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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2017 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2017
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Some of the prices may be 'specials', but were correct at the date noted for the tasting. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 26 Apr 2017
Wine Options Night
Wines were tasted blind.

Clark Estate Block 8 Marlborough Riesling 2015
A light delicate style with an attractive lime sherbet bouquet and tangy lemon, lime and apple jelly flavours with a touch of kero in the background and a nectar-like touch to the finish. It's clean and refreshing and a perfect start to the evening. Two golds. Trophy.
8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
The scent of juicy grilled peach and biscuity notes are tantalising and the wine is beautifully harmonious in its flow across the palate. It’s toasty and creamy with nutty barrel ferment complexities, juicy stonefruit and the brightness of zesty grapefruit on the finish. Almost perfect and five star value.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This seems to be a change of direction for this label. At first it seems very dry and restrained with cheesy malo notes that make me think France - a cooler climate style with flavours of lemon pie then toasty oak pushes through with a touch of peach and vanilla and the finish is juicy and long.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
This proudly flaunts classic pinot gris poached pear and apple strudel aromas and flavours with a honeyed sweetness to the finish and a zesty brightness tickling the tongue as the wine lingers. 30% of the wine was fermented in barrel and it’s just off dry with 8 g/l residual sugar.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Peregrine Rastasburn Central Otago Riesling 2014
This is moderately rich and weighty for Riesling. It’s a light golden colour, there’s an intriguing bouquet that reminds me of bath salts and it’s starting to show some kero characters that come with a little age. In the mouth it’s spritzy and while there’s a touch of sweetness the overall impression is dry with lashings of apple on the persistent yellow fruit finish.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Black Peak Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Deep ruby violet with an attractive bouquet of woodsmoke, bottled spiced cherries and thyme. Generous in the silky textured palate with spicy savoury oak to the fore, juicy cherry and plum fruit and lifted acidity on the finish. From a vineyard on the Queensbury Hills near Wanaka, this is a big pinot that would benefit from a little more time.
13.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Antinori Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore 2013 – Tuscany, Italy
This is a dark red colour, the bouquet offers up leather and tar with sweet brambly fruit wafting through and the taste is dry and savoury with moderately firm tannins, herbs and tobacco, a little sour cherry upfront then a cherry jam sweetness evolving. It’s nicely balanced with classic Chianti characters and a juicy mouthfilling finish.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Bodega Piedra Negra Alta Coleccion Malbec 2016 – Mendoza, Argentina
This youthful, bright red-black hued wine has oodles of bright fruit aromas and flavours in a medium-bodied package. It’s soft and juicy with a hint of cigar box, a touch of vanilla, plums, blueberries, rosehip conserve, herbs and spice and a lingering finish. Certified organic.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Langmeil Blacksmith Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
Inky black red. Vanillin oak and red berries tease the nose and the first impression in the palate is a eucalypt/mint feast. This is a big wine and seems quite oaky to start but there is a plethora of juicy blackberry and black currant fruit to tame it. The tannins are silky and fine and there’s a classic Cabernet lift to the savoury finish with touches of pepper and mint chocolate lingering. A bit of a charmer.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Clare Valley Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Deep dark red with purple tints to the edges. Chocolate dust on the nose and concentrated in the palate with black pepper, savoury oak and an intriguing tarry note. Fruit is reminiscent of black cherries and blueberries, the tannins are fine with a velvet fringe, there’s a suggestion of Oreo biscuits and just a smidgen of mint on the finish where vanillin oak lingers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2013
Inky blackberry red with a bouquet that is reminiscent of a well worn leather jacket as well as more classic chocolate box, cedar and bramble berries. A massive chewy wine in the sumptuous palate with fine and moderately dry tannins, sappy oak, herbs, mint, graphite and succulent berries. This is a stellar wine and is developing beautifully with many years to go. Two golds. Trophy.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $54.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 19 Apr 2017
Dare to be Different
Wines were tasted blind.

