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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

November / December 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 – 10 Dec 2014
Delicious Wines for the Last Tasting of the Year
Wines were tasted blind.

8 Ranges Tussock Ridge Central Otago Pinot Rose 2014
This attractive looking, crisp, dry-ish Rosé has a luminescent watermelon hue, an inviting scent of summer berries and a vibrant and refreshing fruit taste of early season plums and zingy apple and rhubarb with a beautifully balanced, earthy, savoury mouthfilling finish.
12.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Brancott 'O' Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
This light gold charmer is instantly appealing with its bouquet of toasty oak, nuts, grilled pineapple and grilled peach and the taste is rich, dry, full-bodied and biscuity. The classy French oak imparts beautifully honed savouriness that balances the succulent juicy fruits, and there is a zingy citrus brightness to the mouth-filling finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Giesen The Fuder Single Vineyard Clayvin Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
This light yellow gold hued beauty is opulent in every sense. The bouquet is all grapefruit, lime curd and funky wild yeast and the taste is super smooth and seamless in its flow. A powerful, full-bodied, mouthfilling Chardonnay with great acid spine, butterscotch-coated juicy stonefruit and an incredibly long smoky, savoury finish. Seductively drinkable and hard to resist.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Lemon gold in hue with a malty richness to the perfumed grilled peach scent, this seems quite a fresh acid wine tamed a little by malolactic fermentation with juicy nectarine and fleshy peach radiating through. The savoury French oak is beautifully integrated yet asserts its toasty presence and the finish is dry and lingering. An excellent cellaring proposition as it could be very long lived.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Lawson's Dry Hills The Pioneer Reserve Gewurztraminer 2013
This light gold wine is intensely fragrant and the soft full taste is packed with flavour. It has a bouquet of lemon verbena and spiced lemon honey notes are a highlight in the rich, almost oily palate with the typical rose petal, orange water, oriental fruit, ginger and Moroccan spices so harmonious as the gorgeous flavours linger.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Piano Del Cerro Aglianico del Vulture 2009 – Italy
The bouquet of this black red wine is intriguing; it's earthy and leathery yet at the same time sweet and just a little jammy. The full-bodied, plush, velvety palate is similarly compelling with smoky oak, cake spices, juicy red and black berry fruit, a touch of vanilla and paint box. A rich, meaty wine with a full curvaceous body and a succulent aura to the firmly textured finish. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Tommasi Della Valpolicallo Classico Amarone 2010 – Veneto, Italy
Dark hued with noticeable bricking to the edges, it smells perfumed and savoury with dried rose petals, herbs and leather and tastes almost luscious but with incredibly fine silky tannins. The fruit is in the redcurrant spectrum with suggestions of pomegranate molasses, and possibly even strawberry jam, together with hints of thyme and anise. A wine that becomes quite heady after two or three sips, it has phenomenal length and brightness to the lingering aftertaste. A decadent wine to accompany meat dishes, it could even replace the red wine jus.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $92.99.

Kilakanoon The Lackey Shiraz 2012 - South Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. Blueberries and leather infuse the spicy oak scent and there is abundant hallmark pepper in the moderately firm palate. While a little herbal upfront, it becomes quite creamy, perhaps even a little chocolatey, with juicy blackberry fruit and leathery undertones to the sweet oak finish. An easy going, non-serious wine to take to a BBQ.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Chocolate Box ‘Dark Chocolate’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2012
Dark inky red with an immediately appealing bouquet that’s crammed with sweet toasty oak, cake spices, chocolate and mocha that all recur in the smooth, creamy palate together with juicy plum and dark cherry fruit, spicy oak, liquorice and pepper. Seductively delicious and hard to resist. You could take this wine anywhere and as well it would make a superb ‘chocolatey’ gift.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Kirrihill Single Vineyard Tullymore Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Inky black red with a classic Clare Valley bouquet of mint and cedar, this is firm and dry on first tasting with blackcurrant joining mint and cedar in the rich, spicy palate that’s underpinned with savoury notes of tar and leather. The tannins are firm yet fine and the finish is juicy and succulent, becoming quite creamy, especially when accompanied with cheese. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Mouton Cadet Sauternes 2011 - Bordeaux, France
This blend of 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc is light lemon gold with a lustrous appearance. The tantalising honeyed bouquet is infused with nectar and dried pineapple and it flows through the palate so seamlessly. Beautifully fine and delicate with flavours reminiscent of floral honey and candied tropical fruit, there’s also a hint of lanolin and it’s all liquid butterscotch on the glorious finish. Sweet yet refreshing and utterly delicious, it is the type of wine that's still there when it is not there as the lingering aftertaste lasts for ages. Remarkable value from this esteemed appellation. Full 750-ml bottle.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Valdespino El Candado Pedro Ximinez Sherry NV - Jerez, Spain
Very dark amber with green gold edges. The bouquet is like golden syrup macerated raisins with a hint of rancio – spiritous and heady and the texture is like liquid toffee as the honeyed flavours flow across the palate with a pleasing touch of orange zest that provides harmony to the luscious finish. Spain’s gift to the greatest sweet wines of the world, a little goes a very long way. This is in a half bottle with a padlock and should be unlocked to accompany the Christmas cake after the big feast. Gold NZIWS.
17% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99 375-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Dec 2014
Delicious Wines for the Festive Season
Wines not tasted blind.

