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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

July / August 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 – 23 Aug 2017
Giesen Wines with Nikolai St George
Wines were tasted blind.

Giesen Classic Cuvée 2014
Made from Hawkes Bay chardonnay grapes this is crisp, dry, fresh and bright with tingly fizz, a creamy backbone and a yeasty mouthfilling savoury-tinged finish. Value for money in a not too serious style.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Made from Awatere fruit, this powerful, flavoursome wine is full of tropical fruit with lashings of pineapple, tangy herbs and a touch of hokey pokey with a slightly oily texture and a long, rich finish. There's some use of oak and extended time on yeast lees to give this tasty sauv a point of difference.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Giesen The August Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Comments from around me were, ‘This smells like Chardonnay.” It’s made hand picked, whole bunch pressed grapes from low yielding old vines and fermented in French oak with extended time on yeast lees. The aroma is biscuity and there’s a smoky nuance to the taste. It’s oily and a little earthy (Nikolai said ‘peaty') with an underpinning of mellow savoury oak and freeze dried pineapple flavours lingering. Fascinating wine with a fabulous texture.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This multi award winner is peachy on the nose with harmonious and nicely seasoned spicy French oak following through to the tasty, warm, mouthfilling palate. A creamy textured wine with touches of grapefruit, an array of ripe stonefruit, roasted nuts and a long savoury and persistent finish that tapers off gently.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Giesen The Fuder Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Bright and glossy in the glass with tantalising grapefruit and nutty oak-infused wild yeast scents with a nuance of smoky bacon. Powerful in the mouth with a magnetic toasty allure, it's a marriage of savoury winemaking complexities with ripe juicy stonefruit supported by a touch of citrus and a long, creamy, nutty, finish with some yummy hokey pokey nuances coming through. The Fuder is a 1000-litre German oak barrel.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2014
There's a heady allure to this wine that Nik describes as a punchy juicy style. I find gewurztraminer’s classic musky floral and pink smoker lolly scent and the taste just off dry with upfront spiciness settling nicely to reveal delicate violet pastille and rose water nuances and lingering flavours of lychee. A touch oily in texture with low acidity and gorgeous flow. Lots of awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Giesen Riesling 2015
A blend of Marlborough and Waipara fruit, the bouquet offers up a myriad of citrus and honeysuckle and the smell of the road after rain. Made in an easy to drink style, it’s ultra juicy with medium sweetness that’s balanced by fresh green apple and mandarin acidity, which makes it seem dry. Low alcohol with pleasing mouthfeel and texture, it is a multi Trophy and gold medal winner.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
This newly bottled wine has at first a classic earthy scent then a pretty floral rose petal / feijoa flower perfume wafts through. The taste is bright red fruit with Christmas cherries and rosehips over a savoury gamey backbone with a touch of gunsmoke, a touch of smoky bacon and slight grip to the silky tannins. An approachable, drinkable and very pretty wine with understated substance.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Immediately rich, ripe and almost voluptuous on the nose with savouriness welling up from the bowl of the glass. Then in the palate it is full bodied and mouthfilling with a velvety feel to the flow. It’s bright and spicy with hints of anise, purple fruits, a touch of lavender and even a touch of pepper with a long tasty finish. A sensuous pinot from an excellent vintage.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $51.99.

Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Syrah 2012
This is a big, earthy, savoury style of Syrah with a deep black-red colour, a slightly feral note to the leathery, dampened embers aroma and a little feral again in the palate where tight-knit tannins are a feature. This is a terrific example of the earthy, smoky side of Syrah with brooding red berry fruit humming along harmoniously in the background then bursting through with brightness on the finish along with a peppery zing.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $51.99.

Giesen The Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013
This is an amazingly concentrated wine with a golden raisin colour, a bouquet full of with honeyed apricots and a fantastic bright, fresh taste where flavours like tropical fruit tea and marmalade hone in the toffee sweetness harmoniously. Then the lingering aftertaste is like a smooth crème brulee. The key to this wine is botrytis. A delicious finish to the evening.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 16 Aug 2017
Yalumba Wines from South Australia with Jane Ferrari
Wines were tasted blind.

