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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

May 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 – 27 May 2015
Around The World
Wines were tasted blind.

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Light lemon gold. Quite a fresh, salty aroma then a waft of flint/struck match, like you get when you hit a hard rock with a hammer, this character carrying through to the palate with the smoky/struck match notes a little more obvious. Warm with a smooth texture, hints of peach and apple and a crisp bracing finish, it seems more European than antipodean.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Cave du Lugny Macon Villages Chardonnay 2013 - Burgundy, France
Light gold with a fresh, bright peachy bouquet and rich and oily in the palate with juicy apricot and melon and a long, full, savoury finish. A light touch of butter and hints of lemon bread add concentration and complexity to this charming unoaked aperitif style that would also suit lighter meals like pan-fried terakihi or butter-sizzled chicken tenders.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Marsden Estate Black Rocks Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2014
Light to medium gold, quite lustrous in appearance. Bold and creamy on the nose with toasty oak, tropical fruit and peach filling the palate and layers of caramel building up on the long, juicy finish. Another cracker from Rod McIvor, no need to say more!
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Jasci & Marchesani Pecorino 2013 - Abruzzo, Central Italy
Sunshine yellow. Touches of lanolin infuse the baked apple / apple butter scent and it’s fresh and aromatic to the taste with a warm lifted finish. Nuances of lemon thyme and mandarin pith add an earthy savouriness then, as the wine opens up in the glass and the flavours evolve on the lovely long finish, an exciting passionfruit tang comes through. While it's different to what we are used to it definitely has appealing aromatic attributes and would make an excellent aperitif. Mike Franklin sitting front of me said when travelling in Italy he and Jenny drank wines like this with a slice of peccorino cheese together with a slice of apple or pear. Sounds delish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2012 – California, USA
Rich maroon ruby with a luminous translucency. The bouquet is earthy, savoury and enticing with a touch of bacon joining woodsmoke and strawberries and fleshy black cherries filling the bright lifted palate. A youthful, fresh, earthy wine that has a gorgeous silky texture and a touch of spice on the long smoky finish. A must try Californian pinot at a very competitive price, I thought it outstanding.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Anciano Crianza Tempranillo 2010 - Rioja, Spain
Rich ruby crimson with a bouquet of redcurrants and leather. On first tasting the tannins seem firm and grippy and the wine seems a little tarry and leathery but the tannins dissolve into a silky flow with juicy fruit reminiscent of red cherries and early season (red skin / yellow flesh) plums, underlying sappy oak, touches of mocha and a jammy finish. Comes with traditional wire mesh cage around the entire bottle, a talking point for sure.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Septima Tempranillo 2013 - Mendoza, Argentina
Inky purple red with crimson edges. Perfumed red berries and rose petal scents with subtle nuances of leather. Rich, sweet and concentrated, full of blackcurrant jam with soft, smooth tannins, a touch of pepper adding brightness to the finish and an intriguing earthy / smoky depth. A juicy, easy going winter warmer.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Bisquertt Petirrojo Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Colchagua Valley, Chile
This inky purple red wine smells juicy and savoury with a touch of tar / bitumen that carries through to the firm, fleshy, velvety palate. Classic blackcurrant fruit with pencil shavings, plums and leather, and chocolate wafers stuck together with cream. Sweet-fruited and juicy with a touch of underlying acidity adding lift and a finish that goes on and on. Terrific wine.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kilikanoon Killerman's Run GSM 2012 - Clare Valley, South Australia
Inky purple red with a tantalising bouquet of sweet vanillin oak, juicy berries and spices. This is the awesome ‘OMG’ style of wine that takes my breath away. It’s rich and meaty, deep and earthy with a fantastic red and purple fruit profile together with chocolate, mocha, pepper, touches of mint, firm fleshy tannins and savoury vanillin oak the hero on the long seamless finish. Made from a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (Mataro), it’s almost a meal in a glass.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Darling Cellars Chocoholic Pinotage 2014 – Darling, South Africa
Even more inky purple with purple edges, the bouquet has enticing wafts of woodsmoke infusing upfront sweet purple fruit - yet there is an underlying earthy savouriness to the bouquet as well. Oak is a prominent feature in the spicy, silk-edged velvety palate. There are earthy touches reminiscent of Pinot Noir with the juicy spiciness of Syrah, subtle tarry notes and sweet plummy fruit together with creamy chocolate and mocha on the luscious, long lasting finish. A great introduction to Pinotage and dangerously drinkable.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Krohn Porto Senador (Tawny Port) NV - Portugal
Deep garnet with flashes of ruby and a tawny edge. The rancio character of old oak barrels and grape brandy spirit abounds on the nose and it’s warm and spirituous in the mouth with a texture like liquid honey. The heady flavours remind me of molasses and caramel with the rancio oak adding a nutty richness and a touch of orange liqueur on the raisiny finish - like when you pour brandy over Xmas cake fruit mix and the orange peel comes to the fore. Nice finish.
19% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 20 May 2015
Wines were tasted blind.

