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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

May 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 – 23 May 2018
Ten Reds
Wines were tasted blind.

Clearview White Caps Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Yellow diamonds sparkle in the glass, the enticing bouquet is suggestive of manuka woodsmoke in the distance together with sizzled butter and bacon and there is a toasty veneer to the mouthfilling flavour crammed full of butterscotch and grilled peach with brightness to the chewy finish and a smooth seamless flow. First wine of the night and pretty hard to resist.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Esk Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Translucent pinky red. A touch of smoke and a waft of roasted rhubarb infuse the cranberry cordial-like scent and there's a light touch to the savoury, gamey, earthy flavours with spiced bittersweet red berries, silky tannins and a lingering finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Ant McKenzie Wines Tono Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2016
There's richness and vibrancy to the shiny magenta hue and a creamy note to the sappy spicy bouquet with a lovely array of anise-like spices and a touch of salinity. Dry at first in the palate with a dark tarry savoury note, more of those lovely spices, a touch of rose hip and increasing summer berry juiciness to the long bright finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

La Consulta Reserva Malbec 2014 – Mendoza, Argentina
The deeply translucent hue is a tamarillo skin colour, there’s a hint of fruit cake to the scent with almonds and cherries and increasing sweetness in the silky palate with a touch of woodsmoke emerging on the ripe juicy finish where the tannins seem a little more assertive, then lingering hints of violet. Not as dark in colour as some Malbecs can be but very tasty.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Quarisa Caravan Petite Sirah 2016 – South Eastern Australia
Deep dark crimson red, intense aromas of musk and boysenberry, and ripe juicy flavours crammed with opulent berry fruit, firm tannins, underlying leather and tar, a touch of spice and strawberry chocolate on the lingering finish. Youthful but expressive.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Te Mata Awatea 2016 – Hawkes Bay
Bordeaux character is the first aromatic sense of this bright crimson-tinged red with cigar box, leather, earth, herb, polished French oak and harmonious berry fruit scents. Dry at first in the fine-tannined palate with all those lovely savoury, cigar box, leather and spice characters to the fore then a mouthfilling burst of succulent berry fruit and a slight herbal note to the sappy finish where the tannins are a little more assertive. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it’s long and persistent.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2016 – Sonoma, California, USA
Dark red in hue with a hint of liquorice infusing the bright berry fruit scent that leads into a succulent, juicy, flavoursome palate. It’s soft and creamy with velvety tannins and tingles of peppery spices and lingering touches of musk, nut chocolate and currants. Despite the alcohol it doesn’t seem heavy. Nice wine.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Sons of Eden Kennedy Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2016 – Barossa, South Australia
Bright youthful red black in the glass with aromas of spiced cherry, vanilla and soft cedar. Juicy and bright in the palate with succulent red fruits, a peppery tingle, fine silky tannins, underlying savoury notes and touches of mocha. Rich and chewy yet beautifully poised without overpowering.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Chalk Hill Blue Lotus McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Dark pinky red. A little smoky and savoury on the nose with red berries and vanillin oak emerging. Seemingly medium-bodied in the initially dark savoury palate with a medicine-masking fruitiness that becomes more obviously plummy, it’s fine and silky smooth in its flow, spicy and chocolate biscuit chocolatey, with increasing vinosity and richness that builds to a very fulfilling finish with smoky vanillin oak and a lifted floral allure.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Chalk Hill Alpha Cruxis Titan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Deep crimson red black with a generous and expressive aroma of mulberries, mint, chocolate, vanilla and cedar. Full-bodied and meaty to the taste with firm tannins, spicy vibes, jammy red fruit, mocha, chocolate and vanilla with harmonious savoury oak and leather and a lingering suggestion of mint. Rich, smooth, succulent and mouthfilling. In a word, delicious.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Cape Barren Old Vine Reserve Release McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Dark purple red, fine in appearance. There’s purity of red fruit on the nose while a very appealing smoky oak regime introduces the taste that quickly bursts with magnificent red and purple fruit together with touches of sumac, touches of mint, touches of chocolate and touches of ironstone. Fine and silky in its flow with a sense of vinous sweetness to the lingering finish.
14.7% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 16 May 2018
Italian and Spanish Festival
Wines were not tasted blind.

