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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

March 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 – 21 Mar 2018
A Journey through France, Italy and Spain with Stephen Bennett MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

The Cup & Rings Godello 2015 – Monterrei, Spain
There’s an oily appearance to the yellow hue, the bouquet is lightly honeyed with hints of almond, savoury leesy notes and loquat, and the taste is steely with texture and vinosity, hints of green apple, apricot and peach and refreshing acidity on the bone dry finish .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Champagne Charles de Cazanove NV – Reims, France
Light yellow gold with striking snow white mousse that froths and subsides. The enticing yeasty bouquet hints of freshly baked lemon bread and touches of malt and it’s vibrantly fizzy in the fairly dry palate with a steely undercurrent to the rich, toasty, creamy leesy finish. A tasty cuvée made from 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay .
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Tesouro Segredo Albarino 2016 – Rias Baixas, Spain
Citrine gold in hue with a rich inviting fragrance of apricots and orange blossom that’s almost heady. Concentrated and oily textured in the palate that’s dry and just a little spicy with apple, apricots and almond notes and a long finish with salivating salinity that makes you want to take another sip. This oak free wine was aged on its yeast lees that adds to the textural complexity and Stephen had us drooling over his descriptions of seafood matches .
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Monte Rocher Viognier Vielles Vignes 2016 – Pay d'Oc, France
Glossy citrine gold. Ethereally fragrant with apricot kernel and an intriguing savoury earthy nuance. Very appealing lift and brightness in the warm, rounded, oily textured palate that hints of apricot, nuts, a touch of musky spice and a hint of honeysuckle that implies sweetness although the wine finishes dry. A smooth, curvaceous, textural wine to accompany rich buttery foods.13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Viento Aliseo Tempranillo Petit Verdot 2016 – Las Perdronas, Spain
Purple red in hue with an intensely fruity, winey bouquet. Full of flavour in the palate with warm gravelly tannins, vibrant red and purple fruit, earth and mushroom notes and a long dry finish with accents of tobacco and spice. A young biodynamic organic wine without any oak, which lets the fruit sing .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Gran Familia Rioja Reserve 2012 – Rioja Alta, Spain
Rich ruby garnet with watery edges indicating some age. Red ‘jelly baby’ candy on the nose with just the slightest suggestion of barnyard and leather. A mellow wine that’s soft, supple and gentle in its flow caressing the palate with its fine, velvet-fringed, silky tannins with harmonious touches of vanilla-tinged savoury oak, red summer berries and a succulent finish. This current release, aged in barrel then in the bottle before we see it, is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Garnacha with 50% American oak .
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Il Mandorlo Negroamaro 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Dark red black in the glass. Savoury on the nose with leather and spice and hints of rosehip jelly and brimming with flavour in the juicy powerful palate with firm almost teeth-coating tannins, succulent purple and black fruit and a lovely violet-like fragrance floating through then later, as the bright finish lingers, hints of anise and crushed chocolate biscuits .
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Soprasso Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
Rich red black with moderate density. Savoury on the nose with hints of barnyard and leather that follow through to the medium-bodied, firm-tannined palate but overall bright to the taste with woody herb characters, slightly confectionary red fruit flavours, mouthfilling vinosity and spiciness, and a warm fresh finish. Made predominantly from the dark coloured Corvina grape using the Ripasso method, it’s best enjoyed with food .
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Chateau Loudenne AOC Cru Bourgeois 2011 – Medoc, France
Deep dark red with a very enticing bouquet that’s a harmony of mellow fruit and cedar with earthy savoury accents. Classically earthy, savoury flavours with subtle plum and currant fruit and hints of cigar box, cedar, leather and thyme. What’s very striking, however is the fine but still unresolved and slightly tongue coating tannins and the very dry finish. A blend of 52% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc that has the elegance and class of top quality Bordeaux at a fraction of the price .
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Pietra Primitivo Susumaniello 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Susumaniello is a grape variety that’s blended with 60% Primitivo in this brightly hued black red wine. The concentrated bouquet has cigar box-like woody notes infusing the luscious red berries and the taste is succulent and heady. It seems super ripe and luscious with ripe berries, creamy oak, chocolate, anise, sweet spices, a sprinkle of pepper and big tannins that sit in well with the overall opulence that’s underpinned by fresh acidity. Plush and flirtatious. Fabulous with cheese .
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Piqueras 100 Anos Limited Edition 2011 – Alamansa, Spain
Made primarily from Monastrell and Garnacha Tinitoreo with a little Syrah and Grenache from 100 year old vines at 900 asl, this deeply hued wine is totally different. The wonderfully fragrant bouquet is full of winey extract with salty, saline, leathery notes and the taste suggests dusty gravel roads, graphite (pencil lead), earth, clay and possibly even a suggestion of mint. The vinosity of the red fruit is deep, like every last drop of juice has been squeezed out of the grapes and the tannins are dry and mouth-coating. Fantastic wine to muse over with vinously minded friends .
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Soprasso Amarone della Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
This has a fairly saturated dark red hue and a sweet, grapey, biscuity scent laced with raspberry, plum and cherry. Made from sun-dried grapes this smooth flowing, mouthfilling wine is concentrated, heady, warm, spicy, almost peppery. A big wine, yet a harmonious wine with succulent berries and noticeable tannins that are more noticeable on the finish. Superb with rich dishes like casseroles or to enjoy after dinner with cheeses. “Decant in the morning, drink at night,” says Stephen. Good advice .
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $47.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 14 Mar 2018
Easter Show Trophies, Gold Medals and more
Wines were tasted blind.

