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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

February 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 www.firstglass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting Ė 28 Feb 2018
Constellation Brands with Chief Winemaker Wendy Stuckey
Wines were not tasted blind.

Ruffino Momenti Prosecco Brut NV Ė Treviso DOC, Italy
This is a white gold hue with an attractive lacy edge. The bouquet is lightly floral and the taste is crisp and tingly fresh with tiny bubbles, underlying savoury slightly salty notes and lingering flavours of tart apples laced with vanilla creaming soda.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Emperical Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2016
Made from grapes grown at Charcoal Gully in the Lowburn subregion, this light golden wine has a fine elegant bouquet of violet, spun sugar and spice and itís warm in the mouth with a silky flow. It seems fairly dry with a primary flavour of ripe musky grapes and the merest suggestion of lychee with a lovely spicy lift and violets again together with liquid orange blossom honey on the fine lingering finish. Understated with a nod to Alsace.13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Emperical Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Glossy citrine in the glass with a bouquet that is surprisingly quite toasty and full of butterscotch and creamy malo notes with the toastiness quite noticeable in the palate. A beautiful and subtle Ďalternativeí wild yeast barrel fermented style with warm spices, grilled peach, a fresh lemon verbena-like lift and underlying flint. From a trial that used all sorts of winemaking processes, this is from a single barrel selected from the six that survived the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. Rapaura fruit.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Emperical Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light yellow gold in the glass with a full on tantalising leesy bouquet filled with toasty, biscuity, nutty, lemony, mealy notes and powerful in the seamless palate yet not overpowering. Itís decadently toasty with peaches and cream, flint and gunsmoke notes and a beautifully balanced dry savoury oak finish that's long and persistent with a touch of cedary salinity. Clone 15 grapes from the Corner 50 area adjacent to the famed Keltern Vineyard.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Selaks Founders Limited Edition Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
This light gold wine smells dry, leesy and flinty with hints of grapefruit and nougat and itís lifted, lemony and nutty in the smooth flowing palate with wild yeast nuances, lemon meringue and mellow toasty oak underpinned with gunsmoke. While it seems a little tight at first this long term potential wine has increasing layers of complexity and a light touch of caramel on the finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
A wrap around the tongue wine thats light gemmy gold in the glass with a malty richness to the bouquet together with leesy, nutty, wild yeast and spicy savoury oak notes and full-bodied and powerful in the palate with toasty oak, touches of gunflint, dried hay, tropical fruit, citrus and juicy nectarine with a creamy malo softness and touches of caramel in harmony. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 Ė California, USA
Bright lemon gold in the glass with subtle buttery notes to the bouquet and restrained toasty oak floating around the fruit that seems more in the fig and melon spectrum but as the wine warms up flavours of bottled peach come through. Itís different and understated with textural complexity, refreshing acidity, a touch of salinity and a lingering savoury finish.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Wild Grace Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
A saturated deep ruby in the glass, the generous bouquet emanates rich cherry notes with roasted sappy woody herbs like thyme and rosemary and a nice touch of woodsmoke there too Ė all this and more in the savoury palate that has youthful velvety tannins and a peppery heat with blue-red fruit on the finish. From grapes grown around the Bendigo subregion, this pinot is still evolving and worth cellaring for a while.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012 Ė Tuscany, Italy
Garnet red with some bricking to the hue. The bouquet is mellow and savoury with a touch of redcurrant jelly, leather and game and itís savoury and firm in the palate where the mellow cherry-like fruit is underpinned with lifted orange-like acidity thatís in harmony with the savoury gamey notes and seasoned oak. Evolving in the glass this dry wine has a very long finish but does need to be served with rich flavoursome food Ė a duck ragu will do.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Corner 50 Vineyard Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013
Inky blackcurrant red in the glass looking so youthful for its 5 years of age. The bouquet is positively creamy with a chocolate box scent that recurs in the soft fine-tannined palate where pencil box oak and graphite frames the mellowing fruit thatís an amalgam of plums and bramble berries with just a smidgen of mint that adds brightness. 2013 is one of the greatest vintages ever in Hawkes Bay and this stellar wine is an absolute steal.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Ė California, USA
The bouquet of this deep blackberry red hued offering promises a deep rich wine and the palate delivers. There's lifted woody scents that follow through to the taste Ė more sandalwood than cedar laced with woody herbs and spices that infuse the sumptuous blackcurrant, boysenberry and plum fruit with well balanced acidity and warmth while the tannins just meld. A heady, high alcohol wine that finishes a little sweet, it begs for a juicy rare steak.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting Ė 21 Feb 2018
When Kingsley's Away ...
Wines were tasted blind.