Villa Yolanda Prosecco NV - Fruili, Italy
Straw gold coloured with a hint of honey to the grapey scent, the first impression in the mouth is lots of fizz and foam but there is richness and weight behind the crisp acid spine. It’s savoury rather then fruity with hints of lemon balm and while it seems ultra dry, there is a pleasing touch of honeyed sweetness rippling through the lingering mouth coating finish.
11.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Lawson's Dry Hills The Pioneer Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Medium light gold. Butterscotch-infused smoky oak and touches of grilled peach fill the bouquet and the peach and toasty oak are joined by tantalising caramel and lightly spiced nuts in the creamy, buttery palate. Smooth and seamless with a long savoury, mealy finish, ready to drink – an absolute delight.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2013
This medium light gold wine smells rather youthful with its nutty oak and lemon polish scent and while it initially seems quite light it morphs into a powerhouse of a wine. Savoury oak joins tropical fruit with enticing sizzled butter and a spicy almost zesty brightness to the long rich finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Straw gold coloured with an inviting caramel cream bouquet, it tastes smooth and creamy with a nutty richness, juicy citrus, grilled stonefruit and a light coating of butterscotch to the long savoury finish that just seems to go on and on. There is something very stylish and more-ish about this lovely, lovely wine that seems so much more youthful than it is. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2011
Tantalising aromatic tangy lime and honeysuckle aromas carry through to the vibrant, racy palate where there is just a suggestion of spritz and a touch of apple on the juicy zesty finish. A moderately weighty style of Riesling with a ‘licking a piece of slate’ texture, this would be a terrific match to whitebait this festive season. Gold NZIWS.
11.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Pinot Noir 2012
This aroma of this wine is so seductive – black cherries, a touch of smoky savoury oak, perhaps even chocolate. And it's deliciously savoury with a super smooth flowing mouthfeel, a juicy sweetness to the black cherry and berry jam fruit and firmness to the lingering finish. Made by rising Waipara star Greystone, this has all of the qualities you look for in everyday drinking Pinot at a very tempting price. Trophy for Best Red at New World Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
This rich ruby-purple hued wine is enticingly fragrant with a delightful floral note infusing the spiced cherry aromatics with a pleasing earthy aura and a touch of dried thyme. There’s considerable depth to the flavours with the savouriness an upfront highlight together with spiced mushrooms, an edgy touch of herb and juicy bittersweet fruits of the forest bringing the long succulent finish all into balance. Firm with fine tannins, an outstanding wine. Gold AirNZ Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $47.99.

