime and tangelo acidity balanced by a honeysuckle-like sweetness. 12 grams/litre residual sugar with high acidity (9 grams/litre) brings it all into balance. Gold NZIWS.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Seppelts Great Western Original Sparkling Shiraz 2011
There's a rim of pink bubbles to the rich burgundy red-colour when poured and the bouquet emanates juicy, crushed juicy bramble scents. Spicy and bright with lots of effervescence in the palate with sweet dark berry fruits, hints of leather, a well-balanced savoury oak backbone, a dry finish and an ever so slight suggestion of mint.
13% alc. $21.99 special.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Moderate weight purple ruby hue. Hints of macerated strawberry and cherry on the slightly restrained scent, then dry and savoury in the medium weight palate. Undeniably Pinot Noir with its soft smooth tannins, bittersweet red fruits and subtle herb notes, it's ready to enjoy now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Flores de Callejo Tempranillo 2011 – Ribera del Duero
Brightly hued inky purple red with a spicy nuance to the juicy berry fruit nose. Soft, plump, voluptuous and fleshy to the taste with juicy red fruits, a spicy brightness and a firm tannin backbone with a hint of mocha and lovely savouriness in behind. We're told it is Spanish but it seems so modern and 'New World' in style.' 'Delicious' was the word humming around the room.
14% alc. Cork. $21.99 special.

Xavier Chateauneuf du Pape 2009
Dark red hinting of just a little age. First impression is chocolate on the nose and there's more chocolate in the palate in the very ripe tasting palate yet there's balancing savouriness with a slightly metallic edge in behind. For CndP this is very generous and seems very modern in style with smooth velvety tannins and the redcurrant, plum and cherry fruit plump and fleshy. A blend of 55% Grenache, 35% Mouvedre & 10% Syrah. "Drink now or cellar," says Sam.
14.5% alc. Cork. $50.99.

Kirrihill Regional Range Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 Rich dark red, a little beefy and spicy on the nose and easy-going in the sweet-fruited, juicy palate. There's a very desirable spiciness and a lovely smoky savoury backbone with firm but harmonised tannins, persistence of black cherry and blackberry fruit and a long, full-bodied finish. Five stars and No.1 in Winestate and gold medals in the Adelaide and Queensland shows.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Coriole Redstone McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011
This inky black-red wine is medium to full-bodied, rich and juicy with depth and presence. The silky tannins are firm and there's chocolatey oak, vanilla, spiced plums, cherry and a flourish of pepper on the finish. Good party / BBQ wine. Kingsley said that though it seemed the 2011 vintage was quickly written off in Australia, the McLaren Vale region did very very well. This is proof.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

The Willows Vineyard Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Deep, dark red wine with bricking notes creeping in, this is an incredibly opulent and decadent wine with a vibrant mint chocolate and red berry aroma, and beautifully structured in the palate with super smooth flow. There are lashings of mint chocolate and vanilla swirling around in harmony with strawberries, cassis and the slightest hint of pepper and superbly integrated oak. A super high-class dinner party wine, one fans of Willows will love.
14.7% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Feb 2014
Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Chardonnay 2012
Golden Yellow. Toasty and smoky on the nose and toasty and oaky in the palate, the oak accentuated with chilling. There's lovely peach and apricot fruit with underlying juicy orange-like citrus that leaves the finish feeling quite fresh with a desirable touch of butterscotch lingering.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2012 – Victoria, Australia
Light gold coloured with a touch of lemon sherbet to the nutty scent – those crispy lemon butter biscuits come to mind. A well-rounded juicy wine with yellow plums, hints of lemon and grapefruit and a fresh zingy finish with underlying nutty oak bringing it all into balance. Persistent and ultra long.
13% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 – Kumeu, Auckland Lustrous yellow gold. Very savoury on the nose with lovely polished oak notes and a fresh nutty mealy character coming through. Zingy and fresh on entry to the palate, the grapefruit-like nuances in harmony with the butterscotch-coated oak, a lovely nutty savoury undercurrent and a long full finish. The texture is fine and silky and there is great mouthfeel and presence all the way through.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $72.99.

Forrest The Doctors Marlborough Riesling 2012
Pale straw with a hint of lime to the hue. Limes are the first impression on the nose and carry through to the wonderfully fresh and vibrant palate that has beautifully honed racy acidity. A fantastic example of lower alcohol Riesling, and while it seems dry a touch of apple sweetness ensures there are no screechy edges. "Tension," says Sam. 8.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir Rosé 2013
There's a touch of anise to the vibrant red berry aromas of this deep watermelon-hued rosé. Off dry and weighty for Rosé with a creamy texture, concentrated strawberry and cherry fruit, underlying zest and a long, juicy finish, we are told it is 24 hours skin contact that imparts the unusually darker Pinot Noir rosé hue.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2013
This has a light watermelon hue and an aroma a little akin to strawberry tea. It's moderately dry with a lightly oily texture and a subtle earthy savoury note that underpins the strawberry jus and bittersweet cherry fruit with red apple and freshness, brightness and crunchiness to the finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Borsao Garnacha 2012 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Deep plummy red. Savoury and just a little spicy / salty on the nose but all concentrated plum and blackcurrant in the palate with a touch of peppery spice. A terrifically juicy wine with loads of fruit, a touch of tobacco and a pleasantly firm structure in behind.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Dark ruby red. Enticing woodsmoke scent with chocolate-coated spiced cherry nuances in behind, all those characters carrying through to the super succulent, velvety textured palate that has exciting sweet / savoury harmony. There's juicy black cherry fruit, underlying earthy savouriness and smoky oak with wonderful length and flow. Gold Air New Zealand and No. 6 in Decanter's NZ Pinot Noir tasting.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012 – Victoria, Australia
Garnet red with some transparency. There's a subtle smoky, bittersweet cherry infusion to the savoury gamey scent and savoury, almost salty, meaty, gamey flavours in the palate with juicy succulent red plum and bittersweet cherry fruit. Quite dry with firm satin-like tannins, it has much more mouthfeel and presence than the lighter colour would initially have you think. Very well received in the room.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Valli Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Deep ruby red in colour with a sensuous smokiness to the fragrant almost floral scent; firm in the palate, still quite youthful but fleshes out beautifully to become plush and generous with great depth and presence. Concentrated black cherry fruit, exciting spices, a touch of strawberry chocolate and smoky notes from the scent coming forth to linger on the deeply savoury finish. Emphatic, memorable wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $66.99.

Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – South Australia
Deep dark red but some bricking to the edges. Quite earthy and leathery on the nose with smoky cedar and a bright flush of berries. Full-bodied, concentrated and powerful with firm palate presence, smoky oak, blackcurrant jelly, earth and leather and the classic mint of Coonawarra lifting and brightening the finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Saint Hallett Blackwell Barossa Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
Inky red black with bright crimson edges. Succulent blackberries, spiced cherries and chocolate on the nose. A massive wine in the palate – full-bodied with firm but succulent tannins and a myriad of flavours from tobacco to leather to vanilla to mint chocolate with wonderful red and black fruit definition. It stays in the mouth with great presence then gently tapers away. "Barossa as it is meant to be. Monumental," says Kingsley.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.99 special.

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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