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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

March 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 Mar 2014
Sale Night
Wines were tasted blind

Church Road McDonald Series Chardonnay 2012
Medium gold with a bold citrus tang to the scent and tangy citrus abounds in the palate together with tropical fruit, melon, toasty oak, cream biscuits and malo notes in behind. Doesn’t want to be overly chilled and needs a big glass to open up at this stage of its life. Silver NZIWS 2013.
13% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Glossy citrine gold with an inviting nutty creaminess to the bouquet and big, bold, toasty flavours with lovely mealy notes, savoury oak, some wild yeast funk, fleshy white peach and tropical fruit and a smooth seamless flow. Very classy, can take chilling and absolutely ready to go. Gold Spiegelau IWC.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2012
Light yellow gold, with a subtle smoky nuance to the scent and full-bodied with a fat, fleshy, mouthcoating texture, a suggestion of botrytis and musky notes like you get in Gewurztraminer but without the full-on floral intensity of that grape. With concentrated flavours reminiscent of honey spiced pears and the use of old oak to add body and texture, you could be forgiven for thinking this luscious opulent number is from Alsace. Silver Easter 2014.
13% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Riverby 'Eliza' Marlborough Riesling 2012
Glossy straw gold. Freshly squeezed citrus on the nose. Deliciously juicy and mouth-tingling fresh to the taste with mandarins, limes, a touch of ginger, a tickle of spritz and perfectly balanced honeysuckle sweetness in behind. Beautiful was the word that echoed around the room. Hard to resist so stock up your fridge with this. Champion Riesling NZIWS 2013.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Camboral Tempranillo 2007 – Rioja, Spain
Tarry red, some bricking to edges. Rustic and earthy smelling with macerated cherry scents. A little noir-ish on the nose but the taste is quite different. It tastes foreign and slightly medicinal with a touch of brett but not so much that it is distracting. It is concentrated and firm with underlying citrus-like acidity, herbs, and bottled plums and cherries. Goes very well with the complimentary cheese.
14% alc. Cork. Sold Out.

Vindimian Rudi Terodelgo 2009 – Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
Rich dark red with a youthful demeanour. Smoky on the nose with a creamy nuance to the scent and rich, ripe and meaty in the concentrated savoury palate with a herbal undercurrent, smooth tannins and hints of vanillin oak with cherries and orange chocolate on the lingering finish. Fascinating wine from the Trentino region northwest of Venice, this indigenous variety has aged for 18 months in oak barrels.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Frescobaldi 'Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni' 2011 – Toscana IGT, Italy
Dark purple red. A little spicy on the creamy oak nose and intriguingly quite peppery in the medium to full-bodied, firm, dry, fine-textured, red fruit palate. A very stylish rendition of the Bordeaux varieties with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Sangiovese for good measure, it's one of those wines that fills out beautifully in the mouth as the flavours linger. I liked this.
13.5% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2011 – California, USA
Bright dark cherry red in hue. The aroma is ribena-ish and just a little confectionary but there's a pleasing creamy vanillin oak nuance and a touch of spice too. The taste is very ripe and that confectionary sense comes through but there is loads of cherries and fresh blueberries with creamy oak, a herbal savouriness in behind and spice.
13.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Primal Roots Red Blend 2011 - California, USA
Inky purple red. Very ripe smelling with red berries, chocolate and mocha and the first impression in the mouth is sweetness, as if it is has been made from very ripe, sun-dried grapes. It's like Black Forest cake with chocolate, macerated cherries, a dollop of pepper and a cup of mocha on the side. A fascinating wine that will have lovers and detractors, the blend is 50% Merlot and 42% Shiraz with Zinfandel making up the extra.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Dark red with purple edges, a minty inflection to the concentrated plummy, earthy, savoury scent and spice is the first impression in the palate. Overall it is earthy and savoury with a tarry depth, fine tannins, plum and blackberry fruit, smoky cedar and a lick of leather on the lingering finish. Would really benefit from a few more years in the cellar. Gold Hawkes Bay Wine Awards 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Schild Estate Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009
Dark blackish red with a sweet berry and vanillin oak scent then spicy and tasty in the flavoursome palate with juicy red berry fruit, underlying savouriness, a touch of liquorice and a chocolate coating to the finish. Easy going with nicely rounded tannins. Don’t need to say much because it is Barossa Shiraz that quite simply delivers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Yalumba Museum Release Liqueur Muscat NV
Glossy golden amber with a rich, intense and very inviting liqueur muscat scent. Viscous and luscious in the super smooth palate with mouth-coating deliciousness and flavours of salted caramel, muscatels and honeyed nectar with desirable 'rancio' characters coming to mind. Great way to finish an evening.
18% alc. Cork. $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 19 Mar 2014
Spanish, Italian and everything else
Wines were tasted blind