Grey Rock Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Bright crimson black in colour with initially a Euro impression in the tasting tonight, there’s a touch of menthol to the juicy red berry and woodsmoke scent and a slightly nuggety undercurrent to the succulent red fruit flavours with well integrated savoury oak, fruit cake spices, a smidgen of chocolate and firmness to the finish. Overall soft, smooth and easy-going, it’s Merlot for full-bodied Pinot Noir lovers. Made by Sileni Estates. Gold NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Treasures Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Shiny purple red with crimson pink edges, the aroma is earthy and savoury with chocolate, cassis and mint revealed as the wine opens up after swirling around in the small XL5 tasting glass. A big wine with a plush velvet mouthfeel, it’s has an upfront spiciness perhaps a little imparted by underlying acidity (which helps Cabernet to cellar for years), creamy oak and fruit concentration, and although the tannins are fine it finishes a little grippy at this early stage of its life. A wine of great substance and amazing cellaring potential but at this stage of its life decant and pour it into a big glass to help let it open up. As Andrew said, "Astonishing value for money.” Champion Cabernet at the NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
Purple black with bright pinky-purple edges, the evocative aroma has so much going on - it’s savoury and leathery with dark berry fruit concentration yet there is also dried rose petal, pencil shavings and a touch of black pepper. Equally concentrated in the firm, powerful, profound, spicy, meaty, sweet leather palate where juicy boysenberry and other succulent berry fruit combine with creamy oak in harmony. A classic dry red with a supple feel and fabulous length and flow. Trophy NZIWS. Trophy AirNZ.
% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Kirrihill Tullymore Single Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2012
The bouquet of this impenetrable black red wine whisks you straight to South Australia. It's all succulent fruit, mint, vanillin oak and spices that follow through to the succulent, chocolate-infused, smooth, velvety palate, the ripeness of the juicy dark berry fruits balanced by spice, savoury oak, dried herb notes and liquorice. A big wine but oh so seductive. “Another astonishing value packed wine,” says Kingsley. 5 stars and No.1 in Cuisine.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

John Forrest Selection Marlborough Noble Riesling 2013
The amazing bouquet of this lustrous yellow gold hued sweetie is so evocative and inviting - so full of honey, botrytis, dried apricot and all things nice. Then so delectably unctuous and luscious in the delicious nectar-sweet palate, just one sip leaves you with a smile. We simply don’t drink enough sweet wines so Christmas is the time to remedy that - I can imagine this with the pavlova and fresh fruit salad. With the price for a full 750-ml bottle, this is quite simply one of the best buys in sweet wines right now.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $40.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 26 Nov 2014
Mostly Gold Medal Wines from the 2014 AirNZ Wine Awards
Wines were tasted blind.

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Glossy rich lemon gold. Smoky with a bright spicy aura and a nutty mealy nuance to the scent, the taste is full-bodied and toasty with a creamy richness and a spicy brightness with a citrussy tang to the ripe, juicy stonefruit flavours. It’s beautifully rounded, harmonious and satisfying with a very long finish that garners complexity as the flavours linger. Developing just beautifully. Gold AirNZ 2013. Champion of Show NZIWS 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Unmistakably sauvignon blanc with a new vintage pale lemon hue, this is as fresh as a daisy pushing up through just cut grass, the pungent aroma simply leaping out of the glass. Bright, tangy and herbaceous tasting with a vibrant fruitiness reminiscent of old-fashioned gooseberries (goosegogs) and passionfruit, it’s powerful and flavourful with a zesty brightness to the long zingy finish. Deserving winner of the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy, AirNZ 2014.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
This light gold hued wine was immediately described by one of the tasters as ‘gun smoke and marmalade’. I find it quite simply glorious with an alluring bouquet and rich, creamy flavours of grilled peach, macadamia nuts, spicy oak and lashings of citrus perhaps made a little more conspicuous by the one hour of chilling but the nice touch of malty savouriness brings the acidity into harmony. Full-bodied, seamless and long, this wine is already beautiful especially as the chill comes off the glass, but based on the legacy of previous vintages it will reward even more with cellaring. Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of Show AirNZ 2014.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Sea Level Nelson Pinot Gris 2014
There's an alluring vanilla (creaming soda) note running through the apple and pear aromas and joining the fleshy, almost custard apple fruit in the palate. Textural and layered for pinot gris becoming creamy and nutty with hints of ginger and ground coriander spices, and the finish is mouthfilling and long with a zesty lemongrass brightness. Outstanding value for an outstanding wine. Gold NZIWS. Gold and Trophy AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Falconhead Hawkes Bay Viognier 2013
The hue is light golden, the bouquet is nutty and spicy with a touch of exotic tropical fruit – pawpaw and mango come to mind – and it is concentrated and heady in the palate where the variety's typical apricot flavours are a star. The texture is noticeably oily which makes the mouthfeel so soft and rounded, and warm exotic spices add spark to the finish. Gold and Champion at both NZIWS and AirNZ in 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