Soljans Fusion Sparkling Muscat NV – Gisborne
The bouquet is redolent of sweet apples and muscat grapes and the juicy sweet / tart grapey flavours continue in the soft, foamy and gently spritzy palate with a subtle hint of anise and then, on the aftertaste, the merest hint of spearmint leaf. This multiple gold medal winner has medium sweetness and is best served very chilled as an aperitif or after dinner with fruit salad.
8.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2015 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
Reasonably golden in colour with a ripe, fruity bouquet that offers up bright tropical fruit and melon with yellow skin heritage apples also coming to mind. It’s full-bodied and reasonably complex with chardonnay-like palate weight and chenin’s hallmark acidity initially tamed by a mead-like honey richness but singing brightly on the very long finish. Lovely example of South Africa’s number one white grape.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Giesen The August Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
This is brightly aromatic with passionfruit honey, roasted citrus peel, wild yeast and oak barrel notes. It’s a full-bodied, mouthcoating wine and and while it initially tastes a little oily (think sewing machine oil) and ‘funky’ from the wild yeast fermentation, the sweetness of the tropical fruit melds into the savoury backbone with grapefruit zest zinging through the incredibly long and pungent finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2016 – Hawkes Bay
This is a lustrous citrine hue and the bouquet offers haunting scents of apricot, mango and tropical fruit that is ripe, bright and sweet to the taste. It’s lightly oily in texture with musky spices and a touch of white pepper while the use of neutral oak adds palate weight and a harmonious complexity but only the most subtle oak taste.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Simonsig Chardonnay 2014 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a yellow-gold hue with smoky oak and buttered roasted nut on the nose and quite dry in the palate with mellow yellow fruit and a soft oily / creamy note. Quite a full fat heading-towards-butterscotch style with well-balanced toasty oak and nutty notes and while obviously chardonnay there is something quite different – the South African ‘x’ factor perhaps.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
Light gold in hue with lashings of peach and a hum of spicy cedar filling the bouquet and peach upfront in the palate with sweet toasty oak, marshmallow, citrus and spice, underlying savoury notes and hints of ‘banana bikes’ on the lingering mouth-coating finish. Bright and fresh and oozing finesse.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Gilles Robin Papillon à Léonie et Lucie Crozes-Hermitage 2015 – Rhone Valley, France
Saturated purple black with a bouquet that’s dry and savoury with peppery spices, tar and leather. In the mouth it’s a well-structured, meaty red with firm fine-textured tannins, cigar box and pepper, wonderfully juicy Black Doris plums, blueberries and black cherries and a nuance of liquorice on the mouth-filling finish. This stunning 100% Syrah pitches way above its price point and the ‘free wing’ butterfly on the label adds its overall charm. This bottle had been open 90 minutes before tasting so decanting is recommended.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Vidgal Porta 6 2015 – Lisbon, Portugal
This blend of Tinta Roriz, Castelao and Tinta Muida grapes is a deep pink red in the glass. Sweet red berries and tobacco fill the bouquet and the smooth taste is dry, savoury and just a little gamey with red pepper, sappy oak, red plums and raisined cranberries, a touch of raspberry liquorice and a velvety warmth to the juicy medium-bodied finish. The packaging is also fun with its colourful arty label.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mission Estate Vineyard Selection Merlot 2015 – Hawkes Bay
Youthful pinky red with a concentrated cherry and blueberry scent mingling with a touch of cedar. It tastes fruity yet quite savoury with tobacco, cigar box, tar and leather and while very dry, a touch of dried mint adds brightness to the finish. A medium-bodied red that needs food to counteract the dry tannins and cheese went well on the night.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Castello di Radda Guss Merlot 2011 – Toscana, Italy
Deep dark red with the slightest of bricking on the edges. The nose is ultra inviting with ripe, juicy fruit vanillin oak and a gamey, meaty allure. It’s soft and velvety on entry to the palate with oodles of creamy vanillin oak, hot peppery spices, cherries, cigar box, tobacco, chocolate and liquorice and pillowy tannins that become more assertive on the finish. This full-bodied red made from 100% Merlot is really quite spectacular but does need time.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $91.

Williams & Humbert Don Zolio12 Year Old PX Sherry – Jerez, Spain
Dark mahogany in the glass with a heady lifted bouquet of liqueur macerated raisins, hot treacle and sherry’s unique ‘rancio’ character. Thick & viscous in the palate with a myriad of mouthcoating flavours like cedar, spice, treacle, Christmas cake, preserved orange peel and Muscatel raisins with a cosy warmth to the finish where the unctuous flavours linger for ages.
18% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 11 Apr 2017
State of Origin
Wines were tasted blind.

