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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2016 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2016
[ 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 – 20 Apr 2016
Some Pinot Noirs from the Cuisine Top 10 plus others
Wines were tasted blind.

Verde Methode Traditionelle NV
Light yellow gold with tiny bubbles and a fine rim of bead. The toasty, yeasty bouquet is reminiscent of Champagne and it is vibrantly fresh, bright and effervescent in the mouth with lemon mousse and delectable nutty savoury yeasty notes. A mouthfilling style made from a blend of Gisborne Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 18 months on yeast lees, it has a deliciously satisfying creamy finish and lingering nuances of stonefruit, marmite and toasted brioche. Gold and Trophy for top NZ bubbles NZIWS 2015 . Gold and Trophy Easter Show 2016.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2012
There's a sunshine brightness to the golden hue of this classy smelling Chardonnay. The bouquet is polished and the taste is bold, smooth and creamy with seamless flow and complexity from bottle age. A curvaceous Chardonnay with spiced nuts, bottled apricots, toasty oak and a mouthfilling savoury oak-embossed finish where the richness of the golden fruit comes through to linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Central Otago Rose 2015
Very attractive watermelon hue with crystal clear clarity. Cherries and wild strawberries fill the bouquet. It’s off dry to the taste with an appealing textural mouthfeel, hints of red cherries and early season plums, a bright touch of orange zest adding freshness and a subtle earthiness that’s a natural attribute of the off the pinot noir grape. There’s lots to like in this fuller style that has garnered much complexity since release.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Wairau River Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
There's a ruby brightness to the youthful Burgundy hue. The bouquet is sensuous with subtle smoky nuances and hints of spiced cherries, and the texture is smooth as it flows across the palate. The light tannins support the juicy red cherry and redcurrant fruits, there’s a momentary woody herb note, a touch of savouriness and a spicy flourish to the almost creamy finish where subtle nuances of woodsmoke waft through. A soft easy drinking style that’s full of Pinot’s charm and will definitely seduce the masses. 5 stars and no. 8 in the Cuisine Top 10.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Terra Sancta Mysterious Diggings Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
The deep dark hue is bright with crimson tinges on the edges. The concentrated bouquet is smoky with bittersweet red fruit to the fore – Morello cherries come foremost to mind. Reasonably full bodied and intense in the palate with moderately firm tannins, polished spicy oak and a sensual savoury depth where cranberry fruit comes forth with a juicy ripeness and the lingering finish is fleshy and dry. 5 stars and no. 7 in the Cuisine Top 10.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Ruby red. Ripe and creamy on the nose with a hint of boot leather. Savoury and spicy to the taste with soft smooth tannins and ripe, fleshy, juicy black cherries and darker berries. The fruit is balanced by the savouriness of the wine with hints of wild thyme and perhaps even a touch of bacon, and the finish is firm and dry. 4.5 stars. Cuisine Recommended.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Bannock Brae Goldfields Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Vibrant in its ruby crimson hue and the bouquet is magnetic with its sensuous smokiness, classic earthy savouriness and sumptuous juicy bottled black cherry fruit. Rich, ripe and fleshy with velvety tannins, aromatic spices (perhaps the most subtle hint of anise) and beautifully balanced savoury notes that are so in harmony with the generous fruit. Mouthfilling and satisfying and with its smart new packaging, it’s a crowd pleaser on every level. Not in the Cuisine Top 10 – a ring in.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
This is a complex savoury wine both on the nose and in the palate – and while the ruby hue is faded, perhaps indicative of its age, the wine blossoms on so many levels. Silky on entry but firm on the back palate where the richness of the wine simply compounds. There's a creamy voluptuousness, dark berry fruits, hints of crushed thyme and a touch of spice – maybe even a flourish of orange zest as the wine lingers. In summary a gorgeously savoury pinot with a sumptuous nature. I really like this. 5 stars and no. 3 in the Cuisine Top 10.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Wairau River Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
Dark pinky red. There’s a creamy nuance to the savoury oak bouquet with earthy notes and an evocative bittersweet red fruit / rosehip jelly allure. Full and savoury in the palate with generous cherry and plum fruit and a sensuous silky mouthfeel. Classy and stylish with a slight herbal fascination and a spicy flourish infusing the long and fleshy finish. Very complete and rounded as the aftertaste lingers. 5 stars and no. 1 in the Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Cape Barron Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. Chocolatey oak and mulberry jam fill the bouquet and the taste is powerful, sweet, savoury, spicy and peppery. A blockbuster of a wine with brushed velvet tannins and a profound savoury depth to balance the voluptuousness of the plump fleshy juicy blackberry and mulberry fruit, and the lingering finish leaves memories of chocolate, liquorice, hints of pepper and smoke.
14.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

E & E Black Pepper Barossa Shiraz 2006 – South Australia
This current release is inky black in the core of the glass progressing to fading brown-red on the edges. There's a fascinating mellow character to the bouquet and the tannins are super fine in the palate with seamless flow. The fruit is not really discernible any more - instead the wine is full of those wonderful savoury vinous complexities that come with bottle age with chocolate box, jaffa and well-polished cedar. A mellow wine to sip and savour as it shows it prowess when the aftertaste kicks in.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $89.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 13 Apr 2016
All Red
Wines were tasted blind.