The Doctor's Marlborough Riesling 2014
This almost water pale wine is aromatic and fresh with a bouquet of apples and honeysuckle and is lightly spritzy in the thirst-quenching palate with juicy flavours of red apples, honeysuckle, the most delicate touch of lime with a touch of tarragon-like herb adding an enchanting allure. It low alcohol yet has texture and length to the refreshing yet luscious medium sweet finish. Champion Riesling AirNZ 2014.
9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Rosé 2014
The gorgeous deep watermelon hue makes this wine look so pretty. The aromas and flavours are a little spicy, even a touch peppery, with early season plums and raspberries and a subtle earthy savouriness to balance the fruitiness. A blend of Merlot and Malbec, served chilled this is juicy, refreshing and tangy. Serve in a wine cooler or ice bucket to preserve the chill while it is on the table. Trophy Hawkes Bay Wine Awards. Gold AirNZ.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Saint Clair Premium Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
There is some transparency to the light maroon hue which makes you think this is a lighter style but it totally delivers. The key here is don’t let the colour fool you because the bouquets offers up an earthy savouriness and there are all the typical hard to describe smoky, savoury flavours with bittersweet red fruits, Christmas cake spices, a smooth and silky flow and just a touch of grip to the tannins to endorse its class. Fabulous buying and perfect for entertaining the masses. Gold NZIWS, Gold AirNZ and Open Red Trophy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Akarua RUA Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Rich ruby red with violet flashes, this youthful-hued wine has a savoury bouquet with black cherries and hints of dried rose petals, and the taste is full-bodied and creamy with a lush, plush texture, a touch of anise, smoky oak, juicy red and black cherries and hints of mushrooms. Lots of seductiveness in this value-packed noir from the Bannockburn sub-region and an interesting contrast to the finer-textured Marlborough wine. Gold Medal AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Sandalford Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2012
This bouquet of this dark red hued Bordeaux variety wine is delicately smoky and savoury with a subtle suggestion of mint and intriguingly quite spicy in the palate, which fooled many in the room thinking it was Rhone when the questions for this ‘stand-up options’ wine were asked. The mint is far more obvious in the fine textured palate, with bright red berry fruit and smoky savoury oak. A medium bodied wine and ready to drink.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Malbec 2013
This concentrated inky purple-red hued wine is powerful and creamy. The spicy bouquet is fragrant and inviting and the taste is rich and powerful with firm tannins that still need time to resolve. It's quite sappy and herbaceous – as to be expected for the variety – with plums, violets, cakes spices, leather. Worth cellaring. Absolutely. A bargain for the quality. Trophy Air NZ 2013.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Te Mata Awatea 2013 – Hawkes Bay
Youthful deep black red in colour with a scent that is smoky and savoury with a touch of menthol and an earthy intrigue, these traits carrying through to the pillowy textured palate that is cloaked in velvety tannins. With sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit, sappy oak, cigar box, chocolate box and leather, this rich juicy wine could be quite monumental with a little time – there is easily 15 years ahead of it – but right at the moment it finishes quite grippy and needs to be laid down for a while. A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 19 Nov 2014
Villa Maria Wines with Nick Picone
Wines were not tasted blind.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2011 – Hawkes Bay
The bouquet is smoky and nutty with a toasty allure and a fragrant citrus brightness, and the taste is creamy with a nutty sweetness and a savoury richness with funky wild yeast notes and grilled stonefruit joining grapefruit on the finish. Rich, powerful, mouthfilling and long. Multi gold medal winner and developing beautifully.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gisborne Albarino 2014
Lifted aromatics of pear and quince joining an attractive yet elusive floral scent. Texturally complex for an aromatic white, possibly to a wild yeast portion, with yellow spectrum fruit that is juicy and bright. I get yellow plums, nectarine and tropical fruit, perhaps banana passionfruit and mountain paw paw with bright acidity in behind beautifully balanced by a suggestion of honey and a spicy almost pepper note, like you get from the seeds of mountain paw paw that grows so well in Auckland. A very exciting wine, finishing dry, it shows the potential for the variety to become a star. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012
