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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

January 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 – 29 Jan 2014
Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind

Cloudy Bay Pelorus Methode Traditionelle
Light gold with very fine mousse. Honey on toast aromas but contrastingly very savoury and yeasty in the palate with a fresh saline edge. It's dry in style with zingy acidity, a hint of white peach and leaves a creamy mouthfeel as the after-flavours linger. Sophisticated classy style.
12.5% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Light gold with an inviting butterscotch nose and it has that soft creamy butterscotch taste with a polished savoury oak in behind, juicy tropical fruit and a zing of citrus adding freshness to the bright lingering finish. Gold NZIWS. Gold & Trophy IWSC 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
This has a medium gold hue and the bouquet is all grapefruit – I'm salivating, expecting something rather great and my expectations are met. The grapefruit theme carries through to the full-bodied palate that has underlying depth, richness and power with exciting wild yeast funk while citrus tones impart wonderful lift and freshness to the finish where subtle sizzled butter notes come through. Simply outstanding. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Riesling 2011
Distinctly Riesling on the nose with its fresh citrus and honeysuckle tones and in the palate subtle coconut notes with hints of tropical fruit and lashings of lime – a tropical island fish marinating wine. It's moderately dry (5 grams of residual sugar) and thirst-quenching; the kind of Riesling that will evolve in the cellar for years but also summery refreshing. Gold medal Spiegelau 2013.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013
There's a much sweeter aura to this lighter, fresher, silky textured summer sipper. It has a lovely floral bouquet with honeysuckle and mandarin dancing across the palate and a zing of apple on the flinty finish. Gold medal NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Gruss Les Roche Alsace Gewurztraminer 2011
Moderate gold coloured with a rich texture in both appearance and mouthfeel. Candied violets and rose petals on the nose and bright and spicy in the palate with zingy ginger and white pepper, all the while those lovely floral violet / musk notes come through and on the finish something reminiscent of 'liquorice staples'. Heading towards luscious with its 29 grams of residual sugar but still some restraint. 13.5% alc. Cork. $37.99.

Tatty Bogler Otago Pinot Noir 2010
This has a black cherry red hue and a rich plummy bouquet with underlying spicy savoury oak. Intriguingly spicy in the palate with hints of mocha joining cake spices and succulent red and black berries with a touch of bacon fat in behind. Still quite firm with incredible depth of flavour, it seems youthful for its age. Gold Medals NZIWS & Air NZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Telmo Rodriguez Dehesa Gago 'g' Tempranillo 2011 – Toro, Spain
This juicy, savoury, medium-bodied wine has a medium dark red colour with aromas emulating the flavours that hint of tobacco with redcurrant and blackberry fruit, sappy oak and tea-like tannins with underlying freshness and perhaps a touch of chocolate coming through. The back label states: 'Blueberries, plums and pepper'. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Sebastiani Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2010 – California, USA
It's a very dark red but translucent rather than inky. It seems so subtle at first, silky smooth with super fine tannins, integrated oak and masses of spiced currants, purple plums and black cherries. Then it seems firmer but not intrusive at all, and on the finish a hint of a spicy gamey character and a touch of tobacco. 14.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2010
Deep red black right to the edges. There's a hint of mint to the dusty, leathery aroma. A powerful full-bodied wine in the palate with intriguing flavours of mocha, leather, plum and blackberry, firm fine tannins and a sappy, savoury oak undercurrent then increasing succulence to the chocolate-coated berry finish. Serve in a big glass with food. Golds Air NZ & Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Chalk Hill 'Luna' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Inky purple red with a concentrated heady spicy black fruit bouquet with underlying earth and leather. A massive wine in the palate with blue and black fruits, spices, tar and leather but incredibly smooth tannins, it just flows. Such a monster when we served it last time – it’s one for full-throttle McLaren Vale shiraz lovers.
15% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Gonzales Byass 'Nectar' Pedro Ximenez Sherry NV
A clear dark amber mahogany in hue, very glycerolic with 'legs'. The bouquet is concentrated, liqueur muscat macerated raisins and it is utterly viscous in the palate with a heady spiritous undercurrent to the honey raisin and rancio flavours. Super sweet Sherry, a little goes a long way.
17% alc. Cork. $21.99 special 350-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 22 Jan 2014
Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind

Castello D'Oro Prosecco Extra Dry NV - Italy
Straw coloured with tiny bubbles and snow-white foam. Fresh on the nose and tangy in the palate with a savoury yeasty almost saline touch to the juicy apple and green grape flavours. Not searlingly dry but not sweet either, just tasty and refreshing, ideal hot summer afternoon / aperitif wine.
11% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light gold with an appealing peachy bouquet, this brims with bold toasty oak in the smooth, creamy, medium to full-bodied palate with a dry savoury finish and layers of butter caramel-coated peaches. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Xanadu Margaret River Reserve Chardonnay 2011
Light gold with a toasty bouquet and plenty of polished oak in the distinctly savoury palate. Silky and harmonious all the way through with a hot spicy zing, grilled citrus and tropical fruit, and a finish that goes on and on. A dinner party wine to be served in a big glass: "A dinner party for two," says Kingsley.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $74.99 special.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light green-tinged straw with a creaminess to the lightly toasty bouquet, then hot and spicy on first tasting with zingy citrus and savoury oak that sits harmoniously in behind. Full bodied and powerful with youth on its side, then nectarine and tropical fruit on the lingering finish where very appealing butter caramel nuances come through.
13% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Sea Level Home Block Nelson Pinot Gris 2013
Straw gold with aromas full of orchard fruit infused with vanilla and very fruity to the taste with a touch of quince and a zing of lime to the spiced apple and pear. If you like crisp, drier styled Gris, try this.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
Quince on the nose, summer stone fruit in the palate with nuances of tarragon, hints of vanilla and a touch of strudel spices. The 50% oak fermentation adds body and texture. Just off dry in style with a zing to the rounded savoury finish, this very exciting wine emanates total class.
14% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Central Otago Rosé 2013
Very pretty candyfloss pink in hue with strawberry and watermelon aromas and a tickle of spritz in the palate where there is an exciting array of flavours ranging from tropical fruit to strawberry and cherry – delicious juicy summer fruit from all spectrums, topped off by the exciting freshness to the finish. Dry in style, it's pricey for Rosé but very impressive.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Marques de Riscal Proximo Rioja Tempranillo 2010
Dark sweet cherry and tar on the nose – definitely European in style. Gamey, spicy and savoury but also a little jammy in the deep dark medium to full-bodied palate with sappy oak, a touch of spice, a suggestion of mocha and a hint of bitter chocolate. A more 'modern' style for those that are used to traditional Rioja, easy drinking in many ways and sporting a screwcap, it's something different to take to the BBQ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Monsanto Monrosso Chianti 2010 DOCG
This medium-bodied wine has a Burgundy-like translucent ruby/garnet hue with a smoky savoury bouquet and a lovely almost salty savouriness to the gamey flavours with sucking on a fleshy cherry stone fruit profile and mouth-filling vinosity to the long dry finish. With its soft tannins, it is Italy's answer to Pinot perhaps. Intriguing. 3.5% alc. Cork. $26.99 special.

Longview 'Red Bucket' Adelaide Hills Cabernet Shiraz 2010
Dark inky red. Rich powerful, dark berry fruit and savoury oak bouquet and equally powerful in the spicy palate. It's creamy with succulent red and black berry fruits, vanillin oak and smooth supple tannins yet still has appealing firmness in behind. Gold NZIWS.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Aramis Black Label McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Deep in colour with lovely plum and creamy oak aromas. Full-bodied and creamy in the palate with silky tannins, juicy plum and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of chocolate, a lovely savoury oak spine and a very smooth mouthfilling presence. An irresistible blockbuster red.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Clearview Sea Red Fortified Desert Wine
This has a translucent dark red hue and while not overly expressive on the nose, a little hint of sage perhaps, it has a luscious and lightly viscous palate with macerated plums, the essence of the fortification liqueur and silky smooth tannins. The grape varieties it is made from are a secret.
17% alc. Cork. $37.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 15 Jan 2014
Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind

Forrest Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Light golden coloured with appealing toasty savoury oak that carries through to the smooth creamy palate where there's generous stone and citrus fruit and a touch of caramel on the lingering bready finish with a nice tingle of spice too. Very tasty. Not too heavy. Great ice-breaker wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light gold with a ripe, toasty, creamy aroma and full-bodied and powerful in the nougat-rich palate with nutty oak in behind and a touch of wild yeast funk on the beautifully rounded finish where fleshy peach flavours linger. We have gone up a few notches here. No wonder – it’s the Air New Zealand Champion Chardonnay. A main course wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Nautilus Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Nutty nougat aromas and flavours also feature in this beautifully honed, deep, rich, creamy wine with more obvious citrus adding freshness to the malty undercurrent and the gorgeous savoury spicy oak seems quite bold too. No harm in putting this beauty into the cellar for a while. Supreme Champion NZIWS 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Triplebank Awatere Sauvignon Blanc 2013
This is a great example of 'leap out of the glass' aromas – the pungency can be smelt when it is poured to the person next to you. Passionfruit, melon, gooseberry and cut grass aromas carry through to the bright zingy palate with underlying snow pea, tomato stalk and summer herbs and a refreshing crisp dry finish. A stunning wine to accompany to tomato, rocket, feta and basil salad. Champion Sauvignon Blanc NZIWS 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Maude East Block Central Otago Riesling 2013
This, in comparison (to the Triplebank), is shy on the nose and has some residual sweetness to the taste. There's a honeysuckle coating to the sweet citrus and green grape flavours and racy acidity provides a super bright, crisp, refreshing finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
10% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec Rosé 2013
This is so gorgeous-to-look-at with its light ruby / deep watermelon pink hue. Reasonably gutsy for Rosé, it has a teasing aroma of brambles and cherries and it's just off dry to the taste with body and texture with berry fruit flavours supported by a very appealing touch of tarragon. Serve chilled. Champion Rosé Hawkes Bay Wine Awards 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Cabernet Franc Rosé 2013
This is a pale watermelon colour in comparison and the taste is so much berry-fruitier, which makes it seem sweeter even though it is a reasonably dry style. With great mouthfeel and texture and a fresh zing to the finish, there's lots to like about this summer day wine. Serve chilled. Champion Rosé NZIWS 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012
Dark red coloured with an earthy savoury aroma, and deep and savoury to the taste with creamy oak adding softness and hints of mocha and spice in behind. A plush little number with pillowy tannins, it brims with black cherry and cranberry fruit and there's a burst of freshness to the long seductive finish. This lovely wine was the Champion Pinot Noir at Air NZ Wine Awards in 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Basciano Chianti Rufina 2011
Shiny dark red. Savoury, earthy and leathery on nose and dry, yet smooth, succulent and spicy in the palate with red fruits, dark oak and a little barnyard funk. Distinctly European to Kiwi wine drinkers, it has a mellow note creeping and smoothness to the finish. Not too heavy, nor too light, it’s terrific pizza wine. Gold medal NZIWS 2013.
13.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

30 Mile Shiraz 2012 – South Eastern Australia
This immediately approachable inky red-black wine is spicy and juicy with smooth velvety tannins, plums, chocolate, mocha and peppery spice. Made by the master of value Johnny Quarisa, it's not one to ponder over; it's one to open while cooking the snags on the BBQ. Unbelievable value but made to drink, not cellar. "Perfect January wine," says Kingsley. Gold NZIWS 2013.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Henry's Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
Inky and shiny in appearance with aromas and flavours that are exciting and enticing. There's a lovely savoury undercurrent to the creamy vanillin oak flavours that are joined by succulent red berries and cherries and just the slightest nuance of mint. The tannins are firm to start but so in sync on the finish. Very bright and smooth with excellent harmony, vinosity and length, this blend of McLaren Vale and Padthaway fruit is very hard to resist.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Langhorne Creek, South Australia
This inky monster is even more succulent and opulent. It's a massive, firmly structured wine with juicy red and black fruits, smoky vanillin oak, spice and dark chocolate with dried herbs and a leathery savouriness in behind. It’s the kind of wine that totally envelops the palate with its harmony and deliciousness. Outstanding dinner party wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $46.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 Jan 2014
Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind

Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2011
It smells fruity with a hint of lanolin and tastes smoky, ripe, fruity and toasty with apricot jam, peach, melon, pineapple and passionfruit, with a spicy flourish to the zingy finish. Tasty and long without being too challenging. Chill for easy summer drinking.
14 % alc. Screwcap. $10.99 special.

