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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

September 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 – 24 Sep 2014
More Gold Medals from the 2014 NZIWS
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Waimea Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Bright fresh aromas of tropical fruit with a suggestion of passionfruit and succulent mouthfilling juicy fresh flavours with tropical fruit in abundance, a touch of apple, a hint of peach and a classical gooseberry and tangy herb pungency to the punchy fresh finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Verdelho 2014
Fragrantly scented and nutty with hint of blossoms and honey, then in the palate it is nutty, biscuity and just a little spicy – lemon pepper maybe – with a warm full-boded finish and lovely freshness from the soft acidity that imparts impressive length. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

West Brook Waimauku Chardonnay 2013
This smells just so inviting with its sweet vanilla and buttery barrel ferment scents and the taste is just so juicy and delicious with flavours of ripe tropical fruit accented with spiced pineapple, apricots and nutty creamy oak with a touch of savoury funk on the long generous finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Black Barn Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
A smoky oak bouquet introduces this much more savoury, more leesy, more Burgundian style. It's concentrated, nutty and rich with a delicious stonefruit influence, hints of nougat and fig, and a citrus freshness to the exceptionally long finish. Stylish and elegant with excellent cellaring potential. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $40.99.

Waimea Classic Riesling 2013
So fragrant, so fruity, so tasty, so thirst quenching, so delicious… this wonderfully exciting off dry style has a zing of ginger and lashings of tropical fruit and mandarin that imparts great sweet-sour tension. It takes chilling well and will be totally irresistible summer drinking. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014. Champion Riesling.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2013
Striking aromas of exotic spice, lemon grass, rose petals and Turkish Delight and equally striking flavours with a lightly viscous texture. The lemon becomes more honeyed and the flavours more luscious with a fresh spicy brightness keeping the wine in balance and a ginger-like tingle to the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Cicada Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2013
A moderately restrained bouquet of candyfloss and violets leads into a deliciously seductive and luscious palate yet it has elegance and restraint with flavours of ginger, exotic spices, orange blossom, candied lemon zest and delectable musk and crystallised violets on the impressively long finish. Made by Riverby Wines. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014. Champion Gewurztraminer.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Telmo Rodriquez Dehesa Gago ‘g’ Tempranillo 2013 - Spain
Inky purple maroon with ruby crimson edges. Plum and leather aromas with a fresh spicy nuggety veneer. Juicy and succulent to the taste with creamy oak, prunes and slightly jammy macerated berries, rose hips, a touch of allspice, liquorice and a long smoky savoury finish. A very ripe, generous, velvety textured, fruit driven style. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Papa Luna GSM 2012 - Spain
The blend of 75% Garnacha, 20% Shiraz and 5% Mazuelo is a dark plummy red. There are chocolate biscuits on the wonderfully aromatic nose and the bright lifted flavours are full of lighter red fruits (strawberries, cherries, raspberries) with peppery spices, hints of tobacco and a meaty depth. A mouthfilling wine very good length but while it initially seems smooth and silky with a very fine texture the powerful tannins kick in on the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Windy Peak Heathcote Shiraz 2013
Inky in colour but surprisingly medium bodied in palate weight, it has a smoky savoury oak aroma and a creamy mouthfeel with fine tannins, spiced cherries, a dusting of pepper, and hints of dried herbs on the biscuity finish. Made by de Bortoli. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Luna Shiraz 2013
Inky black red in hue, this is concentrated, dark and savoury on the nose and super opulent in the palate. It’s full-bodied, mouthfilling and succulent with luscious red and black berries, rich velvety tannins and a gloriously long creamy finish with harmonious peppery spices and just a nuance of mint. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Vigne Vecchie Primitivo Di Manduria 2011 – Puglia, Italy
Inky purple-violet. Opulent spicy oak aroma with intense purple fruit concentration and depth. Mouthfilling and rich with ultra ripe currants and prunes – the fruit is luscious, almost sweet – with mocha, liquorice, mulled wine spices and orange pomander over a backbone of smoky oak and firm tannins. A blockbuster wine with intensity, finesse and succulence all the way through and a sensuous touch of milk chocolate too. Gold Medal NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $52.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 17 Sep 2014
Gold Medal selection from the 2014 NZIWS
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Matua Lands and Legends Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light gold coloured with an inviting aroma brimming with toasty oak and caramel cream and smooth savoury, toasty oak flavours with both grilled and fresh stonefruits, a touch of spice, a creamy mealy undercurrent, a touch of citrus and a long full finish. Gold NZIWS 2014. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light greeny gold. A full-bodied creamy oak aroma with peaches and cream and a lovely spicy nutty savouriness to the flavours with a decadent mealy undercurrent and a burst of grapefruit zestiness to the fresh, clean bright finish. Long, seamless and deliciously toasty. Gold NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Falconhead Hawkes Bay Viognier 2013
Light lemon gold. Fragrant and spicy with hints of honeysuckle and apricots and a brightness to the creamy spicy flavours with apricots and the most subtle suggestion of lychee. There’s a sense of lusciousness yet at the same time the wine seems dry with a tickle of ginger and lemongrass on the full, fleshy and very generous finish. A stunning buy. Gold NZIWS 2014. Champion Viognier
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Dashwood Awatere Valley Pinot Gris 2014
Straw gold. There’s vanilla and pear on the fragrant and delicately floral bouquet and the taste is vibrant and zesty with a ginger-like zing pulsating through the tangy orchard fruit flavours with citrus adding vibrancy and freshness to the long creamy finish that’s accented with apple strudel spices and poached pears. Gold NZIWS 2014. Champion Pinot Gris
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $11.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2013
There's a very subtle nuance of orange blossom in the ripe orchard fruit bouquet and the taste is rich, smooth and creamy with a floral brightness and almost seductive lusciousness. Fruit is lifted and bright with concentration, power and mouthcoating length. Fermented in older oak barrels, it’s quite different in style to the Dashwood, almost the polar opposite in fact. Gold NZIWS 2014.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2011
Lemongrass, orange honey, an intriguing toasty richness even though the only oak the wine has seen is when the bottle sits on a wooden counter. A full-bodied, concentrated, weighty style of Riesling with vibrancy and zing, it hits the spot immediately. Gold NZIWS 2014.
11.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Deep ruby maroon. Chocolate and cherries are in harmony with savoury oak on the bouquet and the silky textured taste is spicy and creamy with Morello cherries, cranberries, underlying woodsmoke and herbs. Lovely concentration, fruit succulent and length with a touch of orange zest as the gorgeous flavours linger. Gold NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

