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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2018 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2018
[ 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 Apr 2018
Australia versus New Zealand on ANZAC Day
Wines were tasted blind.

Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Riesling 2016
Golden coloured with a bright lime-scented aroma and a hint of toastiness to the quiveringly dry taste. This is classic Clare with flavours of lime, talc and honeysuckle florals, a touch of oiliness to the texture and concentration to the finish.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Mount Pleasant 'Elizabeth' Hunter Valley Semillon 2016 – NSW, Australia
Straw gold with wispy floral aromas infused with the slightest hint of apricot, and a touch of salinity to the flinty taste with yellow apple joining the delicate apricot that imparts the finish with fruit sweetness. A subtle style and very different to the ones held for 5 years before release, this begs to be accompanied with seafood.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Albarino 2016
There's a hint of beeswax and toast to the scent of this light yellow gold hued wine. It’s tropical fruity and creamy with mealy, leesy notes and a honeyed nuance to the full, smooth finish. 13.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015 – South Australia
There’s an appealing sense of vanilla and malt on the nose that follows through to the palate that’s full, fat and rounded with a mealy richness, sweet ripe fruit reminiscent of white peach and apricot, underlying flinty notes and a spicy zesty zing to the long, mouthfilling finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Golden in the glass with hints of roasted pineapple / pineapple wood on the nose while tropical fruit abounds in the palate. It’s oaky, sappy, and very very dry with a flinty character to the dusty finish and underlying mealy notes adding richness. Closed with natural cork again Mission believes it will impart more complexity with ageing. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
This bright, smooth, tasty pinot is a brilliant violet-edged ruby in the glass with seductive smoky nuances to the scent and touches of anise, spiced cherry and red guava in the palate with harmonious savoury gamey tones moseying about in the background where firm youthful tannins are tamed by the succulent fruit.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 – Tasmania, Australia
A translucent pink garnet in the glass with a delicate bouquet hinting of dried herbs, rose pot pourri and red cherry. An ethereal pinot with fine silky tannins and seemingly subtle yet increasingly complex old-school, earthy, savoury, spicy notes with compounding richness and mouthfeel, just the right amount of fruit sweetness and fabulous length. A wonderful nod to Burgundy. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $58.99.

Take it to the Grave Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Bright black red with crimson-pink edges. Earth, savoury and just a little tarry on the nose more akin to a cool climate wine until deep dark berry sweetness unfurls from within. Similarly in the palate it seems tight, herbal, firm and savoury then, like on the nose, the succulent fruit breaks through and all the while a bright and delicately peppered spiciness glides through.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

The Landing Bay of Islands Syrah 2013 – Northland, NZ
This bright black-red hued Syrah is a big wine, the only indication of its age the mellow character that frames it. Green pepper and dried herb aromas mingle with the scent of chocolate-coated berries and syruppy chocolate is foremost in the firm dry palate with dark plums, pepper, mocha and vanilla adding to the sumptuous complexity with creamy oak a feature on the silky finish. Gold Easter Show.
13.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016
This is a deep dark red in the glass with crimson edges. The bouquet emanates blackcurrants, leather and cedar while black pepper is harmonious in the dry yet silky, succulent palate that’s full of dark fruit, dark oak, cake spices and liquorice with a youthful brightness to the finish. Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Heartland Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Black red, silky in appearance. Super attractive bouquet of vanillin oak, spice, chocolate and cherries and smooth, creamy and juicy in the palate that’s crammed with black plums, blackberry, chocolate and vanilla with a well-balanced spicy savoury undercurrent, pillowy tannins and a long succulent aftertaste.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 18 Apr 2018
Peter Lehmann Wines with Malcolm Stopp
Wines were not tasted blind.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This has a light golden hue in the glass with peach and citrus floating through the nutty oak bouquet and a lovely mealy savouriness with fleshy peach stone to the taste. It's smooth and creamy with increasing richness to the finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz 2012 – Barossa, South Australia
Almost black in the glass with rich garnet edges. There's a deep-set plum and bottled cherry bouquet and the taste is bright, tingly and effervescent with underlying structure from the tannins, ripe berry fruit and a dry lifted finish with a creamy aftertaste and a lingering suggestion of chocolate.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $56.99.

Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon 2010 – Barossa, South Australia
Straw coloured with a gorgeous bouquet redolent of all the wonderful lemony tones that Barossa Semillon is known for - lemon blossom, lemon grass, lemon honey and lemon lolly with honeysuckle and lanolin notes. All this and more in the remarkably youthful and zesty palate that has a sense of a mellow toasty character as the aftertaste lingers. It’s fine textured and slippery smooth with a deliciously refreshing finish. 11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2011 – Eden Valley, South Australia
There's a lovely bright aura to the scent that conjures up lime and lemonade zest with honeysuckle and a 'fusel' note we sometimes call ‘kero’, and the taste is bright and deliciously refreshing with mouth-watering lime-like acidity zinging through with a touch of flower nectar complementing the tingly zest. Just on the cusp of dry with a slight sucking-on-a-riverstone earthiness, a slatey texture, increasing toastiness and phenomenal length. Seven years old yet fresh, vibrant and exciting.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Ruediger Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Barossa, South Australia
This is a saturated deep crimson red. The creamy bouquet emanates violet jam, chocolate and mocha and it's firm to start in the palate that's full of upfront eucalypt notes with vibrant red- and blackcurrant fruit, an underlying charred meatiness and a sense of roasted nuts on the fine cedary oak finish that lingers with a silky mouthfeel and comes full circle back to the scent with hints of chocolate and mocha. There's still noticeable acidity in this five year old wine from an excellent vintage so will continue to develop in the bottle for years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Barossa, South Australia
This is a deep dark red in the glass. The creamy bouquet offers up a deep sense of blackcurrant, cassis and shaved cedar with the subtlest suggestion of mint that becomes more obvious in the savoury, spicy palate with initially noticeable brushed velvet tannins. Very attractive, sappy and succulent with pleasing sweetness of fruit and touches of tobacco that become more obvious as the wine lingers. This has the addition of Malbec this year.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016 – Barossa, South Australia
Saturated purple red with concentration and opacity. Mocha is the first sense that emanates from the bouquet then concentrated plums, black cherries and cedar. Sweet fruit balances out the palate’s earthy, savoury, toasty oak and tingly pepper notes; the tannins are soft and velvety and there's brightness to the creamy finish with hints of chocolate and touches of aniseed and then, like the previous wine, coming full circle back to the mocha.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Peter Lehmann The Futures Shiraz 2014 – Barossa, South Australia
Shiny black red with fine opacity and a wonderfully fragrant sweet mint and berry aroma with touches of vanilla and chocolate. Juicy and bright in the fine-tannined palate with an upfront hit of spice and pepper then chocolate, mocha, savoury oak, cigar box and underlying meaty notes with lingering touches of mint and all the while succulent plum and mulberry fruit. A great label and hard to resist.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Hearnden Shiraz 2013 – Eden Valley, South Australia
This inky black red wine with crimson edges has a lovely deep earthy sense to the bouquet with touches of dried rose, rooibos, mocha, vanilla and aniseed. The fascination continues into the deep-set savoury yet silky textured palate where intense dark plum and blackberry fruit melds into savoury oak with bright touches of pepper-infused spice and lingering hints of violet and chocolate. While lighter bodied than Lehmann’s Barossa reds, it radiates finesse.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Hongell Shiraz 2015 – Barossa, South Australia
Shiny black red in hue with the bouquet offering up plum and mulberry fruit with touches of eucalypt and hints of cigar box and leather. Lifted, bright and youthful with upfront firm fine tannins that seem soft and rounded mid palate yet stamp the ground on the finish. A powerful wine with ripe juicy fruit that mingles with sappy, minty, peppery notes and has a lingering hint of coffee bean.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Peter Lehmann 8 Songs Shiraz 2014 – Barossa, South Australia
Concentrated red black in the glass with a sense of old world on the nose with touches of leather and barnyard and sappy herb notes but such vibrant, rich, sweet ripe fruit in the palate with invigorating underlying acidity and tingles of pepper. The firm upfront, tight-grained tannins become quite silky and svelte on the finish with a chocolate, vanilla, mocha and succulent dark fruit profile to balance the cedar and earthy savouriness. A stellar ‘old vine’ wine with an ultra long finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2012 – Barossa, South Australia
Intensely purple red with concentration and opacity. Immediately attractive sweet berry fruit, mint, chocolate and cedar fill the bouquet and it’s full-bodied, ripe, velvety and chocolatey in the palate with classic vanillin oak, succulent red and black berry fruit, deep savoury undertones, beautifully balanced spice and pepper and the most subtle suggestions of mocha and mint. Released as a 5-year-old wine it’s beautifully structured and radiates finesse.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $96.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 11 Apr 2018
Pinot Passion
Wines were tasted blind.