Waimea Nelson Sauvignon Gris 2013
Straw gold coloured with a bright tropical fruit aroma that has a pineapple zing that carries through to the fresh, tangy palate. Medium-bodied with loads of citrus, tropical fruit, pears, summer herb flavours and more, you could be forgiven for thinking this is big brother Sauvignon Blanc but it seems soft and creamier with rounded edges. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Joseph Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Chardonnay 2009
Light yellow gold. Smoky and creamy on the nose, full-bodied and buttery in the palate with a very appealing crisp citrussy zing that cuts through the fat and brings it all into balance with savoury nutty notes emerging on the long, rounded and very persistent and juicy finish. A treat.
13.5% alc. Cork. $103.99.

Spade Oak 'Vigneron' Gisborne Chardonnay 2012
Bright yellow gold. Creamy and nutty on the savoury nose followed by bold, rich, creamy, nutty flavours with bright stonefruit adding flesh, a hint of lime and a spicy nuance to the smoky finish. Dry yet classy – it's screaming to be matched to something yummy in buerre blanc – crayfish sounds ideal to me.
13% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Joseph Cattin Grand Cru Hatschbourg Pinot Gris 2011 - Alsace
The glossy gold colour is similar to the previous wine and it looks like another Chardonnay has been poured but crikey, it is not. There's a subtle smoky nuance to the mandarin liqueur scent and it has a honey sweetness in the viscous palate with mandarin notes again and an infusion of smoked exotic spices. Luscious and luxurious with exceptional length.
13% alc. Cork. $32.99 special.

Waimea Estate Nelson Gewurztraminer 2013
This straw gold coloured wine is distinctly Gewurztraminer. It's straw gold coloured with a fragrance of sugar-coated violets and exotic spices, and it's full of flavour in the medium bodied palate. Dry-ish, perhaps just off dry, with pink bubble-gum, sweet citrus, a refreshing zing of ginger, classical musky notes and an appealing infusion of anise on the clean, focussed finish. Exciting wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Seifried Nelson Winemakers Collection Gewurztraminer 2012
Light gold coloured with a heady floral, musky, spicy bouquet and it a full-bodied, powerful, rich, oily, unctuous palate with carnation-like peppery notes and aniseed coming through. More spice and vinosity than fruit, although there is a definite orange blossom note and a citrussy zing. Following on from the Waimea it is a great example of vintage differences in wines from the same region.
13% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Antinori Santa Cristina Toscana 2012 – Tuscany, Italy
Inky blackcurrant red with deep berry fruit concentration to the scent and sweet purple fruit impressions in the palate. Plummy, spicy, musky and jammy with a smooth, easy flow and little suggestion of oak. Predominantly Sangiovese, it is well balanced with a dry finish, lots to like here.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010 – Rhone Valley, France
Deep dark red. Spiced berries on the nose, full-bodied, vibrant and spicy in the palate with a dark savoury backbone counterbalanced by nuances of briar roses, but most desirable is the vinous sweetness that wells through with fine tannins and lovely lift and length to the creamy finish. Smooth, rich and very stylish. The best from this label yet? Could very well be.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Menhir Trelune Malvasia Nera 2012 – Salento, Italy
Inky blackberry red. A rustic smelling wine with barnyard on the nose, yet concentrated at the same time - that concentration a feature of the creamy, velvety textured palate that oozes blue and black fruits, anise and peppery spice. Very smooth and flavoursome yet there is some underlying grip. Memories of chocolate raisins emerge on the full-bodied lingering finish. Totally delivers for the price. I would buy this.
13% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Corona D'Aragon 'CDA' Old Vine Garnacha 2009 – Carinena, Spain
Shiny red black, fined textured in appearance. Redcurrant jelly on the nose, Full-bodied, spicy, savoury and peppery in the palate with red fruit lift, firm but succulent tannins and a touch of jaffa on the long, creamy, mouthfilling finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Coto de Hayas 'Centenaria' Garnacha 2011 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Shiny black red. Rich and creamy on the nose, spicy and peppery in the smooth, super succulent palate with creamy American oak welling up from the savoury background, macerated cherries and a lively citrussy lift to the finish with a lovely savouriness in behind. Very smooth and succulent with a decadently long finish, it is made from 100-year-old vines and for me the European red wine of the night.
14.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

