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

August 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 www.firstglass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 31 Aug 2016
Big Brother, Little Brother
Wines were tasted blind.

First pair

Kendall-Jackson Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2014 – California, USA
Golden hued. Mellow savoury oak, peach and butterscotch nuances both on the nose and in the buttery palate that's also brimming with lemon biscuit flavours, dusty oak, tingles of zesty acidity and a long, soft, creamy, mouthfilling finish with hints of toffee and caramel.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Camelot Highlands Chardonnay 2013 – California, USA
Deep golden hued. Toasty and buttery on the nose then big, rich and malty in the palate with touches of peach, sultana biscuits, creamy oak and a freshness to the smoky, savoury finish with butter caramel flavours lingering. A mouthfilling wine that exudes class and definitely the ‘big brother’ of the pair.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Second Pair

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Riesling 2011
Made by Ceres, the bouquet is lime and honeysuckle with a whisper of wine biscuits and kero. Bright, fresh, aromatic and zesty in the off-dry palate with juicy lemon, lime and apple flavours balanced by a touch of manuka honey with a flinty, slightly earthy undercurrent. Seems to me to be just on the cusp of off dry but as Andrew says, "Not so dry that it makes you shudder.”
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Ceres Black Rabbit Vineyard Central Otago Riesling 2015
Apple sherbet fills the bouquet then in the palate the juicy fruit is layered with honeysuckle with mouthwatering green apple and mandarin acidity that is well-balanced and not overpowering. Off dry to medium dry in sweetness perception, it’s clean, crisp, zesty and fresh. Gold Easter Show.
10.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Third Pair

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014 Translucent purple garnet. Quite savoury and leathery on the nose with a touch of tar and rosehip then intriguingly firm and savoury in the medium-bodied finely textured palate that brims with raspberry and red cherry fruit, spice, youthful acidity and an earthy, gamey finish where cherry chocolate emerges.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
This is rich in colour with concentrated cherry and plum fruit filling the bouquet that gives an impression the wine is smooth and mellow – and it is indeed smooth on first tasting then the velvety tannins kick in to add structure and framing. An earthy, savoury pinot with red and black cherry fruit, woodsmoke and a spicy brightness to the finish that is powerful and long. All the generosity expected from Central Otago, it’s a very handsome big brother tonight.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $40.99.

Fourth Pair

Delas Saint-Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone 2013 – Rhone Valley, France
This is a medium-weight red both in colour and body. The savoury, gamey bouquet has nuances of red currant jelly with a slight herbal veneer. A juicy, spicy, savoury tasting wine with a smooth silky flow, it has Syrah’s typical peppery accents with an underpinning of leather, youthful tannins, red fruits and brightness to the finish. A blend of mostly Syrah with a touch of Grenache, this food wine (think rosemary roasted lamb served with a spiced redcurrant jus) it’s enjoyable immediately.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Les Clos du Caillou Reserve Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 – Southern Rhone, France
Dark red, saturated in the glass. The bouquet is voluptuous and inviting – Christmas cake and crushed cameo creme chocolate biscuits come to mind. It’s ripe, rich, spicy and vibrantly peppery to the taste with blackberries, blackcurrants, black cherries, violets, musk, liquorice, mocha and underlying earthy, leathery smoky, savoury notes. A magnificent wine made in a modern style from a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% old vine Mourvedre, it’s smooth, seamless and a delight to taste. Serve in a big glass and savour.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $99.99.

Fifth Pair

Rosemount District Release McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Youthful red black. The bouquet is all blackcurrant and fine in its aura, as it the texture of the wine – fine with firm tannins in behind. Seems quite dry to start with moderate palate weight but compounds in richness and flavour with integrated oak ensuring the bramble fruit remains expressive and pure.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Inky dark red. Cassis and chocolatey oak tantalise the nose and it is full-bodied and juicy in the palate with concentrated blackcurrant, plum and mulberry fruit, a velvet cream texture, savoury oak, vanilla, underlying earth and tar, and hints of chocolate biscuits and eucalypt as the comforting and satisfying flavours linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Sixth Pair

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Saturated purple red with a fragrant bouquet that offers up aromas of mocha and cake spices with a hint of pepper and savoury oak, and the taste is full of succulent red and black fruits, creamy oak, big mouthfilling velvety textured tannins and a well balanced savoury undercurrent. Fabulously approachable with a smooth seamless flow. 5 stars & No.1 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Jim Barry McRae Wood Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
An opulent looking wine, the bouquet smells fine and polished with succulent cherry fruit and a waft of mint that seems so fresh. Voluptuous and creamy in the mouth with a lovely touch of vanillin oak, juicy red and black fruits, mocha, mint chocolate, liquorice and a zing of pepper. The oak is quite assertive on the finish and frames the juicy ripe fruit. A blockbuster that begs to accompany a juicy steak.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $56.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 24 Aug 2016
All Brand New
Wines were tasted blind.

Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay 2013 - California, USA
A golden chardonnay with a creaminess to the nutty oak bouquet and smooth tasting with mellow oak, juicy acidity, fleshy stonefruit and a touch of spice on the long buttery finish. Approachable and drinkable.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

The Landing Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2015 – Northland, NZ
Golden in colour. Tropical fruit and creamy nutty oak on the nose carries through to the palate that's smooth, savoury and mealy with sizzled butter and spice and a touch of pineapple adding brightness to the long, mouthfilling finish. Lovely touches of fleshy stonefruit emerge with hints of butter caramel while fresh acidity keeps the wine seamless and balanced.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Wild Grace Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
A moderate gold colour. Creamy and mealy on the nose with touches of stonefruit. Full, mealy, yeasty and textural in the palate with a savoury earthy depth, sweet nutty oak to the fore and grilled stonefruit joining in on the fleshy finish. A powerful wine yet elegant at the same time. From Corner 50 and the cooler inland Crownthorpe area. Last stocks of this wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Gustave Lorentz Alsace Pinot Gris 2014 – Alsace, France
Quite light in hue. The bouquet is faint with perhaps a hint of lemon balm. Sweet tropical fruit fills the palate. An off dry style with light viscosity to the texture and a burst of lemon to the juicy fruity finish.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Giesen Riesling 2016
The bouquet of this lighter hued wine abounds with the scent of tropical fruit and perhaps a touch of lychee. Full of flavour in the palate with honey, apple and tropical fruit including cherimoya and yellow guava. A blend of Marlborough and Waipara fruit, this lower alcohol, medium sweet style will relish chilling — it’s one for blue sky summer sipping.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Ruby garnet hue. The bouquet is cherry with a waft of oak and the most subtle hint of anise. Initially spicy, woody and savoury to the taste with a little stalky quiver that together with the upfront furry tannins and lifted acidity make it seem quite tight and youthful. Yet there is an elegance to the flow and the lingering aftertaste brims with dark cherries and spice and vinosity. This blend from the Bendigo and Pisa subregions presents as more savoury than fruity at this stage of its life. A good one to cellar.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
There are purple hints to the plush ruby hue and the bouquet is fruity and generous. A big mouthful of pinot with red and black cherries, juicy spiced plums, svelte tannins, a sensual savouriness, smoky oak and a long flavoursome finish with touches of chocolate coming through. 100% Bannockburn fruit and reminiscent of the wonderful 2013 vintage of this label, it’s seductively drinkable already but will take some cellaring too.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Quinto do Crasto Flor de Castro 2014 - Douro, Portugal
Dark red coloured with a youthful brightness. The bouquet is savoury and leathery with hints of tobacco and the first impression in the palate is firm with a polished savouriness. But it absolutely brims with brambly fruit, the tannins are fine and the lifted finish is juicy and bright. A medium-bodied style made from a blend of Tinto Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional from the impossibly steep slopes of the Douro.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Step by Step South Australian Shiraz 2014
Fading blood red in hue and perfumed with jammy red fruit and vanillin oak. It seems a little mellow, as if it has some bottle age, and the tannins are velvety in their flow. Smoky, slightly gamey with sweet plummy fruit, a peppery bite and a touch of acidity on the finish, it’s a simple, uncomplicated style and ready to go.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $9.99.

