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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

May 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 – 28 May 2014
Simply Delicious wines for Winter
Wines were tasted blind

Forrest Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Light gold with a nutty caress to the stonefruit aroma and ripe, bright, juicy flavours that are just a little reminiscent of nectarine and melon jam with an underlying toasty oak savouriness, a twist of citrus and a touch of butterscotch on the finish to top it all off. Long, smooth and very pleasing all round.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2012
Light yellow gold with citrus and stonefruit combining with polished oak on the nose and a caramel richness to the flavours in the smooth full palate with a tropical fruit brightness to the long dry savoury finish. This classy number is made by Master of Wine, Kym Milne. Kingsley says, "My style of wine … and just delicious." Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Jackson Estate 'Shelter Belt' Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
The toasted nut aroma and funky wild yeast fermentation flavours together with hints of grapefruit tell you this is another class act. It's full-bodied, dry and savoury with a strong mealy undercurrent, nicely integrated smoky cedary oak, a touch of nougat and a zesty brightness to the long dry finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Alsace Gewurztraminer 2012
The golden colour has a slight lime tinge and there are toasted spices and the musky scent of smoker lollies on the fragrant bouquet with violet-like florals, white pepper, 'five spice' and a touch of orange honey in the almost luscious palate, yet it seems to finish moderately dry. A full, rich, luxurious style that could be served as an aperitif – try it with duck patι.
13% alc. Cork. $36.99.

John Forrest Collection Noble Marlborough Riesling 2013
This golden yellow coloured sweetie emanates an ambrosial bouquet of honey, baked apricots and candied citrus with a subtle suggestion of orange blossom tea and the tiniest whiff of VA. And the taste is extremely luscious with a texture as thick as nectar and flavours of candied apricots and lemon honey with bright acidity to balance the sweetness impeccably. Irresistibly delicious … it comes in a 750ml bottle as well.
10% alc. Screwcap. $40.99 special.

Darling Cellars Chocoholic Pinotage 2013 – South Africa
Saturated purple red with a fragrant and succulent bouquet of chocolate-coated red berries infused with toasty mocha-like oak. There's an abundance of chocolate and mocha in the juicy palate and the dark berry and plum fruit is ripe and sweet but there's a well-balanced underlying, almost gamey, savouriness and a spicy brightness that brings it all into balance. Long and smooth with lingering chocolate notes on the lasting finish, it's something a little bit different and the 'Chocoholic' packaging stands out too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
There's a translucency to the deep ruby hue and it's savoury on the nose with scents of cranberries and bittersweet cherries. Initially quite savoury and herbal tasting with a firm edge to the silky tannins but as the wine traverses the palate the bittersweet red fruit becomes quite succulent and the lasting memory is woodsmoke, bacon, spices and thyme. Gold Medal AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Septima Mendoza Tempranillo 2012 - Argentina
Medium dark red with a savoury, meaty and slightly bracken-like scent and earthy and savoury to the taste with moderately fine tannins, becoming quite full and vinous with dark plum and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of tobacco and a very subtle suggestion of chocolate. A good choice for a food wine and on the night it went very well with the cheese. The stand-up options wine, and the majority of people went Northern Hemisphere! 14% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Coriole Redstone 'S' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Dark red with purple highlights. Chocolatey oak with a nuance of mint and spiced plum jam on the nose. On first tasting a touch of pepper dances across the tongue while chocolate-coated red berry fruit and creamy oak playing a harmonious tune in the background. A more medium-bodied fruity style of Shiraz, it is smooth and long with a plush velvety texture and a long succulent finish where chocolate notes come through again to linger.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2012
An inky purple red colour introduces this full-bodied, plush, velvety textured wine. There's a subtle nuance of mint to the chocolate biscuit aroma and chocolate, mint, caramel (toffee pops) and red fruits fill the palate with beautifully balanced cedary oak in the background. A big wine with a firm dry finish, but super smooth and creamy all the way through.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Kirrihill VS Tullymore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Clare Valley
Inky black red in hue. The red fruit aroma infused with savoury nuggety oak smells refined and elegant and follows through with a fine, silky texture in the harmonious palate with flavours of blackcurrant, mint and cedar with underlying acidity and a very subtle hint of chocolate in behind. A great main course wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Delgado Zuleta 'Monteagvdo' PX Sherry NV
Clear golden toffee hue. Heady, spirituous aromas of brandied macerated raisins and classic nutty rancio flavours (from old oak barrels) in the palate. It's thick textured, luscious and long with lingering flavours of macerated muscatels and orange liqueur.
17.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99 375-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 21 May 2014
An evening with Theo Giesen
Wines were not tasted blind