The Willows Vineyard 'The Bonesetter' Barossa Shiraz 2009
Inky dark red but just showing signs of bricking on the edge. Spicy and savoury on the nose and in the palate, oh yum. There's creamy oak, succulent berry fruit, vanilla, chocolate biscuits, peppery spices and firm silky-edged velvety tannins. Just so much oomph, power and satisfaction in this wine, it's hard to say anything other than 'simply excellent' and that 'Shiraz lovers will find this very hard to resist'.
14.9% alc. Screwcap. $70.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 12 Mar 2014
Chardonnay, Cabernet and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light lemon gold with creamed nuts on the nose and youthful bubble gum-like esters in the lightly buttery palate. Fresh on first tasting but rounds out nicely with a touch of nectarine, a zing of citrus, a light impression of oak and a savoury, nutty finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2012
Rich citrine gold. Ripe fleshy Golden Queen peach on the nose with creamy oak in behind and full-bodied and savoury in the palate with a buttery smoothness, an initial suggestion of fig then spicy, zesty citrus pulsating through the layers and a vibrant tropical fruit finish. Tasty wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special or $13.99 a bottle on case buys.

Wolf Blass Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2012
I just love the grapefruit aroma of this enticing little number. It's a medium gold colour with grapefruit and mealy barrel ferment scents and more grapefruit in the creamy palate with harmonious nutty oak in behind. Smooth and seamless with concentration and presence, it's a very stylish wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Balthazar Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Bright yellow gold with a mellow buttery nuance to the savoury oak scent. The suggestion of some maturity is endorsed by the hazelnut butter taste. Smooth and seamless with underlying savoury oak, yet, as Sam says, "Still in a tight frame." That, to me, is the fresh burst of citrus on the persistent finish that makes it seem more youthful than it is.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
There's a sophisticated, classy maturity to this medium gold hued wine. Stonefruit and restrained nutty oak on the nose then in the palate melon and stonefruit is in harmony to the spicy oak backbone with lovely nutty mealy layers and brightness to the juicy finish without being overpowering. Drinking beautifully now with lovely mouthfeel and presence but will continue to develop for a little while yet.
14% alc. Screwcap. $64.99 special.

Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz 2012 - South Eastern Australia
Black red coloured with a fresh plum and cake spice aroma and a touch of cherry jam in the bright, spicy, youthful palate where the tannins still have a little grip. Although not overly complex, it delivers satisfaction for the price. Great for parties, BBQs, simple quaffing or social events.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Jip Jip Rocks Padthaway Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
There's a voluptuous aura to the aroma and flavours of this super succulent grunter. There's a creamy, nut chocolate scent and it's velvety smooth with super fine tannins, fleshy red berries and creamy oak flavours with a savoury meaty undercurrent, an exciting infusion of chocolate and mint and a flourish of pepper to the spicy finish. Lots to like here.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Johnny Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – South Australia
There's a phosphorous glow to the shiny purple red hue, a savoury dark berry impression to the aroma and rich dark fruit in the deep spicy palate. But the key to it being Cabernet, I guess, is a hint of ribena/blackcurrant/cassis, underlying minty notes, a touch of acidity and firm, dry tannins. Full-bodied and bright on the finish, this is another winner from Johnny Q, a label that always seems to deliver.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Charles Melton 'The Father-in-Law' Barossa Shiraz 2010 – South Australia
Deep dark red with creamy oak on the nose and soft and supple in the palate with chocolate 'Cameo Cream' biscuits, plum and blackberry fruit, a judicious touch of pepper and savoury oak on the finish where subtle minty notes come through. There's finesse to the wine and incredible length but the tannins are not fully resolved so could be worth putting away for a year or two – or if you can't resist enjoy it for what it is – delicious. Cool f-i-l label too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Duck Duck Goose Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Inky purple red with deep concentration both on the nose and in the palate. There's a subtle minty nuance to the creamy oak scent and fine tannins in the moderately oaky palate with juicy ripe boysenberry and mulberry fruit and a bright spicy veneer. Made by Rocland Estate, the gimmicky label may polarise people but the wine in the bottle will satisfy Shirazophiles.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Taylors Jaraman Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Inky dark red. Concentrated on the nose and simply oozing finesse and the taste lives up to the promise of the chocolate biscuit scent. The tannins are super fine, there's underlying savoury spicy oak with ripe rich bright berry fruit, some lovely touches of anise and the classic Clare Valley mint making an appearance right on the finish. Exciting wine with terrific length, but worth cellaring right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Peter Lehmann VSV Ruediger Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – South Australia
Dark red. Cassis-infused creamy oak on the nose and characteristic Cabernet brightness and acidity in the palate. Juicy and bright with firm dry tannins and mouthfilling presence, the concentrated fruit is complemented by dried herbs, chocolate, creamy oak, leather and a terrifically long finish. Looking extremely good, it ain't going anywhere yet.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $45.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Mar 2014
Mahi Wines with Brian Bicknell and some Easter golds
Wines were tasted blind

