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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2015 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2015
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Some of the prices may be 'specials', but were correct at the date noted for the tasting. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 29 Apr 2015
Top Pinot Noirs from Cuisine and others
Wines were tasted blind.

Soho White Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Light golden yellow with a bouquet of sweet nutty oak and grilled peach, and bold toasty flavours with a zesty, citrussy edge, honeyed tropical fruit and smooth layers of butterscotch intertwined through a crisp, biscuity finish – a little like Anzac biscuits with oats and golden syrup. Really creamy and nice. Great little starter wine for the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Howard Park Miamup Margaret River Chardonnay 2013 - Western Australia
Pale straw gold with a moderately shy yet distinctly mealy aroma, it takes me straight to Australia with its momentary touch of sun-baked clay, tropical fruit that’s profuse with pineapple, and a lovely citrussy brightness to the long, almost luscious, mealy finish. Quite a lot of malo and barrel influence in this very smart wine that exudes class for the price.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Moderate dark red in colour, this has a beguiling savoury aroma infused with the fruit flavours of spiced bottled cherries and plums. The spice comes through more prominently in the palate – mulled wine spices like cinnamon bark with nuances of fresh lavender and dried thyme, a dried rose petal prettiness and a funky, gamey savouriness. Juicy with a firm tannin structure to support the finish, yet in the pinot noir realm it is a lighter style wine. 4½ stars Cuisine & Best Buy.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
This deep ruby red wine smells full-bodied, succulent and fruity from the outset and the taste is indeed full and luscious yet underlying acidity packs a zesty punch and there is intriguing pepper-like spice. A darker, more brooding style of wine with firm tannins, a nuggety savoury undercurrent and a long full finish that’s full of generous, plumped-up dried cranberries and plums, then on the lingering aftertaste a touch of chocolate comes through. Gold AirNZ. 5 stars & No.7 in Cuisine Top 10 / Best Buy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Translucent in its light ruby-violet appearance with a bouquet that is fruity and inviting. A fine textured wine with a savoury richness, sweet and sour cherries, dried cranberries, nuances of rosehips, hints of mocha and touches of lemon thyme. There's a great vinous flow after the initial grip is chased away and a beautifully expansive finish. A wine to put in the cellar right now and enjoy the foresight you had to do this in 3 or 4 years time. 4½ stars Cuisine & Best Buy. Gold Sydney International.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Bright ruby red with flashes of crimson. Powerful red fruit aromatics are embellished with sweet smoky oak. Plump and spicy to the taste with raspberry chocolate, perhaps even Turkish Delight chocolate, a perfectly honed touch of fruit cake spices and sweet savoury oak in the background. A juicy, succulent Pinot with plush velvety tannins, delicious mouthfeel and flow. Another stunner from one of our favourite labels. Gold NZIWS. 5 stars & No.3 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Rich pink-edged ruby purple with some opacity to the depth. Red fruits, candied coated herbs and sweet oak aromas make the bouquet very opulent and appealing. Deeply savoury to the taste with a rustic, herbal edge, and a momentary touch of black pepper, but overall a plush, opulent wine with a succulent cranberry jelly finish and great depth and flow. Gold AirNZ. 5 stars & No.2 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $43.99.