Thistle Ridge Waipara Chardonnay 2013
Light gold in hue with a ripe stone fruit bouquet that has apricot and sweet citrus to the fore. Smooth and creamy to the taste with juicy stonefruit, a zesty bite and a well-balanced mealy savoury finish that expands as the flavours linger leaving a rounded aftertaste with a flourish of malt and caramel. Made by Greystone Wines, it’s a lovely bright fresh start to the evening.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $17.99.

Marisco The Kings Bastard Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Light yellow gold. Creamy malty bouquet with a whisper of butterscotch. Rounded and creamy in the palate with a spicy oak richness, a mealy undercurrent, hints of nectarine and a citrussy edge to the finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $18.99.

Terra Sancta Riverblock Central Otago Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet of this light gold stunner offers up gunsmoke and grapefruit and it is bold and funky in the palate with the complexity of wild yeast barrel ferment. Very dry yet there's a succulent stonefruit sweetness infusing smoky, savoury, mealy, flavours with malo characters adding a classy Burgundian-like allure. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $25.99.

Invivo Michelle's Central Otago Chardonnay 2013
Light gold. Quite malty on the nose, a character that belies the upfront bright fruity taste that is all tropical fruit with melons and a touch of pineapple, yet there is a lovely savoury mealy richness and a funky gunsmoke character infusing the long lifted finish. Fruit from the Lowburn area. Gold AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $28.99.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
The shy bouquet of this light yellow gold number offers up sweet oatmeal biscuit notes with a waft of peach yet it is a bold flavoured wine, more powerful than the wines that have preceded it tonight. It's full of sappy oak with fleshy peach and a very long, rounded, creamy, lemon butter finish.
13.1% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2013 – California, USA
A fully developed, golden-hued, big, bold, buttery chardonnay with a grilled peach bouquet and a full, fat taste with orange /mandarin marmalade, orange honey, candied tropical fruit and a rich, toasty, creamy, mouthfilling finish. Made in a retro Californian style it’s ready to drink now, just don’t overchill.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $25.99.

Clearview White Caps Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Clearview’s take on their original big, bold, buttery style of 25 years ago but perhaps should have been tasted before the ultra big, ultra bold, ultra buttery Californian wine tonight. The nutty savoury bouquet carries through to the palate where grapefruit is the first character noted together with lemonade citrus, and the texture is fine and creamy.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $28.99.

Mountford Estate Waipara Chardonnay 2009
Light yellow gold. Rich, ripe and creamy on the nose with butter toffee and dry, sappy, cedary oak. It tastes like a full, rich Burgundian style with masses of malo and sweet mealy notes, hints of melon and a long, dry, spicy oak finish and while it has an aura of maturity there is still has plenty of acidity underpinning the bold toasty winemaking derived flavours. It gets better and better as it opens up in the small tasting glass, so do it justice by serving in a Montrachet glass.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $54.99.

