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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

June / July / August 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 – 26 August 2015
A Selection of Cuisine’s Top 10 Chardonnays and more
Wines were tasted blind.

Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2014
This light lemon gold drop has quite a fresh, citrussy bouquet with a subtle nutty oak allure. A super fresh, bright, citrussy tasting wine with lemon/lime and grapefruit radiating through the palate and rounding out with a nutty creaminess, yoghurt-like malo influences and fleshy peach. The savoury oak is much bolder in the palate than the bouquet suggests. A beautifully elegant Burgundian style of chardonnay that is simply gorgeous with seafood nibbles and also terrific with pan-fried chicken fillets that have been marinated in yoghurt with cumin/coriander/cinnamon spices. Best served at cool room temperature.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $14.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
There are flinty nutty nuances to the bouquet of this light golden-hued wine and the taste is just so savoury with creamy oak, rich roasted nut characters and a spicy, zesty flourish to the bright, fresh finish. In the fruit department grilled peaches and tropical fruit come to mind. A terrific social wine as it is lovely to sip just on its own but don’t over chill as it pronounces the acid spine. 5 stars and No. 2 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $21.99.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
There's a nougat-like creaminess to the fruity bouquet and the upfront taste is all juicy apples and pears with the most intriguing passionfruit tropicality then a savouriness comes to the fore on the zesty finish with a subtle suggestion of caramel cream. A very light, bright, fresh, conversation starter with not a skerrick of oak. 5 stars and No. 8 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Spencer Hill Coastal Ridge Nelson Chardonnay 2013
This is a bold smelling wine with a full-bodied peachy chardonnay allure and tastes rich, full and fat with a peach pie / vanilla custard / clotted cream lusciousness and a spicy zing to the oaky finish. A powerful Chardonnay that’s seamless in its flow and ready right now to drink. Very much a Kingsley style.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $22.99.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
The bouquet is quite steely and flinty with crisp apples coming to mind. The apple character continues into the taste but more like spicy baked apples with a light touch of savoury oak, a full mid palate and youthful vibrancy to the tropical fruit salad finish that’s tinged with a touch of crème brulee. 5 stars and No. 7 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Influences of mealy yeast characters enhance the peach and tropical fruit bouquet that has a funky, savoury, chewy caramel, creamy aura and the smooth, rounded taste is crammed with grilled peach, roasted nuts and a long, smoky finish with a citrussy freshness as the mouthfilling deliciousness lingers. Definitely a First glass style, this is one of the great buys. 5 stars and No. 5 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $14.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
The lemony oak of the savoury bouquet is so delicate and restrained it seems that it is hardly there. Very tight, almost sending a shiver down the spine on first tasting, but you realise this is just upfront youthful awkwardness because it blossoms into a fleshy delight as it traverses the palate. All apples, mandarin and honeyed nuts with the smooth roundness of caramel on the finish, becoming full and creamy as the flavours linger. It just needs a couple more months for the initial bite to settle down.
13.3% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Matua Lands & Legends Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
As soon as I smell this wine I know it will seduce First Glass style chardonnay lovers. Grapefruit joins sweet smoky oak on the nose and the palate is full and fleshy from the get-go with abundant citrus, lovely caramel notes, chewed pencil oak and a crisp, fresh, finish with mealy notes to the fore on the lingering aftertaste. Very satisfying. 5 stars and No. 3 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Spicy cedar and citrus zest fill the bouquet and the texture is seductively creamy and smooth. Deliciously savoury, malty and mouthfilling with hints of butterscotch, a roasted nut richness and a spicy oak complexity, this classy wine has a tingly deliciousness and wild yeast mystique. Taking chardonnay to another level, many thought it the wine of the night at this stage of the tasting. 5 stars and No. 6 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $29.99.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Grapefruit, crushed wine biscuits and gunflint fill the bouquet– the aromas tantalisingly evocative. ‘An aphrodisiac,' says Joyce sitting beside me. Very mealy, wild yeast influenced in the mouth but these funky characters sit so well with the tropical fruit and grilled peach fruit and subtle touches of spice– perhaps even a whisper of anise. Quite hot on the mouthfilling, mealy finish with integrated spicy oak but overall just so complex, seamless, concentrated and divine with a finish that lasts and lasts. A glorious wine that is becoming more and more expressive with bottle age. A multi-gold medal winner, Cuisine awarded it 4.5 stars.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $49.99.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet is all honeyed oak, spices and caramel cream then gun smoke and mealy notes fill the palate before a beautifully honed seam of grapefruit simply oozes out and radiates through. It's creamy with a sublime caramel / butterscotch sweetness, funky wild yeast influences, a gorgeously rounded mouthfeel and a vibrantly spicy finish. Super wine. Gold & Trophy Spiegelau IWC judged in July
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $27.99.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
There are very fine malty nuances to the evocative lemon biscuit scents that carry through to the exciting and vibrantly citrussy palate. The fine expression of the bouquet resonates in the texture of the beautifully and elegant taste. It's all nougat and nuts and malt and stonefruit with a youthful freshness that will ensure this wine will last for many years. Cellar this beauty confidently or enjoy immediately. Looking absolutely stunning on the night, it’s easy to see why it was awarded Champion Chardonnay at the 2015 Royal Easter Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 19 August 2015
Mainly Italian and Spanish
Wines were tasted blind.