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Light ruby red with moderate colour depth. There's a pretty perfume of savoury oak with hints of strawberry chocolate and wild thyme flowers adding a pleasing floral allure. A fine textured wine in the mouth with still some youthful grip to the tannins and a deeply savoury undercurrent yet has lovely red cherry / cranberry / wild strawberry fruit that balances the savouriness beautifully and woody herb notes. Hints of chocolate emerge on the finish and the lingering mouthfeel is creamy and rounded. Gets better and better as it opens up in the glass. Gold AirNZ. Gold Sydney. 5 stars & No.1 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Youthful ruby black with pinky-crimson edges, the smoky savoury bouquet is inviting with the succulent scent of black cherries and the taste is big, bold, spicy and savoury with amazing juiciness, structure and depth. The fruit is strawberries and cherries with supporting oak in the background, the tannins are plush and velvety and the powerful finish is full-bodied, creamy and rounded. Gold & Trophy NZIWS 2014.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Coto de Hayas Roble Tempranillo Cabernet 2013 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Youthful violet in hue with an aroma that is a little different from what we are used to and no wonder because it presents as quite a salty, savoury, dusty, rustic, herbal, weedy wine in my glass tonight. Medium bodied in palate weight, it is a little on the back foot after a raft of amazing Pinots and the bitter, leathery finish has me wondering if my sample has borderline cork taint, and indeed the back room boys noted bottle variation.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Cape Barron Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013
Inky red black. A little brooding on the chose with chocolate and leather but oh so rich, ripe, sweet and juicy tasting with milk chocolate, fruit cake spices, plums and pepper. A mouth-enveloping wine with velvet coated tannins you can see why this is Kingsley's choice as it is so easy to enjoy in a typically full-bodied Australian way.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 15 Apr 2015
Matua Wines with Nikolai St George
Wines were not tasted blind.

Matua Lands & Legends Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Glossy lemon gold with a bouquet that is abundant with fresh green fruit - there’s green passionfruit, green apples, green gooseberries and limes with a hint of pineapple and a herbaceous tang. It tastes crisp and fresh with a light oily note to the texture and bright tangy zesty fruit flavours with lots of bounce and verve. Everything on the nose repeats in the palate and more. Very concentrated, powerful, juicy and long. Predominantly from the Squealing Pig vineyard in the Awatere, this is an excellent example of how Sauvignon Blanc develops with a year or so of bottle age. Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Vendage Estate Hawkes Bay Albarino 2014
A ‘leggy’ wine in the glass with an adamantine lustre to the lemon gold hue, this has a delicate and very pretty bouquet of cottage garden flowers with hints of poached pear, apricot and honey – there is something very beguiling and exotic in here. It’s crisp and spicy to the taste with a sucking on a peach stone feel – like there is some fleshy lusciousness yet at the same time dry with a little white pepper / ginger-like tingle. Complex in its peach / apricot dominant fruit salad flavours with the fruit sweetness balancing the acidity, it has fullness to the finish without ever losing its aromatic ethereal appeal. Gold & Trophy NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Matua Lands & Legends Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
This nutty, creamy smelling wine is light yellow gold in hue with additional scents of grilled peaches, spicy oak and a slightly funky mealy veneer. “Sulphides,” says Nikolai, explaining it is recently bottled. The funky, mealy flavours expand deliciously in the palate with a smoky barrel ferment complexity. The texture is creamy with well-balanced lemon-like acidity supporting the predominantly stonefruit flavours and a long, fine, nutty oak finish. A little flinty and dry right now but has all the x-factor markers. Look forward to seeing this wine evolve during the year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Radiant light gold with full-on funky, leesy, nutty aromas from wild yeast ferment in the barrel. Luscious and decadently full in the palate with nuts and spice to the fore, it’s quite dry and a little salty maybe, with tropical fruit that has a texture like the firm flesh of mountain pawpaw and delectable peach nuances coming through. Expansive vinosity in the palate, finishing full and rounded with compounding complexity. Young and tight right now, it will deliver exceptional rewards with 3-4 years cellaring. Nikolai says he has modelled this wine on the phenolic structure and extract of the iconic Giaconda from Victoria, Australia.