Giesen Vineyard Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Bright and ultra juicy with a fresh cut tropical fruit aroma – pineapple, passionfruit and apple come to mind, augmented with a ravishingly tangy twist of citrus in the palate together with a classical underpinning of summer herbs that brings the ripeness of the tropical fruit into check. Full flavoured with a long lingering finish, The second most popular white wine in Australia after Oyster Bay! 12.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
A more flinty restrained style than the Vineyard Selection, this has sweet citrus and tarragon on the nose and gooseberry and apple in the palate with a blossomy floral touch to the finish. "Not as aggressive," said Kingsley, who admitted he was also among the many non savvy drinkers in the room who enjoyed this softer wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Giesen The August 1888 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Bottle age, barrel ferment and wild yeast add complexity to the tantalising grilled stonefruit and sweet nutty bouquet and it tastes smoky and toasty in the smooth creamy palate with melon, stonefruit and butterscotch nuances adding to its charm. Well balanced underlying acidity imparts brightness to the increasingly powerful finish. Full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc for Chardonnay drinkers. Exciting wine. Gold Medal NZIWS 2013.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
The aroma is reminiscent of nougat with delicate mealy barrel ferment characters that carry through to the creamy palate. Sophisticated and seamless with lovely savoury tones underpinning the toasted white peach and green melon fruit with nutty oak on the fresh, dry, lingering finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Powerful aromas of grapefruit and bold, smoky, mouthfilling, sweet nutty oak, caramel, grilled stonefruit and grapefruit-tinged flavours characterise this bright yellow gold coloured wine. It is super powerful yet beautifully refined as it traverses the palate. Lovely main course wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99 special.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Clayvin Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Grapefruit on the nose is joined by funky wild yeast scents, that funkiness coming through in the very savoury palate with a touch of orange zest adding to its allure. Savoury rather than fruity, it builds in power to a nutty creamy finish with a flinty undercurrent all the way through. Powerful yet refined and elegant at the same time. Gold Medal NZIWS 2013.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99 special.

Giesen Marlborough Riesling 2013
Straw gold with honeysuckle and citrus blossom aromas, it seems quite concentrated in the palate with lime sherbet, lemonade, apple and sugar-coated violets. Vibrant and refreshing with a pleasing spritzy tingle on the lingering finish, the off dry to medium sweetness makes it such a versatile and crowd pleasing style. Two gold medals.
10% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Giesen Vineyard Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Dark ruby garnet with a cherry jam bouquet, then in the plump, smooth, medium-bodied palate the fleshy red and purple fruits are well balanced by the slightly meaty, savoury undercurrent that has waves of cake spices and flakes of red pepper. The finish is long and flavoursome finish and while the fruit is sweet, the finish is dry. Great value for the special price.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99/$16.99 special.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
Similar deep ruby garnet hue (yet a year older) but with a much more savoury intensity to the aroma and flavour. There's a floral overlay to the bouquet and the taste is plush and pillowy yet has a fine silky texture with dark cherries, chocolate-coated cranberries, violets, spiced mushrooms, earth and woody herbs. Full and long with lots going on. Very good wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $37.99/$32.99 special.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Ridge Block Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
Very deep and dark in the glass with an intriguing savoury, chocolatey, roasted rosemary aroma and firm in the deeply savoury, meaty palate with slighty furry tannins that will integrate with more time. A vibrancy comes through from the underlying acidity with plum and blackberry fruit, tomatoes, olives, mocha and cake spices. Intense and concentrated, it has a long way to go and really would benefit from decanting right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $58.99.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Clayvin Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
There's a ruby brightness to the dark red hue, the inviting bouquet has aromas of black cherries and a touch of chocolate and like the Ridge Block in the palate there is an underlying acid spine but it seems to be more in sync with this wine. It's bright-fruited to the taste with well balanced savouriness, silk-edged velvety tannins, dark fruit and a bright spicy lift to the finish – the peacocks tail flare. Very long and lingering – a classy, evocative, thought provoking wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $58.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Syrah 2011
Inky black red. Chocolate biscuits on the nose and typical varietal black pepper notes in the firm tannin palate. Dry and savoury with a plummy sweetness, a salami-like meaty undercurrent and dried rose petals on the long spicy finish. Gold and Trophy Easter Show 2014.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Giesen The Brothers Late Harvest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Sun bright gold in the glass with an enticing bouquet of passionfruit nectar and luscious passionfruit flavours in the palate that's laced with orange honey and nectar. Super sweet but with an exciting and refreshing acid spine and flavours that lasts all the way home. Delectable and irresistible sweet wine. Perfect end to a fabulous evening.
9% alc. Screwcap. $34.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 14 May 2014
Te Mata with Nicholas Buck
Wines were not tasted blind