Sacred Hill Brokenstone 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Bright red black with a shiny appearance. The bouquet is plums, raspberries and blackberries with winey oak / cedar, and ripe fruit fills the palate. A sumptuous wine that seems so balanced and smooth even though the tannins are firm and grippy and become quite assertive on the finish with the cedary, savoury oak quite noticeable too. All the while it’s layered with dark chocolate, tobacco, cigar box and hints of mint with wonderful extract and complexity and the fruit so ripe and concentrated as the flavours linger. A blend of 83% Merlot, 8% Malbec, 5% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc aged in French oak (33% new).
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Sacred Hill Helmsman 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Inky purple red. Concentrated blackcurrant and polished cedar on the nose. The tannins are furry and firm and still unresolved while the fruit is complex and deep with redcurrants, blackcurrants and plums coming to mind with touches of cake spice, nut chocolate, and cedar and a long mouthfilling finish with a touch of pepper. What stands out in this wine is the extract and vinous complexity and the fragrant lingering finish where the tannins seem to integrate and dissolve. Made from a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc aged in French oak (50% new), there’s years ahead of this wine that’s should be cellared right now.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $67.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 17 Aug 2016
Cuisine Magazine Top 10 Chardonnays 2016
Wines were tasted blind.

Babich Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
The bouquet of this light hued wine has vibrant aromas of pineapple and pear, hints of banana and touches of oatmeal. It’s a juicy, fruit forward, medium-bodied style with fresh acidity, loads of tropical fruit, brightness to the zesty finish and an increasing mealy richness that adds a welcome savouriness as the wine lingers. An unoaked wine with an unbelievable result of 5 stars & Cuisine No 1.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Gibbston Valley China Terrace Central Otago Chardonnay 2015
Light gold, clear and bright. The bouquet is concentrated and full with hints of grapefruit, just out of the oven vanilla biscuits, a waft of nutmeg and a sweet yeasty aura. The taste is concentrated and creamy with youthful acidity, an amalgam of citrus accented with apple and hints of ginger, an earthy flinty undercurrent and wild yeast esters. It has a profound depth of flavour, beautifully honed integrated oak and a juicy succulence to the zesty finish that is long and persistent.
5 stars & Cuisine No 4. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Grapefruit and butter caramel fill the honey-coated bouquet with concentrated savoury nuances wafting through. An approachable, mouthfilling and very appealing style with hints of malt, toasty oak, a creamy flow, a beautifully balanced savouriness, a flinty undercurrent, and a rich, powerful, reasonably dry finish. Very juicy and very tasty with roasted stonefruit and hints of baked caramelised lemon lingering – one of the standouts on the night. 5 stars & Cuisine No 5.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: 19.99

