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Wednesday Round-up - the 2017 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

February 2017
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Some of the prices are 'special' prices. Check the First Glass website for current pricing.

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 – 15 Feb 2017
An evening with Bob Campbell MW
Wines were tasted blind.

Delaplace Champagne Brut NV
Light lemon gold with tiny bubbles, an attractive lemony yeasty bouquet and mouth-tingling fizz and zizz with savoury toasty layers under bright lemonade and peach, then after the bubbles subside the mouthfeel is delectably creamy. Sophisticated and sleek with plenty of flavour. An unusual blend with about 80% pinot Meunier, 15% chardonnay and 5% pinot noir. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $42.99.

Gibbston Valley China Terraces Central Otago Chardonnay 2015
The bouquet is delicate yet evocatively smoky and the concentrated flavours are understated in their richness. There’s gunflint, lemonade zest, nougat, fig, bubble gum, hints of musk, vanilla, nutty oak and toast with a fresh acid spine and softness to the texture that’s seamless in its flow. It’s going to age but extremely satisfying now. Yum, my kind of wine. Gold NZIWS. Cuisine Top 10.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Riflemans Chardonnay 2015
Lime tinted gold — ‘electric’ said Heather next to me. There’s fullness to the bouquet that's redolent of sizzled butter, golden peach and toasted cedar then bold in the palate with grilled stonefruit, roasted nuts, biscuity oak, spice and caramel cream. An absolutely super chardonnay that’s powerful in its presence, seamless in its flow and with a wonderfully long finish. Produced only in exceptional vintages, this is the 3rd in a row. Absolutely fantastic wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $62.99.

Nautilus Marlborough Albarino 2016
Bright aromatics and flavours full of apple, quince, pear and mandarin zest with a touch of tarragon / anise coming to mind and heaps of mouth-watering salinity building to a very tasty fruit-driven finish. I find riesling-like acidity, pinot gris-like fruit and viognier-like body richness and texture with a seasoning of salt and pepper. Gold and Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Marc Bredif Classic Vouvray 2015 – Loire Valley, France
Golden in hue with shy aromatics of yellow fruit / yellow apple with a slight toasty nuance but there’s nothing shy about the flavour. It’s mouthfilling, toasty and creamy with bright yellow fruit acidity, touches of strudel spices and an inkling of hokey pokey on the finish that reins in the high acidity that makes these Chenin Blanc wines age almost forever. A great example.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Lawson Dry Hills Pioneer Series Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
Light glossy gold hued with a hint of lychee, honey and citrus peel wafting from the glass. Flavoursome and concentrated in the palate with a soft, almost oily texture, poached pear and tropical fruit, a tickle of spice and a lingering suggestion of honey. Just off dry, it emulates Alsace and is almost verging on luscious. There’s a tuch of oak that adds to the complexity of this wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Fromm Marlborough Riesling Spatlese 2015
Ravishingly aromatic with its scent of lime peel, apple peel, a hint of flower nectar and a waft of kero and full of flavour in the mouth-watering palate with racy acidity honed in by a grapey / white raisin sweetness with a texture that is almost creamy. Bright and refreshing with exciting sweet/sour tension and quite outstanding.
7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Deep purple garnet in the glass with a bright, generous, inviting bouquet that's creamy, fruity and savoury at the same time. The taste is spicy upfront with concentrated plum and cherry fruit and sweet smoky oak in the background with a hint of anise on the long creamy finish. A silky, seductive, generous pinot that’s ready to enjoy now. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 - Western Australia
Dark red with a ripe creamy bouquet that evokes a suggestion of dry red earth. Juicy in the palate with classic blackcurrant /cassis and a rich plummy note with touches of tobacco, then loads of cherry mid palate with tannins thankfully more noticeable on the earthy, savoury finish that has accents of pepper. Ripe, generous and ready.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
The deep purple hue is almost lustrous in the glass, the bouquet is rich, dense and meaty with a delightful black cherry sweetness and it’s phenomenally smooth and silky in the palate with juicy ripe fruit balanced by the savouriness of the oak and the firmness of the melt-in-the-mouth tannins. Not overtly peppery but with a tantalising whisper of spice – hints of anise come to mind - and a lick of chocolate on the fabulously long finish. All in all a pleasure to taste and savour. Outstanding.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $99.99.