Te Hana Sparkling Reserve Cuvée NV
This methode traditionelle made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir is yellow gold in the glass with fine bubbles and a lacy froth when poured. It evokes bacquette aromas and hints of marmite to the flavour that suggest a little bottle age. The upfront tingly effervescence subsides to reveal vibrant acidity, malt and nut bread nuances and a dry, toasty, lingering finish. Outstanding value. Gold Easter Show .
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Emanating youthfulness with its glossy pale straw hue and with its bright breezy scent full of greengage plum, grapefruit and bright summer herbs that recur in the crisp, dry flinty palate where juicy pineapple, red capsicum, celery and fleshy peach add to the quintessentially pungent and delightful sauvignon blanc taste. Trophy Easter Show 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
The colour is lustrous lemon gold, the tantalising bouquet conjures up toasty oak, gunsmoke, malt, nectarine and peach with some reductiveness noticeable and the taste is bold, toasty and mouthfilling with lashings of peaches and cream and a long rich savoury oak finish with lingering wheatmeal and woodsmoke. Gold Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This light gold hued wine has a gentle bouquet with wild yeast, barrel ferment, malo, melon and gunflint scents and the taste shows lovely creaminess and restraint with melon, white peach, hazelnut and fig and a long, dry, mealy finish. Subtle, seamless and absolute class. Gold Easter Show, Gold AirNZ. Trophy NZIW .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Summerhouse Marlborough Verdelho 2016
This barrel-fermented wine is straw gold in hue with a bouquet of gunsmoke and nuances of pear, guava, peach and nectarine – the fruit more obvious in the palate. It's dry, flinty and focussed with a refreshing acid backbone, touches of salinity, hints of manuka woodsmoke and the fruit opening up the wine for a fleshy finish. Trophy Easter Show .
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2016
Light gold hued with a heady fragrance of violets, lychee, Turkish Delight and rose oil and off dry to the tingly taste with sweet ripe grape and lychee flavours, white pepper and musky spices with a powerful, toasty, smoker lolly finish that’s soft and seamless. Begs to be accompanied with Thai or and Indian curry. Trophy Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Gewurztraminer 2017
Straw gold in hue with a delicate yet fragrant perfume of lilac and strudel spices with hints of musk and vanilla poached pear. Bright and spicy to the fairly dry taste with delicate tropical fruit and mandarin and just a smidgen of honey that enhances the texture. A subtle Alsace-like style that’s not too OTT. Gold Easter Show .
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
This Bannockburn pinot is a rich dark ruby hue with a beguiling smoky savoury aroma infused with black cherry, vanilla and tar and its seamless in the palate that’s ripe, fruity, flavoursome and intense. Full of musky, spicy, cherry and plum fruit with hints of briar rose, pillowy tannins and subtle smoky oak with underlying acidity that will see it evolve over many years. Gold Easter Show, Gold AirNZ, Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2016
Intense crimson-edged blackberry hue with an attractive bouquet of savoury oak, pencil box, blackcurrant and woody herbs that carry through to the palate where there is refreshing brightness of mint infusing the earthy savoury undertones and the succulent plum and blackberry fruit. The tannins are velvety and firm and there are hints of cigar box on the finish where the purity of the fruit and the savouriness of the oak linger harmoniously. Gold Easter Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Mills Reef Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2016
Deep blackberry red in the glass with the bouquet revealing leathery notes overlaying plum, chocolate and spicy cedar and more leathery, earthy, savoury tones in the soft rounded silky palate that’s brimming with plums and bramble berry fruit with underlying acidity and touches of chocolate and vanilla on the long, smooth finish. Trophy Easter Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Riverby Estate Noble Marlborough Riesling 2015
Light yellow bronze in the glass – almost amber. The bouquet is all honey, botrytis, toffee, candied citrus and candied peach and the taste is a mouthful of sweet deliciousness. The lightly viscous nectar is seamless in its flow leaving memories of dried apricots, liquid honey, orange toffee and peach with refreshing acidity honing in the sweetness. A magnificent finish to a dinner party – or any evening when you want to enjoy beautiful wines. Trophy Easter Show.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Delgado Zuleta Pedro Ximinez Monteagudo NV - Jerez, Spain
Dark mahogany in the glass with yellow green edges. The heady scent and unctous flavours are like muscatels and sticky dates macerating for the Xmas cake with a hint of salinity that comes from the old barrels the wine has aged in. It’s seamless, viscous, heady and intense with absolutely amazing length. Hard to resist but a little goes a very long way.
17.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 7 Mar 2018
New Arrivals and the Return of some Favourites
Wines were tasted blind.

