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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

January 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 – 25 Jan 2017
Great Value Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Astoria “Lounge” Prosecco Extra Dry – Treviso, Italy
Straw gold in the glass with tiny bubbles and a lacy edge of foam when poured. Attractive bouquet of apples and grapes and refreshingly crisp to the taste, which is indeed extra dry, with loads of salivating apple and quince.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $19.99.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2015– California, USA
Golden in hue with a smoky nuance to the nutty bouquet and a mellow buttery suggestion to the polished toasty oak flavours with hints of bubblegum and peach. It’s full-bodied and dry with a long juicy finish and while served moderately chilled for our tasting, Harvey (who opened the bottles) said, "Terrific at room temperature,” which is good to know if you forget to put your wine in the fridge. Star value.
13.5 % alc. Artificial cork. First Glass Price $14.99.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Wild Grace Chardonnay 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Light gold with stonefruit and tropical fruit aromas and very tasty and full of flavour in the concentrated palate with spicy oak, touches of vanilla and stonefruit, and a terrifically long vibrant finish. A big bold style that has developed beautifully with time in the bottle and will definitely tick the boxes of Chardonnay lovers. Gold Medal AirNZ. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap . First Glass Price $22.99.

Whitehaven Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015
This radiates an attractive rose musk and Turkish Delight bouquet and the taste is distinctly Gewurztraminer through and through. It's just off dry with a lightly viscous texture and an incredibly long ‘hot smoker lolly’ finish. Descriptors offered up from fellow tasters on the night include lychees, muscat grapes, rose Turkish delight, Parma violets, orange water, apricots, spice and honey. Yep, absolutely. Gold NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
13.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Giesen Riesling 2015
Straw in hue. Delicately floral with hints of mandarin on the nose and an off dry, spatlese-like taste with racy acidity that sends quivers down the spine and a fine nectar-like sweetness to balance it with a smile. It’s juicy and quenching and perfect to serve icy cold on hot summer days. A blend of Marlborough and Waipara grapes, this multiple gold medal and trophy winner is one of the great Riesling buys.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $12.99.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Hinting of a little age with a starting-to-brick translucent garnet hue while the bouquet offers up smoked Morello cherries and the taste is gamey and savoury with touches of dried herbs, some grip to the tannins and a touch of cranberry fleshing out the incredibly dry finish. This definitely needs to be accompanied with food.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $26.99.

Angoves Long Row Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
The deep dark hue instantly seduces the eyes and while the bouquet is a little earthy the taste is generous with smooth tea-flavoured tannins, deep dark Christmas cake fruit and spicy savoury vibes.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $10.99.

The Crusher Grower’s Selection Petite Sirah 2014 – California, USA
Inky pinky-red in the glass with a creamy oak and berry bouquet and bright, concentrated juicy plum and red berry flavours. It’s rich, ripe and meaty with firm velvety tannins, chocolate, spice and a touch of pepper with a well-balanced underlying earthy savouriness and crushed chocolate biscuits and chicory emerging on the lingering, mouthfilling finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $20.99.

Septima ‘Obra’ Malbec 2014 – Mendoza, Argentina
Purple red with a fine textured appearance. The bouquet offers up hints of spice, rose petals, chocolate and leather. There’s lifted acidity upfront in the palate with fine tannins, polished oak, leather, succulent plum and red berry fruit and hints of spice building to a creamy finish and while generous, it’s also food friendly dry.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $24.99.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Dark red in hue with an intriguing savoury / slightly earthy / subtle bramble berry scent. On first tasting it seems quite restrained with firm dry tannins but with coaxing it opens up in the glass revealing hints of mocha and chicory with creamy oak, dried mint and a twist of pepper then the long, fine, minute-plus finish says – “hey, I’m a baby Filsell” so it will reward much more if you decant this baby before drinking.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Molly Dooker ‘Carnival of Love’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
It’s a drink-with-your-eyes inky purple red, the bouquet wows with its vinous concentration and chocolate aura and the heady taste is ‘blockbuster’ in every sense. Not for the faint-hearted, it’s spicy, it's alcoholic, it’s chocolatey – it’s like a black forest chocolate log crammed with liqueur-macerated black cherries and oozing vanillin oak-infused cream – plus loads and loads of pepper and a hot fiery finish – all the while a soft, plush, velvety flow. A Sarah and Sparky Marquis creation.
15.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $120.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 18 Jan 2017
Impressive New Arrivals
Wines were tasted blind.

