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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

July 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 Jul 2016
Yalumba Wines with Jane Ferrari
Wines were not tasted blind.

Jane Ferrari has just celebrated her 21st year with Yalumba and it’s great to see her back at First Glass for the 13th time!!! A night of fantastic Yalumba wines. A night of stories. Jane calls herself 'old school' and refers to 'dry reds of substance' as 'claret', so lots of claret references later in the tasting.

Nautilus Marlborough Cuvee Brut NV
Light gold. Fresh lemon cake aroma with a hint of a yeasty sweetness infusing the bouquet but tantalisingly dry to the taste with zesty tingles, lemon bread and savoury nuances to the fore. A lovely elegant style of bubbles made from predominantly pinot noir with three years on yeast lees. Very classy on the night. Champion Wine of the Show Air NZ Wine Awards 2014.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Roussanne 2014 – South Australia
Beautifully aromatic, delicate and floral. Quite textural in the mouth with a lime / lemon grass rush and power to the finish. A touch of barrel ferment / lees stirring adds to the complexity. It's exciting, and fresh and juicy with the most subtle touch of mouthwatering salinity. Jane refers to this as an 'exotic aromatic' and recommends it with seafood and Mediterranean 'cross-over' food.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2014 – South Australia
Apricot, peach and spring blossom are expressive on the bouquet and it's full-bodied and spicy to the taste with white pepper, ginger and mandarin zest tingles, mouth-coating viscosity, ripe juicy flavours of apricot and peach, hints of nuts and flower nectar, and a clean, lifted finish. Pork belly and scallop/chorizo/pancetta for sweet/sour flavours are recommended.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Yalumba The Strapper Barossa GSM 2013 – South Australia
Dark berry fruit fills the bouquet; blackcurrants, mulberries and chocolate-coated cherries fill the palate. A firm structured, smooth flowing, juicy, fruit driven style that has a peppery punch, touches of liquorice, loads of cakes spices and just the most subtle suggestion of dried mint on the bright lifted finish. A blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro (aka mourvedre). Jane explains that grenache = spice; shiraz = lush; mataro = oomph. Grenache loves salt so it's great with cured meats and slow cooked meats, e.g. beef cheeks with a brown sugar glazed finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Yalumba The Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – South Australia
Smoky and leathery on the nose – brooding and dark with a berry sweetness welling up from the depths of the glass. In the palate the blackcurrant / cassis hums a deep bass tone with cedary oak in harmony; wonderfully fine yet firm tannins; touches of eucalypt and berry fruit sweetness on the lingering finish with a burst of acidity that will ensure this wine will mature beautifully. From Yalumba's Menzies vineyard in the Coonawarra, the wine is named for the shape of the limestone ridge in the terra rossa soils. Jane recommends crumbed Frenched lamb cutlets with mint jelly for us kiwis.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
The mint and cedar is quite profound with a smoky cigar box nuance to the bouquet and a core of blackcurrant / ribena to the flavour. A textural wine, more backwards-rubbed velvet than smooth velvet, it's grippy yet juicy with the fruit harmonising with the mint and chocolate notes but all the while a savoury smoky depth and a spicy brightness to the wonderfully juicy finish. Matured in both French and American oak, it has wonderful extract and fabulous length. Sip and savour, or confidently cellar.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Yalumba Patchwork Barossa Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
The bouquet is red berries and cakes spices with a hint of tobacco. On the medium style of full-bodied, it's spicy in the mouth with a touch of pimento adding a hot pepper zing. The tannins are velvet smooth, the fruit is redcurrants and cherries, the oak has a touch of vanilla, there is an underpinning of leather and again a touch of tobacco on the finish – menthol tobacco however. Smooth and drinkable with great length of flavour, Jane describes it as 'Christmas pudding in a glass'. A combination of 14 diverse vineyards on the valley floor, hence the Patchwork name.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Yalumba Paradox Barossa Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
A new label for Yalumba from an area in the northern parts referred to as the 'Moppa'. The bouquet is dark and juicy with fabulous berry concentration that carries through to the palate that's underpinned with earthy, leathery, savoury, ferrous notes with firm muscular tannins, hints of mocha and mint with thick chocolate emerging as the wine lingers – the tannins seemingly much finer as the wine lingers. "Smoky bacon / butcher's block / double shot earthiness / a monster on a chain," says Jane, who recommends matching it to old fashioned fillet mignon wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Mocha, leather, mint, and concentrated red and black berries fill the bouquet with an intriguing hint of milk chocolate, milking shed, smoke and roasted woody herbs. Surprisingly fruity in the profoundly concentrated, silky textured, warm, spicy palate with chocolate and leather infusing the ripe juicy fruit. The tannins are super fine making this icon seem approachable already and the finish is long and smooth and with berry, chocolate and vanilla flavours going on and on and on. "Precocious and forward," says Jane with George Clooney references abounding. Fruit is predominantly from the Eden Valley this great vintage year.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $89.

