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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

February 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 – 22 Feb 2017
New to First Glass
Wines were tasted blind.

Gancia Prosecco NV – Italy
Prosecco is often bone dry but this has a gentle touch of sweetness which makes it universally appealing. It has a delightful creamy apple bouquet, the bubbles dance in the mouth before breaking into foam, the fruit is subtle, there’s a refreshing touch of salinity and the lingering finish is soft and long.
11.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Mt Riley 17 Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
A rich chardonnay heading towards golden in colour, it has butterscotch and subtle smoky nuances to the mellow bouquet and it’s smooth and seamless in its flow with ripe golden peach flavours, soft acidity and hints of butterscotch again on the finish. Superb drinking already. One for lovers of the ‘O’.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
This is a star in the making. The colour is noticeably golden, the enticing bouquet offers up grilled stonefruit, pink bubblegum, wild yeast nuances and woodsmoke. And the taste is almost luscious in its concentration with winemaking influenced malo and wild yeast characters supported by vanilla cream, fleshy stonefruit and zesty vibes with hints of Manuka woodsmoke playing a harmonious supporting role.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
This is a richer, fuller, just off dry style of pinot gris with an alluring bouquet of tropical fruit and bright fruit flavours of vanilla poached pear, quince, stonefruit and honey. A small portion of the blend was barrel fermented with wild yeasts which adds to the textural complexity.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Nanny Goat Super Nanny Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Ruby garnet in hue. Vibrantly aromatic with spiced bottled cherries and delicate touches of woodsmoke filling the bouquet and ripe, tasty and silky in its flow with generous mixed berry fruit, spice, typical pinot noir smoky savoury notes and a pleasing firmness to the finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $46.99.

Farnese Fantini Giro Primitivo 2015 – Puglia, Italy
This southern Italy charmer is inky in hue. The bouquet offers up blackcurrant, redcurrant, leather and spice and it’s succulent, supple and fruity to the taste with an initial slightly gravelly texture that softens as the wine flows. With super ripe fruit together with chocolate, coffee and tar and a long, mouthfilling finish, this easy going red is easy to like.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2015
This is a value packed Bordeaux style from Hawkes Bay. It’s deeply coloured with a bramble-rich bouquet and the taste delivers plenty of juicy fruit flavours supported by polished, creamy, nuggety oak with leather, spice and silk edged tannins and a smooth, succulent and savoury finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Inky black red with a soft, plummy bouquet that also hints of cedar and spices. Mouthfilling and seamless in the palate with plump rounded tannins, generous plum and berry fruit, chocolate, cake spices, vanillin oak and a long finish where savoury notes balance the fruit nicely.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kirrihill Vineyard Selection Tullymore Clare Valley Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Inky black red with purple edges. Mint is immediately noticeable on the nose and follows in the palate of this classy, beautifully structured dry red with silky edges to the moderately firm tannins. Juicy black cherry fruit is balanced by savoury oak that’s still a little prominent but with integrate nicely with a little more time and there a nice touch of peppery spice on the lingering finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Two Hands Angels Share McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Inky black red with dark berries and chocolate filling the bouquet and more chocolate in the opulent yet savoury, creamy oak palate that’s infused with woody spices, hints of anise and flashes of purple like plums, violets, blueberries and mulberries. The tannins are silky with a touch of firmness to the finish and there’s a surge of pepper as the succulent mouthfilling flavours linger.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 15 Feb 2017
An evening with Bob Campbell MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Delaplace Champagne Brut NV
Light lemon gold with tiny bubbles, an attractive lemony yeasty bouquet and mouth-tingling fizz and zizz with savoury toasty layers under bright lemonade and peach, then after the bubbles subside the mouthfeel is delectably creamy. Sophisticated and sleek with plenty of flavour. An unusual blend with about 80% pinot Meunier, 15% chardonnay and 5% pinot noir. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Gibbston Valley China Terraces Central Otago Chardonnay 2015
The bouquet is delicate yet evocatively smoky and the concentrated flavours are understated in their richness. There’s gunflint, lemonade zest, nougat, fig, bubble gum, hints of musk, vanilla, nutty oak and toast with a fresh acid spine and softness to the texture that’s seamless in its flow. It’s going to age but extremely satisfying now. Yum, my kind of wine. Gold NZIWS. Cuisine Top 10.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Riflemans Chardonnay 2015
Lime tinted gold — ‘electric’ said Heather next to me. There’s fullness to the bouquet that's redolent of sizzled butter, golden peach and toasted cedar then bold in the palate with grilled stonefruit, roasted nuts, biscuity oak, spice and caramel cream. An absolutely super chardonnay that’s powerful in its presence, seamless in its flow and with a wonderfully long finish. Produced only in exceptional vintages, this is the 3rd in a row. Absolutely fantastic wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $62.99.