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light gold with a tantalising creamy, malty bouquet infused with honeyed oak. There are lots of interesting characters in this beautifully refined wine but foremost I find it nutty and savoury with touches of stonefruit, a bubble gum estery youthfulness, a nougat-like sweetness and a long seamless finish. A beautiful, beautiful wine with all the markers for longevity. One of the stars of the night.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $69.99.

Kendall Jackson Estate Camelot Highlands Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay 2012 – California, USA
Light yellow gold. Sweet smoky vanillin oak fills the bouquet of this full, rich, creamy, toasty wine that has a roasted hazelnut savouriness, a butterscotch sweetness and well balanced mandarin-like acidity with a touch of spiced honeyed oak coming into play. A bold, full-bodied wine with a profound presence, it comes in a big heavy bottle that befits its opulent taste.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $44.99.

Vidal Legacy Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light gold with a lustrous sheen. The bouquet and taste is all class. It’s dry and flinty with gunsmoke and grapefruit, very fine textured, very pure, perhaps a little bit tight and lean but will unfold beautifully with a little more time. An exciting chardonnay with grilled peach emerging, a tantalising malty undercurrent and a deliciously long finish. A magnificent end to one of the best First Glass tastings this year, this wine has multiple golds and multiple trophies to its name.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 13 May 2015
Top Value
Wines were tasted blind.

Rapaura Springs Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Light gold in hue with quite a soft creamy, nutty bouquet that has a zing of mandarin and hints of autumn fruit. Melon, apricot and tropical fruit fill the warm, soft, textural palate that has a mealy savoury undercurrent and a zesty zippy bright aromatic finish. The oak is so well integrated it adds to the textural complexity rather than the taste.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $11.99.

Coopers Creek SV ‘The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Medium gold coloured with a bouquet that is warm, rich, bold and creamy with smoky cedar and grilled peach - these traits all carrying through to the flamboyantly oaky palate. The finish is full and long savoury leesy characters, ripe juicy peach and smoky bacon. There is no doubt to the variety of this wine that at this early part of the evening is hard for many of the chardonnay lovers to resist.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Pask Declaration Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Bright lemon gold. While oaky on the nose and again in the palate it is such a different style to the Coopers Creek. The taste has upfront spicy nutty oak yet there is a soft mellow character accruing. The distinctly citrussy undercurrent initially has me thinking this is from a more southern region than Hawkes Bay but the acidity integrates beautifully as the wine becomes smooth and creamy with layers of grilled peach, hazelnut, malt, savoury oak and vanilla. Classy dinner party wine with a long persistent finish. Gold Easter 2014.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2012
Light gold in hue. Heady and floral on the nose with a perfume of crystallised violets and rose musk. The mouthfeel is soft and rounded and the fruit, that’s reminiscent of lychees in syrup, is a powerful feature with zingy accents of white pepper and ginger. There’s obvious sweetness but the well-balanced candied orange and grapefruit acidity gives the finish an impression of being much drier. No doubt at all what the variety is.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Gruss Alsace Les Roches Gewurztraminer 2013 - Eguisheim, Alsace, France
Light lemon gold in hue, this is delicately aromatic yet still representative of the distinctive Gewurztraminer variety. The texture is fine and the wine seems pure and clean with a satin-soft mouthfeel and flow. Off dry, balanced in its sweetness with lemon honey, lemon verbena, poached pears in spices, and a touch of orange marmalade to the very long ethereal finish, you can see why Alsace is Gewurztraminer’s true home.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Mission Reserve Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012
Pale pinky red, translucent, like cherry juice in a way. Typical earthy savoury scents of the variety and the first impression in the medium-bodied palate is quite savoury / herbal / dusty / earthy in a low level ‘Bourgogne Rouge’ kind of way. The tannins are soft and wallowy and the red fruits are a little confectionary (think jubes) with the sweetness brought into check by a peppery / herbaceous tang. Quite different from the gold medal 2011 of this label, this is a quaffer that is not to be taken seriously.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Castano Molino Loco Monastrell 2013 – Yecla, Spain
Rich marone red, dense in appearance with bright pinky edges. Full, rich bouquet of plums, cedar and tobacco. Bright and juicy in the palate with fruit reminiscent of plums, redcurrants and brambles, a medium-bodied creamy flow, firm tannins, hints of pepper and a youthful freshness to the spicy finish. Molino Loco means Crazy Windmill and this is a crazy price with plenty of tasty drinking for a tenner.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $9.99.