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Quite reductive and a little pongy when first sniffed immediately after pouring but this subsides to reveal stonefruit and mealy notes with touches of cedar. The taste is full-bodied, powerful, savoury, spicy and a little earthy at this stage of its life with vibrant citrus-infused tingles on the front of the tongue, a flinty slightly lean mid palate then quite savoury and soft on the back palate finishing with concentrated honeyed oak and grilled stonefruit with a nutty complexity and mouthfilling length. 5 stars & Cuisine No 9.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Rod McDonald Wines Quarter Acre Hawkes Bay Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015
The bouquet unlocks a memory of original blue-green Radox mineral bath salts as well as more typical savoury, toasty, mealy nuances while deep inhaling reveal hints of sandalwood and hand cream. Focused and restrained in a Burgundian style – it’s savoury, flinty, earthy and malty with spicy oak and a seamless flow, not overtly fruity – perhaps pear and a hint of pepino, and while it doesn’t seem big at first it builds in concentration and packs a punch on the finish with lingering notes of lemon and lime. Fascinating wine. 5 stars & Cuisine No 8.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2015
Tropical fruit fills the bouquet with complex, nutty, savoury, mealy notes and hints of grilled nectarine adding to the allure, and the taste is full-bodied and toasty with hazelnut, cedar and nutmeg notes, a complex mealiness, a beautiful almost butterscotch overtone and a sweet smokiness wafting through the honeyed oak finish that has bright, spicy accents. Wonderfully persistent, mouthfilling and long. 5 stars & Cuisine No 5.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
This wine really got the tasters talking as it’s quite different to the wines before it. Upfront reductive struck match characters on the bouquet then very attractive mealy, savoury, cedary scents that echo in the palate where the initial impression is all juicy ripe stonefruit, yet the wine is flinty and dry with grapefruit coming through in a meticulous balancing role. There are also hints of mineral bath salts with the mealy yeasty flavours more pronounced on the long, concentrated, mouthfilling finish. 5 stars & Cuisine No 2.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
The bouquet is creamy with very desirable smoky nuances and the taste seems juicy and forward with honeyed oak, nectarine and tropical fruit and a creamy flow yet there is a Burgundian-like restraint to the mid palate of the wine with its flinty, nutty, savoury, smoky undertones and lemonade fruit providing well-balanced acidity, then broadening out again on the finish with hints of just-ripe crisp white peach and vanilla custard coming through nicely. Drinking beautifully now but plenty of life ahead of it. 4.5 stars & Cuisine No 10.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Giesen Single Vineyard The Fuder Clayvin Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
This is a big, gold, bold smelling wine with caramel-coated yeasty funk filling the bouquet and while it seems acid driven in the palate with is abundant grapefruit and citrus flavours the deep, rich sweetly smoked meaty savoury undercurrent makes it mouthfilling and complex. Hints of stonefruit emerge and while there is a flinty, earthy, dry gravelly note to the lingering finish the overall impression is creamy and long. 5 stars & Cuisine No 7.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Struck match on the nose subsides to reveal rather appealing mealy, malty scents. A super bold style of wine with all the bells and whistles – it's got butter caramel, malt, spice, stonefruit and citrus with tingling youthful acidity. It’s concentrated and mouthfilling with a seamless flow, finishing with a wine biscuit complexity and a flinty savouriness lingering. 5 stars & Cuisine No 3.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Giesen Single Vineyard The Fuder Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2012
Bright yellow gold, the colour of butter and very deep in hue compared to the other wines in the tasting tonight. Beautifully honed savoury oak fills the bouquet and the taste is rich, full-bodied, buttery, creamy, spicy and savoury and super smooth in its flow with a mellow character usually seen in older wines – the acidity and oak very integrated with hints of gunflint and luscious peach flavours miraculously appearing as the flavours linger. A fully mature wine for drinking rather than cellaring.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 10 Aug 2016
New arrivals and some revisits
Wines were tasted blind.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2012
The bouquet of this glossy gold wine is full and aromatic with wafts of kero that hints of a little age, then scents of lemon sherbet biscuits with a slight savoury edge. Concentrated and acid-driven – like a lemon and honey drink with more, this is fairly dry yet mouthfilling, textural, persistent and long with a lasting bright zesty zing.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Moderate gold in hue. Nutty savoury scents fill the bouquet with fascinating funky wild yeast nuances in harmony. Noticeably dry in the palate with mealy, savoury, wild yeast flavours underpinning the fruit that's like stonefruit tending towards dried tropical fruits with a zing of citrus. The fruit is mellow and integrating nicely with the oak that seems a little more honeyed on the mouthfilling finish that oozes elegance and finesse with the nutty savoury mealy flavours lingering beautifully.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Pukeora Estate Central Hawkes Bay Limestone Hills Chardonnay 2014
Golden yellow. Powerful, concentrated aromas of citrus butter and buttery oak with a savoury complexity. A big, bold, mouthfilling wine full of juicy yellow fruit with a buttery halo, integrated savoury oak and a grapefruit zing to long, smooth, creamy and just off-dry finish. From vineyards on the hill surrounding the old sanatorium in Waipukurau south of Napier, Pukeora means 'hill of health.'
14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Wooing Tree Central Otago 'Blondie' 2016
The bouquet hints of pear drops and strawberry water and while it initially smells a little like pinot gris it is actually made from 100% pinot noir without skin contact, hence the barely-there pink hue. Crisp and dry in the palate with hints of dry cherry, a suggestion of almond, a touch of spice and a bright zing of citrus as the wine lingers, it’s actually quite complex as it evolves with every sip.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Vidal Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Brightly coloured and alluringly aromatic with scents of spiced plums and cherries, a hint of woodsmoke and a suggestion of violet jam. In the mouth the youthful tannins seem a little chalky at first but it’s nevertheless immediately approachable with harmonious fruit and savoury flavours with a well-balanced gamey undercurrent, a smoky aura and bright punchy fruit on the finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2013 – Tuscany, Italy
Translucent ruby garnet in hue with aromas a little barnyard stinky at first but swirling reveals cherries and a slight salinity with the evolving bouquet becoming concentrated and deep. Initially incredibly dry, tannic, a little herbal, rustic and savoury with a touch of orange coming through on the finish but the dried cherry and redcurrant fruit compounds with the vinosity of the wine coming through nicely as it lingers. Made to go with food, it’s a blend of 90% Sangiovese with 10% merlot and syrah (up to 20% ‘approved varieties' are allowed in Chianti Classico these days).
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Coto de Hayas Vinas del Cierzo 2011 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Fairly opaque dark red. Bouquet is rich and ripe smelling with concentrated red fruits and hints of liquorice and the flavours are bold, ripe and juicy with succulent soft-dried blackcurrants and plums over a savoury backbone with hints of liquorice, graphite and tar, big mouthfilling velvet-coated furry tannins and a long, opulent finish. Made from a blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Mazuela with 12 months in oak.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Sileni The Triangle Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Deep dark red. A little herbal and leathery on the nose with hints of mint, brooding dark fruit and cedary oak – it smells ripe and definitely nods toward Bordeaux varieties but we find out it is 100% Merlot. A finely textured, elegant wine with cassis, plums, nuances of dried herbs, firm tannins and chocolate emerging on the lingering finish where the tannins integrate and the lasting impression is muscular yet smooth.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Leveret Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2009
Although the colour is more translucent than opaque, this blend of 65% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Syrah smells glorious and smooth with mellow vanillin oak and concentrated cherry and plum fruit that carries through to the palate. With additional flavours of chocolate biscuits, savoury oak, chicory and dried herbs including a bright smidgen of mint, this is beautifully refined, smooth and polished in its flow. Five years in new and older French oak then further time in the bottle makes it mouthfilling and complete. Fabulous buy for a mature mellow wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