I Muri Primitivo - Puglia, Italy
Purple crimson. Creamy oak, peppery spices and hints of rose petal fill the bouquet and it’s full-bodied and creamy in the palate with chocolatey oak, sweet spices, hints of chicory, woodsmoke and a long velvety finish. The absolute star of the night. Unbelievable concentration and generosity. Outstanding quality for the price. Gold NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Pipoli Aglianico Del Vulture 2012 – Basilicata, Italy
Purple pinky red. Dark chocolate and savoury oak on the nose. Fine textured in the initially herbal and earthy tasting palate but it fleshes out nicely with juicy cherry and plum fruit, cake spices, smoke, cedar, leather and pepper. Gold NZIWS 2014.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99

Chocolate Box Barossa Valley Dark Chocolate 2012
Inky crimson black. A full-bodied blockbuster with a rich dark chocolate and juicy berry fruit bouquet and the taste is crammed with sweet vanillin oak, chocolate, succulent plum and cherry fruit, cake spices, a very refined touch of pepper, melted chocolate tannins and a long smooth chocolatey finish. Hard to resist. Gold NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Shingleback Reserve Davey Estate McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Inky purple black. This is full-bodied, dark and deeply seductively savoury with an opulent vanillin oak and berry fruit scent and it is spicy and vibrant in the palate with fine tannins, creamy oak, a touch of mocha, purple and black fruit, and smooth velvety layers of chocolate. Gold NZIWS 2014.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Kirrihill Regional Series Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
A big inky crimson black-coloured wine with a bouquet of cedar, mint, leather, berries and spices and firm fine tannins in the full-bodied, structured and tight palate that has a rich spicy vibrancy with lifted berry acidity, dried mint and leather, and a succulent berry and cedar aftertaste. Gold NZIWS 2014. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Sep 2014
Kingsley's Choice
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Ashwell Martinborough Chardonnay 2011
Bright, fresh and toasty with juicy flavours of peach and nectarine, an underlying mealy savouriness and a touch of caramel mingling with mandarin on the finish. This lively spicy Chardonnay gets you right into the zone.
13.1% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet is full and mealy and the taste is smooth and creamy with a tropical fruit brightness, a punch of citrus, nutty oak in behind and the lingering finish bringing nougat to mind. Really starting to hit its straps, it is delivering on the hype that the vintage promised to offer.
13.1% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 Twin Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
This is a powerful, mealy, savoury wine with a fresh burst of grapefruit infusing the toasty oak backbone, creamed nut characters and a mouthfilling finish with great persistence. A lovely progression of Chardonnays tonight, this undeniable beauty is definitely the main course wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Organic Merlot 2013
Shiny inky blackcurrant red. A fruity wine from the outset with plums, loganberries and black cherries on the nose following through to the juicy, supple, generous palate with plenty of tar and leather, underlying spicy oak, hints of dried herbs, cigarbox and liquorice and moderately firm tannins holding it nicely together. The 2013 vintage looks to be a ripper for the Hawkes Bay reds. Gold Spiegelau IWC.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Caruso & Minini Cutajo Nero d'Avola 2011 - Sicily
Purple red in the glass with a bouquet that is quite shy with herb and floral notes, perhaps roses and violets. It's a medium bodied palate weight with juicy flavours reminiscent of bottled spiced cherries, underlying meaty savoury notes and a firm but pleasingly smooth finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 2009 - Tuscany