Three Dark Horses McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
The bouquet and taste of this deep yet brightly hued red is opulent and generous and full of plum and mulberry fruit woven into vanillin oak with touches of mocha, spice and pepper. It’s young, fresh, juicy and creamy with a silky seductive texture. “Never underestimate a dark horse,” it states on the back label. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 8 Feb 2017
Never tasted on a Wednesday night before
Wines were tasted blind.

Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2014 – Monterey, California, USA
The bouquet hints of this surprisingly Chablis-like wine (given its origin) offers up spice and zest and it's steely yet textural in the palate with a touch of peach, a hint of mushroom, a nuance of lanolin, subtle oak adding richness and a long, persistent, sucking-on-a-peach-stone finish. I wonder what the 'fat' in the name refers to because it's not what I would call a 'fat' wine and probably why I personally like it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
Sunshine gold with toasted coconut oak both on the nose and in the palate together with tropical fruit, peaches and pineapple. It’s deliciously toasty and creamy yet with a fresh, breezy aura as it spills across the palate with a touch of savouriness on the finish to keep the bright fruit in check.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Goldie Estate Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2014
Lemon gold hued with a steely nuance to the nutty, mealy, grapefruit-infused bouquet that suggests it has had all the winemaking bells and whistles. Initially very dry but quickly becoming juicy and fleshy with nectarine and peach, a vanilla biscuit undercurrent and finesse to long rich finish that fattens up beautifully with spiced stonefruit lingering. A class act.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Gotas de Mar Albarino 2015 – Rias Baixas, Spain
Sunshine in colour with a striking lemon verbena and tropical fruit bouquet then crisp, racy and teeth tingling in the palate but underneath quite textural with bright flavours reminiscent of stonefruit, mandarin, ginger and aromatic herbs. Very refreshing and perfect for seafood. Sets a benchmark for NZ winemakers to aspire to I think.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Main Divide Waipara Riesling 2014
Moderate gold. Spiced citrus honey fills the bouquet and it’s honeyed and luscious in the palate where the sweetness a foil to the refreshing acidity with flavours reminiscent of apricot jam and orange and lime marmalade with a slightly earthy undercurrent akin to German Auslese and lingering honeysuckle deliciousness. For fans of Main Divide take note it's not as 'spritzy' as it has been in the past. In the blind tasting some of us thought it was Eliza.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Fat Bastard IGP Pays D’OC Pinot Noir 2015 –, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
A moderate translucent ruby with spice, tamarillo and leather on the bouquet and firm and dry in the medium-bodied palate that's lifted with youthful acidity from the cherry and cranberry fruit with a light savouriness to the lingering finish. Light and easy drinking.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A rich ruby red with touches of crimson this is full of bright cherry aromas – both bottled and fresh – with a waft of chocolate box and a sprinkle of spice. Crammed with cherry and pomegranate fruit in the creamy, generous, flowing palate with a bright lingering finish lifted by youthful acidity and well balanced underlying savouriness.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Tormaresca Neprica 2013 – Puglia, Italy
A blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet grapes – the first letters of the grapes making up the name ‘NePriCa’, this full-blooded looking red has a savoury aura to the bouquet and the taste is quite dry, quite savoury and even a little herbal in a nice kind of way with underlying sweet-fruit, polished oak, nuances of leather and tar and a touch of spice to the bright lifted finish. Medium bodied and a very tasty point of difference. Interesting.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Vina Pomal Rioja Reserva 2012 – Rioja, Spain
Inky blackberry red with a distinctly old world bouquet where smoked meats, mercurochrome, leather and spice come to mind. Full-bodied, fleshy, meaty and savoury to the taste with peppery spices, charry oak, red and purple fruit – prunes maybe – and thick almost voluptuous tannins that assert their firmness on the long full finish. Made from 100% Tempranillo it’s a big wine that needs food to tame it.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Redmetal Vineyards Basket Press Merlot Cabernet Franc 2014
Rich black red. The bouquet is bright and fruity with wafts of polished savoury French oak a perfect teaser to the full-bodied and seemingly youthful, slightly sappy oak palate that becomes quite rounded as the wine flows. Ripe fruit, ripe tannins, touches of cigar box and Christmas cake spices lift the fleshy mouthfilling finish where there is a pleasing touch of grip.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Zabu il passo Nerello Mascalese Nero D’Avola 2015 – Sicily, Italy
A slightly dusty, rustic bouquet introduces this deeply coloured bright, fruity, fine textured wine that’s full of chocolate-coated currants and cherries with touches of spice, tar and leather and hints of rosehips on the lifted finish. A generous wine on the medium side of full bodied, it’s a new vintage of a First Glass favourite and possibly even better.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 1 Feb 2017
Summer Selection
Wines were tasted blind.