Delegat Crownthorpe Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Light gold. Toasty oak, shea butter and grilled peaches fill the bouquet and the taste is bold, buttery, nutty, toasty, spicy and oaky with a powerful zesty vibrancy and juicy stonefruit and tropical fruit fleshing out the long tasty finish. A tip to Chardonnay buyers - Kingsley loves this. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $16.99.

Brennan B2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Youthful black cherry hue. A little dusty on the nose where perfumed savoury notes are infused with a sensual fruit sweetness. Spicy, savoury, earthy and just a little gamey in the palate with fresh acidity adding brightness, Morello and cranberry fruit balanced by a juicy plum sweetness, and a velvet edge to the silky texture. A moderately powerful pinot with body and flow, the grapes were grown in the Gibbston Valley.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $27.99.

Los Paso Mendoza Malbec Cabernet 2015 - Argentina
Medium dark red with a touch of garnet, more translucent than opaque. The bouquet offers up a plush fruitiness and an inviting pinot noir-like smoky savouriness that carries through to the palate to complement the juicy plum and glace cherry fruit. The velvety texture is rounded and smooth with the small amount of oak completely integrated and a touch of chocolate too. From the Septima stable, this lighter style is made from 60% Malbec, 40% Cabernet with only a portion of the Cabernet component having oak.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $12.99.

Llama Old Vine Mendoza Malbec 2013 by Belasco De Baquedano - Argentina
Striking dense dark red in hue. The bouquet offers up scents reminiscent of black forest cake on a platter of beautifully honed savoury oak and it's big, plump, ripe and juicy in the palate with layers of cocoa, macerated black cherries and cream. The tannins are seductively firm and there's a welcome earthy savoury almost tarry undercurrent together with a smidgen of spice but the opulent juicy fruit wins out on the day even though the finish is fashionably dry.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $22.99.

Barossa Valley Estate Barossa Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Inky black red. Full, rich and creamy on the nose with a tantalising vanillin oak allure infused with hints of cake spice. Spicy, savoury and earthy in the full-bodied palate with chocolate and spice, juicy mulberry and blackberry fruit, silk-edged velvety tannins with almost seamless flow and a wonderfully long creamy oak finish where a touch of mocha comes through. Irresistible already if you like this style.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Beresford Bell Tower McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. There's a savoury / briny / herbal nuance to the scent with a waft of chocolate floating through and the taste is foremost earthy and savoury with heat to the spices and slightly jammy dark berry fruit that’s seems still quite brooding. The tannins are fine and yet the wine is deceptively big. "Complex and though-provoking," says Andrew. it delivers more than the price would suggest.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $16.99.

The Crusher Wilson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Clarksburg, USA
Rich boysenberry red. The bouquet is immediately inviting – I get blackberries and raspberries, a touch of spice and smoky oak – 'peat smoke' says Warren next to me and yes, he is right. It's big, broad, fruity and juicy in the smooth creamy palate where the structure is soft and pillowy. There's vanillin oak and peppery spices and a peaty smokiness definitely comes through reminding me of the peat character you sometimes find in malt whiskey. Overall a chewy, chocolate berry milkshake wine with a slight confectionary note to the long, smooth, full-bodied finish and a smoky fascination.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $19.99.

Killakanoon Killerman's Run Clare Valley Shiraz – South Australia
Inky black red with concentrated dark berry fruits on the nose and wafts of cocoa. A very smart looking wine that’s smoky, savoury and quite firm in the palate with a wonderfully fine tannin spine, cigar box-like oak, dark red and black fruits, spice, leather, well balanced acidity, the most subtle suggestion of mint and a lingering aftertaste that is juicy and succulent. A sumptuous wine at a fabulous price that will reward even more with cellaring. Gold medal and Trophy for Commercial Red Wine, NZIWS 2015.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Haselgrove First Cut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Inky black red with purple edges. Vanillin oak and juicy ripe mulberries on the nose and juicy and fruity upfront in the palate. It's smooth and velvety with creamy oak, hints of mocha and a beautifully balanced cedary savouriness with a spicy flourish to the finish where a touch of chocolate emerges as the flavours linger. Ready to drink and enjoy right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $22.99.

Aramis Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
Deep dark red with a powerful bouquet that's a little dusty, a little herbal, but classically Australian with its super ripe aura, vanillin oak and bursts of fruit. Very dry on first tasting with fine but firm tannins, hints of cigar box and tobacco then the fruit revels - blackboy peach and red currant jelly that beautifully balances the earthy disposition of the wine. It's mouthfilling and complex with fine vinous extract and a deep, concentrated and terrifically long finish where a touch of mint emerges. Dinner party wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $29.99.