Nautilus Marlborough Albarino 2016
Bright aromatics and flavours full of apple, quince, pear and mandarin zest with a touch of tarragon / anise coming to mind and heaps of mouth-watering salinity building to a very tasty fruit-driven finish. I find riesling-like acidity, pinot gris-like fruit and viognier-like body richness and texture with a seasoning of salt and pepper. Gold and Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Marc Bredif Classic Vouvray 2015 – Loire Valley, France
Golden in hue with shy aromatics of yellow fruit / yellow apple with a slight toasty nuance but there’s nothing shy about the flavour. It’s mouthfilling, toasty and creamy with bright yellow fruit acidity, touches of strudel spices and an inkling of hokey pokey on the finish that reins in the high acidity that makes these Chenin Blanc wines age almost forever. A great example.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Lawson Dry Hills Pioneer Series Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
Light glossy gold hued with a hint of lychee, honey and citrus peel wafting from the glass. Flavoursome and concentrated in the palate with a soft, almost oily texture, poached pear and tropical fruit, a tickle of spice and a lingering suggestion of honey. Just off dry, it emulates Alsace and is almost verging on luscious. There’s a tuch of oak that adds to the complexity of this wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Fromm Marlborough Riesling Spatlese 2015
Ravishingly aromatic with its scent of lime peel, apple peel, a hint of flower nectar and a waft of kero and full of flavour in the mouth-watering palate with racy acidity honed in by a grapey / white raisin sweetness with a texture that is almost creamy. Bright and refreshing with exciting sweet/sour tension and quite outstanding.
7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Deep purple garnet in the glass with a bright, generous, inviting bouquet that's creamy, fruity and savoury at the same time. The taste is spicy upfront with concentrated plum and cherry fruit and sweet smoky oak in the background with a hint of anise on the long creamy finish. A silky, seductive, generous pinot that’s ready to enjoy now. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - Western Australia
Dark red with a ripe creamy bouquet that evokes a suggestion of dry red earth. Juicy in the palate with classic blackcurrant /cassis and a rich plummy note with touches of tobacco, then loads of cherry mid palate with tannins thankfully more noticeable on the earthy, savoury finish that has accents of pepper. Ripe, generous and ready.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
The deep purple hue is almost lustrous in the glass, the bouquet is rich, dense and meaty with a delightful black cherry sweetness and it’s phenomenally smooth and silky in the palate with juicy ripe fruit balanced by the savouriness of the oak and the firmness of the melt-in-the-mouth tannins. Not overtly peppery but with a tantalising whisper of spice – hints of anise come to mind - and a lick of chocolate on the fabulously long finish. All in all a pleasure to taste and savour. Outstanding.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $99.99.

Three Dark Horses McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
The bouquet and taste of this deep yet brightly hued red is opulent and generous and full of plum and mulberry fruit woven into vanillin oak with touches of mocha, spice and pepper. It’s young, fresh, juicy and creamy with a silky seductive texture. “Never underestimate a dark horse,” it states on the back label. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 Feb 2017
Never tasted on a Wednesday night before
Wines were tasted blind.

Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2014 – Monterey, California, USA
The bouquet hints of this surprisingly Chablis-like wine (given its origin) offers up spice and zest and it's steely yet textural in the palate with a touch of peach, a hint of mushroom, a nuance of lanolin, subtle oak adding richness and a long, persistent, sucking-on-a-peach-stone finish. I wonder what the 'fat' in the name refers to because it's not what I would call a 'fat' wine and probably why I personally like it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
Sunshine gold with toasted coconut oak both on the nose and in the palate together with tropical fruit, peaches and pineapple. It’s deliciously toasty and creamy yet with a fresh, breezy aura as it spills across the palate with a touch of savouriness on the finish to keep the bright fruit in check.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Goldie Estate Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2014
Lemon gold hued with a steely nuance to the nutty, mealy, grapefruit-infused bouquet that suggests it has had all the winemaking bells and whistles. Initially very dry but quickly becoming juicy and fleshy with nectarine and peach, a vanilla biscuit undercurrent and finesse to long rich finish that fattens up beautifully with spiced stonefruit lingering. A class act.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Gotas de Mar Albarino 2015 – Rias Baixas, Spain
Sunshine in colour with a striking lemon verbena and tropical fruit bouquet then crisp, racy and teeth tingling in the palate but underneath quite textural with bright flavours reminiscent of stonefruit, mandarin, ginger and aromatic herbs. Very refreshing and perfect for seafood. Sets a benchmark for NZ winemakers to aspire to I think.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Main Divide Waipara Riesling 2014
Moderate gold. Spiced citrus honey fills the bouquet and it’s honeyed and luscious in the palate where the sweetness a foil to the refreshing acidity with flavours reminiscent of apricot jam and orange and lime marmalade with a slightly earthy undercurrent akin to German Auslese and lingering honeysuckle deliciousness. For fans of Main Divide take note it's not as 'spritzy' as it has been in the past. In the blind tasting some of us thought it was Eliza.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Fat Bastard IGP Pays D’OC Pinot Noir 2015 –, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
A moderate translucent ruby with spice, tamarillo and leather on the bouquet and firm and dry in the medium-bodied palate that's lifted with youthful acidity from the cherry and cranberry fruit with a light savouriness to the lingering finish. Light and easy drinking.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A rich ruby red with touches of crimson this is full of bright cherry aromas – both bottled and fresh – with a waft of chocolate box and a sprinkle of spice. Crammed with cherry and pomegranate fruit in the creamy, generous, flowing palate with a bright lingering finish lifted by youthful acidity and well balanced underlying savouriness.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Tormaresca Neprica 2013 – Puglia, Italy
A blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet grapes – the first letters of the grapes making up the name ‘NePriCa’, this full-blooded looking red has a savoury aura to the bouquet and the taste is quite dry, quite savoury and even a little herbal in a nice kind of way with underlying sweet-fruit, polished oak, nuances of leather and tar and a touch of spice to the bright lifted finish. Medium bodied and a very tasty point of difference. Interesting.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Vina Pomal Rioja Reserva 2012 – Rioja, Spain
Inky blackberry red with a distinctly old world bouquet where smoked meats, mercurochrome, leather and spice come to mind. Full-bodied, fleshy, meaty and savoury to the taste with peppery spices, charry oak, red and purple fruit – prunes maybe – and thick almost voluptuous tannins that assert their firmness on the long full finish. Made from 100% Tempranillo it’s a big wine that needs food to tame it.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Redmetal Vineyards Basket Press Merlot Cabernet Franc 2014
Rich black red. The bouquet is bright and fruity with wafts of polished savoury French oak a perfect teaser to the full-bodied and seemingly youthful, slightly sappy oak palate that becomes quite rounded as the wine flows. Ripe fruit, ripe tannins, touches of cigar box and Christmas cake spices lift the fleshy mouthfilling finish where there is a pleasing touch of grip.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Zabu il passo Nerello Mascalese Nero D’Avola 2015 – Sicily, Italy
A slightly dusty, rustic bouquet introduces this deeply coloured bright, fruity, fine textured wine that’s full of chocolate-coated currants and cherries with touches of spice, tar and leather and hints of rosehips on the lifted finish. A generous wine on the medium side of full bodied, it’s a new vintage of a First Glass favourite and possibly even better.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 1 Feb 2017
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Brancott Terroir Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
The aroma of passionfruit, mango, pineapple, mandarin peel and lime is so fragrant and powerful you can smell the exciting tropical island fruit without even raising your glass. All this and more in the palate with juicy zesty tingles of grapefruit and summer herbs providing lovely balance to the fruit together with pleasing texture to the mouthfeel and a touch of ‘hot lemon’ heat to the long pungent finish. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