Brancott Terroir Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
The aroma of passionfruit, mango, pineapple, mandarin peel and lime is so fragrant and powerful you can smell the exciting tropical island fruit without even raising your glass. All this and more in the palate with juicy zesty tingles of grapefruit and summer herbs providing lovely balance to the fruit together with pleasing texture to the mouthfeel and a touch of ‘hot lemon’ heat to the long pungent finish. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

The Original Smoking Loon Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
Golden in colour with a creamy, savoury, nutty oak bouquet and soft and flowing in the mellow palate with canned apricot fruit over nutty savoury oak, a judicious touch of biscuit spices, hints of butterscotch and lingering sizzled butter notes lifted by a zing of acidity. 13.5% alc. Artificial Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2013
Light yellow gold with a powerful bouquet that pulsates grilled stonefruit, roasted hazelnuts and wafts of smoky oak. Zesty and spicy in the full flavoured palate with touches of peach, hints of caramel, underlying gunflint and some lovely starting-to-mellow bottle age characters. It's big, it’s bright, it's a little funky from a portion of wild ferment and it sure is drinking beautifully right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
There's fruit sweetness to the scent of this oily looking wine with hints of baked apple and pear. Off dry in the palate with abundant apple and vanilla poached pear flavours balanced by a pleasing earthy savouriness. The 30% barrel ferment imparts richness to the mouthfeel and the finish is long and compounding with a bright citrus zing.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Loosen Dr L Riesling 2015 - Mosel, Germany
From a vintage Loosen describes as ‘close to perfect’ this is pale in hue with a reticent floral, blossomy scent that doesn't prepare for the scintillating riesling taste that's full of green apple acidity tempered by whispers of honey. It’s just on the dry side of medium with crisp, fresh, youthful vitality, a slatey mouthfeel and a persistent yet delicate finish.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Miradou Cotes De Provence Rose 2015 - Provence, France
This is a fashionably ultra-pale orange-pink hue, the bouquet is a little spicy savoury with a suggestion of cherry stone and the taste is nutty and dry with a very appealing lightly oily mouthfeel and lingering slivers of strawberry and red cherry. Likely to be made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Syrah the attractive packaging, pale colour and food friendly aura makes this very appealing.
13% alc. Artificial Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Eddera Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
The earthy, tarry, leathery bouquet of this deep burgundy-hued wine whisks you to Europe while the initially sweet, slightly jammy fruit suggests a hot climate. It’s a little sappy mid palate with a firm feel to the dry tannins, an underlying gamey savouriness and a peppery bite to finish where the dark jammy sweetness re-emerges to linger. Made from 100% tempranillo with 24 months in American oak, this is a good example of a regional style that will continue to develop in the cellar.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Falcon Ridge Estate Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Deep ruby garnet with a youthful aura, this looks and smells like Pinot with beguiling black cherry and earthy undertones to the smoky savoury scent. It’s silky and flowing in the palate with a juicy fruit sweetness balancing the spicy savouriness combined with youthful vibrancy, underlying herbal notes, refreshing acidity and a pleasing grip to the finish with nuances of black forest as the wine lingers. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