Yalumba The Scribbler Barossa Shiraz Cabernet 2013 – South Australia
Spicy on the nose – complex and deep yet lifted at the same time with blackcurrant fruit coming through. First impression in the palate is chocolate biscuits and while the tannins seem a little chunky at first, like chewing chocolate biscuits they soon seem very fine and sit in well with the savouriness of the wine. A harmony of savoury oak, spice and blackcurrant and cherry fruit with deep vinous concentration, peppery spices and lingering notes of vanilla and mint on the deliciously persistent finish. The oak is not powerful, just nicely seasoned, but really is the hero of this wine at this stage of its life. I think this is the most fabulous buy with excellent long-term potential.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Yalumba The Signature Barossa Shiraz Cabernet 2013 – South Australia
Initially a little reserved on the nose (Jane said 'dumb') but vigorous swirling and deep inhaling reveal a tantalising bouquet of crushed chocolate biscuits and raspberry jam. Being from what Jane calls 'a muscular vintage', it's very tight and solid in its youth and the tannins are indeed muscular but there is clearly so much potential with the fruit concentrated and dark. Minty notes infuse the juicy blackberry and cassis notes that well up from the depths with cakes spices, hints of pepper, more mint, vanilla, cigar box and cedar expanding beautifully on the long lifted finish with a lingering aftertaste like raspberry chocolate velvet. Jane says you need patience with this wine. I say if you don't want to wait then decant vigorously, serve in a big glass and enjoy. Named for Andrew Murphy, a Yalumba staffer for 20+ years.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Yalumba The Reserve Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2006 – South Australia
A magnificent wine with great pedigree, Jane says it is on the cusp of changing into secondaries, which is the development of tobacco, leather and sweet pipe tobacco together with the colour changes that come with time in the bottle. I find it complex and cedary on the nose, the secondary characters have developed in the wine poured in my glass, and it is smooth, harmonious, textural and mouthfilling in the mouth with the tannins still express a welcome graininess. It's full of liquid black forest cake, creamy oak, hints of mocha and spice with a deep concentrated finish and while the secondaries are starting to emerge there is still plenty of primary juicy red fruits, mint and lots of cedary oak inflections on the finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $122.

Yalumba FS8W8B Botrytis Viognier 2015 – Wrattonbully, South Australia
Wonderfully fresh, clean, botrytis-infused honey nectar bouquet then honey, apricot and nougat with lifted lemon/lime acidity running through the palate. Vibrant, like a sorbet after all the reds - not at all cloying, just beautifully refreshing with a slightly spicy vibe. Jane says it is fabulous with lemon curd dessert (I'm thinking lemon meringue pie), fruit crumbles (cobblers), or a soft cheese.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 13 Jul 2016
Around the World
Wines were tasted blind.

