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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

July 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 Jul 2018
Mostly Italian with a Primitivo/Zin shootout
Wines were tasted blind.

San Lorenzo Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi 2016 – Puglia, Italy
Golden in hue with at first a slight buttery touch to the nutty aroma and later bright tropical fruit delights. The taste is bright, fresh and tangy with peach and apricot fruit, oiliness to the texture and softness to the finish. A touch of almond and lime zest adds to the intrigue. Tasty unoaked apertif style.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Escarpment Martinborough Pinot Blanc 2016
Golden hued with a flinty sense to the shy tropical fruit scent and a touch of spritz to the texture that makes it seem so bright and fresh, yet this is a wine of Chardonnay-like body and weight and as the spritz subsides flavours of lime and white peach emerge and the finish is lightly savoury.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Crossroads Winemakers Collection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Golden in colour with a struck match smell to the scent and a gunflint feel to the initially grapefruit driven taste but under that is some lovely nectarine fruit and oak spice and as the wine warms up stone fruit, mealy notes and savoury oak emerge. A big bold dry wine with an exceptionally long and alluring finish but still seems youthful wanting further time to unfold. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Leone De Castris II Medaglione Negroamaro 2106 – Salento, Italy
Deep ruby, moderately opaque with pinky edges. Very appealing aroma of summer berries then firm yet fresh in the mouth with vibrancy of fruit and a lovely underlying savouriness and a lingering touch of anise. Gutsy, juicy and salivating fruit driven wine. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Leone De Castris Salice Salentino Riserva Negroamaro 2015 – Salento, Italy
A dark black red with the edges suggesting a little age. Currants and fruit cake on the nose and rich, ripe and sweet in the fleshy palate with juicy berries and touches of vanilla-tinged spice underpinned with dark savoury leathery tones and finishing reasonably dry – the fruit masks the tannins until the end. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Masseria Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2016 – Salento, Italy
Deep rich red with pinky edges. The bouquet is ripe and vinous with fruit cake nuances and a spicy flare. Concentrated and mouthfilling in the palate with a peppery vibe, deliciously juicy fruit and leather savoury tones simmering along in the background then vanilla and tobacco come to the fore with a spicy brightness as the wine lingers.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Leone Du Castris Villa Santera Primitivo Di Manduria 2016 – Manduria, Italy
Dark red with moderate opacity and youthful pinky edges. Perfumed yet slightly rustic with a nuance of violet and a waft of menthol tobacco and cedar. Bright in the palate with a touch of musk / chocolate-coated Turkish delight, fresh acidity, juicy plum and cherry fruit and a tingle of spice shimmying through the background. Fine and silky with the tannins more obvious on the finish. A crowd favourite on the night.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Fatalone Giola Del Colle Fatalone Primitivo 2015 – Puglia, Italy
A moderately deep red black in the core of the glass. Perfumed with a sensual savouriness and red berry fruit. Savoury and spicy in the palate with firm tannins quickly making themselves known yet at the same time radiating a plum and dark berry fruit succulence with oak-infused peppery spices, underlying boot leather and savoury cigar box-like notes. The tannins melt away on the deliciously long dry finish. It hides its high alcohol well.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Brazin Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 – Lodi, California
Deep red black with a creamy, spicy, cedary, bright, lifted berry scent and flavours that overflow with vanillin oak, smoky oak, sappy oak, oily oak and sweet, ripe, succulent berry fruit. It's ripe, luscious, full-bodied, meaty and chocolatey. Sweet and ripe with appealing bright flavours lingering for ages and while some will find the oak overpowering, others will love it. As someone said on the night, "A wine to drink with a knife and fork.".
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

The Prisoner Wine Company Saldo Zinfandel 2015 – California
Bright pinky/red black. Concentrated and fruity on the nose with vanilla and spice and touches of leather. A high alcohol opulent wine brimming with bright berry fruit and jam biscuit notes yet with a well-balanced underling savouriness, juicy acidity and tannins that seem silky and seamless yet assert their presence on the finish. A blend of 85% Zinfandel and 15% Petite Sirah and Syrah matured in French and American oak, 25% new, this is a powerful wine that as someone said, ‘needs a buffalo to accompany it.” 15.9% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $40.99.