The Original Smoking Loon Zinfandel 2015 – California, USA
Dark ruby red. Suggestions of chocolate and raspberries on the restrained bouquet but ripe and generous in the palate with creamy vanillin oak, hints of pepper, currants, blueberries and ‘after dinner mint’ vibes as the flavours linger. Medium bodied with masses of fruit making it an easy drinking style.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

d'Arenberg Darry's Original McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Blackberry red in colour with a bright, spicy, fruity bouquet following through to the palate where black Doris plums, blackberries, tobacco, chocolate and black pepper combine in harmony on a bed of velvety tannins. Soft and generous with a creamy finish, it’s ready to drink now or cellar several years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Gemtree Obsidian McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
This inky red-black hued shiraz is beautifully vibrant and powerful. The bouquet radiates vanillin oak, berries, chocolate and mint and the full-bodied, opulent flavours are crammed with cocoa, dark smoky oak, generous ripe berry fruit and a finishing flourish of mint together with firm but pliable tannins and sublime balance. From Gemtree’s oldest Shiraz vines, it has been aged for 24 months in French oak. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $59.99.

Thorn Clarke William Randell Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Concentrated black-red with smoky oak and cake spices on the bouquet then thick textured, creamy and mouthfilling in the palate with copious amounts of mint a foil to the savoury, earthy, brooding concentration with a touch of chocolate, cake spices, dark plums and a nutty, chicory finish. An opulent but still developing wine that needs more time even though the tannins already have a velvety flow.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
Deep purple red with a bouquet offering up chocolate biscuits, dark chocolate and hints of mocha that carry through to the palate of this deep brooding wine that initially shows more winemaking characters than fruit. It’s a big balanced wine with a full and complex mouthfeel, huge tannins, loads of pepper, underlying touches of graphite and dried minty herbs and then concentrated blackberry fruit wells up to add to the rounded satisfying aftertaste. Loads of potential but just needs a lot more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $59.99.

Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Inky purple red, glowing in its youth. The bouquet is a little spicy with smoky vanillin oak and red berries then in the palate the wine has that classic Cabernet 'lift' with dried herbs and cassis and while the tannins are still firm they have a velvety cloak. Lovely food wine to enjoy now with food and to watch develop over the next few years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 25 Jan 2017
Great Value Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Astoria “Lounge” Prosecco Extra Dry – Treviso, Italy
Straw gold in the glass with tiny bubbles and a lacy edge of foam when poured. Attractive bouquet of apples and grapes and refreshingly crisp to the taste, which is indeed extra dry, with loads of salivating apple and quince.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $19.99.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2015– California, USA
Golden in hue with a smoky nuance to the nutty bouquet and a mellow buttery suggestion to the polished toasty oak flavours with hints of bubblegum and peach. It’s full-bodied and dry with a long juicy finish and while served moderately chilled for our tasting, Harvey (who opened the bottles) said, "Terrific at room temperature,” which is good to know if you forget to put your wine in the fridge. Star value.
13.5 % alc. Artificial cork. First Glass Price $14.99.

Kim Crawford Small Parcels Wild Grace Chardonnay 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Light gold with stonefruit and tropical fruit aromas and very tasty and full of flavour in the concentrated palate with spicy oak, touches of vanilla and stonefruit, and a terrifically long vibrant finish. A big bold style that has developed beautifully with time in the bottle and will definitely tick the boxes of Chardonnay lovers. Gold Medal AirNZ. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap . First Glass Price $22.99.

Whitehaven Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015
This radiates an attractive rose musk and Turkish Delight bouquet and the taste is distinctly Gewurztraminer through and through. It's just off dry with a lightly viscous texture and an incredibly long ‘hot smoker lolly’ finish. Descriptors offered up from fellow tasters on the night include lychees, muscat grapes, rose Turkish delight, Parma violets, orange water, apricots, spice and honey. Yep, absolutely. Gold NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
13.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Giesen Riesling 2015
Straw in hue. Delicately floral with hints of mandarin on the nose and an off dry, spatlese-like taste with racy acidity that sends quivers down the spine and a fine nectar-like sweetness to balance it with a smile. It’s juicy and quenching and perfect to serve icy cold on hot summer days. A blend of Marlborough and Waipara grapes, this multiple gold medal and trophy winner is one of the great Riesling buys.
10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $12.99.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
Hinting of a little age with a starting-to-brick translucent garnet hue while the bouquet offers up smoked Morello cherries and the taste is gamey and savoury with touches of dried herbs, some grip to the tannins and a touch of cranberry fleshing out the incredibly dry finish. This definitely needs to be accompanied with food.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $26.99.