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Matua Lands & Legends Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Translucent red garnet with flashes of ruby. The scent is a little meaty and gamey with bottled raspberries and dusty oak adding to the aromatic intrigue. Rustic and herbal in the palate, heading towards savoury, with succulent bittersweet dark red fruits, a fine texture, a dry finish and a little flourish of zest. Medium bodied style and an all round pleaser. Gold Sydney International.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Lowburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
Rich ruby maroon with moderate depth, youthful and bright in appearance. Powerfully aromatic with succulent red and black fruits, dusty oak and a little confectionary edge that in this example is very pleasing. Full-bodied, spicy and savoury tasting with body and soul – it's simply outstanding from the outset. Fruit is powerful but so in balance with the oak, herb and savoury components that make up the whole. Nice touch of salinity in the spicy oak finish that adds even more interest to this deep dark drop of deliciousness with subtle nuances of chocolate begin to emerge. “More grunt than the Lands & Legends,” says Nikolai. Definitely true.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Ruby with flashes of maroon, and although a year newer than the Lowburn wine it is more translucent and not as deep in hue. The bouquet is perfumed and savoury with hints of cherries and a waft of thyme flower, and it’s fine and silky in the plate with warmth spicy oak and a sensual feel to the flow - it may be lighter in colour but certainly delivers in taste. Fruit is intriguing, almost blue fruit says Nikolai, with delightful savouriness and a long dry finish layered with succulence and intrigue. A resplendent example of harmony. Limited release wine, just 100 cases made.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Matua Lands & Legends Central Otago Syrah 2013
Bright inky black red with vivid crimson edges. The bouquet is smoky and creamy and spicy with red and black fruit and hints of green pepper and it is earthy, savoury and nuggetty in the palate, firm and tight in a way, with plump dark plum and blackcurrant fruit, a herbal (sous bois) undercurrent accented with zesty acidity and a green pepper bite that imparts a spicy heat. Tannins are plump and the finish is long and full with a creamy feel as the nuggetty flavours linger. Syrah from the snowline in Bendigo - it makes you wonder why so little is grown here.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
Saturated inky purple red right to the fluorescent violet edges. A sweet berry fruit scent pulsates through the chocolatey oak bouquet with cake spices adding to the aromatic allure. Bright, lifted, full-bodied and creamy to the taste with a satin sheet and velvet robe texture, lifted red fruits reminiscent of chocolate coated redcurrants and cherries, beautifully balanced savoury oak and a succulent rounded finish. It's a wine you can almost chew as it's so luxurious and complex. While Nikolai says the 5% Viognier in the blend helps to fix the colour, I am sure it adds to the aromatic lift that comes through in the taste. Outstanding. Double Trophy NZIWS, Double Trophy Easter Show. Trophy AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010
Dark red with a deep almost black core. The bouquet is very aromatic – perhaps a bit of volatile acidity, also black tea with a fruit infusion, hints of liquorice and the most subtle suggestion of mint. In the mouth the texture is silky and fine. There’s a delightful touch of chocolate, barely there mint, liquorice tea, red plums, bottled cherries and it’s quite cedary on the finish. From a light year according to Nikolai, this is on the medium side of full-bodied with a little bottle development that has allowed the tannins to become so smooth. A wine to pour into a big glass and muse over with time to spare.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Inky purple red with a black core and crimson purple edges. Rich, dark, cedary and leathery on the nose – it is what we expect from young Merlot. The taste is full-bodied, rich, concentrated and meaty with thick firm-edged velvety tannins, an earthy richness, fruit cake spices, dark fruits, smoky cedary oak and hint of tobacco. A big, full, rounded, juicy, sumptuous wine that is satisfying already but has a long way to go. 10% Malbec in the blend. Gold AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 Apr 2015
Premium, Prestige and Others
Wines were tasted blind.