Spade Oak Voysey Gisborne Chardonnay 2013
Golden yellow with a toasty, buttery bouquet and a hint of mushroom adding an earthy intrigue. It seems quite developed yet fresh acidity infuses the spiced apricot flavours with a lemon/lime zing to the warm buttery finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $17.99.

Clos du Chateau de Puligny Montrachet Chardonnay 2012 – Burgundy, France
Light yellow gold with a slightly reductive bouquet at first suggestive of rubber bands then attractive subtle savoury oak and crème brûlée scents emerge. The taste is fresh, spicy and zingy with a lemon sherbet spritziness and oyster shell minerality – this would go very well with oysters actually! It’s clean, crisp, dry and steely on the front to mid palate then garners a creamy softness and vinous richness as the delicate flavours linger.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $55.99.

Bogle Vineyards Clarksburg Chardonnay 2013 – California, USA
Light glossy lemon gold with a powerful savoury / cedary oak aroma. The mouthfilling bold buttery taste is a powerhouse of savoury oak and vanilla cream together with caramelised peaches and melon. Long and smooth, it seems almost luscious on the finish with a well-balanced zing of spice the final flourish. Ready to drink immediately.
13.5% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $19.99.

Blackenbrook Nelson Gewurztraminer 2014
Cream lemon gold with a captivating aromatic bouquet that reminds me of the peppery scent of carnations with a rose oil allure. The taste is fresh with white pepper and ginger on the front palate and a lovely memory trigger that reminds me of my grandmother’s cold cream. There’s a bright acid spine to the wine and the spices become quite toasty with an earthy cumin note adding to the overall allure. Quite dry, yet there is a mouthfilling luscious factor too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $21.99.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
The intense boysenberry jam hue hints of the power this full, plush, intensely flavoured Pinot exudes. It’s meaty and savoury with an intensely bramble berry scent and flavours of plums and cranberry fruit with a spicy flourish. The tannins have a firm veneer but the flow is smooth. This pinot on steroids is made by Peregrine wines with fruit is sourced from Bendigo, Pisa and Gibbston Valley. Gold Spiegelau IWC judged in July
13% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $23.99.

Mount Brown Grand Reserve Waipara Pinot Noir 2013
Bright purple ruby with a shimmery translucency. The bouquet is red fruit creamy with a soft, smooth, vanillin oak allure. A little edgy, herbal and sappy on the first taste yet it smooths out beautifully with gorgeous silky, velvet-edged tannins and very concentrated, almost jammy, plum and black cherry fruit. Just needs a little time for the acidity to settle down. A triple trophy winner at the Boutique Wine Awards in Sydney just recently.
14% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $26.99.

Citra Ortense Vino Rosso NV – Ortona, Italy
A dark red-hued wine of moderate density, this light to medium-bodied wine in palate weight smells weedy and sappy and tastes dry, tannic and earthy at first then the fruit emerges reminding me of wild blackberries and brambles on a dusty road with a brightness to the finish and the texture becoming more rubbed velvet and creamy.
12.5% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $12.99.

Bisanzio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2014 – Ortona, Italy. Strangely this wine smells similar to the last one but the berry profile is brighter, fresher – all black cherries and early season plums with an earthy allure. Spicy, almost peppery first up in the palate becoming succulent and juicy with earthy mushroom-like notes, tar and leather, soft rounded tannins and hints of tobacco. Bright acidity imparts a fresh tangy finish.
13% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $14.99.