Forrest Marlborough Riesling 2010
This pre-taster to the main event has apple blossom on the nose and tastes crisp, fresh and super dry with bracing racy acidity and flavours reminiscent of Roses lime juice and green apple fried in a little butter with fullness to the finish and a hint of honey emerging. Seven years old and in terrific condition, still nowhere near full development.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru Montée dé Tonnerre 2014 – France
After a momentary whiff of struck match the shy and delicate citrus pith bouquet has a desirable hint of creamy malo. It’s flinty and steely in the mouth with fresh apple acidity, not quite ripe peach and greengage plum becoming fuller on the finish and the lingering flavours hint of lemon cream. Classic unoaked chardonnay from Burgundy’s Chablis.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $60.99.

Dr L Loosen Mosel Riesling 2015 – Germany
The bouquet is moderately expressive with fruit tree blossoms, green grapes and chalk and the scintillating flavours in the medium sweet palate are a harmony of green apple, lime sherbet and honeysuckle. A crisp and fresh yet delicate Riesling with finesse and length.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Le Vielle Ferme Cote du Ventoux Rosé 2016 – Rhone Valley, France
A very desirable delicate pink hue and a fragrant red berry aroma introduce this 'very fresh' off dry rosé with raspberry drop lolly and bramble leaf flavours and bright vibes of zest and spice. A tasty blend of Syrah and Grenache, this is exceptional value and nicely packaged too.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Chermette Les Griottes Beaujolais 2016 - Burgundy, France
This is an inky blackcurrant hue and it smells warm and inviting with its concentrated black cherry conserve and subtle spice scent. Velvety in the mouth with sumptuous blackberry and cherry fruit and underlying savoury notes. Made from Gamay Noir grapes, this is fresh, juicy and immensely sippable right now and a wonderful insight into the more serious side of Beaujolais.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Gilles Robin ‘Terroir des Chassis’ Crozes-Hermitage 2014 – Rhone, France
Dark red in hue with a fine appearance. Delicately floral on the nose with a dusting of cocoa. The taste offers up initial savoury earthy notes with fresh acidity, a touch of pepper, subtle cherry and blueberry fruit, fine youthful tannins and well integrated oak with perhaps a hint of mint on the lingering juicy finish. Made from Syrah.
13 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Velenosi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 – Piceno, Italy
Inky black red – bright in the glass. Smoky and savoury on the nose and quite earthy and savoury in the palate to start then juicy sweet plummy fruit wells up and stands its ground. A fresh, young wine with velvety tannins, fruit cake spices and a long meaty finish and despite the smoky nuances that initially waft through it evidently has no oak. Ripe and fleshy and ready to enjoy now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Muriel Rioja Crianza 2013 – Rioja, Spain
This deep dark red-hued wine has a wonderfully fragrant bouquet like blackberry jam infused with cedar and mint and the flavours are crammed with plums, cherries, spice and liquorice with sappy vanillin oak and perhaps a hint of tobacco. It’s bright in the mouth with silky tannins, a meaty richness and an underlying tarry savouriness and the lingering finish is long, juicy and flavoursome.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Simonsig Pinotage 2014 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dark red with a fine appearance. Chocolate and leafy herbs on the nose. Smooth and creamy in the palate with concentrated red fruits, touches of spice and a well-balanced slightly herbal, slightly gamey savouriness. Seems medium bodied in its palate expression with harmonious flow and a slight confectionary (boiled red lolly) note emerging on the fresh lingering finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