Mahi Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013
Light glossy gold. Restrained on the nose with nuances of tropical fruit, quince and passionfruit skin, perhaps. A warm, rich, textural style with hints of the tropical fruits detected on the nose joining quince then a bright flourish of spice and a touch of peach on the end. Moderately dry but with juicy fruit sweetness shining through. From the Ward Vineyard in southern Marlborough, it is 25% fermented in old oak with wild yeast.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mahi Boundary Farm Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Immediately funky wild yeast characters emit from the nose and mask any grassy characters – if indeed there are any. A full-bodied, textural, savoury wine that's so atypical from what one expects from Marlborough. With oak in the flinty background and fruit heading towards an apple and melon spectrum, it is more what you would expect from the Loire.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Light gold coloured with an immediately appealing creamy nutty oak scent with subtle grapefruit filtering through. The grapefruit, however, is proud in the palate mingling with stonefruit, nuts and tantalising, nougat-like creaminess. An intriguing texture, it has grip yet it has seamless flow and the wild yeast nuances and savoury oak hold their ground on the long, full-bodied finish. A multi-vineyard blend.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Mahi Twin Valleys Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Glossy citrine gold coloured with bright, creamy, mealy-infused nutty oak scents leading into a bold, rich, almost toasty flavoured palate. The citrus is heading more into orange zest than grapefruit it seems and there are lovely apricot and peach tones coming through. Then the grapefruit surges again on the creamy, savoury, mouthfilling finish and nutty notes linger. Exciting wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Mahi Alchemy Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
A biodynamic, inorganic wine from the Taylor Vineyard, it's a light gold colour and seems quite restrained on the creamed nut nose. Funky, nutty, wild yeast characters are the most dominant feature in the palate and while it initially seems quite flinty it fleshes out and sweetens to let the subtle citrus and stonefruit shine through. Great presence and length with a long creamy finish but it's been made to age so a wine for the cellar right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $N/A.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Viognier 2012
Golden in colour with wood smoke on the nose, like from a food smoker, and a powerful presence in the palate with an oily texture. Tonight it seems a little toasty and oaky but the varietal apricot notes float over the background and there's a bright spicy flourish to the finish. Maturing beautifully. Gold medal Easter Show 2013.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
It's deep in colour for four-year-old Pinot but reflective of the vintage that year. Wood smoke and bacon on the nose, and a bright, spicy presence in the palate with a texture that has grip and presence yet still the softness and plushness that is one of Pinot Noir's desirable traits. It's plummy, spicy and savoury with mouthfilling length and the peacock tail's flare. A fabulous wine from a terrific vintage, drinking beautifully, and still seems quite youthful for its age.
14% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
This has a more translucent ruby hue and the more primary black cherry fruit shines through both on the nose and in the spicy, savoury palate that has an earthy, savoury undercurrent with a bit of a woody edge. Tannins are fine but still firm and the wine is structured, concentrated and complex with excellent potential to age. Gold Medal Easter 2014.
14% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2011 – Rapel Valley, Chile
Inky black red. Creamy and smoky on the nose; rich, plush and plummy in the palate with firmness to the structure but succulence to the mouthfeel. There's a harmonious smoky savoury backbone, a suggestion of dried herbs, and the finish is powerful and long. Carmenere is a heritage Bordeaux variety but Chile is it's adopted home. A wine that begs to accompany red meat.
14% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2012
There's an almost scarlet glow to the edge of the inky black red hue. It's peppery on the nose with smoky oak and deep red fruit notes and has a peppery zing to the creamy oak palate with ripe berry fruit, smoky bacon, underlying woody herbs, firm dry tannins and hints of leather. The sensual smokiness is seductive at this wine's youthful stage of its life. Gold Medal Easter 2014.
13% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 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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