Valtier Reserva Tempranillo Utiel-Requena 2007 – Bobal, Spain
Lustrous garnet purple, not too dense in appearance. Lashings of maraschino cherry, forest floor and cedar on the nose. Very dry on first tasting then becoming deliciously juicy with touches of strawberry together with cigar box on the savoury mid palate and peppermint emerging as the wine lingers. This wine has superb length and a silky smoothness that is a result of bottle age. A fascinating and satisfying wine that opens up in the glass and presents something different on every taste. Recommended for an aged wine experience.
13% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $15.99.

Ferlaia Nero d'Avola Syrah 2014 – Sicily
Rich pinky red with sweet smoky oak and juicy berries on the nose and enticingly savoury to the taste with a touch of charcoal and an earthy, forest floor intrigue together with loads of pepper from the Syrah component that tingles the tongue. The tannins are firm, plush and velvety and the wine seems almost luscious with fleshy fruit and sweet vanillin oak coming to the fore on the finish yet the earthy notes ensure it’s all in balance. Very approachable and top value drinking at this price.
13.5% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $12.99.

Liveli Orion Primitivo 2013 – Salento, Italy
Rich garnet red. Liquorice and leather on the nose with a fragrant raspberry and floral intrigue. There’s heaps going on in this fine textured, lifted, yet concentrated wine that has touches of orange peel and fruit cake mix together with cigar box and cow manure (in the best possible way). Full-bodied with fine tannins and a touch of bitter chocolate on the finish – and while there is a touch of brett it is very subtle and adds to the fascination.
14% alc. Cork. First glass Price: $21.99.

Shingleback The Davey Estate Reserve Shiraz 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Inky black red. Chocolate, sweet oak, juicy berries and a hint of liquorice on the nose. Sweet smoky oak fills the palate that’s accentuated by firm and massively powerful tannins but once past this hurdle it’s all opulent plum and mulberry fruit with touches of chocolate, and pepper. There is lots to like in this wine but it definitely needs time to evolve and allow the tannins to soften but for now you can enjoy with rare meat or rich food that will dissolve the tannins as the wine and food combines.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First glass Price: $22.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 July 2015
When The King's Away
Wines were tasted blind.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2014
Glossy lemon gold with a sweet nutty creamy bouquet infused with toasty Chardonnay allure. Fresh crunchy bright acidity dominates first up in the palate but as the youthful surge subsides the wine becomes rich, mealy and savoury with plenty of oomph and lingering flavours of apricot and cream.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2012
Light lemon gold hued with a lemony mealy biscuity sweetness to the refined bouquet and a little funky wild yeast action going on too. A malty, savoury style of chardonnay with beautifully integrated elegant French oak, a little tickle of zesty acidity, a subtle nuance of pineapple and a long dry finish that lets you ponder over the lasting flavours. What many people would call minerally, it has all the markers to gracefully age. The points winner alongside a quartet of Burgundies in a tasting staged by Farr Vintners in the UK.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Viognier 2014
This light gold-coloured wine is gorgeously aromatic and the taste is quite lifted and ethereal with a nod to Condrieu. It’s high-toned yet fleshy with an almost oily mouthfeel, classic apricot flavours together with macadamia, white peach and dried tropical fruit, a soupçon of ginger and a warm, rich, full-bodied finish with lingering notes of preserved lemon. There is a little oak but it is not intrusive, just adds to the texture of this beautiful wine. This really is an excellent example as it is not too heady and overpowering and while the fruit is ripe and sweet, the wine is dry. I loved it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Sherwood Signature Waipara Riesling 2012
Light lemon gold with an inviting bouquet of toasted lime and honeysuckle and a toasty richness to the lime and mandarin flavours. A weighty Riesling with a touch of honeyed lemon sweetness to take the dry edges away and bitter marmalade on the finish. Excellent value in an off dry style.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Lone Goat Canterbury Winemakers Collection Riesling 2009
This super Riesling that’s been cellared so you don’t have to is sunshine yellow in the glass with a bouquet of toasted lime, coconut and a papaya-like sweetness– close your eyes and it’s like being on a tropical island. Rounded and almost creamy in the mouth with bright sweet orange marmalade acidity that totally balances the nectar-like sweetness and leaves behind a crisp clean finish. Hints of peach also come to mind. Intensely flavoured and long.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Beso de vino Seleccion Syrah Garnacha 2011– Carinena DO, Spain
This lightly-oaked, medium-bodied, dark blue-red coloured wine has an inviting berries and cream bouquet and tastes juicy and fruity yet quite dry at the same time. It has plenty of vinous extract, a peppery brightness, touches of rose petals and pink bubble gum, and fruit that’s reminiscent of blueberries, early season plums and cherries. It’s a blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Garnacha with a cute comical wine loving bull named Antonio on the label, a name that means ‘Kiss of Wine’ and a breathable screwcap (look for the breathing holes) that will be a talking point for anyone who notices. A sociable Spanish sipper that's offers plenty of satisfaction on all levels for the price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Vibrant inky youthful crimson purple with a beautiful lifted perfume that radiates classy oak and ripe red berry fruits. The taste is rich, ripe and fleshy with smoky cigar box notes, pencil shavings, touches of earth and leather, hints of red liquorice and perfectly ripe Black Doris plums with a plump mid palate and vinous sweetness to the long firm finish while underlying acidity ensuring it will develop in the cellar. A outstanding blend of 73% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc that’s so enjoyable already, the quality belies the very smart price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Mills Reef Elspeth Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Deep dark crimson red with a varietally expressive bouquet of cassis and cedar that puts you right in the ‘Bordeaux varieties’ zone. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quite rare in Hawkes Bay these days, it is rich and weighty to the taste with masses of fine textured tannins, ripe dark fruit, Cabernet's classic herbal edge, a touch of leather, lashings of cedar and a prickle of acidity at the end. A stellar red that is heading towards monumental, this powerful dry wine would be best cellared to let it eke out its magnificent potential. Gold & Trophy Winner at the Easter Show 2015.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $46.99.