McManis Family Vineyards Petite Syrah 2014 - California
Inky black red with a bright, vibrant bouquet that offers up chocolate in spades together with leather and spice. A blockbuster of a wine in the mouth with firm upfront tannins that relent to a plush, velvety flow, big gobs of purple fruit, liquorice, spices, wood, chocolate, strawberry and mochaccino with cherries emerging on the juicy, fleshy, long, mouthfilling finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2012 – Barossa Valley, South Australia
Opaque dark red. The bouquet is aromatic with cocoa and red berries and hints of a finely textured wine with finesse – which it is. This tastes distinctly like Australian Cabernet with its concentrated cassis, hints of mint, cigar box, cedar and finely textured tannins but is superbly supported by the flesh and plump of Petite Verdot, the aromatic lift of Cabernet Franc and the mouthfilling softness of Merlot all harmonising together to provide a long, juicy finish with red fruit lingering.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2013 – Barossa Valley, South Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. The aromatics of this wine ooze opulence and class and while the woody, cedary aromas make it seem like it has little age it is relatively youthful so perhaps just a little closed and brooding tonight. Concentrated, full-bodied and mouthfilling with firm textured velvety tannins, fleshy boysenberry and mulberry fruit, touches of spice, vanilla, chocolate, a beautifully honed infusion of mint, everything really. Matured in American and French oak for 12 months with further time in the bottle, this immensely satisfying wine has a savoury aura and a wonderfully long finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $66.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Aug 2016
Albert Mann with Jacky Barthelme and Jean-Christophe
Wines were not tasted blind.

Albert Mann has 23 hectares of vines, has been organic since 1990 and biodynamic since 1997. Jacky Barthelme co-owns the vineyard with his brother Maurice. Jean-Christophe Poizat of Maion Vauron represents Albert Mann in New Zealand and took the opportunity to show us some of his fabulously priced southern France reds after the terrific Albert Mann selection was completed.