Felton Road Dry Central Otago Riesling 2013
Glossy gold. Lime and crushed sea shells fill the bouquet and while it smells dry there is a beguiling hint of honeysuckle wafting through. Time in the bottle has garnered textural and flavour complexity with hints of dried hay and lanolin; lemon butter, lemon grass and lemon balm; and a honey layer that imparts a sense of lusciousness to the finish yet always that steely, dry, racy acid undercurrent quivering through. Enjoy now with oysters or cellar confidently for many years.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99

Squawking Magpie The Gravels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Quite a rich gold in the glass. Passionfruit curd initially fills the bouquet and tropical fruit dominates the flavours with buttery (diacetyl) esters and 'banana bike' lollies for those who can remember them — this banana confectionary attribute then so obvious on the bouquet while a touch of mandarin peel hones in the ripe tropical fruit finish. A very ripe fruit driven style with oak hibernating in the background.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Thelema Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2014 - South Africa
Yellow glints to the light gold hue. The bouquet is smoky, toasty and nutty and it is extremely dry in the palate with fresh acidity, well honed buttery oak and a touch of orange honey that is perfectly in balance. A wine that slowly unfurls to show its complexity, body and presence and leaves behind a long mouthfilling finish. Matured for 10 months in old and new French oak, it was impressive on the night.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Moderate gold in hue. Nutty marzipan-like notes and hints of dried peach fill the bouquet. The taste is a little reductive and flinty to start but fills out as it flows with white melon and a slightly buttery nuance to the expansive finish that hints of the wine’s power. ‘Elegant’ is what many people around me said. I think this wild yeast fermented style without malo and 11 months in oak is a little closed at the moment and will benefit from decanting and only the lightest of chilling.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Hunters Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
Light gold in hue. The bouquet and taste simply oozes juicy tropical fruit salad brightness. A full an textural wine with a delicate touch of spice, a well balanced touch of zest and youthful pink bubblegum esters. First we have tasted from the brand new vintage and it is fresh as a daisy. Better still, it can be chilled to the bones.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Bright ruby garnet with moderate intensity. The bouquet radiates black cherry, chocolate and fruit cake spices and sweet fruited cherry, cranberry and tamarillo notes balance the classical pinot noir savouriness with hints of woodsmoke in the background and a vanillin creaminess to the lingering finish. The tannin still have a velvet rub but they smooth out nicely. Drinking beautifully now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Banfi Chianti Montalcino DOCG 2012 – Tuscany, Italy
Fading pinky red, translucent in appearance. I’m immediately whisked to Europe with rusticity of the aroma and the barnyard / manure / gamey notes and chunky tannins upfront in the palate. Sweet fruit emerges with red cherry and red currant filling out the medium-bodied finish. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% other varieties from the Tuscany region, it’s a wine that will show its best with food — a hearty tomato based pasta comes to mind.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Ruffino Modus Toscana IGT 2012 – Tuscany, Italy
Rich dark red with crimson edges. The nose is almost opulent with cassis, vanilla, spice and cedar then in the full-bodied palate the ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit is generous and it’s velvety in its flow. Super ripe compared to the Chianti with lovely use of oak, a well-balanced savouriness and hints of cigar box in the background. The dry finish oozes sophistication and the lingering aftertaste has touches of vanilla, mocha and chicory with lifted acidity that supports the fruit sweetness beautifully. A very smart ‘Super Tuscan’ made from a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot that’s been matured in French and American oak.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Trivento Reserve Mendoza Malbec 2015 – Argentina
Intense youthful black red with vibrant crimson edges. The bouquet has a profound meaty depth and it’s initially savoury in the mouth with mouthfilling velvety tannins and a touch of charred oak in the background then it’s all concentrated dark fruit with Black Doris plums to the fore and a soupçon of mint in the subtle herb notes that emerge with hints of rosehips as the juicy flavours linger. Lots to like in this meat-lovers wine that won a ‘Platinum Medal’ and was crowned Best Argentinean Malbec, Decanter World Wine Awards 2016.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Condado de Haza 2011 – Ribero del Duero, Spain
This 100% Tempranillo from Spain’s acclaimed high altitude wine region has an intense black red colour that seduces the eyes. Chocolate berries fill the bouquet and it is juicy and generous in the palate with velvety tannins, a touch of mint, a smoky charcoal-infused savouriness in the background and a bitter nut chocolate allure. There’s also an intriguing spiciness and a liquorice / meaty note to this wine that’s been aged in French and American oak for 15 months.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Matua Matheson Single Vineyard Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Intense in its purple red colour; vanillin oak fills the bouquet with red berries and spice then in the palate there’s a soft façade to the muscular concentration with superb tannins that are rounded and full of finesse. A spicy wine — more cake spice than pepper however — with super ripe cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruit together with dried cake fruit mix, a hint of cherry chocolate, some herbal nuances and a savoury oak depth. Full-bodied and smooth in its flow with a lingering finish is terrifically juicy with loads and loads of flavour. Matured in French and American oak, this magnificent wine has won gold at the AirNZ Wine Awards, Hawkes Bay Wine Awards and four Trophies at the International Wine Challenge 2016 including Best NZ Red and Top International Syrah.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 6 Jul 2016
d'Arenberg with winemaker Toby Porter
Wines were not tasted blind.