Leveret Estate Hawkes Bay Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Tasted chilled on the first cold night of the year this four-year-old comes across as bright and fresh with a touch of oyster shell and a hint of smoke to the tropical fruit scent and more tropical fruit in the palate that's lightly creamy with a bright finish. Gold Hawkes Bay.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mission Estate Barrique Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
This is a smooth, medium to full-bodied style with lemony, malo notes to the bouquet and upfront savouriness to the taste with just a touch of zest and ripe stonefruit fleshing out the very dry finish with a nice touch of butterscotch emerging to linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Harken Barrique Fermented California Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
From the creamy vanilla biscuit aroma to the complex leesy full-bodied palate this oozes flavour and character. It's mouthfilling, mouth coating and mouth enveloping with tropical fruit bursts, banana bikes, pineapple and caramel with harmonious buttery oak and a creamy sweetness to the tasty finish. Verging on irresistible.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Misha's Vineyard Limelight Central Otago Riesling 2014
The earthy / slatey / limey / honeyed bouquet with lashings of kero is so expressive and totally en pointe for this off dry to medium Riesling with flavours of apple, honey and touches of tarragon and a crisp clean mouthfilling finish. Complex, full, concentrated and tasty with the 33 g/l residual sugar balanced by refreshing acidity.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Bright ruby with luminous translucency. There's richness to the cherry scent with touches of dried herb and woodsmoke, and complexity to the fruit driven yet savoury flavours with a nuance of smoky bacon coming through. It's soft and velvety and full of flavour. Upper Moutere fruit. Fabulous value. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2014
Dark ruby heading towards garnet. The bouquet offers up bramble fruit with savoury, slightly herbal nuances and it is full of ripe berry fruit flavours in the firm yet silky palate with classical savoury, smoky, earthy, gamey vibes and appealing fruit sweetness to the lively finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Russian Jack Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Brightly hued with a touch of barnyard on the nose but full of bright fruit that is a little reminiscent of raspberry in the silky palate that features sensual savoury undertones. It's still youthful with a spark of acidity and firmness to the finish. Made by Martinborough Vineyards. Gold New World, Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Maude Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Ruby hued, clear and bright. The deep fruited aroma suggests plum and blueberry with harmonious yet subtle spicy oak, and it’s wonderfully concentrated in the creamy palate with Christmas cake spices, bottled cherries, plums and hints of chocolate on the long, full-bodied and increasingly complex finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Dark ruby hued with a lovely savoury expression of pinot both on the nose and in the palate that’s full of dark fruit and lovely savoury gamey notes with beautifully balanced smoky oak . It's smooth and complex with silky tannins and a long firm finish. Very impressive.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mission Estate Jewelstone 'Antione' Hawkes Bay 2016
Dark red black in hue with considerable density. The bright blackcurrant and plum aroma is infused with smoky oak and it’s full-bodied and concentrated in the palate with dark savoury notes, sappy herbs, oak spice, ripe juicy fruit, firm yet pillowy tannins and a gobsmacking succulent finish with nuances of mint adding brightness. Made from predominantly Merlot with a touch of Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, it’s stylish and memorable.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

A Good Dirt Barossa Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Dark red black in hue with savouriness coming through on the nose to balance the dark, concentrated, ripe, almost jammy fruit scents and super ripe in the palate with touches of mint, savoury oak notes and iodine underpinning the succulent plum and blackberry fruit with touches of vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Velvety in its flow with a rounded finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 4 Apr 2018
Happy 19th Birthday First Glass
Wines (except the Champagne) were tasted blind.