Nautilus Cuvée Marlborough Brut NV
Light gold coloured with a fine mousse. A little toasty on the nose and foamy in the mouth with crisp tangy acidity, a fresh yeasty aura and the merest hint of peach. Sophisticated. Stylish. Dry. Champion NZ Sparkling at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2017.
% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Roussanne 2014
This ‘experimental variety’ for Yalumba was wild fermented in old barrels. It’s golden and glossy in the glass. The lifted aromatics in both the bouquet and taste hint of dried pineapple, lime, lemon grass and baked apple with a haunting suggestion of rubber bands and a whisper of smoky savouriness. The mouthfeel is full and textural with a pleasing oily flow and the exceptionally long finish is dry and tasty.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2015
Light golden hued with a delicate nutty scent that hints of apricot but the taste is much bolder that the bouquet suggests. It’s textural and mouth-coating with musky florals, warm spices, a touch of white pepper and ethereal nuances of apricot melding into the savoury background with the long finish aromatic and bright. 60% fermented in old barrels with wild ferment and 10 months on yeast lees.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Yalumba The Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Black red in the glass with concentration and depth to the scent that hints of bramble leaf and dried berries with a leathery, savoury inflection and the slightest suggestion of liquorice. Brooding to start in the dry, fine textured, understated palate that opens up to reveal mint, cassis, chocolate, cigar box and leather with accents of youthful freshness. (The label a step up too. 'Power with elegance' is Yalumba's mantra. Shows in this more medium-bodied (in the scheme of things) wine. Terrific value. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet 2013
Black pinky-red in the glass. The attractive and foremost savoury bouquet has an aura of refined oak with deep-seated cassis and touches of mint, red earth and leather. All this and more in the intense and long palate and while the tannins are still a little forward making the wine seem very youthful in its presence, it has wonderful vinosity and lingering berry sweetness. “A two-stage palate with fruit then dryness then fruit again,” says Jane. I think it is evolving beautifully with no hurry to drink.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Yalumba Triangle Block Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2013
Crimson-edged red black in the glass. Immediately more forward and fruiter on the nose than the previous two Cabernets and bright in palate with cherry jam fruit and red and black pepper. A powerful yet elegant wine with a meaty savouriness, hints of tar and mocha, a smooth harmonious flow and a warm berry pie finish with touches of oak and vanilla. Long, persistent and very tasty.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Yalumba Barossa Patchwork Shiraz 2014
Deep pinky red black with the bouquet offering up nuances of crushed milk chocolate biscuits and perhaps toasted coconut with hints of cherry and an underlying spicy savouriness. The palate is characterised by fine dry tannins with upfront brightness to the cherry berry fruit and vanillin oak that comes and goes, lots of pepper, an underlying leafy/tobacco note, hints of mercurochrome and a long, succulent, more-ish finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Yalumba Paradox Northern Barossa Shiraz 2015
Boysenberry red. Concentrated and deep on the bouquet and also in the palate. Smooth at first with the tannins kicking in mid-palate then melting away again. A muscular, meaty, savoury wine with smoky bacon oak, harmonious pepper and spice with accents of anise and chicory essence and warmth to the finish. More savoury than fruity - the fruit is there but not upfront like the others. 'Old fashioned,’ says Jane.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2013
‘Power with elegance’ is one of Yalumba’s mantras and it really shows in this wine tonight. It is deep purple black in the glass with a profound depth to the blackberry and mulberry bouquet and concentrated and brooding in the inky and intense yet wonderfully fine-tannined palate. It’s full of ripe berry / bramble fruit with touches of vanilla, sweet oak, savoury oak, a refined spicy aura and a meaty depth with the tannins more obvious on the finish. Very long, very young, one to cellar - it will last for years.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $82.

Yalumba The Scribbler Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2013
A dense purple red with woody spices, savoury oak and blackcurrant filling the bouquet, the blackcurrant very intense at first in the palate then melds into the savoury oak frame with highlights of chocolate, liquorice, star anise and pepper. The tannins are still firm but they are fine in their delivery and integrating nicely. An amalgam of harmony and definitely THE buy of the night. Buy a case and enjoy over several years.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2013
There's brightness to the inky black-red hue of this 52% Cabernet, 48% Shiraz blend. Crushed chocolate biscuits and cherry pie fill the bouquet together with a spice, meaty, cigar box savouriness that’s so in harmony with the deep, dark, brooding concentrated cassis and cherry fruit that fills the palate together with mocha, chocolate, vanilla and mint. There’s almost a lusciousness to this wine that has a fine tannin flow. Opening up nicely since tasting last year.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $43.99.