Angoves Long Row Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
The deep dark hue instantly seduces the eyes and while the bouquet is a little earthy the taste is generous with smooth tea-flavoured tannins, deep dark Christmas cake fruit and spicy savoury vibes.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $10.99.

The Crusher Grower’s Selection Petite Sirah 2014 – California, USA
Inky pinky-red in the glass with a creamy oak and berry bouquet and bright, concentrated juicy plum and red berry flavours. It’s rich, ripe and meaty with firm velvety tannins, chocolate, spice and a touch of pepper with a well-balanced underlying earthy savouriness and crushed chocolate biscuits and chicory emerging on the lingering, mouthfilling finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $20.99.

Septima ‘Obra’ Malbec 2014 – Mendoza, Argentina
Purple red with a fine textured appearance. The bouquet offers up hints of spice, rose petals, chocolate and leather. There’s lifted acidity upfront in the palate with fine tannins, polished oak, leather, succulent plum and red berry fruit and hints of spice building to a creamy finish and while generous, it’s also food friendly dry.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price $24.99.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Dark red in hue with an intriguing savoury / slightly earthy / subtle bramble berry scent. On first tasting it seems quite restrained with firm dry tannins but with coaxing it opens up in the glass revealing hints of mocha and chicory with creamy oak, dried mint and a twist of pepper then the long, fine, minute-plus finish says – “hey, I’m a baby Filsell” so it will reward much more if you decant this baby before drinking.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $19.99.

Molly Dooker ‘Carnival of Love’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
It’s a drink-with-your-eyes inky purple red, the bouquet wows with its vinous concentration and chocolate aura and the heady taste is ‘blockbuster’ in every sense. Not for the faint-hearted, it’s spicy, it's alcoholic, it’s chocolatey – it’s like a black forest chocolate log crammed with liqueur-macerated black cherries and oozing vanillin oak-infused cream – plus loads and loads of pepper and a hot fiery finish – all the while a soft, plush, velvety flow. A Sarah and Sparky Marquis creation.
15.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price $120.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 18 Jan 2017
Impressive New Arrivals
Wines were tasted blind.

Leefield Station Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Straw gold with a slightly sweaty nuance to pineapple / passionfruit / lime bouquet an the taste is pungent and full of tropical fruit, peach and tangy citrus flavours with a touch of capsicum and basil and a zesty feel to the party-in-the-mouth finish. A Brent Marris label. Gold AirzNZ.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Glossy light gold with a bouquet that offers nuances of smoky oak, pink bubblegum and grilled stonefruits. Lightly toasted oak is upfront in the palate and while initially quite zesty, concentrated fleshy white peach and nectarine flavours build up and the finish is creamy and savoury with the slightest hint of butterscotch – it will develop more of this extremely desirable character with bottle age.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light golden hued. All gunflint, toasted oak and sizzled butter on the nose and the taste is full and fleshy yet with loads of oak, flinty characters and wild yeast funk. Seems ultra savoury but the lingering aftertaste is all grapefruit and peach. Another that will unfold magnificently with more time. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2015 - Monterey & Santa Barbara, California, USA
Quite a yellow gold in the glass and the bouquet seems quite mellow with vanilla infused cedar offering a point of difference to the norm. Savoury in the palate with brightness to the spicy oak and a soft, full-bodied, smooth flowing, creamy texture and a long pleasing finish with a suggestion of smoked panna cotta and peaches. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Tohu Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
There's an attractive honey poached pear and apple vibe both to the bouquet and flavour that's has a smooth front and mid-palate flow with the moderately dry finish jazzed up with by freshness of citrus and a touch of ginger. Value drinking from the Awatere Valley. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Terra Sancta Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Watermelon pink with a bouquet of wild strawberries and red cherries and quite rich flavours (for rosé) with a light viscosity to the texture. It’s somewhere between dry and medium in sweetness level with a slightly herbal / savoury nuance balancing the pinot noir fruit and a lingering tingle of spice. Must be chilled of utmost enjoyment.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2014
Inky red black with a crimson glow to the edges. The bouquet is rich and full with a hint of chocolate, a touch of smoke and juicy brambles. It smells ripe and ready and the flavour delivers with a youthful sappy vibe, touches of cigar box, a nuance of mint, a slightly youthful firm tannin edginess underpinning juicy plum and cassis fruit and a long persistent finish. Lovely wine that begs for barbecued lamb. Gold NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