The Prisoner Wine Company Napa Valley Red 2015 – California
A deep purple red with a profoundly vinous bouquet with a waft of chocolate biscuits. A big wine, a creamy wine, a spicy wine, a fruity yet savoury wine with obvious high alcohol that masks the immense tannins. This blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono matured in French and American oak, 30% new, is overwhelming at this stage of its life and really should be cellared. Patience will reward.
15.2% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $45.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 18 Jul 2018
New Zealand versus the Rest of the World
Wines were tasted blind.

Simonnet Febvre Petite Chablis 2013 - France
The fresh, steely, orchard fruit bouquet of this light matte gold hued wine hints of Chardonnay, which indeed it is and the taste is crisp, malic, earthy and lemony with a suggestion of mountain pawpaw and honeydew melon. It's unoaked yet pleasingly textural with a chalky dryness and a long lasting finish.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Light yellow gold in the glass. Inviting aromas of ripe peach, toasty oak, and vanilla. Tasty, mouthfilling, malty, mealy flavours with gunsmoke, spicy oak, underlying flint and gobs of juicy tropical fruit that lingers tantalisingly. Exudes class all the way through.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Sebastiani North Coast Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
Citrine gold. Restrained at first on the nose but later tropical fruit rises to the fore. Full, fat and juicy in the palate with sizzled butter, vanillin oak, caramel and cream brûlée. Mouthfilling, easy to open with the screwcap and easy to drink.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Framingham Classic Marlborough Riesling 2016
Light gold hued with an initial whiff of rubber band that succumbs to more intensely aromatic yellow citrus, heritage apple and delicate floral scents. Bright and zesty in the palate with refreshing tart apple acidity that's tempered by a touch of sweetness on the juicy quenching finish.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kerpen Alte Reben Wehlener Sonnenhur Spatlese Feinherb Riesling 2015 – Mosel, Germany
Light gold in the glass. The fragrant bouquet of honey and botrytis has a fascinating earthy aura like wet potters clay and flavours full of tropical and citrus fruits with a tickle of spritz to the texture and only moderate sweetness. A classic example of the great wines of this region.
10.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Guigal Côte du Rhône 2014 – Rhone, France
Dark tamarillo skin red. The bouquet is earthy, a little rustic and slightly metallic with a hint of cranberry, liquorice and tobacco. Fine flowing and vinous in the mouth with silky tannins, a suggestion of leather and a long savoury finish underpinned by well balanced acidity with fruit sweetness lingering. Made from predominantly Syrah with Garnacha and Mourvedre, this is excellent value.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Hawks Bay Syrah 2016
Deep crimson black. Warm comforting chocolate cake and cherry bouquet. Full-bodied, mouthfilling, spicy and peppery with juicy blackberry, mulberry and cherry fruit framed by savoury oak. The firmly structured tannins are still tight and youthful but the potential is clearly there. Patience will reward.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2016 – South Australia,
Inky black red with crimson edges. A rich berry chocolate nose and more chocolate in the sweet-fruited, creamy, silky-tannined, succulent palate together with cherry, vanilla, mocha, liquorice and hazelnut that meld into a mouthfilling delight. The firm finish is accented with spice and pepper and dry savoury notes linger.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Rockbare Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
Dark pinky red with moderate density. Eucalypt and chocolate dust fill the bouquet and there's a warm fine chocolatey coating to the texture with fine tannins, mint, leather, cedar, vanilla and ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit underpinned by nicely balanced acidity. Smooth and velvety all the way through.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Crossroads Talisman 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Glossy rich dark red with an intense and attractive bouquet of cedar and brambles laced with chocolate and cherry. Beautifully poised as it floats across the palate. Finely structured tannins, concentrated red and black berries, savoury oak and cake spice are some of the descriptors that come to mind. A classy wine made from a secret blend of classic and rare red varieties that grow in Hawkes Bay.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Beach House Noble Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Deep yellow gold. Citrus blossom and honeysuckle nectar fill the bouquet and sweet honeyed citrus of the mandarin / orange spectrum in the palate with grapey muscat-like notes and a zingy brightness. A sweet yet refreshing desert wine that’s lightly viscous with a silky smooth flow.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 11 Jul 2018
New Arrivals, New Vintages
Wines were mostly tasted blind.