Astoria Treviso Butterly Prosecco 2017 - Treviso, Italy
Pale straw with a lacy mousse. Ripe orchard apple scents fill the bouquet and it’s vivaciously fizzy in the mouth with a myriad of apple flavours and hints of musk. Fairly dry with a long creamy finish.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Vilarnau Cava Brut Reserva NV - d’Espiells, Penedes, Spain
A dry, creamy cuvee of Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada grapes with secondary fermentation in the bottle that introduces complex yeast aromas and flavours to the fresh grapey taste. Served in a painted bottle that would look fabulous at any occasion.
11.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Tenuta Ulisse Pecorino 2016 - Terre di Chieti, Italy
Luminous gold in the glass, aromatic, and rich and oily to the taste with a hint of apricot. A mouthfilling, textural white that’s a little reminiscent of Viognier with fresh acidity pushing through on the long, full, satisfying finish.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Castello Del Poggio Moscato - Provinca de Pavia, Italy
Grapey, musky, floral aromas and a sweet, light and frothy taste full of muscat grape flavours with a green apple bite to balance the flirty sweetness. To be served very chilled as an aperitif or at the end of a feast.
7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

I Muri Puglia Primitivo 2016 - Salento, Italy
A rich garnet red (cherry juice) hue with light, savoury aromas with hints of raspberry jam adding brightness, and medium-bodied to the spicy taste with firm tannins, hints of nut chocolate and cherry with a juicy fruit sweetness to the finish and lingering touches of anise.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Gran Sasso Colline Teramane Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012 - Abruzzo, Italy
Deep black red in hue with a leathery overtone to the concentrated red and black jammy fruit aromas then in the mouth a profound vinosity frames the black cherry and plum fruit with a hint of liquorice and vanilla and beautifully integrated tannins. Svelte yet with understated power. Outstanding on the night.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Fantini Edizione 2014 - Puglia & Abruzzo, Italy
A sumptuous, smooth, mouthfilling blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera with a youthful saturated black-red colour, a fragrant aroma reminiscent of chocolate-coated violets and a big, rich, ripe, almost sweet taste with loads of fruit, spice, vanilla, musk, chocolate and mocha.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $57.99.

Banfi Bolgheri Aska 2013 - Italy
There’s a little browning to the red garnet hue, the aroma evokes a mellow old world style with subtle barnyard and woody herb notes and the taste is initially dry, sappy, savoury and herbal with increasing vinosity that imparts a juiciness to the finish. A bit like leftover fruit cake with dried cakey bits and sweetness from the fruit. Very much a food wine.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Rocce delle Macie Chianti Classico 2015 - Italy
Deep ruby red with a dark centre. The aroma is savoury with barnyard and leather then sweet herbs and glace cherries. Medium-bodied, dry and spicy with juicy cherry, plum and cranberry fruit, well-balanced underlying savouriness, freshness and lingering anise vibes. Accompany with antipasto nibbles or BBQ.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Castelforte Valpolicella Superiore 2014 - Italy
Rich garnet red with the slightest suggestion of browning. Savoury aromatics with the blood of fresh game and hints of liquorice and anise, then touches of ironstone, bottled plums and green herb tones to the taste. An interesting wine in a rustic, old world style with pleasing vinosity and texture and rounded tannins.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Castello Tricheri Brunello Di Montalcino 2012 - Italy
Dark orange garnet. Lifted fine, mellow aromatics with a hint of orange cordial / orange pomander. Silky in the palate with old world savoury gamey notes, fine dry tannins and mellow dried orange tones. A little understated/delicate to start but builds in complexity and vinosity with an almost floral lift to the bright and extra long finish and just a touch of salinity. A thinking wine to savour with food.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Muja Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
Dark red, browning on edges. The bouquet is a little dusty with hints of baked chocolate plum tart - the scent becoming more and more intriguing over the course of the tasting. Lovely concentration to the taste with fine tannins, sweetness to the mulberry and cherry fruit, touches of anise and an aura of complexity that comes with bottle age while the dusty oak is an alluring feature to the finish.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99

Torres Celeste Crianza Tempranillo 2014 - Ribero del Duero, Spain
Bright deep red. Concentrated fruit and fine oak aromas with a hint of cigar box. Smooth and flowing in the mouth with red fruit, nicely framed vanillin oak, pillowy tannins and plumpness to the long, creamy finish. A youthful wine with brightness to its astral aura.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99

Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserve 2010 - Rioja, Spain
Dark red black with orange tones to the edges. Aromatic, a little dusty with sweet oak and baked fruit pie. Firm in the mouth with tannins still quite pronounced. Savoury, gamey and just a little meaty with a softness/mellowness coming through and while it is still unfolding the vinosity/fruit sweetness that emerges shows the promise of the future.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Castillo Amado Tempranillo Reserva 2009 - Valdepenas, Spain
Dark garnet red. The bouquet is of drying / baking red fruit with a touch of herb and spice. Flowing seamlessly across the palate it is medium-bodied with mellow plum fruit and a sprinkle of spice, perhaps a hint of oxidation but it is nine years old - or maybe it is rusticity. A comfortable wine like a favourite old slipper.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Carlos Ceres Rioja Reserva 2011 - Rioja, Spain
Dark burnished red with a black core. Aromatic scents of plum and mulberry pie with sweet spices and perhaps even a suggestion of mint. Savoury, dusty and earthy to the taste with touches of red berry, vanilla and mint with smooth silky tannins and a long mellow finish with a brightness as it lingers. Rioja’s acidity is holding this wine nicely.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Costers Del Priorat Petit Pissares 2015 - Priorat, Spain
Bright black red. Aromas of brambles bushes (juicy berries, sappy leaves and stems) on the side of a dusty road. A big wine. A full-bodied wine. An earthy, savoury, spicy, gamey wine with powerful yet rounded tannins, juicy drupelets of blackberry that pop in the mouth, a touch of pepper and a dark chocolatey oak finish. Fulfilling, modern and memorable. A crowd favourite on the night.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Gran Familia Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
Fading black red garnet. Fragrant aromas of cherry jam with a touch of rosehip and sweet spices. Lifted in the medium-bodied palate with moderately firm tannins to start, juicy red fruits, a touch of vanilla creaminess, a rose petal muskiness and subtle anise spices finishing smooth with the tannins dissolving to leave behind a pleasing roundness and well-balanced sweetness and savouriness. Star buy.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 May 2018
High Price Low Price
Wines were tasted blind.

Sebastiani North Coast Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
A medley of tropical fruit, roasted persimmon and pannacotta fills the bouquet and it’s creamy and buttery in the palate with bright, fresh, almost pineapple-like acidity and a smooth, lingering aftertaste reminiscent of Macintosh Harrogate toffees.
13.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Simonsig Chardonnay 2016 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
The bouquet is fresh, acid driven and there are hints of apricot to the citrussy taste that's very dry with a dusty, mellow note and a mealy savoury undercurrent to the fruity finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Bogle Reserve Chardonnay 2016 - Clarksburg, California, USA
There’s a suggestion of crushed brazil nut and hazelnut on the opulent, rich, toasty bouquet and the creamy taste is seamless with an ornate frame of spicy oak encapsulating juicy stonefruit and a flamboyant caramel-coated finish that lingers for ages. A meal in a glass.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Greystone Sand Dollar Waipara Pinot Gris 2016
Scents of poached pear and peach crumble radiate from the glass and it’s cool and fresh in the steely palate that slowly reveals its textural complexity with touches of tarragon and spice lingering. Technically dry (just 3 g/l residual sugar) with a wild yeast, barrel component, it recently came 3rd in Decanter’s World’s best Pinot Gris buys.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017
Bright and tropical fruity with a light tingle of spritz, hints of musk and Turkish delight. An off-dry to medium style that hits the sweet spot with fleshy stonefruit and a brightness to the attractive finish. Ripe, lush and immediately likeable.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Lawson Dry Hills Marlborough Riesling 2015
The bouquet is like classic dry Riesling with lime, talc, a vague suggestion of kero and, intriguingly, a just opened bag of rubber bands. Searingly dry in the slightly spritzy palate with racy apple and citrus acidity nicely rounded out by a touch of toastiness that’s accrued with bottle age. Drinking beautifully now. Multi awarded.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2015
There’s a suggestion of grapefruit and mandarin zest on the nose and loads more in the palate that has a lightly viscous texture. It’s ripe and zesty with well balanced sweetness and suggestions of hokey-pokey on the lingering finish. Fulfilling and expressive.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Bright ruby with pinky edges. The bouquet is sweet-fruited, inviting, with spiced cherries and a hint of cedar and the firm, dry taste is foremost savoury and gamey than fruity – but the fruit is of course there – bittersweet fruit – wild strawberries, morello cherries - and its silky in its flow with mouthfilling richness to the finish. Gold NZIWS & NWWA.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Pinot Noir 2014
Garnet red, a little browning on the edges. The bouquet is savoury with woody herb notes and a touch of chocolate-coated cherry and the wine as a whole has a mellow aura and complexity that comes with a little age. Fruit is reminiscent of stewed tamarillo with underlying prickly acidity and savoury bretty / leathery notes giving a European impression. Tannins still noticeable on the magnanimous finish with hints of chocolate and rounded mouth-coating pinosity as it lingers.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $47.99.