Starborough Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Straw in the glass where the bouquet radiates out soft tropical fruit, apple and white peach with a waft of basil. Distinctively varietal but soft rather than aggressive with flavours of pineapple, green passionfruit, citrus, apple and herbs with basil, tarragon and fennel coming to mind and increasing pungency to the long, juicy finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Tasca Cavalo Delle Fate Grillo 2016 Ė Sicily
Straw gold in hue with a shy restrained nose and a steely, flinty, slightly chalky feel at first with moderate palate weight. It tastes bright and fresh with scintillating acidity, touches of tropical guava, apple, lemon and hot/ peppery/zesty vibes and lingering hints of tarragon on the long quenching finish. Grillo is an Italian grape variety and this wine is a refreshing change.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2016 Ė California, USA
Deep golden yellow in the glass with a light lanolin overlay to the buttery nuances infusing the soft cedary oak bouquet. Juicy peach fills the creamy palate thatís smooth and seamless in its flow with layers of butterscotch and butter caramel, well-balanced underlying acidity and a powerful finish. New vintage, new label, New Zealand winemaker.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Leveret Estate Hawkeís Bay Viognier 2015
Bright yellow gold with an abundance of tropical fruit, sweet citrus and honeysuckle filling the bouquet and juicy in the off dry palate where touches of apricot and honey are underpinned by a crisp acid spine while a hint of savoury salinity on the warm rounded finish adds to this youthful looking wineís allure. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2016.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Willy Gisselbrecht Pinot Gris 2016 Ė Alsace, France
Looking viscous in the glass with a light gold hue. The scent is fragrant and floral and the taste is mouthfilling and unctuous with delightful flavours of apricot, poached pear, violets and honey. The touch of sweetness sits well and itís smooth and satisfying with a lingering finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Hunters Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosť 2017
Watermelon pink with a scent of candy floss and strawberry and red cherry juices following through to the lightly spicy zesty palate that has a refreshing flinty undercurrent and touches of rose hip jelly. Technically bone dry but the fruitiness belies this. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Youthful bright, burgundy hue with shimmering translucency. The haunting bouquet emanates subtle wood smoke with spice and florals, perhaps violets, and the mouthfilling taste is deeply savoury with spiced cherries and purple fruit notes. The tannins are silky and fine and the wine seems almost creamy on the captivating finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Trulli Primitivo Di Manduria 2015 Ė Puglia, Italy
Moderately bright black red and while dark in the core of the glass itís pinky red on the edges. The wine smells ripe, like plum jam cooking on the stove, but thereís Ďold worldí connotations brimming through too. The ripeness continues with the taste full of currants with a slight red jelly confectionary feel thatís nicely offset by the robust tannins and the meaty undercurrent. Well-structured and chewy with a warm finish and a touch of char and spice.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Grenache 2016 Ė South Australia
There's a violet glow to the bright purple garnet hue. The perfumed bouquet hints of red and purple fruits with perhaps a sprinkle of five spice, and the fragrance continues in the spicy, peppery palate that has firm yet supple tannins and lift to the finish where Chinese spices come again to the fore and a touch of cherry chocolate emerges. There's an incredible lightness and elegance to this old vine wine. Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy Winner 2017.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Xavier Arcane XV Le Diable Mourvedre 2015 Ė Rhone, France
Dark red almost translucent with pink edges. The bouquet of fresh game meat and iron is subtle and itís meaty and savoury to the taste with rich dark plummy fruit and bright cherry. The tannins at first seem fine and accessible but pack a punch on finish. A blend of old vine Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cote de Rhone fruit where itís rare to see a wine solely made from Mourvedre.15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.

The Willows Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 Ė South Australia
Inky black red with youthful brightness. The bouquet tantalises with its winey fragrance of berries and chocolate and itís concentrated and spicy in the palate with chocolate and cocoa to the fore and while not as minty as we night expect from this label it has the lift, brightness and cleanness that the Willows wines always have and followers of this label wonít be disappointed.. Itís a powerful wine with harmonious oak and pillowy tannins that make it seem almost approachable but really would benefit from further cellaring.
14.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting Ė 14 Feb 2018
The Summer Variety
Wines were tasted blind.