Delicate apple blossom, lime juice on flint on the nose and the taste is crisp lemons, lime and flint with a subtle suggestion of honey and ginger. Concentrated and intense with great verve and bite to the finish with the bittersweet mandarin zest that emerges just delightful. Mouthwateringly crisp and refreshing served chilled – this had two hours in the fridge and was just perfect. A blend of Awatere and Wairau Valley fruit. Gold AirNZ.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2014
Orange blossom fills the nose, and the taste is super flavourful and creamy with flavours full of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, musk and exotic spices with a touch of oak adding a biscuity complexity and a crispness to the long clean finish. Ticks the boxes for the generic description – somewhere between Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Serve lightly chilled, just to tone the unctuous flavours down. From the Waikahu Vineyard, this was the Viognier Trophy winner at the Hawkes Bay Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet is all nougat and cream, quite delicate at first but getting more and more fragrant as the wine opens up. Funky, mealy and mouth-coating creamy with a beautifully balanced citrus, a touch of apricot and savoury oak intrigue. There’s a spicy brightness to the finish and very good length. From a collection of vineyard sites in the Bay with natural ferment occurring in 40% of the blend. Four golds and a Trophy this year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Ferment Gisborne Chardonnay 2013
This seems to be departure from previous chardonnays under this label. The shy bouquet is delicately fragrant but the taste is creamy and mealy with biscuity oak and funky notes. It's spicy and bright with tropical fruit to the fore – dried banana and melon come to mind – and the finish is rounded, mouthfilling and long with exceptional length. Garnering complexity as the flavours linger, it’s a wine that can be cellared with confidence. From two sites in Gisborne with natural ferment occurring in 30% of the blend. Overall Champion at the Gisborne Regional Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2013 – Hawkes Bay
The fragrance is mealy with a lemon and butterscotch infusion, becoming more smoky as the wine opens up, and the taste is ultra malty and funky – it is 100% wild yeast ferment, the first time that Nick has achieved it. Full-bodied with a juicy brightness and flavours of stonefruit, citrus and toasty oak combining in harmony. There’s a slightly earthy, flinty undercurrent and touches of sweet orange also come through. Complex and layered with fantastic mouthfeel and length, it is set to evolve beautifully over the next few years. Gold AirNZ and Champion Wine of the Show at the Hawkes Bay Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2013
Bright black cherry red in hue with crimson pink edges. A warm smelling wine with sweet toasty oak, peppery spices and juicy mixed berries. Distinctly Grenache with its medium-boded palate weight, hints of tar, a touch of leather and fruit in the strawberry, raspberry and red plum spectrum with creamy oak and aromatic pepper-infused spices. Very smooth in its delivery yet structured on the finish. Heading towards European in style.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
Rather more concentrated in its inky purple red hue, this is rather shy on the nose but makes up for this in the full-bodied, concentrated, meaty palate. Dark and savoury tasting, yet quite lifted in the mid to front palate with blackberry and purple plum fruit and quite firm tannins at this stage of its life. An array of florals and aromatic spices add to its charm while a juicy vinous sweetness adorns the finish. Cheese works beautifully to cut through the tannins. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Organic Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Boysenberry red, fine looking in appearance. The rich plummy aroma is infused with earthy savoury notes, smoky oak and leather. This shows the floral traits of Merlot beautifully in the palate. It's juicy and succulent with a silky edge to the grippy tannins and has a touch of cigar box and a leafy note coming through on the finish. Gold NZIWS and Hawkes Bay. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Inky blackberry red. Crushed chocolate biscuits and crushed cherries on the nose – Black Forest comes to mind while creamy oak adds to the aromatic allure and charm. A baby wine at this stage of its life, it is massively tannic and dry, but look past that and there are some very desirable traits coming through. Classic Merlot in a Bordeaux style with cigar box, leather, violets, plums, cake spices, sappy notes and underlying acidity to aid and abet its cellar potential. A wine to cellar but will be totally worth it – it just needs patience and time. Silver AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013
Inky blackberry red. Intriguing chocolate chicory notes on the creamy yet savoury oak nose. In contrast to the Merlot tasted before it, this is fine and flowing in the palate. It tastes dark and savoury with abundant wood / oak notes and plum and cassis fruit. The fruit is bright, the oak is fine and classy, the tannins are silky, the wine is elegant and the finish is long and lingering. Silver AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Nov 2014
High Price, Low Price
Wines were tasted blind.