Claret is a named used by Yalumba (and other Aus wineries?) for Cabernet Shiraz. It is not a name owned by EU so okay to use.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 12 Jul 2017
Premium versus Budget
Wines were tasted blind.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
This is a brilliant gold colour. The nose is lemon and oatmeal and the taste is rounded and mellow with warm lemon butter caramel, creamed cashews and savoury oak emerging to linger with a subtle salinity. It’s smooth and satisfying with a deliciously long finish. Not tasted blind, it was served from a 1.5-litre magnum that comes in an impressive presentation box.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $71.99.

Selaks Founders Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Light lemon gold in the glass with a leesy, grapefruit and nougat bouquet and a fresh juicy taste with zesty citrus tones, spicy oak, toast and gunflint. A clean modern style with grapefruit curd infusing fleshy peach. a rounded mouthfeel and seamless flow. Quite youthful but shows potential. Delicious.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
This bouquet of this light gold wine is smoky and savoury with biscuity notes and cedar. It is bright and zesty in the palate with underlying flinty reductive notes, some wild yeast influences and touches of caramelised peach crumble with honeyed oak more prominent on the mouthfilling and magnificently long finish where lovely creamy mealy notes linger.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014
Light gold in hue with almost heady aromatics and silky and seamless in its flow with richness to the texture, a touch of rose petal and musky spice notes, spiced strudel apple and a hint of apricot-like sweetness to the finish where there is the most subtle suggestion of hokey pokey. Never OTT, just sublimely ethereal and elegant.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Pinot Gris 2016
This straw gold wine is immediately more redolent of Pinot Gris as we know it with vanilla poached pear and quince aromatics following through to the palate. It’s bright, spicy, juicy and appealing with the sweetness level just on the cusp of off dry for all round appeal.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Deep boysenberry hued with a ripe plummy aroma yet savoury rather than upfront fruity to the taste with a peppery vibe and some vanillin oak tones then, on the finish, succulent juicy plum and cherry fruit wells up from within. Not overly complex and smooth in its flow.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
This aromatics of this deep Burgundy hued wine are framed with beautifully honed savoury oak and the woodsmoke scent of smoky bacon. It tastes savoury and a touch gamey with firm, fine-grained tannins, a touch of anise, dried herbs, bittersweet red fruits and a velvety finish where ripe cherry notes emerge to linger. Wild yeast funk adds intrigue to this multi-faceted wine that becomes more generous and thought provoking with every sip.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Alma Gitana Old Vine Garnacha 2013 – Carinena, Spain
The savoury and slightly herbal bouquet of this rich pinky red hued wine immediately whisks me to Europe. It smells like a classic dry red and it is indeed dry upfront in the medium-bodied palate where firm tannins are tamed by succulent raspberry and red plum fruit, the oak is nicely integrated with a touch of vanilla and the finish is long and juicy.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Xavier Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 – Rhone Valley, France
Dark red in the glass with hints of mocha joining brooding red fruits on the nose. Savoury yet succulent in the velvety textured palate with touches of barnyard and mercurochrome infusing dark red fruit flavours with hints of tobacco, a peppery vibe and later a hint of anise. Made from a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre this is a serious, full bodied, textural, mouth-coating wine with a creaminess to the ripe, succulent finish and a very long, pleasing, winey aftertaste.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Belasco De Baquedano Llama Old Vine Malbec 2015 – Mendoza, Argentina
Inky crimson purple with a slight herbal nuance to the boiled red lolly bouquet then purple fruits and violets are upfront in the palate that’s characterised by fine tannins with pepper-infused spicy accents, charry oak, an edginess to the fruit like you get in tamarillo (but not tamarillo) and a long juicy finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Belasco De Baquedano AR Guentota Malbec 2011 – Mendoza, Argentina
This is almost black in the glass with a sumptuous aroma of blackberries. It’s a very stupendous, ripe, succulent, juicy, meaty, charry offering with mouthfilling tannins yet a surprisingly smooth flow. There’s a touch of vanilla in the woody oak with luscious berries and a touch of rose hip – and while it is fruity, it is foremost savoury with a warm, mouth-coating finish.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Jul 2017
Peter Lehmann Wines from the Barossa, South Australia with Malcolm Stopp
Wines were tasted blind.

Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz 2011
Deep black red with a lacy veil. Chocolate coated cherries fill the bouquet and bubbles dance across the tongue when you taste. There's a lovely mellow character to the dark cherry and mulberry fruit with viscosity to the texture and a savoury richness to the long finish where the fruit brims up and over. Perfect for a July mid winter Christmas dinner and of course summer Christmas in December.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $56.99.