Toby Porter, our winemaker host for the evening, has been winemaker with d’Arenberg Wines in South Australia’s McLaren Vale for the past 13 years. He regaled us with stories of the winery and the labels.

We started the tasting with bubbles from the portfolio of d’Arenberg’s agents in New Zealand, Negociants.

Louis Bouillot Grande Reserve Cremant De Bourgogne NV – Burgundy, France
White gold with a fine mousse and tiny bubbles. The bouquet is savoury with a subtle hint of marmite. First impression in the mouth is the boisterous fizz that eventually subsides to reveal bready, lightly malty flavours with delicate hints of apple and peach and a soft citrus vibe. Crisp, dry and savoury on the finish with a slight honey on toast nuance as the wine lingers. A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir aged in the bottle for 24 months on yeast lees and a great price for this Champagne look-alike from Burgundy.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Then two d’Arenberg whites ...

d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2015 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named because the first crop of Roussanne in 2000 was covered in money spiders and no wine was made. By 2001 harvest the spiders had relocated so the inaugural Money Spider Roussanne was made.).
Light gold with the bouquet exuding richness and a tantalising hint of lemon / lemon grass. The lemon-theme continues in the mouth with bright sparks of exotic tropical fruits: I get hints of pineapple, papaya and mango with a touch of honeysuckle and a delicate tickle of spice. A wine with textural softness, palate weight complexity and a long persistent finish, it’s an exciting and impressive alternative aromatic dry white.
12.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2014 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for the fossilised remains of hermit crabs in the limestone strata of the vineyard where these grape grow. Hermit is also an abbreviation for Hermitage, where Marsanne grows in the Rhone.)
Sunshine gold in the glass. Rich and honeyed on the nose - perhaps even a hint of beeswax. Apricot is the first impression on the palate but it is also surprisingly zesty with a flinty / earthy / spicy undercurrent and an aromatic brightness to the finish, which finishes dry. An exotically fruity pineapple / papaya / lemon /lime note emerges as the flavours linger. A blend of 74% Viognier and 26% Marsanne with 14% of the Viognier fermented in older oak.
13.2% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Now for the tongue-staining reds. It should be noted most of the wines are light on new oak.