The Crusher Petite Syrah 2014 – California, USA
Inky black red. Berries, spice and vanillin oak fill the bouquet and it's bright and spicy in the palate with firm velvety tannins, creamy oak, loads of fruits of the forest berries with the slightest suggestion of mint. Very juicy and flavoursome and ready to go.
13 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2015 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Dark red. Creamy oak, mulberries, hints of chocolate and sweet spices fill the bouquet and it is bright and spicy in the full-bodied, creamy textured palate with silk-edged soft velvet tannins together with mocha, chocolate and vanilla and plump macerated plums and cherries. Smooth, harmonious and super seductive on the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Apr 2017
Chardonnay and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2015
Golden with a fragrant lemon-infused nutty oak bouquet. Fresh tasting with bright tropical fruit, accents of citrus (orange marmalade comes to mind), underlying mealy notes, vanilla-tinged savoury oak and a long smooth juicy finish with lingering notes of peach. Smooth and not too overpowering.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Neudorf Rosie's Block Nelson Chardonnay 2015
Light lemon gold with subtle smoky nuances to the nutty, oatmeal bouquet that also hints of stonefruit. Bright and fresh with a light dance of lemonades across the palate becoming more savoury and nutty with a funky wild yeast leesy character evolving and a very dry finish. Needs more time but would be great with a creamy sauce to cut through the still taut acidity. FYI, not a ‘Kingsley style’.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Delegat Crownthorpe Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Rich lemon gold. The bouquet is a little shy but the taste is full of flavour. It’s malty and savoury with honeyed oak, grilled peach and a harmonious creamy flow. Acidity is nicely integrated and the wine can be well chilled. Ready to go now. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Greystone Waipara Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2015
Glossy gold with a rich full bouquet of nutty oak and peach, then bold and savoury in the palate with a creamy texture and flavours of malt, cedar, grilled stonefruit, cashew, sumac spices and underlying touches of grapefruit. A mouthfilling wine with harmonious flow and an impressively long finish, and it can take moderate chilling.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
This is a glorious wine. It’s citrine in hue. Tantalising smoky French oak and grapefruit fill the bouquet and the taste is rich, creamy, toasty and harmonious with nutty yeast lees and vanilla biscuit notes, gorgeous savoury oak, spice and zest. The acidity is accented yet beautifully integrated and the golden peach and tropical fruit flavours linger with haunting nuances of woodsmoke. Sophisticated yet more-ish, it really is the full package.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Taylors Clare Valley Shiraz 2015
This bright hued red is creamy and spicy on the nose with generous plummy fruit and vanilla-tinged oak. More medium bodied in palate weight with primary plum and berry fruit, lifted acidity, chocolate biscuits, smoky oak, fine tannins and a touch of char on the finish. Adorned with nine gold medal stickers and unbelievable value for money.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Sisters Run Epiphany McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
Sweet and juicy from the outset – it’s spicy, chocolatey, bright and juicy with tannins that are structured yet supple, hints of pepper, blackberry and black cherry fruit, purple violets and something a little intriguing, a little leafy – perhaps tobacco or perhaps dried mint but tending more and more toward spearmint as the flavours linger. A new label for us and an impressive debut.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
The chocolate-infused bouquet is aromatic and spicy with bright brambly fruit and the taste is rich and velvety with generous blackberry and mulberry fruit together with chocolate, mocha, pepper, Black Forest cake and vanilla and a meaty richness to the finish – delivers everything you expect from the Vale with mouthfilling satisfaction and a lasting finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
The chocolate box and black cherry bouquet is immediately captivating and the taste is rich, ripe and full with voluptuous velvety tannins, vanillin oak, juicy mulberry fruit, double chocolate biscuits, touches of mint and a meaty depth to the bright creamy finish that is mouthfilling and long. Offers so much gratification for a $20 bill.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Henry's Drive Dead Letter Office Padthaway Shiraz 2014
Sweet vanillin oak and red fruit fill the bouquet – I sense a hint of strawberry that also shimmies through the taste. There’s a point of difference to this cooler climate wine – it’s a little tarry with hints of rose hips, lovely fine tannins, smoky oak, cigar box and touches of mint and lingers beautifully with finesse, clarity and harmony.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Haselgrove First Cut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
Concentrated black fruit and wafts of empty chocolate box fill the bouquet that has an aura of finesse and class. Ripe and juicy to the taste with fruits of the forest and Black Forest cake with red pepper adding a spicy heat and the 30-second aftertaste is red berries and vanilla cream. Tannins are beautifully fine – more silky than velvety – but the oak is still a little woody on the finish so would benefit from a little more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Molly Dooker The Boxer McLaren Vale / Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2015
This is a rich, ripe, juicy blockbuster. Concentrated red and black fruits fill the bouquet with a dusting of chocolate and a suggestion of liquorice and it’s deliciously spicy in the smooth creamy palate with bright fruit reminiscent of blueberries, mulberries and black cherries together with a touch of chocolate on a bed of plush velvety tannins. It’s cosy and enveloping with a blood warming feel, underlying vanillin oak and a touch of savouriness bringing it into balance. The most spiciest and peppery of the red wines tonight, this heady high alcohol red is dangerously seductive.
16% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

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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