McManis Petite Sirah 2013– California, USA
Inky purple red. Perfumed with hints of chocolate, dark fruit like plums stewing away on the stove and a subtle suggestion of allspice. A juicy, succulent tasting red with lashings of red fruits and pepper, it's smooth, fleshy, rounded and creamy with plums and cherry jam, the ever-so-slightest suggestion of dried mint and plump pillowy tannins. A soft, easy drinking style that has a point of difference. There’s a saying amongst Petite Sirah enthusiasts – it’s ‘P.S. I love you’.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Shiraz 2012 – Padthaway, South Australia
Dark red with a kind of meaty salty nuance to the scent, this earthy, savoury, firmly structured Shiraz initially seems tending towards Rhone in style until the more recognisable Aussie markers of mocha, vanilla and chocolate push through. Smooth with rounded tannins and quite peppery, but not as minty as I would have expected from the Padthaway region. 4 stars in the 2015 Cuisine Aussie Shiraz tasting and a Cuisine ‘Best Buy’.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Dark red, hinting of a little age in comparison to the previous wines. Dark chocolatey oak and violets on the nose, and rich and plump in the smooth, full-bodied palate with raspberries, spice, chocolatey oak, hints of mocha and vanilla. A powerful mouthfilling wine with lots of oomph and pepper really coming to the fore on the chewy mouthfilling finish. The tannins are rounding out nicely and the wine totally delivers. Gold Medal San Francisco 2014.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 10 June 2015
Classic wines from classic regions
Wines were tasted blind.