McManis Petite Syrah 2015 - California, USA
Youthful bright purple red in the glass with chocolate, mocha and mushrooms on the nose and a smooth creamy palate with loads of ripe redcurrant fruit, pepper, mocha, leather, roasted herbs and a terrifically fulsome and flavoursome finish with lingering hips of rosehip jelly. Heading into the irresistible category.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Chocolate Box Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 - South Australia
Concentrated pinky red hue. The bouquet is full of vanillin oak, chocolate and cherries and there’s noticeable spice in the palate that has a smooth velvety flow with a little bit of tension to the texture hinting of its youthful age. It's full of juicy blackberry and mulberry fruit with crushed chocolate cherry biscuits, hints of mocha, loads of pepper, savoury oak and a lingering aftertaste that’s luscious and long. 15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 - South Australia
Black red with a shiny appearance. The bouquet offers up polished oak and an intriguing floral allure (possibly violet / fresh lavender) and intense berry fruit. Very fine in texture – the fine tannins making for an elegant flow across the palate with loads of eucalypt and a heap of pepper. Polished and stylish with a mint chocolate finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Chocolate Box Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - South Australia
There’s a fine hint of chocolate on the nose together with currants and blackberries and it is lifted in the palate with moderately firm tannins, polished oak, earth and leather and the classic combination of cassis, mint and cedar. More of a medium-bodied style (compared to the sibling shiraz) with good colour, a spicy kick to the nicely resolved finish and a lasting impression of chocolate raisins and mint.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 11 Jan 2017
Welcome to 2017
Wines were tasted blind.

Villa Maria Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
This is a cracker sauv. It’s bright and fresh with pineapple, lime and capsicum aromas and juicy peach and tropical fruit salad flavours with passionfruit and pineapple accents and a citrus twist to the tangy finish. 5 stars and No.1 Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Nelson Chardonnay 2015
There’s touches of butter caramel on the nose and whispers of caramel and bolder toasty oak flavours fill the smooth, buttery, mellow palate with nutty creamy malo characters, poached apricot, citrus zest and a smoky oaky finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Milcrest Nelson Chardonnay 2015
The bouquet of this chardonnay oozes class - it’s nutty and creamy with hints of sizzled butter and peach and the taste is rich, textural and mouthfilling with spicy oak, hazelnuts, juicy tropical fruit, stonefruit and an expansive finish where the smokiness of the oak emerges elegantly.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 11 Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
This has an alluring bouquet with hints of gunflint and peach and while the flavours at first seem steely and restrained possibly because the wine quite cold on serving, it opens up beautifully in the glass on this warm January evening to reveal juicy stonefruit and nutty, creamy, toasty oak flavours surging with concentration and power. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Two Rivers 'Brookby Hill' Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016
The bouquet is crammed with green apple scents and the flavours, with Granny Smith to the fore, echo this suggestion. It’s crisp and dry with loads of fresh acidity and although there is 10% barrel ferment the old barrels used impart texture not taste. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Two Rivers L'ile de Beauté Rosé 2016
This has a pale pink hue, the light bouquet offers up raspberry and meringue and the bold taste is zingy and zesty with crisp red berry flavours. A delightful rosé on the cusp of off dry and harmonious with the cheese on the night. 5 stars and No.1 in Cuisine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tohu Awatere Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Youthful purple garnet. Attractive smoky aroma with hints of spiced cherries and violets. Lifted in the palate with upfront acidity, a medley of cranberries, cherries and spice, a smooth velvety texture and a creaminess to the medium to full-bodied finish. Elite Gold Air NZ Wine Awards 2016.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