Leefield Station Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Straw gold with a slightly sweaty nuance to pineapple / passionfruit / lime bouquet an the taste is pungent and full of tropical fruit, peach and tangy citrus flavours with a touch of capsicum and basil and a zesty feel to the party-in-the-mouth finish. A Brent Marris label. Gold AirzNZ.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Glossy light gold with a bouquet that offers nuances of smoky oak, pink bubblegum and grilled stonefruits. Lightly toasted oak is upfront in the palate and while initially quite zesty, concentrated fleshy white peach and nectarine flavours build up and the finish is creamy and savoury with the slightest hint of butterscotch – it will develop more of this extremely desirable character with bottle age.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light golden hued. All gunflint, toasted oak and sizzled butter on the nose and the taste is full and fleshy yet with loads of oak, flinty characters and wild yeast funk. Seems ultra savoury but the lingering aftertaste is all grapefruit and peach. Another that will unfold magnificently with more time. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2015 - Monterey & Santa Barbara, California, USA
Quite a yellow gold in the glass and the bouquet seems quite mellow with vanilla infused cedar offering a point of difference to the norm. Savoury in the palate with brightness to the spicy oak and a soft, full-bodied, smooth flowing, creamy texture and a long pleasing finish with a suggestion of smoked panna cotta and peaches. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Tohu Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
There's an attractive honey poached pear and apple vibe both to the bouquet and flavour that's has a smooth front and mid-palate flow with the moderately dry finish jazzed up with by freshness of citrus and a touch of ginger. Value drinking from the Awatere Valley. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Terra Sancta Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Watermelon pink with a bouquet of wild strawberries and red cherries and quite rich flavours (for rosé) with a light viscosity to the texture. It’s somewhere between dry and medium in sweetness level with a slightly herbal / savoury nuance balancing the pinot noir fruit and a lingering tingle of spice. Must be chilled of utmost enjoyment.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2014
Inky red black with a crimson glow to the edges. The bouquet is rich and full with a hint of chocolate, a touch of smoke and juicy brambles. It smells ripe and ready and the flavour delivers with a youthful sappy vibe, touches of cigar box, a nuance of mint, a slightly youthful firm tannin edginess underpinning juicy plum and cassis fruit and a long persistent finish. Lovely wine that begs for barbecued lamb. Gold NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

McManis Petite Syrah 2015 - California, USA
Youthful bright purple red in the glass with chocolate, mocha and mushrooms on the nose and a smooth creamy palate with loads of ripe redcurrant fruit, pepper, mocha, leather, roasted herbs and a terrifically fulsome and flavoursome finish with lingering hips of rosehip jelly. Heading into the irresistible category.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Chocolate Box Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 - South Australia
Concentrated pinky red hue. The bouquet is full of vanillin oak, chocolate and cherries and there’s noticeable spice in the palate that has a smooth velvety flow with a little bit of tension to the texture hinting of its youthful age. It's full of juicy blackberry and mulberry fruit with crushed chocolate cherry biscuits, hints of mocha, loads of pepper, savoury oak and a lingering aftertaste that’s luscious and long. 15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 - South Australia
Black red with a shiny appearance. The bouquet offers up polished oak and an intriguing floral allure (possibly violet / fresh lavender) and intense berry fruit. Very fine in texture – the fine tannins making for an elegant flow across the palate with loads of eucalypt and a heap of pepper. Polished and stylish with a mint chocolate finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Chocolate Box Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - South Australia
There’s a fine hint of chocolate on the nose together with currants and blackberries and it is lifted in the palate with moderately firm tannins, polished oak, earth and leather and the classic combination of cassis, mint and cedar. More of a medium-bodied style (compared to the sibling shiraz) with good colour, a spicy kick to the nicely resolved finish and a lasting impression of chocolate raisins and mint.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 11 Jan 2017
Welcome to 2017
Wines were tasted blind.