Chateau De Pennautier 2012 – Cabardes AOC, Languedoc-Rousillon, France
This fascinating blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Grenache and Syrah is a red plum colour – earthy-hued, fading and translucent in appearance. The bouquet is shy and a little herbal at first but coaxing out the scent with plenty of swirling reveals raspberry and black cherry. A thick textured wine with firm tannins that have a furry edge, dark earthy flavours with tinges of graphite and coal, red fruits and a savoury finish. Definitely a wine to have with food - a hearty winter cassoulet, for example.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Matane Negroamaro 2012 – Puglia, Italy
Youthful purple ruby with considerable depth of colour and vivid crimson edges. Shy on the nose but makes up for this with its full-bodied, creamy, spicy, peppery flavours. A very modern, new world style of wine with big, plush, pillowy tannins, sweet fruit reminiscent of plums, prunes and currants, well-balanced oak and an earthy savoury undercurrent that offsets the fruit just beautifully. Looking extremely smart on the night.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Inky purple black with massive colour concentration. Voluptuous aromas of creamy vanillin oak and spiced dark berries, and a powerful presence in the full-bodied mouthfilling palate. It’s spicy and savoury with mint and liquorice, cherry and mulberries, a touch of chocolate, full firm tannins with beautifully rounded edges and lashings of oak and pepper. A hedonist's wine with a rich vinous finish, you can drink now or confidently cellar for many years.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Peter Lehmann 8 Songs Barossa Shiraz 2009 – South Australia
Concentrated black red, fine in appearance. Shy on the nose with nuances of sweet oak and chewed HB lead pencils. Developing some maturity, it has a mellow aura with chocolate biscuits, peppery spices, big tannins yet fine-textured tannins, pencil-like oak and a dry sappy finish. The sweet red fruits are fading and the wine seems to be nearing its peak but will linger on the plateau before descending. If you like wine with a little maturity that you don’t have to wait to evolve in your own cellar, this is for you. It’s ready to enjoy now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

John Forrest Collection Noble Riesling 2013
Bright yellow gold with a citrine glow. A stunning bouquet of candied citrus and apricots with runny honey and botrytis. Barley sugar sweet with bright fresh acidity cutting right through it and a marmalade bite to the deliciously long, lightly viscous finish. Gold AirNZ 2014.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99 for a full 750-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 6 May 2015
New to First Glass
Wines were tasted blind.

Coupers Shed Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
Light yellow gold with a tempting creamy butterscotch and smoky savoury oak bouquet and a bright spicy taste with a toasty richness, grilled stonefruit and touches of grapefruit on the long savoury finish where the fruit and oak are in harmony. Garnering complexity from the three years of bottle age and pretty smart drinking.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Xanadu Margaret River Chardonnay 2012 – Western Australia
Light citrine gold. Quite malo on the nose with a savoury barrel ferment allure then crisp and clean in the palate with a mealy, biscuity, lemon brightness, all the while the mouthfeel rounded and expansive with a delicious buttered toast and lemon honey lusciousness to the long, sweet cedary oak finish. I love the mellow notes that are starting to emerge, adding additional complexity as the wine develops. Tastes more expensive than it is. Classy wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Mosswood Margaret River Chardonnay 2012 - Australia
Light gold in colour with a bouquet that radiates savoury oak with a funky mealy barrel ferment character and nutty notes adding to its charm. A tangy, bright, creamy tasting wine with tantalising flavours of juicy melon and tropical fruit accented with a pineapple freshness over a dry cedary, savoury backbone with subtle nuances of potter's clay, and penetrating length and depth. The star of the trio tonight, this legendary wine is mouthfilling, long and very fulfilling – an absolute treat to try.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $66.99.