Cape Barren Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Shiny black red in the glass. Juicy red berry scents laced with vanillin oak fill the bouquet and its lifted and spicy in the palate that seems so velvety smooth and flowing. Full of dark plums, chocolate and liquorice, it is immediately approachable with a mouth-coating finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

E & E Limited Release Black Pepper Barossa Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Rich red black with translucent edges hinting of a little age. The bouquet is overflowing with opulent dark berries, spice and savoury notes and the taste is rich, creamy and velvety. It's voluptuous yet structured with a tantalising vanilla and nut chocolate oak frame, underlying savouriness, touches of chicory and anise, lots of pepper and a long firm finish that leaves a memorable impression.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $94.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 2 May 2018
Ceres Wines with James Dicey
Wines were not tasted blind.

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017
Beautifully aromatic with a bright apple and citrus blossom scent and a very appealing off dry to medium taste that’s textural and lightly viscous. A delicate spiciness mingles into the apricot, custard apple and honey poached pear flavours and there’s a sense of spritz to the finish. A touch of late harvest Riesling adds an x-factor to the enticing taste. Impressive.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Ceres Swansong Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
Served lightly chilled which gives a sense of coolness, this has a classic poached pear and apple strudel scent and it tastes fairly dry and crisp with a savoury, slightly mushroomy note, a zingy apple brightness and an attractive rose petal nuance on the lingering finish. A gris with palate weight and texture, it’s made from a vineyard ‘field blend’ where every 10th vine is Gewurztraminer.
14% alc.Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Riesling 2017
This is a slatey smelling riesling with a soapy floral nuance, maybe, and cut lime most definitely. It smells dry but tastes medium with soft apple acidity and an initial light delicate impression that increases in power with more emphatic green apple and lime flavours balanced by honey and apricot, and a pleasing persistent finish.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Ceres Black Rabbit Central Otago Riesling 2017
The attractive bouquet radiates honeysuckle, sweet citrus and tropical fruit and the taste is a masterful balance of scintillating acidity and medium sweetness. It’s juicy, tingly and delicately spritzy with tropical fruit sherbet, lime, tangelo, honeysuckle and apple skin. An expressive wine oozing deliciousness and finesse with the structure to cellar for decades. Multiple gold medals and Easter Show Trophy.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
Deeply translucent bright purple violet. There’s a sense of chocolate, roasted spice and concentrated purple-coloured berries to the scent and it’s initially savoury to the taste with velvet-edged silky tannins, chocolate-coated bitter-sweet cherry then a more concentrated berry fruit sweetness and anise-like spices lingering. Soft, supple and easy drinking.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Ceres Composition Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A moderately translucent purple violet. Fragrantly scented with cherry, plum and sweet herb notations. Bright and intense in the silky-textured palate where bittersweet red fruit, oak, spice and savoury notes combine in harmony. Dense and concentrated with a vinous sweetness and touches of anise infusing the persistent finish where the tannins become more noticeable.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Ceres Artists Collection Inlet Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
There’s a little hint of pink to the purple hue. A touch of rosehip radiates out of the glass with an amalgam of cherry, a hint of spice and expressive pinosity. Concentrated in the silky, velvety, firm, structured palate that’s spicy, meaty and savoury with chewy red fruit jellies and glace cherries and captivating briar rose notes to the fabulously long mouth-enveloping finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $75.99.

Mr Riggs Three Corner Jack McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2015 – South Australia
Rich red black with ripe plum and black cherry scents and savoury, meaty, tarry notes underpinning juicy plum and black currant fruit flavours with just the merest hint of liquorice. The texture is firm and velvety in this seemingly more medium bodied Aussie red with lingering cake spices and cherries.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Mr Riggs The Truant McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
This shiny red black-hued wine has a fascinating bouquet that’s like the scent in the kitchen when cooking spicy plum sauce – plus hints of crushed chocolate biscuits, cigar leaf and leather that follow through to the initially quite dark tarry palate that quickly bursts with succulent plum and blackberry fruit while red pepper spices lift the powerful, plush-tannined finish. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Mr Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Black red in the glass. The bouquet is smoky and sensual with hints of crushed iron, chocolate, mint and cedar and it’s deliciously bright and minty in the palate (mint sauce rather than peppermint) with concentrated blackcurrant, plum and boysenberry fruit, a spicy brightness, and a long silky, mouthfilling finish. It’s an incredibly smooth, delicious and memorable wine that’s concentrated and meaty with lingering mint chocolate, cassis and cedar. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

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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