Murphy Goode Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Golden hued with a bouquet that suggests lemon scented butter caramel and more of the same in the smooth seamless palate with just a whisper of oaky savouriness together with harmonious acidity that hones in the caramel sweetness beautifully. A real crowd pleaser .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2016
Glossy gold with a touch of gunflint to the stonefruit and melon scent, this full-bodied savoury wine has richness and underlying power and plenty of fresh stonefruit flavours accented with zest and a polished, spicy, nutty oak finish .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
There's a touch of gunsmoke to the scent of this golden coloured, bold, rich, creamy wine that oozes butterscotch and caramel with beautifully balanced savoury oak and succulent tropical fruit flavours infused with grilled peach. It's a voluptuous wine with a long rich finish that lingers harmoniously .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Le Vieille Ferme Rosé 2016 – Ventoux AOC, Rhone, France
This distinctly European style is barely-there pink in the glass with a whiff of struck match and dilute berry tea. The fruit is restrained but the wine has texture and vinosity with hints of strawberry and pepper and a very dry finish with a suggestion of tarragon as the flavours linger. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Rabbit Ranch Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
The bouquet of this translucent Burgundy-hued wine is intriguing with red cherries, hints of thyme and touches of strawberry jam. It seems very dry on first tasting with a hint of gunsmoke and firm and slightly hard tannins that remind me of Villages Burgundy and while light to start it has increasing vinosity and silkiness with textbook savouriness, woody herbs and red cherry fruit .
13.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
This is a deeply coloured, generously scented and full on flavoursome pinot with succulent red and black cherry fruit, plum pie, deep savoury notes and spices. Velvety tannins frame the bountiful fruit that brim to the fore on the finish. First of the 2017s we have seen, it’s to drink now and over the next 12 months .
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tenuta Ulisse Sogno di Ulisse Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – Terre di Chieti IGP, Italy
Opulent in its saturated black red hue with a touch of barnyard, leather and game wafting through the rich berry and chocolate tones of the scent and it's juicy and succulent in the velvety textured palate. It’s a big wine with chocolate, creamy oak, touches of herbs infused with mint and those savoury notes from the nose surging again on the fabulously long mouthfilling finish. Top value and simply ideal for a meat lovers BBQ .
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Finca Constantia Parcela 23 Tempranillo 2015 – Castilla VdIT, Spain
The bouquet of this shiny black red coloured wine is fragrant and enticing with its chocolatey oak, berries, herbs and spices. It's succulent and juicy in the fine silky palate with a firm backbone, ripe berry fruit, hints of vanilla, pencil like oak and fabulous concentration to the long, dry, satisfying finish that brims with vinous sweetness and hints of anise. Best served with food .
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Kingston Estate Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Deep crimson-edged blackberry hue with an attractive and concentrated bouquet of plum and cassis underpinned with creamy oak and spices. In the palate there are touches of chicory and mocha infusing the creamy chocolatey oak and succulent red berry flavours with tingles of cake spices and pepper and the tannins are silky with a velvet trim. A fulfilling flavoursome Shiraz that at the price point over delivers. Gold NZIWS .
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

St Hallet Faith Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Deep purple in the glass, inky and intense. Ripe red and black berries and leather fill the bouquet that's laced with chocolate and woody spices and it's stellar and structured in the palate with reasonably firm tannins that have a supple velvet-coated edge. The mouthfilling flavours exude smoky oak, hints of bacon, leather, spices and an amalgam of ripe berry fruit including plums, mulberries and cherries, and the finish is long and satisfying. Gold NZIWS .
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Looking youthful with its saturated purple red hue yet the bouquet hints of a little maturity with it’s sensual, earthy, mushroomy, savoury notes together with chocolate and mint that carry through to the palate. It’s a big wine, almost a blockbuster with its succulent, mouthfilling, jammy berry fruit flavours, creamy oak, supple tannins and harmonious spice. Lots going on. One that will last in the cellar .
14% alc. Screwcap. 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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