Gancia Asti DOCG NV – Piedmont, Northern Italy
The colour is a lustrous lemon gold with a very fine bead appearing magically from the bottom of the glass creating a fine lacy rim. The bouquet is fresh and fruity like a Moscato should be, and the taste is vibrant, clean and refreshing with flavours of backyard grapes and juicy pears with a touch of sweetness and a foamy mouthfeel. A delicious Spumante that must be served icy cold and while normally enjoyed as an aperitif, with its low alcohols it is a fantastic 'cooks wine' and can be served as a desert accompaniment too.
7.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Straw gold in hue with touches of stonefruit and citrus infusing the slightly sweaty herbaceous bouquet, then abundant pineapple, citrus and greengage plum flavours fill the vibrantly tangy palate. Pungent and expressive with a finish that lasts and lasts, it’s not too aggressive which makes it a very consumer friendly style. Sharon, who doesn’t usually like Sauvignon Blanc, was waxing lyrical about how good freshly shucked oysters and this benchmark label would be.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
The colour is medium gold with a lustrous sheen, the bouquet is smoky and creamy with touches of grilled peach and there is a nutty savoury richness to the mouthfilling taste. Quite flinty on the front palate but full and rounded on the back palate with grapefruit-like acidity adding zing and sweet smoky oak adding complexity. A textural wine with a slightly grainy feel mid palate yet the finish is long and creamy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Archangel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
There's a brightness to the black cherry hue and the bouquet has an enticing smoky savoury allure with a Morello cherry overtone. Quite firm in the palate with crushed velvet tannins, noticeable upfront acidity that melds into the cranberry and plum flavours, a very appealing smoky undercurrent and a long savoury finish. Quite a meaty wine and seemingly quite youthful, enjoy now or let it continue to evolve in your cellar for a while. From a vineyard between Queensberry and Luggate on SH6, closer to Wanaka than Cromwell and with successive AirNZ golds for this and the following vintage, it is definitely a label to watch.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Olagosa Crianza Rioja 2012 – Spain
A blend of 90% Tempranillo with Garnacha and Mazuelo, this is a dark plummy red colour, the perfumed bouquet has floral nuances to the vanillin oak and ‘cherry ripe’ scents – it smells juicy and sweet but the first taste is quite savoury. A fleshy medium-bodied wine that's more in the old fashioned American oak Rioja style with a touch of tobacco, a hint of mocha, well balanced underlying acidity and a juicy ripe cherry and redcurrant finish, then the lingering aftertaste has a savoury, smoky aura. A wine labelled Crianza must have spent at least one year in oak barrels, this had 16 months and was aged for 6 months further in the bottle before release. Looking very good on the night.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Braida Montebruna Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2013 – Piedmont, Italy
Blackcurrant red with bright pinky edges. There's a momentary touch of VA on the nose which is savoury and earthy with hints of cigar box and a dark fruit jam. Firm tannins are an upfront feature with refreshing bramble fruit acidity and a suggestion of peppery spices with touches of leather and a little bit of manure. It has a full mid palate and while it initially seems quite dry it fills out nicely on the lingering finish where the red berry fruits loitering in the background come right to the fore. A modern label presentation from this classic wine region, enjoy now with food or cellar for a while.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Zolla Primitivo di Manduria 2013 – Puglia, Italy
Dark red with blackcurrant edges. A little shy on the nose at first then aromatic red fruits, hints of dried peel, cigar box and sweet leather emerge. Full and fleshy in the velvety textured palate with chocolate and mocha, vanillin oak, dried currants, hints of violets and a long spicy finish with accents of orange peel and pepper and touches of graphite. Vinous savouriness balances the fruit sweetness beautifully and a slightly earthy rusticity emerges as the flavours linger. On the medium side of full bodied and classy bottle presentation too.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Seghesio Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
Youthful dark red in hue. Chocolate and cocoa powder fill the bouquet and carry through to the fine textured, peppery palate. It's fine, firm and dry in the mouth but voluptuous and juicy at the same time with lashings of savoury vanillin oak. Some pencil shavings infiltrate the flavours and the redcurrant fruit is resplendent on the long, full finish. Pretty seductive already but will benefit from bottle age. Interesting to do the Primitivo and the Zin one after the other, an educational comparison - thank you.
14.8% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Brown Brothers 1889 Shiraz 2013 – Heathcote, Victoria, Australia
Rich purple red. Perfumed with sweet savoury oak, plump juicy cherries and vanilla, this gorgeous smelling wine is very fine textured and silky in the mouth with touches of chocolate, cake spices, hints of pepper and juicy red fruits. A medium bodied wine in the realm of Aussie Shiraz, it's very drinkable and a great price too. 4 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Chalk Hill Luna McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Youthful dark red with crimson edges. The sweet chocolatey oak on the nose whisks us to Australia and the McLaren Vale yet it is it is showing its youth in the palate with its slightly grippy tannin structure and underlying freshness. Full of pepper and spice with plum and prune fruit and a touch of leather on the savoury finish, there is something a little different and more cooler climate than the voluptuous previous vintage – the clue is on the back label where it mentions the addition of a small parcel of Barbera.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia Late Harvested Noble Riesling 2009 – King Valley, Victoria, Australia
Orange tinged gold like the colour of a near setting sun. The bouquet is all candied citrus, juicy tropical fruit and honey and the clue to its variety in the blind tasting is the subtle suggestion of kero that comes through in the taste. Sweet and viscous with loads and loads of a lighter delicate style of runny honey and exquisitely balanced and refreshing acidity to ensure it is never at all cloying. With its deliciously long finish this is a gorgeous example of a sweet wine made from botrytis-riddled grapes. According to the Brown Brothers website, John Brown Snr was the first Australia winemaker to purposely harness the botrytis to make this style of wine, back in 1962.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99 / 375-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Jun 2015
High Price Low Price
Wines were tasted blind.

Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay 2013 – California, USA
Light glossy gold with a rich, concentrated oatmeal bouquet and toasty, creamy succulent nectarine flavours, hints of citrus zest, an estery youthful bubblegum almost confectionary sweetness and a long juicy finish with a rounded, nutty savoury complexity. Juicy is definitely the key word for this conversation starter.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012 – California, USA
Light yellow gold with a bouquet that is rich and nutty, and a ripe, creamy taste with a spicy oak brightness. Accents of lime infuse juicy melon and tropical fruit. A tighter, firmer, drier and slightly grainier wine in respect of the two, a wine that will fatten up with a little more time. After the conversation starter, a more elegant dinner style.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Pykes Clare Valley Riesling 2014 – South Australia
Straw gold in hue with a delicately aromatic bouquet that hints of apple blossom and the most subtle suggestion of lime curd. A vibrant, youthful, dry style of Riesling, still a little mouth-puckery at this early stage of its life, with apple the dominant fruit, a little ginger-like spritz and a salted lime tang to the finish. Accompany with seafood that you would usually serve with a wedge of lemon, or let it develop in the cellar for a while.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Riesling 2011
Light lemon gold with a concentrated bouquet of lime, talc, honeysuckle and hints of marmalade. Rich and powerful in an off dry style, fruit that’s reminiscent of baked apple with honey and date, an intriguing earthy underlay with nuances of sewing machine oil / kero, and just a touch of sweetness to foil the crisp acidity on the lingering finish. With its layers of richness and complexity it’s enjoyable now but will continue to evolve in the cellar. Made by the Diceys who also produce the Ceres label.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Ballasalla Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
This translucent tamarillo-hued wine has smoky overtones to the cherry jam bouquet and it is earthy and savoury to the taste with touches of dried herbs, piquant tamarillo-like acidity and sweeter red cherries and fruit cake mix. Medium-bodied with a dry finish, this is the second label of Folding Hill.
17% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Escarpment Single Vineyard 'Pahi' Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012
A deeply translucent ruby garnet hued wine with dark berry fruit aromatics infusing creamy vanillin oak - it smells layered and complex. While initially muscular and tight with velvet-rubbed-the-wrong-way tannins, this smoky, savoury wine opens up to reveal a warm texture with plums, cherries, creamy oak and a long, deep, multifaceted finish. One to cellar or decant now and serve in a Burgundy glass for the utmost enjoyment.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2011 – Central Italy
Fading translucent cherry red. So European on the nose, it’s more savoury than fruity with a tea-like tannin character that carries through to the palate. Initially very dry and tannic then a vinous complexity emerges and the wine becomes more rounded and endearing as it opens up in the small XL5 tiny tasting glass. I recommend decanting.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Sebastiani Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
Vivid purple black with crimson edges, the bouquet is all sweet smoky oak with tantalising touches of strawberry-filled chocolates and the smooth, full-bodied taste is creamy, savoury and chocolatey with lashings of plums and strawberry fruit and a tickle of spice. Heady and succulent with lush plush flavours that simply ooze hot climate grape growing, it fooled some of us into thinking it was its alias Primitivo from Southern Italy.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Ravenswood Sonoma Old Vines Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
The red black hue is fine in appearance, the bouquet is all chocolate, leather and sappy cedar and the fine, silky, smooth textured palate is initially slightly leathery then juicy, spicy, peppery flavours kick in, chocolate emerges again and the finish is long, elegant and creamy with well-balanced savouriness.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

The Pugilist Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
Dark purple red, fine in appearance. Dried herbs, bitumen and bramble fruit on the nose with a smidgen of orange chocolate wafting through. Medium to full-bodied to the taste with fleshy red fruits, cocoa and touches of cedar. It seems sweet, juicy and easy-going with soft-centred firm-edged tannins and finishes dry.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – South Australia
Inky dark red with an enticing vanillin oak bouquet embellished with smoky cedar, chocolate and cassis. Savoury and spicy in the plush textured palate with very dry firm tannins, creamy oak and blackcurrant and plum fruit – and while initially there is a prickly, peppery feel it rounds out beautifully and finishes smooth and long. A lovely wine to accompany juicy rare steak that will cut right through the tannins - or put away in the cellar for a while.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

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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