Tohu Nelson Pinot Gris 2017
This golden beauty has a savoury nuance to the scent with hints of melon and bottled peach and itís smooth flowing with a nutty apricot richness and a warm, lifted, slight peppery note to the tropical fruit finish. Oozing fruit concentration with mouthfilling textural complexity itís Pinot Gris at the Viognier end of the spectrum.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Glossy citrine gold in the glass with tantalising grilled peach and hazelnut scents and lightly toasty, savoury and nutty to the taste with warmth to the compounding mouthfilling finish that oozes malt and butterscotch with the lusciousness nicely offset by juicy grapefruit acidity. Noticeably dry and flinty as it lingers Ė a top wine thatís still evolving and will reward with further cellaring.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Wrights Vineyard Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2015
There's a lime green glint to the light golden hue. The bouquet is full of sweet spices, mealy nuances and gunflint connotations and it's powerful and heady with a lightly viscous texture, sweet vanillin oak and tasty tropical fruit, mango, candied pineapple and grapefruit. Organically grown Mendoza clone chardonnay from the Ormond region (old Revington vineyard). Cuisine 5 stars.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Lawson Dry Hills Marlborough Riesling 2015
This smells so bright, clean and refreshing with wafts of honeysuckle and sherbet more obvious in the lightly spritzy palate which is like a medley of citrus with a dried apple toastiness that has evolved with bottle age. It seems like a dry Riesling but the honeysuckle reins in the racy acidity and the super quenching finish is rounded and complex with phenomenal length.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Beach House Stony Beach Gravels Hawkes Bay Riesling 2017
Lemon straw in the glass with pear nectar nuances and touches of oyster shell to the bouquet. A sweeter, delicate, low alcohol style with light viscosity to the texture and racy apple and lime acidity honed in nicely by tropical fruit and mandarin honey. Balanced and long. Gold Medal and Trophy NZIWS 2016. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Vavasour Marlborough Rosť 2017
This is a deep watermelon hue. The bouquet is a like a bowl of candied strawberries and the taste even more so with blueberries, red cherries and crab apple adding to the juicy medley. Made from Pinot Noir it's an off dry, low acid, lightly viscous pink with a touch of spice on the finish. It begs for a plate of antipasto.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Saint Clair Block 17 The Plateau Hawkes Bay Merlot 2016
The colour is seductive crimson black red. The bouquet entices with its vinous scent of blackberries, black Doris plums, spice and cedar and it's concentrated, sweet fruited, spicy and savoury to the taste with smooth tannins and a silky flow. The fruit is dense and ripe and there's a creamy milk chocolate character to the rounded finish. Harmonious and remarkably approachable. Finalist in the Winestate Merlot of the Year.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Cucina Bruciata di Carlo Balbo Barbaresco Nebbiolo 2012 Ė Piedmont, Italy
Transparent bricking red garnet in the glass. The savoury, slightly salty, slightly leathery bouquet emanates the vinosity of older wine and it seems very dry on first tasting with its huge yet fine tannin structure, dried cherry fruit, hints of dried orange peel, tobacco and sappy dandelion herbs. Get past the dryness there's some lovely things happening as the vinosity of the wine evolves and the tannins dissolve. With an amazingly long finish that goes on and on this is a wine to sip and savour. Very true to type for the region and wonderful to experience.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $59.99.

Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2015
Youthful red black in hue with a touch of leather infusing the dark berry and cigar box scent and well-balanced in the juicy fruity palate with loads of currants, a touch of spice, hints of mocha and a smidgen of chocolate. A well balanced dry red with soft velvety tannins and a bright, satisfying, lingering finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Rich black red in the glass with an enticing bouquet of chocolate coated almonds, sappy berries and just a smidgen of mint then in the mouth the tannins are fine with a silky flow. The taste conjures up chocolate coated roasted coffee beans with a satisfying depth of bright red plummy fruit, blackcurrant and blackberry and a creamy roundness to the harmonious finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
Inky purple crimson with a dark chocolate and prune-like scent then succulent and rounded in the palate with a harmonious, seamless, velvety flow. Very approachable from the outset with intensity of berry fruit including raspberry and cherry with creamy nut chocolate nuances and a peppery brightness to the super juicy finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting Ė 7 Feb 2018
Older wines revisited mingled with new vintages
Wines were tasted blind.

Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
The bouquet of this citrine-hued wine is reminiscent of lightly toasted hazelnuts and stonefruit with just a hint of pineapple, and itís smooth, creamy and nutty in the palate with lifted lemony leesy flavours that sign off with malty savoury oak thatís underlined with a lingering and very pleasing bright pineapple /peach / mandarin flourish.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
This is a rich straw gold colour with a wild yeast / fumť nuance to the grapefruit and tropical fruit scent and the taste is full-bodied and textural with a flinty shimmer rippling through the concentrated passionfruit, mango, apple, herb and lime flavours with grapefruit again on the deliciously long quenching finish. Not an over-exaggerated style by any means.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014 Ė NSW, Australia
Light gold in hue with an enticing bouquet of light nutty toasty notes, the most delicate suggestion of butterscotch and hints of peach but unexpectedly restrained in the more lemongrass palate that does not hint at all of its four years of age. It's a very smart, elegant, cooler climate, higher altitude, Burgundian-inspired style with underlying gunflint notes, lingering tropical fruit and nectarine and exceptional length. Will be very long lived.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
It's a light golden hue with an enticing malt, stonefruit and gunsmoke scent and terrific concentration to the profoundly flavoursome palate with deliciously juicy peach, melon and tropical fruit and toasted hazelnut lingering on the polished finish. Of all the chardonnays tonight this is the most sociable, the most readily drinkable and the most hard to resist.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tenuta Ulisse Terre di Chieti Pecorino 2016 - Italy
Pear and citrus fill the bouquet of this straw coloured, off dry wine thatís characterised by bright acidity and a juicy medley of citrus with a touch of honeysuckle / beeswax on the fresh, clean finish. Itís a fruity wine with substance and texture and served chilled itís juicy and refreshing.
13% alc. Cork.. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Giesen Gemstone Limited Release Marlborough Riesling 2017
This has the most intriguing scent of pear and quince with a slightly earthy / funky / apple skin note. Itís a little spritzy in the palate with apple sherbet and pineapple dominant tropical fruit with a touch of sweetness balancing the refreshing acidity and an apricot hint to the lingering finish. Whatís unusual about this wine is fermentation and maturation in granite rock tanks.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Rich ruby garnet hue. Generous cherry and summer berry fruits fill the bouquet yet itís surprisingly quite fresh in the palate with upfront acidity indicating it needs to be accompanied with food right now. Itís a savoury, earthy, mushroomy pinot with a little bit of grip to the tannins and fruit sweetness evolving on the finish with a touch of toasty spice. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Archangel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
This has a saturated dark ruby / crimson tinged hue. There's a hint of mocha infusing the opulent bottled black cherry bouquet together with a touch of tar and char and itís earthy and savoury to the taste with firm tannins, sappy oak and spicy notes and the sought after 'peacock tail flareí on the finish where creamy chocolate and black forest cherry emerge. An oaky sumptuous mouthfilling pinot that leaves a great deal of satisfaction. AirNZ Pure Gold Medal. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Terra Sancta Shingle Beach Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
The edges are thinning on the fading ruby garnet hue. Sweet strawberry and red cherry fruit fill the bouquet with a savoury gamey undertone. It's a medium-bodied wine and quite dry on first tasting with savoury, gamey, smoky, spicy oak and sappy herb notes, a little bit of grip to the chalky tannins and ripe red berry fruit together with violets pushing through on the satisfying, rounded, lingering finish. A versatile food matching wine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $40.99.

Tenuta Ulisse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 Ė Abruzzo, Italy
It's a bright inky crimson black hue. The concentrated bouquet has a profound depth of jammy blackberry and black cherry fruit and itís lifted in the full-bodied palate with smoky cigar box notes, touches of vanilla and ripe bramble fruit. Rounded in its flow with the firm tannins tamed by the sumptuous fruit and there are hints of chocolate biscuits on the succulent and generous finish thatís balanced by harmonious savoury notes. Gold NZIWS 2017.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Chalk Hill Luna McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 Ė South Australia
Bright glossy, blackberry red in the glass. Ripe dark berry fruits with a touch of eucalypt and smoky oak fill the bouquet and itís full-bodied, sumptuous and mouthfilling to the taste with vanilla, plums, mulberries, touches of chocolate and cake spices and velvet cape tannins adding an aura of mystery and intrigue. A big wine with a powerful underlying oak presence at this youthful stage of its life.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Buller Wines Fine Old Muscat NV Ė Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
Clear golden amber in the glass. The mesmerising heady bouquet is redolent of muscatel raisins, rancio and spirit and the taste is like liquid toffee nectar infused with muscatel raisins, candied peel, honey and fruit cake. Itís sweet but nicely balanced to the rancio savoury tones that come from years of maturation in old oak barrels. Itís A decadent treat.
18% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $41.99.

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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