The Original Smoking Loon Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
Golden in colour with a creamy, savoury, nutty oak bouquet and soft and flowing in the mellow palate with canned apricot fruit over nutty savoury oak, a judicious touch of biscuit spices, hints of butterscotch and lingering sizzled butter notes lifted by a zing of acidity. 13.5% alc. Artificial Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2013
Light yellow gold with a powerful bouquet that pulsates grilled stonefruit, roasted hazelnuts and wafts of smoky oak. Zesty and spicy in the full flavoured palate with touches of peach, hints of caramel, underlying gunflint and some lovely starting-to-mellow bottle age characters. It's big, it’s bright, it's a little funky from a portion of wild ferment and it sure is drinking beautifully right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
There's fruit sweetness to the scent of this oily looking wine with hints of baked apple and pear. Off dry in the palate with abundant apple and vanilla poached pear flavours balanced by a pleasing earthy savouriness. The 30% barrel ferment imparts richness to the mouthfeel and the finish is long and compounding with a bright citrus zing.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Loosen Dr L Riesling 2015 - Mosel, Germany
From a vintage Loosen describes as ‘close to perfect’ this is pale in hue with a reticent floral, blossomy scent that doesn't prepare for the scintillating riesling taste that's full of green apple acidity tempered by whispers of honey. It’s just on the dry side of medium with crisp, fresh, youthful vitality, a slatey mouthfeel and a persistent yet delicate finish.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Miradou Cotes De Provence Rose 2015 - Provence, France
This is a fashionably ultra-pale orange-pink hue, the bouquet is a little spicy savoury with a suggestion of cherry stone and the taste is nutty and dry with a very appealing lightly oily mouthfeel and lingering slivers of strawberry and red cherry. Likely to be made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Syrah the attractive packaging, pale colour and food friendly aura makes this very appealing.
13% alc. Artificial Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Eddera Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
The earthy, tarry, leathery bouquet of this deep burgundy-hued wine whisks you to Europe while the initially sweet, slightly jammy fruit suggests a hot climate. It’s a little sappy mid palate with a firm feel to the dry tannins, an underlying gamey savouriness and a peppery bite to finish where the dark jammy sweetness re-emerges to linger. Made from 100% tempranillo with 24 months in American oak, this is a good example of a regional style that will continue to develop in the cellar.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Falcon Ridge Estate Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Deep ruby garnet with a youthful aura, this looks and smells like Pinot with beguiling black cherry and earthy undertones to the smoky savoury scent. It’s silky and flowing in the palate with a juicy fruit sweetness balancing the spicy savouriness combined with youthful vibrancy, underlying herbal notes, refreshing acidity and a pleasing grip to the finish with nuances of black forest as the wine lingers. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

The Original Smoking Loon Zinfandel 2015 – California, USA
Dark ruby red. Suggestions of chocolate and raspberries on the restrained bouquet but ripe and generous in the palate with creamy vanillin oak, hints of pepper, currants, blueberries and ‘after dinner mint’ vibes as the flavours linger. Medium bodied with masses of fruit making it an easy drinking style.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

d'Arenberg Darry's Original McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Blackberry red in colour with a bright, spicy, fruity bouquet following through to the palate where black Doris plums, blackberries, tobacco, chocolate and black pepper combine in harmony on a bed of velvety tannins. Soft and generous with a creamy finish, it’s ready to drink now or cellar several years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Gemtree Obsidian McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
This inky red-black hued shiraz is beautifully vibrant and powerful. The bouquet radiates vanillin oak, berries, chocolate and mint and the full-bodied, opulent flavours are crammed with cocoa, dark smoky oak, generous ripe berry fruit and a finishing flourish of mint together with firm but pliable tannins and sublime balance. From Gemtree’s oldest Shiraz vines, it has been aged for 24 months in French oak. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $59.99.

Thorn Clarke William Randell Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Concentrated black-red with smoky oak and cake spices on the bouquet then thick textured, creamy and mouthfilling in the palate with copious amounts of mint a foil to the savoury, earthy, brooding concentration with a touch of chocolate, cake spices, dark plums and a nutty, chicory finish. An opulent but still developing wine that needs more time even though the tannins already have a velvety flow.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Deep purple red with a bouquet offering up chocolate biscuits, dark chocolate and hints of mocha that carry through to the palate of this deep brooding wine that initially shows more winemaking characters than fruit. It’s a big balanced wine with a full and complex mouthfeel, huge tannins, loads of pepper, underlying touches of graphite and dried minty herbs and then concentrated blackberry fruit wells up to add to the rounded satisfying aftertaste. Loads of potential but just needs a lot more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $59.99.

Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Inky purple red, glowing in its youth. The bouquet is a little spicy with smoky vanillin oak and red berries then in the palate the wine has that classic Cabernet 'lift' with dried herbs and cassis and while the tannins are still firm they have a velvety cloak. Lovely food wine to enjoy now with food and to watch develop over the next few years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

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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