Villa Maria Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
This is a cracker sauv. It’s bright and fresh with pineapple, lime and capsicum aromas and juicy peach and tropical fruit salad flavours with passionfruit and pineapple accents and a citrus twist to the tangy finish. 5 stars and No.1 Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Nelson Chardonnay 2015
There’s touches of butter caramel on the nose and whispers of caramel and bolder toasty oak flavours fill the smooth, buttery, mellow palate with nutty creamy malo characters, poached apricot, citrus zest and a smoky oaky finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Milcrest Nelson Chardonnay 2015
The bouquet of this chardonnay oozes class - it’s nutty and creamy with hints of sizzled butter and peach and the taste is rich, textural and mouthfilling with spicy oak, hazelnuts, juicy tropical fruit, stonefruit and an expansive finish where the smokiness of the oak emerges elegantly.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 11 Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
This has an alluring bouquet with hints of gunflint and peach and while the flavours at first seem steely and restrained possibly because the wine quite cold on serving, it opens up beautifully in the glass on this warm January evening to reveal juicy stonefruit and nutty, creamy, toasty oak flavours surging with concentration and power. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Two Rivers 'Brookby Hill' Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
The bouquet is crammed with green apple scents and the flavours, with Granny Smith to the fore, echo this suggestion. It’s crisp and dry with loads of fresh acidity and although there is 10% barrel ferment the old barrels used impart texture not taste. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Two Rivers L'ile de Beauté Rosé 2016
This has a pale pink hue, the light bouquet offers up raspberry and meringue and the bold taste is zingy and zesty with crisp red berry flavours. A delightful rosé on the cusp of off dry and harmonious with the cheese on the night. 5 stars and No.1 in Cuisine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Youthful purple garnet. Attractive smoky aroma with hints of spiced cherries and violets. Lifted in the palate with upfront acidity, a medley of cranberries, cherries and spice, a smooth velvety texture and a creaminess to the medium to full-bodied finish. Elite Gold Air NZ Wine Awards 2016.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

El Domador del Feugo Rioja Reserva 2011 – Rioja, Spain
The bouquet offers up ripe berry fruit mixed with dusty cedar and the juicy taste brims with jammy red berries and a touch of vanilla. Hinting of a little age with its mellow aura though the colour still has a pinky youthful lustre, it has firm and reasonably dry tannins that really need food to break them down and the 36 months in oak imparts a sappy cedary undercurrent.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Pirramimma Stock’s Hill Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Inky dark red with bricking to the edges. The voluptuous bouquet offers up freshly baked jam tart, earth, spice, smoke and ripe berries and the upfront taste upfront is a little iodine and cedary with slightly grainy tannins, touches of pepper, mint, tobacco, bottled red fruits, vanilla and liquorice. I sense a hint of maturity to the wine although the lingering aftertaste is mint fresh. Gold NZIWS.
14.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Fantini Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni 2013 – Italy
This is inky black red with a shiny appearance and on smelling and tasting it whisks you to a hot climate place with its inky depth and concentration. The earthy savoury bouquet is elevated by chocolate and berries and the succulent full-bodied taste is characterised by thick chewy tannins. It’s a harmony of savouriness and ultra ripe berry fruit sweetness with a herbal intrigue marked mostly by mint that lifts the finish. A blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero from the Puglia and Abruzzo regions.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $58.99.

Yalumba The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Coonawarra, South Australia
Rich dark red with lashings of mint and chocolate filling the bouquet and comforting and creamy in the palate with flowing velvety tannins and beautifully balanced smoky savoury oak. There’s an abundance of rich ripe sweet red and black fruit and the finish is long with flashes of youthful cedar and cigar box characters lingering. From the Menzie’s Vineyard with recommended cellaring to 2025. Outstanding value.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

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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2017 Tastings
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Jan 2018 tasting notes and index.

Nov / Dec 2016 tasting notes and 2016 index.

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