Champagne Charles de Cazanove Stradivarius 2007 – Riems, France
This has a 24 carat gold colour, the bouquet oozes the gorgeous malty and slightly oxidative characters of bottle aged vintage Champagne and the taste is lemony, leesy, malty and savoury with tantalising salinity and brightness to the long, extra dry finish while a fine effervescence radiates all the way through.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $85.99.

Mount Riley 17 Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This is a rich, oaky, grilled peach style of Chardonnay. It's golden coloured with an opulent toasty bouquet and a juicy taste where polished oak, gunsmoke, malty mealy notes, fig and stonefruit are all in harmony. Developing beautifully in the bottle. Gold NZIWS 2017.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This light lemon-gold hued chardonnay is a full-on leesy, flinty, reductive style with nuances of gunsmoke, lemon, fig and cedar filling the bouquet and upfront youthful acidity in the palate with full, fat, leesy, gunflint, funky wild yeast notes taking over. Mouthfilling and increasingly complex with fruit in the lemon/melon spectrum and masterful use of oak. Still evolving so one for the cellar right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Lawson Dry Hills ‘The Pioneer’ Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
This lustrous light gold wine has honeyed poached pear aromatics that are delicate and enchanting. A sweeter, lightly viscous style with a nod to Alsace, it flows beautifully across the palate and teases with it’s powerful and almost gewurztraminer-like flavours that hint of violets and ginger infused spices. Impressive.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses 2017 – Languedoc, France
The most attractively bottled and romantic of any rosé on the market today, this blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault is a pale pink sapphire hue with a lightly floral / rose hip / pink candy floss aroma and tastes like it is just on the cusp of off dry. It's deliciously quenching with delicate wild strawberry, ‘rose de mai’, hints of violet and a whisper of tarragon on the refreshing finish. 13% alc. Vinolok Stopper. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
There's a pink tinge to the garnet hue of this ripe, mouthfilling pinot with fruit sweetness infiltrating the slightly herbaceous scent and a nice touch of savouriness to the taste that brims with black cherry, plums and spice with a suggestion of woodsmoke and chocolate velvet tannins. Nicely aged expression.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Dona Paul Estate Valle de Uco Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina
This deeply coloured wine smells quite earthy and savoury with a depth of red berry fruit, and it's sappy and juicy in the medium to full-bodied palate that has a smoky, leathery, meaty, tobacco-like character, touches of plum skin, fairly firm but nevertheless approachable tannins and a long, bright lingering finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
This is an impenetrable deep dark red with an opulent bouquet suggestive of chocolate and mulberry with a haunting floral allure and a subtle suggestion of mint. It's irresistibly smooth with concentrated plum and blackberry fruit laced with mocha and chocolate, smoky oak and tingles of pepper and a mouthfilling succulent finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Old Vine Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
This is a bright black red with luminosity to the hue. The bouquet is close to mesmerising with hints of dried roses, touches of chocolate, succulent berry fruit and wafts of oak and it's velvety smooth in the palate with vanillin oak, chocolate, dark berry fruit and a lovey savoury underpinning of spice that’s judiciously laced with pepper. Firm on the finish with an x-factor-like vinous sweetness that wells up and lingers.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Two Hands Fields of Joy Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This is a vibrant saturated crimson red in the glass. The bouquet is smoky with hints of cigar box and tobacco and the taste is juicy, succulent, silky and smooth yet with a profound berry fruit concentration with underlying youthful vibrancy, touches of pepper, herbaceous notes, hints of chocolate and an earthy, savoury finish that is dry and salivating. Lots going on. Will last for years. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

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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