Peter Yealands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
The lemonade hue is a clue to a new vintage wine and with its pungent herbaceous aroma and bright tangy, citrus, herb, flint and grilled pineapple flavours it couldn’t be anything other than our nation's number one white variety. Fresh, lively, perfect served ice cold as a quenching summer sipper.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
While a similar hue to the previous sauv, the concentrated grapefruit aroma suggests this is a much more serious wine and the taste confirms it. A deliciously rich, full-bodied and sophisticated wine with a savoury wild yeast infusion to the rounded tropical fruit flavours with a touch of tarragon to the sweet citrussy finish that lingers in a most harmonious way.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Sacred Hill HALO Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light gold with a tantalising sweet toasty aroma reminiscent a little of fresh-out-of-the-oven just buttered croissants and a taste crammed with caramel, citrus and juicy nectarine with a toasty savoury undercurrent to the long creamy finish. Just so smooth and easy-going in a medium-bodied package, a great Xmas party socialising wine and classy drinking for the price.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Obsidian Reserve Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013
This has a medium gold lustre to the glossy hue and is smoky and toasty on the nose with hints of grilled peach that's joined in the palate with citrus. A rich, rounded, full-bodied wine with a spicy oak brightness, an exciting mealy savouriness, lovely smooth edges and a powerful creamy finish with tantalising touches of nougat.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Hawkshead Central Otago Pinot Gris 2013
This light glossy lemon gold wine with an aroma of pear drops and strudel spices joined by citrus in the palate puts you right in the Pinot Gris zone but there's also a heady hint of apricot that could have you leaning towards Viognier momentarily. A fascinating wine, just off dry in style, it is weighty and textural with a touch of savouriness on the lingering finish. From the Gibbston Valley, and as Andrew said, "it is more interesting than Pinot Gris usually is."
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Wairau River Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014
This spicy, zesty, light gold coloured wine is a little more typical Pinot Gris with an orchard fruit bouquet and apple, pear and citrus the dominant flavours. Some vanilla notes on the finish add creaminess and complexity. A pleasing and reasonably dry style.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Poggio Civetta Toscano Rosso 2013 – Tuscany, Italy
Bright ruby crimson, a little like young pinot noir in colour, but the old school European aroma has you going in a different direction. Plump red fruit and bitumen infuses the smoky, savoury scent and the juicy, savoury taste has a tarry note to the spiced cherry and raspberry flavours. Smooth in its flow with medium bodied palate weight, a twist of pepper and a bright clean finish, it is made from a blend of Sangiovese and Syrah.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Olagosa Reserva Rioja 2006 – Rioja, Spain
This is a dark red colour with lashings of smoky vanillin American oak filling the bouquet that has a mellow soft aura that perhaps indicates some age – I am immediately reminded of the sumptuous Spanish Riojas from my early wine appreciation days. It’s succulent and spicy with again a mellow character to the red fruit flavours, a smoky cigar box finish and brightness to the lingering aftertaste. The tannins are nicely resolved, which makes it so smooth and flowing. If you like this classic style of wine you should not be disappointed in this delicious offering so long as you get a bottle that is as perfect as the one poured into my glass on the night. A blend of 88% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha and 4% Mazuelo.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Te Mata Coleraine 2011 - Hawkes Bay
Boysenberry red in hue, concentrated in appearance and also in aroma and taste. My first impression from the ultra-savoury, smoky, leathery, almost tarry scent was Bordeaux and the taste kept me on the same path. It's tight as tight can be with fine grippy tannins, underlying dried herbs, a profound concentration of leather, smoke and cedar with fruit a little shy although dried blackcurrants do come to mind. Made from a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, this Hawkes Bay icon could be cellared for 20 years – or more. Decant or pour into a big glass for drinking right now to realise its full potential.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $79.99.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Western Australia
Blackberry red in hue with a spicy oak scent infused with bright red fruits and hints of liquorice. It smells inviting and clean and is succulent and spicy in the juicy palate with plump fleshy currants and cherries, hints of mint and a smoky cigar box finish. Smooth and seductive drinking already yet it has a well-structured backbone that will let it develop in the cellar for a year or three.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2007 – Barossa Valley, Australia
Deep black red, very dense in hue, only the slight bricking edge gives a clue to some age. Sweet brambly fruit on the nose and full, fleshy and spicy in the palate with smoky sweet oak, strawberry chocolate and spiced plums the primary flavours. There is so much going on in this wine that has accrued a pleasing mellow character with cedar, camphor, nutmeg, liquorice and menthol tobacco emerging as the wine flows. There is some grip to the plush velvety tannins, like velvet rubbed the wrong way, and the finish is long and fulfilling. A treat to try.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $239.00.

Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Deep black red with a crimson-like edge, this is concentrated with a spicy brightness and fruit complexity. A succulent wine with firm tannins, a lovely smoky savouriness and layers of mulberries, chocolate and pepper, it seems so young compared to the previous wine and I wonder what complexities this delicious wine will accrue with another 5 years - it is from such a terrific vintage and definitely has the cellaring legs.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

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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