d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for the extremely low yielding old vines that d’Arry saved in the vine pull days – hence he is known as ‘The Custodian’ of McLaren Vale grenache.) Rich blue-red. Hints of chocolate on the nose with juicy red berries and spices. Firm and dry on entry to the palate with a spicy almost peppery vibe. The tannins dissolve to reveal juicy fruit in the blueberry / black cherry spectrum although Cherrill in my row thought the fruit more like stewing strawberries for jam, when the strawberries become creamy before the sugar is added. In summary a concentrated fruit-driven style with little influence of oak and a delightful touch of milk chocolate emerging on the finish.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for – well it should be obvious …. although the very original wine was labelled Burgundy) There's brightness to the red-black hue and red fruit brightness fills the bouquet. Generous and fruity in the palate with very fine textured velvety tannins that wrap cosily around the tongue and a lovely depth of flavour with a liveliness to its step. A juicy red with cherries, hints of chocolate, spicy oak, a piquant hint of pepper (pimento) and a long creamy finish. Irresistible already with brightness the theme, but will cellar 10 years easily Toby says.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99

d'Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(High Trellis is a nickname for the original 19th century trellis that was the first in the region to be trained above knew height.)
Inky black red. Just the slightest suggestion of mint on the nose with cassis fruit that’s concentrated and deep. Classically cabernet in the palate with a lifted fruit profile of blackcurrants/ cassis and brambles, minty notes and a shimmer of cake spices. The tannins initially want to coat the teeth but become fine and elegant as the wine flows; there's vinous depth to the earthy, savoury, slightly rustic finish and the lingering flavours are fruity and deep and a little more plummy than at the start. There’s a smidgen of Petite Verdot in this complex mouthfilling wine that punches way above its price tag. Great Buy.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

d'Arenberg The Galvo Garage Cabernet Merlot Petite Verdot Cabernet Franc 2010 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for the galvanized, corrugated garage built in 1927 that still houses the traditional equipment used in the handcrafting of this wine. Garage is also a play on the word used by Bordeaux winemakers.)
Deep dark red, no hint of age from the hue. Very striking, concentrated, deep-seated bouquet with redcurrants and black cherries coming to mind. There’s a complex berry and plum fruitiness to the flavours that have a very attractive spice infusion, hints of pencil-like cedar, an ever so subtle tingle of pepper and with the benefit of bottle age the tannins present as are rounded and smooth with a lovely silky edge. Fantastic wine. ‘Nuff said.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

d'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for a race horse Joseph Osborn used to own, Footbolt and the other horses were sold in 1912 to purchase the winery.)
This deep dark red-hued wine has an intriguing earthy, spicy aroma that has nuances of chicory and dark chocolate with 90 % cacao – ah, chocolate mud comes to mind. Full-bodied, textural and mouthfilling in the palate with plum and blackberry fruit, cake spices, peppery spices and a slightly steely edge. The depth of savouriness and the balance of the oak and tannins are outstanding.
14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

d'Arenberg The Love Grass Shiraz 2012 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Love Grass is a weed in the vineyard – the tiny seeds stick to socks and trousers. We call this bidibidi grass in New Zealand.)
The bouquet of this deep dark red wine is quite different. “Freshly cut hay,” exclaims Cherrill and I do get a sense of pasture. “Black olive,” says Toby. I also find characteristic minty nuances both on the nose and in the palate of this deep dark earthy, savoury, rustic, meaty style of Shiraz with lots of mocha action going on and tannins in harmony. The concentrated black fruits have raspberry accents and a wonderful amalgam of creamy oak adds to the overall allure.
14.4% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2012 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
(Named for the old Shiraz vines affected by the fungus Eutypa Lata that effectively kills off one side of the grape vine while the other side compensates by producing low yielding grapes with amazing intensity.)
Purple red, intense and bright. The bouquet is meaty with mocha and anise highlights and it’s full-bodied, concentrated, meaty and deep in the palate with voluptuous mouthfeel and powerful yet rounded tannins that provide an amazing structural backbone. Bright blackberry and raspberry fruit is joined by cake spices, chicory, liquorice, fennel seed and touches of mint with a beautifully honed sprinkling of red pepper. A hedonistic wine with a fabulously long juicy finish. Yum.
14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

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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