Beach House Hawkes Bay Selection Chardonnay 2016
Golden hued with toasty oak and a just out-of-the-oven nut biscuit scent. Nutty and creamy in the palate with peach and polished toasty oak. Smooth and long with a bright tasty finish. Terrific socialising wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Champagne Delaplace Brut NV
Straw yellow with a frothy foam when poured. Quite a broad yeasty scent. Vibrantly effervescent at first in the mouth but when the bubbles subside the texture is creamy. A mouthfilling, nutty, mellow Champagne with attractive yeast autolysis and richness to the lingering finish. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Lawson Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Lemon yellow in hue with a full-on rich, fat, mealy, inviting Chardonnay scent then toasty and savoury in the mouthfilling palate that's layered with gunsmoke, spicy oak, lemon biscuit, peach and a touch of caramel and culminates in a long, dry, roasted nut finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Clearview White Caps Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Citrine yellow with a glossy lustre. Smoky on the nose and a little concocted and confected in the palate with caramelised banana chews, custard powder, tropical fruit, peach and sawdust. Someone said cloves and orange peel. Someone else said peat smoke. Someone else said big and buttery. Polarising on the night.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Vega del Rayo Rioja Reserva 2011 – Rioja, Spain
There’s a touch of tawny to the fading ruby hue. The bouquet offers up cherry and blueberry jam and it’s quite dry at first in the savoury palate with earth, game, mushroom and leather then juicy succulent redcurrant jelly-like fruit wells up from within with a whisper of spice and soft mellow oak. Subtle, understated and long with well-structured silky tannins and a linger hint of jaffa. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Honoro Vera Garnacha 2016 – Calatayud, Spain
Bright ruby in the glass with touches of crimson. Fresh, bright and youthful both on the nose and in the silky-textured palate where cherry and raspberry fruit is framed with red pepper, leather and spice and the finish lingers with succulence and charm.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Giordano Reserva Primitivo Di Manduria Riserva 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Inky black red with crimson edges. Sweet smoky oak fills the bouquet with blueberry and chocolate coasted raisins. Full-bodied, powerful, succulent and juicy with a curvaceous body and a velvet cloak texture. Full of ripe fruit, sweet oak and underpinned with spice and pepper, it is definitely seductive at this stage in the tasting.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

I Muri Primitivo 2017 – Puglia Italy
Bright red black in the glass. Crushed dark chocolate biscuits and jammy red fruits shimmy through the slightly rustic scent with underlying savouriness, a touch of earth and plum and dark cherry fruit in the fine silky-textured palate. Oozing with succulence and flavour, a new vintage of a perennial favourite that delivers what you expect from this label.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Red Knot Classified McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky purple red in the glass. Blackberry and dark chocolate fill the bouquet then in the firmly structured, full-bodied, mouthfilling palate there’s savoury oak, vanilla, touches of pepper, hints of anise, concentrated mulberry and black cherry fruit and succulence to the spicy finish. Made by Shingleback. Winestate Red Wine of the Year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Reilley's Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. There’s a floral allure to the sweet nutty oak and spice-infused scent with spice quite prominent in the silk-edged velvety textured palate with dry (but not drying) tannins and a juicy succulence to the bright creamy finish. A dense, concentrated, tight-knit wine that would benefit from cellaring at this stage of its life.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mouton Cadet Reserve Sauternes 2014 – Bordeaux, France
Deep yellow in the glass with a nectar-like scent and lightly viscous and honeyed in the palate with an intriguing earthy savouriness that brings the delectable sweetness into check. Orange honey, candied orange peel, candied fennel seeds, dried tropical fruits and lanolin all combine for a glorious finish. Made from 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Delicious.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99 for a 750-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 4 Jul 2018
Felton Road Wines from Central Otago with Blair Walter
Wines were not tasted blind.