Albert Mann Cremant D'Alsace Extra Brut 2013 – Alsace France
The bouquet is like the rain on sun-baked vineyard gravel stones and the foamy mousse makes the first taste seem almost creamy. The mousse subsides to reveal a delightfully crisp fresh bubbles with a racy lemon / apple seam, a hint of honey, a savoury yeasty complexity and underlying flint and salinity. Very very dry, it leaves the mouth salivating for more. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and ‘unofficially a little Chardonnay’.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Albert Mann Riesling 2015– Alsace France
The bouquet of lemon zest, lemon leaf and honey exudes weight and body and the mouthfilling taste is bright and clean with flavours reminiscent of preserved lemon and lime rinds together with dried tropical fruits (pineapple comes to mind) and a honeyed, almost beeswax complexity that adds to the mouthfeel as well as the flavour. Rounded and textural with light to moderate viscosity, it’s dry with fruit sweetness beautifully balancing the acidity.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Albert Mann Pinot Gris 2015– Alsace France
Honey poached pears and earthy spices fill the bouquet and there is a viscous richness to the texture with flavours of poached pear, honey baked apples, a momentary surge of grapefruit then lemon cream that ebbs to let the pip fruit shine, all the while an underlying earthy savoury complexity and a tickle of ginger on the finish. Made in a dry style yet the concentrated fruit is ripe.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2015 – Alsace France
The perfumed aromatics are laced with preserved spiced orange rind with the faintest hint of liquorice and it is rich and full in the palate with a rounded, mouth-filling, textural flow. The fruit is tropical – almost lychee; there’s an intriguing aromatic spiciness heading towards the anise spectrum – like candied fennel seeds and the sugar coating of liquorice staples, and violets also come to mind on the highly aromatic and delectably persistent finish. Just off dry in style.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Albert Mann Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2014 – Alsace France
The complex aromatics seem savoury with lemon tea aromatics encompassing the flesh and rind of the fruit, the flowers, the leaves and the bark with a honey infusion. Bright, fresh, racy acidity is balanced by a floral, honey extracted savouriness; there is pleasing roundness to the mouthfeel from the light viscosity and the finish is incredibly slatey and long. Jacky talks about purity and minerality.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $67.99.

Albert Mann Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst 2014 – Alsace France
This exudes elegance and finesse with its delicate lemon cake bouquet and it is soft and full in the mouth with a silky rounded flow. A flavoursome wine with delicate fruit, a complex aromatic spiciness, an underlying sensual earthy savouriness and lingering candied orange sweetness with hints of violets. A beautiful wine with understated richness and power.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $54.99.

Albert Mann Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Steingrubler 2014 – Alsace France
The bouquet is honeyed, perhaps reminiscent a little of boiled lemon lollies and barley sugar and while it gives an impression of being a little heady, overall the bouquet is shy and a contrast to the rich, concentrated, spicy flavours. It’s mouth-coating and textural with moderate viscosity, honey cake / honey orange cake, delicate violet nuances, candied fennel seeds, delicate hints of other aromatic spices and a wonderfully long, rounded, persistent finish. A lovely lovely wine.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $54.99.

Domaine Baptiste Boutes Minervois 2012 – Languedoc-Roussillon, France
This dark berry red-hued wine has an interesting, intriguing and evolving bouquet that evokes a subtle suggestion of leather, a touch of salinity, dried herbs, country paddocks, perhaps a nuance of ironstone, boiled red lollies and later even a hint of liquorice. Medium-bodied in palate weight, it is ripe and juicy with abundant berry flavours and some very gratifying mint nuances but also quite meaty wine in some respects with bacon, mushroom and mocha adding to the intrigue, tannins lurking in the background and a touch of graphite infusing the finish. A fascinating value-packed wine made from a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache; winelovers will enjoy the complexity while easy drinkers will enjoy the juicy generosity.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Chateau du Cedre ‘Cedre Heritage’ Malbec 2014 – Cahors, France
The bouquet of this deep ruby red-hued wine is meaty and savoury with a hint of rose petal and earthy, cowpat funk adding to the intrigue. Firm and tannic in the medium to full-bodied palate with lifted red and black fruits, a gamey savoury undercurrent, liquorice and tar, and a brightness to the complex, savoury finish that has a concentrated dark fruit lift and tannins becoming more velvety as the flavours linger. Known as ‘black wine’ in the Cahors, it’s made from mostly Malbec with a little Merlot and Tannat in the blend, I can see this accompanying lamb shanks with mint jelly.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Chateau Mourgues Du Gres Galets Rouge 2013 – Costieres de Nimes, France
A lovely rich colour with dark berries and spice on the euro-centric bouquet with an inviting nuance of cedar and a waft of wet clay. The taste is dark, tarry, meaty and savoury with blood and char, then a lovely touch of mint and the berry fruits becoming bright and lively, while the lingering aftertaste is spicy, mouthfilling and juicy with a subtle touch of salinity. Made from Syrah with Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan and Marselan, the tannins are silky and approachable compared to the Malbec before it, yet a 5 to 8 year cellaring potential is suggested.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

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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