Te Mata Estate Chardonnay 2011
Light yellow gold coloured with a tantalising creamy, mealy, peachy bouquet and bold, toasty flavours with grilled pineapple, nectarine and a zing of citrus on the powerful finish. Lot of warmth and oomph, especially for the first wine of the night.
13% alc. Screwcap/cork. $NA.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Sauvingon Blanc 2013
Straw gold coloured with a bright, tangy, citrus and sweet pea aroma and crisp, fresh, concentrated flavours with softness to the finish. Fruit is in the banana passionfruit, cantaloupe melon and mandarin spectrum with sauvignon's classical pungency in behind and while the fruit is ripe and sweet, the wine is bone dry.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
This young 'fruit forward', lightly oaked wine is a pale citrine hue with delicate stonefruit aromas and tropical and stonefruit flavours with banana-like esters that will integrate with a little more time. While initially fresh and zingy the underlying mealy flavours become bolder on the finish with a touch of butterscotch and oatmeal coming through.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2013
Lighty glossy gold with a delicate cashew, smoky French oak and mealy yeast lees scent – the oak coming into its own in the palate. It's bone dry with classy French oak intermingling with malty flavours underpinned by grapefruit-like citrus, crisp peach and nectarine fruit and a long, mealy finish sprinkled with nutmeg. Great mouthfeel and presence. Outstanding potential and could prove to be one of the greatest Elstons ever made.
14% alc. Cork. 29.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2013
There's an apricot sweetness infusing the creamed nut bouquet of this light gold wine. The aromas carry through to the heady palate that has a bready richness, subtle hints of rose musk, exotic spices and preserved lemons with exceptional length to the finish. Like the other whites this is bone dry.
14.5% alc. Cork. $25.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir 2013
A light styled, lightly oaked red with a violet luminescence to the translucent purple red hue. The bouquet is crushed summer berries and in the palate the juicy red fruit is balanced by earthy, slightly savoury flavours with a touch of cake spice and just a hint of red liquorice in behind. Slight tannin grip adds structure to the finish. I love this in the summer slightly chilled. Nick says it is an extremely versatile food wine all year round.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Syrah 2013
Crimson-edged purple red hue with a creamy dark chocolate overlay to the blackberry and raspberry scent then in the palate upfront pepper, nutmeg and cake spices are a feature together with juicy raspberry fruit, hints of liquorice, woody herbs, fine tannins and a very dry finish. Shows potential but just needs a little more time.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Bullnose Syrah 2012
The colour is deep blue-red and the bouquet emanates creamy oak, blue and black fruits and just a hint of anise. The fruit is ripe, soft and fleshy in the palate with firm but svelte tannins and a spicy brightness with upfront liquorice, anise and cake spices and an underlying hint of black pepper. A gamey savoury note comes through and the finish is long and rounded with a subtle suggestion of bitter chocolate and roasted rosemary as the flavours linger. Drinkable already – match to duck or game.
13% alc. Cork. $41.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Vineyards Merlot Cabernet 2013
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with a touch of Petit Verdot is vibrant purple red in hue. Aromas of creamy oak, plum and red berry fruit with the most subtle suggestion of mint carry through to the palate where there is a smoky, cigar box-like character with smooth fine slightly dusty tannins, hints of violets and a touch of cake spice. Underlying acidity imparts a 'peacocks tail' flare and will ensure longevity. "Stonkingly good," said many, and exceptional value to boot.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Awatea 2012
The fragrant bouquet of this deep coloured Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend has beguiling violet-like nuances, hints of liquorice, redcurrant, cherry and plum fruit and smoky cedary oak. On first tasting it seems similar to the smoky, cigar box flavours of the estate wine but you quickly realise this has so much more power and depth. It's full and rounded with concentrated red fruits, hints of violets, a touch of spice, creamy oak, firm tannins, well balanced acidity, a slightly herbal undercurrent accented with mint and excellent length.
13% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2010
What a treat to taste this iconic Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend four years on from vintage. It's dark red in hue, the aroma emits floral notes together with pencil shavings, herbs, game and dark brambly fruit that carries through to deep, dark, concentrated, spicy, savoury palate. There's underlying French oak with game and leather, hints of blueberries and liquorice and lovely vinous sweetness to the silky but firm textured finish. A fleshy mouthful with many years ahead of it yet.
14% alc. Cork. $74.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 7 May 2014
Chardonnay, Shiraz and Italians
All of the wines were tasted blind