Milcrest Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2013
Light glossy gold with a bouquet of polished oak, grilled peach and fig. Quite toasty and initially just a little brassy in the palate with a burst of grapefruit providing plenty of acid bite, then well-balanced juicy tropical fruit, golden queens and fig round out all the edges and there’s a spicy flourish to the long full finish where a touch of toffee-like sweetness is very satisfying. By the third sip all remnants of toothpaste have been washed away and you think, my gosh, this wine is quite okay.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2011 – Western Australia
Light gold with delectable sweet smoky oak and nougat aroma – it smells delicate and creamy, yet it is a big wine in the mouth where there is plenty of lemon / malo / leesy / barrel ferment action. It tastes powerful and mouthfilling with a spicy veneer and while it initially seems tight with citrus the key fruit descriptor, you actually feel the wine expanding as it evolves into the most gorgeous Chardonnay taste experience with layers of deliciousness interweaving. Showing its exceptional class, I just wanted to let the glorious flavours linger. It’s a wine to pour into a big glass and sip and savour.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $99.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
This is a powerful style with tropical fruit and citrus on the nose and a creaminess to the texture with flavours of spicy oak and lashings of citrus zest that gives such a bright bouncy feel, yet it has a beautifully savoury nutty backbone and touches of grilled peach to provide perfect harmony. Developing nicely in the bottle, the finish is long, rich, rounded and mouthfilling. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99. Last stocks.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Sonoma County Chardonnay 2013 – USA
Glossy yellow gold. Sweet honeyed fruit on the nose is reminiscent of apples and pears, then honeyed baked apples are foremost in the palate and harmonise with the oak that becomes more and more powerful with a zesty accent to the toasty finish where buttery flavours shine through. Possibly a little overchilled at the tasting because the wine garners complexity as it warms up and by the end of the glass I’m savouring flavours of apple, pear and peach sautéed in butter, and a long toasty creamy oak finish. Different to what we are used to, it grows on you.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Riesling 2013
Rich lemon gold. Glorious bouquet of honeysuckle and tropical fruit - it is rich and aromatic, as Riesling should be. Full of flavour, there is a little TDN /kero action going on in the background of this gorgeously toasty, honeyed styled with candied tropical fruit, sweet citrus and a touch of spritz adding life and verve. Seems quite developed, which is exciting in a way, as it is so great to have a young riesling with ‘older’ Riesling characters. An off dry style that is ready to drink and enjoy now rather than cellar, it’s 5 star quality and 5 star value.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Farnese Fantini Sangiovese 2013 – Puglia, Italy
Rich garnet ruby. The bouquet is quite smoky and charry with roasted red fruits / blackberries and some herbal / leather / rustic notes coming through. A profound wine in the palate, it is smooth and velvety with sweet, succulent, juicy, primary red/purple fruits and a beautifully balanced savoury backbone with the most charming hint of liquorice and fennel. Finishing fresh and dry, it is super tasty and resoundingly great value sipping.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Gianni Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2012 - Central Italy
Rich dark purple red. The bouquet is full of complex red wine vinous aromatics with a touch of leather. There’s initially a cedary veneer to the wine but it is also peppery and spicy with a savoury undercurrent and touches of vanilla. The fruit, that’s red berries with tropical accents, is juicy and succulent, the tannins are velvety and smooth, the oak is sweet and the finish is spicy and dry.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Mission Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013
Saturated purple red. Varnishy oak on the nose. Rich, ripe, sweet and juicy in the palate with blackcurrants, plums, chocolate and leather and a long succulent finish. Very soft, easy and approachable already but the firm structure and well-balanced acid spine means it will gracefully age in the bottle. From such a fantastic year, a year that Mission Estate says was 'the best for them since 1983' it won a gold medal at the Easter Show this year.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Stags Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – USA
Dark purple red. Smoky oak, leather and herbs fill the bouquet with nuances of chocolate biscuits adding to its aromatic allure. A thick, rich, sweet juicy, succulent wine in the mouth with a spicy, zesty, peppery spine, a little acetic note, very firm tannins and profound depth and concentration. Chocolate, sweet creamy vanillin oak, juicy boysenberry and strawberry fruit all ripple through and the finish is long, expansive and mouthfilling.
13.9% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $66.99.

Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
Saturated purple black. The bouquet of dusty oak and bramble jelly radiates a fabulous vinous sweetness. A monumental wine in the palate, it’s spicy and just a little peppery with intensely concentrated red and black fruit, massive tannins that have a fine velvety edge and a long rich sweet/savoury finish with a creamy feel to the aftertaste that is the icing on the cake. From 40 year old vines in the revered Coonawarra strip, this young wine will develop into something pretty special with a little more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Saltram No. 1 Barossa Shiraz 2009 - South Australia
Even though it is six years old, the colour is still very saturated and purple. The bouquet is all sweet smoky oak and red berries and the taste is ripe, concentrated red and purple fruit and vanillin oak with a touch of pepper, nut chocolate and chocolate mousse cream. It’s a fine textured wine with tannins that are still very tight and firm, although it opens up beautifully over the course of the tasting. Decant for sensational drinking.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $50.99.

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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