Felton Road Dry Riesling 2017
Straw in colour with a delicate lemon sherbet aroma and a crisp, dry, steely, green apple fresh taste. There’s a flinty undercurrent, a shimmer of salinity and a pleasing touch of honeysuckle that tempers the racy acidity and brings succulence to the lingering finish.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay 2017
The bouquet has an understated chablis-like nutty, creamy, malo elegance with the most subtle nuance of caramel and the most delicate toasty savouriness. In the mouth this is a wine of body and texture with tingly acidity punching though the creamy flow with neutral oak, a flinty / earthy undertone, fruit reminiscent of loquat, melon and just ripe apricot and softness to the long graceful finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 2016
The bouquet evokes a soft sense of chardonnay long before revealing yellow fruit and light nutty scents. Immediately vibrant and tasty with sweet oak, bright tropical fruit and a touch of apple with underlying flint. From a warm vintage this is fine and elegant with a long, full, mouth-coating finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $52.99.

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 2010
Smoky, fumé scents are joined by sweet nutty tones and the taste is full-bodied, creamy and nutty with fruit reminiscent of custard apple and pawpaw with slight peppery tingles and a touch a caramel corn on the mouthfilling finish. The vibrancy of the acidity is quite remarkable in that brings life and liveliness to this 8-year-old wine that exhibits finesse and elegance all the way through. From a vintage similar to 2017, this is quite delicious.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: NA

Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2017
Bright ruby garnet, deeply translucent not opaque. Intense aromatics of bottled cherries with leafy notes, refined savoury oak and subtle chocolate tones. Bright, fresh and tasty with a sensuous savouriness, a youthful edge to the fine textured silky tannins, a touch of spice and game, succulent cherry fruit and a ‘sucking on a cherry stone’ feel to the remarkably long finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $58.99.

Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2017
There’s a touch of violet to the deep ruby hue and immediate opulence to the scent that oozes fruit, savouriness and pinosity. Concentrated and spicy tasting with ripe cherry and blueberry fruit, a touch of chocolate, lovely savoury oak tones, a tingly undercurrent from the youthful acidity, a flourish of anise and subtle lilac-like florals. Full and satisfying with a fine velvety texture and loads of flavour and flare.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2014
Good depth of colour and alluring mellow savoury notes to the scent where a touch of rusticity comes through. Full-bodied, rounded, mouthfilling and tasty, deeply savoury and gamey with silky tannins and a fine textured flow. It’s a slightly funky wine with body, texture and layers, fruit like old bottled cherries, and has a spicy vibrancy to the sweet-fruited succulent finish with a touch of smokiness as it lingers. Drinking superbly now - a great example of why you buy young and cellar even if only for 3 years.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: NA.

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2017
Deep rich ruby with a flush of pink. The bouquet is so evocative with its sensuous oak, plump perfectly ripe cherries, a slight leafy/herbal nuance, black forest chocolate and spice. This is old school pinot - an earthy, gamey, savoury pinot - a dense and concentrated pinot with vibrant red and purple fruit, a voluptuousness to the texture and a long satisfying finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $94.99.

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2013
There's a touch of tawny to the garnet hue and a white mushroom nuance to the scent together with cherry jam and mellow savoury oak. Spicy and tingly to the taste indicating the acidity is still a defining factor in this wine yet there is a fullness and roundness with fruit, oak, savouriness and subtle anise spiciness all in harmony and a lingering aftertaste that delightfully persists. Beautifully structured and still evolving.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: NA.

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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