Milcrest Estate Nelson Pinot Gris 2014
This lustrous, light gold-hued wine emits a heady bouquet where subtle hints of musk and lychee infuse the aromatic fragrance of spiced apple and poached pear. The abundant apple and pear in the palate and an almost gewurztraminer-like spiciness makes this seem a ripe luscious style but the sweetness is balanced by a zesty orange / mandarin brightness with a spritzy tingle of ginger jazzing up the finish. Juicy, off dry and very tasty – Sam recommends Asian cuisine but I'd love to match it to tender pork as well.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Gran Sasso La Bella Adormentata Sangiovese 2013- Abruzzo, Italy
Opaque black red. Savoury and plummy on the nose with touches of pencil and graphite lead. Earthy and savoury tasting with sweet dark purple plums and blackcurrant jelly fruits, a touch of liquorice, a nuance of boot leather, then fresh acidity imparting a jaffa-like lift and brightness. More medium than full-bodied in palate weight with a smooth silky texture and a long, juicy, easy-going finish.
12% alc. Plastic Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Mount Brown Estate Waipara Pinot Noir 2013
Rich dark red with violet purple edges. Sweet, rich and savoury smelling with a musky floral allure and hints of Turkish Delight – the fruit sweet impression from the nose carries through to the palate, where there is an intriguing grapefruit-like zestiness together with bittersweet red fruits, a savoury undercurrent and a mulled wine spiciness. Plush, smooth, velvet-edged tannins impart a soft mouthfeel and all together, it is a very rewarding wine. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Monteabellon Avaniel Tempranillo 2013 – Ribero del Duero, Spain
Dark blackcurrant red. Quite earthy, savoury and rustic on the nose with aromas of ripe black cherries and bramble berries emerging. Quite dry / drying, like sucking on a pencil, in the front to mid palate with the earthy savouriness of the nose but a lot more meaty and funky and just a little herbal too. Very much showing its Old World provenance in a medium side of full-bodied style, becoming quite succulent with the bramble fruit shining brightly on the fine tannined savoury finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Mission Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Inky blackberry red. Enticing red wine fragrance to the bouquet with a subtle cedar smokiness, floral notes and a touch of chocolate. Full bodied and robust in the palate with fresh acidity and tobacco underpinning the plum and bramble fruit, velvet edged silky tannins, and a long dry finish. Great value with plenty of oomph for the price. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Diam cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Coto de Hayas Fagus Garnacha 2009 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Dark red, the colour starting to mellow with a little fading noticeable on the edges. The bouquet is rich and robust with sweet spicy vanillin oak and mocha and the taste is rich, sweet, spicy and initially almost raisin / porty with touches of liquorice then lashings of cherry and blackberry jelly and a well balanced earthy savouriness. Full and fleshy with a juicy lipsmacking succulence to the lingering finish, there is lots to like here.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Partisan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Inky black red. Cedary on the nose with dark fruits and a hint of chocolate but in the mouth it initially presents as a more old fashioned, fine textured, dry red style with an earthy undercurrent, woody herbs and touches of tobacco. Then the fruit takes over and it is all brimming with succulence, finishing dry with a sprinkling of pepper.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Mr Riggs Piebald Syrah 2010 – South Australia
A blend of fruit from McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills, this is a rich dark red with the most subtle suggestion of bricking on the edges. The bouquet is big, rich, meaty and spicy with concentrated blackcurrant and cedar, and the taste is soft, smooth, spicy and creamy with an opulent presence. With its smoky savouriness, concentrated fleshy red and purple fruit, layers of nut chocolate and a deliciously long plush mouthfilling finish, it’s definitely hard to resist. Outstanding value and easily the red wine of the night for many, me included. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

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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