Peter Lehmann Wigan Eden Valley Riesling 2012
Light gold in hue with enticing aromatics reminiscent of honey, citrus blossom and just the slightest suggestion of buttered toast. Very dry to the taste with vibrant, freshly squeezed, racy lime acidity – think Roses lime juice – with a touch of honeysuckle rounding out the edges and a toasty intrigue to the shimmery finish.
11.2% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Peter Lehmann Clancy's Red 2014
This blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot is a rich deep red. It offers up a bouquet of succulent plums and cherries with a waft of wood spice and savoury notes in the background and has a fine smooth tannin structure and flavours reminiscent of mint, red plums, woodsmoke and a suggestion of game with concentration to the medium bodied finish. This is your BBQ wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Ruediger Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Bright blackcurrant red. A little shy on the nose at first then distinct blackcurrant fruit with a hint of vanilla, touches of cedar and later, in the empty glass, eucalypt. The upfront firm tannins become warm and enveloping with underlying tingly vibes, velvet-lined cedar, dusty wild blackberries, a touch of mint and the merest hint of chocolate on the long dry finish where the fruit takes over again beautifully.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann Hill and Valley Barossa Shiraz 2015
Deep ruby-tinged black red. Mint infuses the bouquet that offers up dark spices, charred wood, charcoal ash and leather and it is very fine textured with fruit purity in the palate that’s accentuated by lifted acidity, smoky cigar box, tobacco, pepper, plums and mulberries. It’s more savoury than fruity however with a pleasing amount of grip to the finish.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Peter Lehmann ‘The Barossan' Shiraz 2015
Deep dark red. The bouquet is mint, ripe plums and savoury polished cedary oak and it is creamy and smooth in the palate with bright minty notes, plenty of spiced-up toasty oak, succulent red and black fruits and a touch of cherry chocolate and anise on the long, luscious, mouthfilling finish. Smooth, rounded and soft with lots of flavour and THE star buy.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Peter Lehmann Futures Shiraz 2013
A little brooding on the nose at first, the bouquet emitting a sense of sweet leather with hints of smoky vanillin oak and touches of cherry chocolate. Savoury and spicy in the palate with loads and loads of pepper, sumac and underlying leather with slightly grippy tannins before the succulent plum, mulberry and bramble fruit take over to dissolve the tannins and leave behind a fine, clean, mint-accented finish. Enjoy now or continue to cellar.14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 Shiraz 2015
Deep dark red with crimson edges. There’s a slightly charred wood, cigar box and leather scent to the brooding bouquet but the taste of this old vine Shiraz is bright and alive with mint, concentrated and super succulent small red and black berries, touches of blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, spice and pepper. The supple tannins have a firm exterior and plush interior and the finish is long fine mouthfilling and satisfying.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Lehmann Shiraz 2013
Fine textured in appearance and beautifully fine in palate. Chocolate and spice fill the bouquet and there’s more chocolate, like crushed chocolate biscuit in the palate. This reminds me of ‘old school’ Barossa shiraz – dusty, earthy, savoury and gutsy with undeterminable winey fruit, pepper, dried herbs and lingering mint. Very fine and smooth in its flow with lovely savoury oak and lingering cigar box notes, it’s one of those wines that will keep giving for years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Carey Shiraz 2014
Concentrated intense black red. Wonderfully opulent minty bouquet but brooding and deep in the palate with firm teeth-coating tannins, dark savoury oak, pepper and spice, dark chocolate, tobacco, herbs and leather, concentrated berry fruit extract and touches of mint coming through. A wine that patience will reward, so decant for drinking right now.14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 2013
This deep dark red-hued wine is the first in the line-up to hint of a mellow character. The bouquet is initially brooding and leathery then becomes elevated with wafts of pepper, spice, vanilla, a hint of cherry and cedar. There’s a lovely savouriness to the taste with cedary oak, plummy fruit, leather, mocha, chicory, pepper and lingering mint chocolate and while the tannins are fine and silky and not overpowering the fruit is still a little brooding so decanting will open it nicely.14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2012
This has a super saturated inky red hue with crimson edges. The bouquet is opulent and powerful offering up notes of mint, cedar, sappy oak and leather. A surprisingly juicy wine with wonderful purity and concentration of fruit, beautifully fine silky tannins, loads and loads of spiced pepper and wonderful supporting facets of chocolate, vanilla, mocha, aromatic spices, cigar box and cedar. Succulent, mouthfilling, long and satisfying.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $98.

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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