Wairau River Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Light gold. Chablis-like with a gunflint, struck match aura to the aroma and taste. Fresh and steely with a buttery malo character, a nutty backbone and just light influence of oak. The style of wine to match to seafood in a lemon butter sauce.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Cape Barren 'Native Goose' Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2012
Straw gold with an attractive toasty nuance to the stonefruit-like aroma. The taste is soft, fleshy and rounded with a toasty depth, a hint of pineapple and a citrus zest flourish to the lingering finish. Seamless all the way through. Gold Sydney International 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mt Riley 17 Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
A little restrained on the nose and initially quite steely in the nutty palate yet with tropical fruit brightness and a touch of citrus. Gains momentum with beautifully integrated toasty oak flavours emerging on the long, smooth, creamy finish. Gold & Trophy Marlborough Wine Show 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2012
A totally different style with exotic tropical fruit initially asserting dominance but actually quite mealy, savoury and biscuity with a nutty oak backbone and a creaminess emerging on the long finish that's underpinned with a citrus peel freshness.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Morton Estate Coniglio Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Brassy gold with restraint to the aroma and a caramelised, oxidised taste with a dominant nut, sizzled butter, nutmeg and bacon character and surprisingly a crisp acid spine. With a very long finish that pushes past the oxidised character, it needs to be poured into a big glass and served alongside rich savoury foods. "Big, rich and funky but not quite what I expected," says Kingsley. Gold International Wine Challenge.
14.5% alc. Cork. $85.99 special.

Villa Maria Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2010
This really hits the spot with attractive mealy notes to the bold toasty oak scent, and spicy savoury flavours with melon and citrus brightness and a funky wild yeast character that is mellowing quite nicely. A touch of butterscotch coming through too. Long and smooth. Mega gold medal winner.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Farnese Fantini Sangiovese 2012 – Ortona, Italy
Dark red. Bitter chocolate, dried herbs and sweet smoky oak on the nose, the sweetness coming through in the jammy palate where chocolate-coated dried cherries come to mind. Incredibly juicy with a firm, slightly herbal, savoury oak backbone that brings it all into balance. Attractive bottle presentation adds to this exciting package.
12.5% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Pipoli Aglianico Del Vulture 2010– Basilicata, Italy
Deep dark red with a sumptuous red and black fruit aroma then rich, juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruits join chocolate and mocha with accents of pepper in the full-bodied palate. It's bright and spicy with firm mouth-coating tannins and a meaty depth.
13.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Zolla Primitivo Di Manduria 2012 – Puglia, Italy
While seemingly medium bodied on first tasting, this dark coloured red is actually a blockbuster. There's a hot tar nuance to the red fruit aroma and it's slightly floral with nuances of violets in the palate underpinned by savoury oak with red fruits, chocolate, jaffa and mocha. Tannins, while firm, are fine in their presence and the bright lifted finish has excellent length.
14% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Inky dark red. Spicy and bright with juicy red and dark berry fruit, pepper and allspice with smoky oak over a slightly leathery backbone and a whisper of mint. Firm dry tannins add structure and depth. Gold medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Inky black red with an alluring sweet smoky, biscuity oak scent. Dark and deep in the succulent palate with firm, youthful tannins, lashings of pepper, a hint of mint, blackberries, raspberries, vanilla, dark chocolate, tarry oak and very good length. Outright winner of the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Saltrams No. 1 Barossa Shiraz 2008 – South Australia
Smooth and opulent smelling, no indication at all of its age in the colour or scent, even more so in the youthful palate where the firm tannins are still resolving. A full-bodied, sumptuous, mouthfilling wine with vanilla, cherries, cake spices, pepper, olives, a deep savoury oak undercurrent and phenomenal length.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $52.99 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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