Chard Farm Judge and Jury Central Otago Chardonnay 2011
This is a different style of Chardonnay altogether. It's creamy and nutty on the nose, and smoky, toasty, savoury in the palate with citrus tones. Very refined, elegant and super dry, it's a lean wine at this stage of its life but it's made with longevity in mind. Serve in a burgundy bowl right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Isabel Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
The lovely ripe character of this fleshy wine fills the nose and it's smoky, creamy and spicy in the palate with grilled stonefruit, soft mealy nutty notes and a freshness to the lasting finish. Three-quarters of the tasters put their hand up to say they loved this wine, it’s heading towards the classic ‘First Glass style’.
14% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Full of exciting tropical fruit on the nose with the slightest suggestion of BO, it is surprisingly soft with textural complexity in the rounded, mouthfilling palate. There's passionfruit, citrus and grapefruit with underlying herbal notes and a bright zesty finish that lasts for ages.
13% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Framingham Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Powerful aromatics of honey wax, flower musk, tropical fruit and exotic spices, it's seems moderately luscious and heady when you taste it with its powerful floral rose-water nature and a zing of ginger. A very rich, honeyed style, just starting to pick up a mellow edge. Needs food and would be ideal with pumpkin soup in the winter, so why not a spiced pumpkin salad for summer.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

8 Ranges Central Otago Pinot Rosé 2013
This is an exciting dry-styled Rosé with a light watermelon pink colour, cherry and raspberry aromas and a tangy brightness to the refreshing flavour. There's an intriguing underlying herbaceousness and a hint of strawberry and watermelon as the summery flavours linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Altos de Raiza Tempranillo 2010 – Rioja, Spain
The nose of this dark red coloured, distinctly European number is all mocha, leather, earth and stewed berries. "Funky," Andrew said. And it's smoky, savoury and earthy in the palate with the berries surging forth on the finish, a touch of spice and sappy oak. A medium-bodied style for summer nights and BBQs.
14% alc. Cork. $11.99 special.

Clos Henri Petit Clos Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
The nose of this medium-weight garnet red coloured wine is shy but reveals hints of cherries. It's very dry and has quite firm tannins in the palate, which is unusual for NZ pinot but probably a result of French winemaking influence. A lovely savoury beetrooty Pinot, which expands beautifully in the palate and leaves a lingering taste of cranberries and cherries. Michael Cooper's Red Wine Buy of the Year.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Chard Farm Finla Mor Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
This is a much fuller style of Pinot with a ruby colour, savoury aromas, velvety tannins, spicy oak and generous plum and black cherry fruit. Dry, spicy, earthy and a little gamey on the finish, you could call this a 'funky' style.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Chiantari Nero D'Avola 2010 – Sicily, Italy
Dark red coloured with a smoky, fruit-filled and slightly confectionary bouquet, then ripe almost raisin-like fruit in the palate with a touch of liquorice and sweet smoky oak. It's a juicy, full-bodied, chewy wine with bright fleshy fruit, a touch of mint and a long mouthfilling savoury finish.
14% alc. Cork. $23.99 special.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red Shiraz Cabernet 2010 – Padthaway, South Australia
An inviting shiny red black colour and a smoky, vanillin oak bouquet, then super smooth in the palate with spicy oak, raspberry and blackberry jelly and a touch of chicory essence. Not too heavy, which makes for a great summer quaffer, it’s from a super vintage and ready to go.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Mr Riggs 'The Truant' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Inky black-red with an inviting aroma of redcurrants and cherries with smoky oak in behind, then in the palate there’s ripe, juicy, generous red fruit with waves of creamy oak and spices. Smooth and succulent all the way through with underlying earthy savouriness and a touch of chocolate on the finish. A new vintage of an old favourite offering good value drinking in January.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 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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Feb 2014 tasting notes.
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Sep 2014 tasting notes.
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Nov / Dec 2014 tasting notes.

Dec 2013 tasting notes and index.

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