Saint Hallet Blackwell Barossa Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Purple black. The concentrated and complex bouquet offers up brooding red and black fruits with hints of mocha and spice and there's more of the same in the palate - coffee, mocha and a good shake of pepper. The tannins are fine and there's a intense savouriness to the wine with concentrated berry fruit sweetness to balance the savouriness beautifully. Then a hint of green pepper and a touch of bitter chocolate, cream oak and a wonderfully long finish with exceptional vinous extract.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 6 Apr 2016
Double Up: Value versus icon tasted in pairs.
Wines were tasted blind.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light gold in hue with a delicate toasty nuance to the bouquet together with a touch of stonefruit, and beautifully rounded and creamy in the medium to full-boded palate with the toast and stonefruit more pronounced and a touch of spice and zest on the finish that lingers deliciously. Young but exceptionally tasty, just perfect as the welcome wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 Twin Valleys Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Light gold with a creamed nut bouquet and creamy in the palate with hazelnuts, lemon, dried pineapple, spicy oak and all the markers of malolactic fermentation. Tonight it presents as crisp and dry and while it seems quite tight as it traverses the palate the lingering aftertaste reveals chardonnay beauty and generosity. A wine that doesn’t want to be served too chilled.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
This is medium gold in hue with a beautifully polished oak bouquet that also hints of stonefruit and caramel. It’s full-bodied, rounded, fleshy and juicy in the palate with malt nuances and savoury mealy undertones infusing the stonefruit and polished oak flavours and a flourish of zest lifting the spicy oak finish. A mouthfilling wine with powerful flavours that linger for ages.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago Riesling 2012
Light golden hued with a ravishing aroma toffee apple, honeysuckle and lime and a surprising fullness and roundness to the super juicy tropical fruit and citrus flavours that make this riesling so deliciously drinkable and appealing. There’s just a touch of kero to hint it has a little age and the crisp acidity pulsating through the finish makes the wine seem off-dry rather than medium-sweet as the 59 grams/litre of residual sugar would suggest. Loved it.
9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Wairau River Marlborough Summer Riesling 2015
Straw gold in hue with delicate talcum powder florals and citrus nuances to the bouquet that make you think you this Riesling is dry and with its crisp refreshing acidity is does seem dry on first tasting but juicy apple, citrus and sherbet pops out of the spritzy texture with slivers of sweetness shimmering through on the finish. 26 g/ rs. Champion Riesling Easter Show 2016.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011
Translucent garnet hue, hinting of a little age. Quite smoky and earthy on the nose with an impression of slightly cooked fruit and later perhaps the subtlest waft of chocolate box. Firm, ultra dry and ultra savoury in the palate – it seems more Burgundian than kiwi as it is so different to what we are used to, then as the flavours compound in the palate, bottled cherry fruit and cake spices are revealed and the lingering mouthfeel is silky. It’s definitely a wine to accompany food - perhaps venison back strap or lamb.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Ruby garnet, youthful in appearance. The bouquet is powerful with a dried rose petal potpourri and spice penetrating the savoury aura. In the mouth it has reasonably firm tannins, hints of roasted rosemary, an earthy savouriness and a slight struck match reductive character at first but underneath there's a plumpness to the sweet berry fruit and a silky flow. The crowd pleaser of the pair as voted by the hands-up poll. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Clearview Cape Kidnapper Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Inky blackberry red with a generous bouquet that offers up blackcurrant and cherry pie but it’s initially quite earthy, savoury and meaty in the palate with accents of pepper and spice, plush tannins and creamy oak. Full-bodied and mouthfilling - a beautifully ripe example with bright fruit flavours coming to the fore, well-balanced oak and a lingering savouriness.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Bilancia La Collina Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008
There's a burnished red hue to this older looking wine and the bouquet suggests it has bottle age too. There's a tantalising vanillin creaminess to the cigar box-like oak that wafts out of the glass and for a moment I am looking to the west island, but this is super ripe Hawkes Bay. Vanillin oak with spicy undertones fill the palate with what was once plummy fruit together with plenty of pepper-like heat and while the tannins seem moderately assertive they are fine textured in their flow and the finish is full-bodied and meaty. Quite mature but drinking beautifully tonight.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $93.99.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013
Bright crimson-edged black red. It smells soft, plump and fleshy with currants and cedar and the taste is savoury and spicy with firm plump velvety tannins that are indicative of its youth and juicy plums and red and black currant fruit. Delivers on taste, mouthfeel and value. Gold Air NZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Mills Reef Elspeth Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Inky purple black with savoury cedary oak, leather and dark red fruits filling the bouquet. This is a stellar wine with wonderfully ripe blackcurrant fruit over a savoury cedary backbone with hints of brine, spice and leather and beautifully fine presence and flow because although the tannins initially seem like they need resolving by the time the wine has traversed the palate the tannins are silky and harmonious. Champion Cabernet Easter Show 2015.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Aramis Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
Inky black red. Smoky oak, hints of mint, dark berry fruits on the nose and powerful in the mouth with firm tannins, ripe and slightly jammy red fruits, lashings of pepper, touches of mint, dark bitter chocolate and a very long savoury finish accented with harmonious French oak. A wine you can drink or cellar for many years.
14.5% 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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