This has a translucent slightly bricking, pinot noir-like hue. The bouquet is savoury and leathery with dried rose scents adding an intriguing allure. Smooth and silky with a vinous richness to the texture and a wonderful sweet mellow vinosity welling up from within. The fruit is all dried cherries with a spicy dried citrus peel tingle and the vinosity envelopes the mouth and persists with wonderful finesse. A treat.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $82.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010
Inky black crimson. Coconut-infused sappy oak and red berry fruit fill the bouquet and it's a massive wine in the palate with succulent sweet berry fruit, opulent sweet oak and a beautifully harmonious savoury undercurrent with a touch of mint and fine textured velvety smooth tannins. Not for the faint-hearted, it really needs food at this stage of its life so pair it with a rare cut of juicy tender beef and you will be delighted. 11 gold medals and 3 trophies.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $43.99.

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2012
Rich purple red in hue with a plummy sweetness to the savoury oak aroma and a taste that is utterly juicy and seductive, one sip makes it very hard to resist. It's spicy with a peppery flourish, sweet berry fruit and a furry coating to the velvety smooth finish, a bit of a blockbuster and will be on the 'must buy' list for First Glass fans of this style.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Ravenswood Zinfandel 2010
Inky crimson red with an opulent vinous sweetness to the smoky oak aroma. A big thick wine in the mouth with tannins that are quite upfront and grippy, hints of cigar box, rose petals and a tarry savoury veneer. While deep, dark and brooding was the first impression, the juicy fruit sweetness and bright spicy character totally takes over but the concentration and structure is so there. Dangerously drinkable.
14.8% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $52.99.

Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Shiny purple red. Concentrated aromas of blackcurrant jubes and smoky French oak. The first mouthful of this rich, dark wine has a dry tannin feel but a very appealing vinous sweetness comes through with fruitcake cherries, blackcurrants, hints of roasted rosemary, a very subtle suggestion of mint, underlying pencil box and leather. The tannins are momentarily overwhelmed by the fruit but make their presence known again on the finish. A wine with many years ahead of it but needs a creamy cheese to accompany it right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Shingleback The Gate McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010
Inky black red. Chocolate abounds on the nose of the massive Australian Shiraz – cherry chocolate with a cacao dusting and the chocolate theme continues throughout the palate together with mocha and spices. There's a fantastic succulent red berry fruit sweetness with a harmonious smoky oak savouriness, incredibly smooth velvety tannins and a long lasting juicy finish.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $37.99.

de Bortoli Old Boys 21 YO Tawny
Lustrous deep amber. Heady and spirituous on the nose with sweet oak rancio notes coming through. Rich, smooth, luscious and creamy in the palate with spirituous heat, orange brandy infused muscatels, liquid honey and a heady finish. Multi gold medal winner.
19% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $68.99.

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.

Wednesday Wines index
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Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

2014 Tastings
Jan 2014 tasting notes.
Feb 2014 tasting notes.
Mar 2014 tasting notes.
Apr 2014 tasting notes.
May 2014 tasting notes.
Jun 2014 tasting notes.
Jul 2014 tasting notes.
Aug 2014 tasting notes.
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Oct 2014 tasting notes.
Nov / Dec 2014 tasting notes.

Dec 2013 tasting notes and index.

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