El Domador del Feugo Rioja Reserva 2011 – Rioja, Spain
The bouquet offers up ripe berry fruit mixed with dusty cedar and the juicy taste brims with jammy red berries and a touch of vanilla. Hinting of a little age with its mellow aura though the colour still has a pinky youthful lustre, it has firm and reasonably dry tannins that really need food to break them down and the 36 months in oak imparts a sappy cedary undercurrent.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Pirramimma Stock’s Hill Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2013 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Inky dark red with bricking to the edges. The voluptuous bouquet offers up freshly baked jam tart, earth, spice, smoke and ripe berries and the upfront taste upfront is a little iodine and cedary with slightly grainy tannins, touches of pepper, mint, tobacco, bottled red fruits, vanilla and liquorice. I sense a hint of maturity to the wine although the lingering aftertaste is mint fresh. Gold NZIWS.
14.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Fantini Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni 2013 – Italy
This is inky black red with a shiny appearance and on smelling and tasting it whisks you to a hot climate place with its inky depth and concentration. The earthy savoury bouquet is elevated by chocolate and berries and the succulent full-bodied taste is characterised by thick chewy tannins. It’s a harmony of savouriness and ultra ripe berry fruit sweetness with a herbal intrigue marked mostly by mint that lifts the finish. A blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero from the Puglia and Abruzzo regions.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $58.99.

Yalumba The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Coonawarra, South Australia
Rich dark red with lashings of mint and chocolate filling the bouquet and comforting and creamy in the palate with flowing velvety tannins and beautifully balanced smoky savoury oak. There’s an abundance of rich ripe sweet red and black fruit and the finish is long with flashes of youthful cedar and cigar box characters lingering. From the Menzie’s Vineyard with recommended cellaring to 2025. Outstanding value.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

* * * * * * * * *

I like the Fine Fine Wednesday Tastings held at First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore. All the wines are served blind and unlike the blind tasting assessments I conduct at home (which are usually from producer's samples or, more rarely, wines I have purchased myself), I usually have no idea in advance of what wines are being included in the Fine Wine Wednesday tasting line-up. Exceptions have been the Cuisine Top 10 tastings, 'Super Tastings', or producer-hosted tastings where the line-up of wines is advertised to attract the tasters. All I know is that with Kingsley Wood choosing the wines, anything goes and the wines being tasted may cost from under $10 to over $110 a bottle, though they usually average somewhere in the $15 to $55 price range.

I have continued to attend the tastings over the years as I feel it gives me a good insight to wines currently available in the market place and the general reaction compared to my own. Not everyone likes the searingly dry rieslings that I love, I've found.

It also provides an opportunity to taste some wines I otherwise wouldn't get to see and to retaste those that I have.

Footnote: Prices listed are the retail and or special prices at First Glass Wines and Spirits at the time of tasting (date is at the top of each week's section). Check out for current availability and pricing and New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.
Sue Courtney's recent Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes can also be found on the First Glass website.

Wednesday Wines index
2017 Tastings
January 2017 tasting notes.
February 2017 tasting notes.

2016 Tastings
January 2016 tasting notes.
February 2016 tasting notes.
March 2016 tasting notes.
April 2016 tasting notes.
May/Jun 2016 tasting notes.
July 2016 tasting notes.
August 2016 tasting notes.
September / October 2016 tasting notes.
November / December 2016 tasting notes.

2015 Tastings
January 2015 tasting notes.
February 2015 tasting notes.
March 2015 tasting notes.
April 2015 tasting notes.
May 2015 tasting notes.
Jun / Jul / Aug 2015 tasting notes.
Sep / Oct 2015 tasting notes.
Nov / Dec 2015 tasting notes.

2014 Tastings
January 2014 tasting notes.
February 2014 tasting notes.
March 2014 tasting notes.
April 2014 tasting notes.
May 2014 tasting notes.
June 2014 tasting notes.
July 2014 tasting notes.
August 2014 tasting notes.
September 2014 tasting notes.
October 2014 tasting notes.
November / December 2014 tasting notes.

2013 Tastings
January 2013 tasting notes.
February 2013 tasting notes.
March 2013 tasting notes.
April 2013 tasting notes.
May 2013 tasting notes.
July 2013 tasting notes.
July / Aug 2013 tasting notes.
September 2013 tasting notes.
October 2013 tasting notes.
November/ December 2013 tasting notes.

2012 Tastings
January 2012 tasting notes.
February 2012 tasting notes.
March 2012 tasting notes.
April 2012 tasting notes.
May 2012 tasting notes.
July 2012 tasting notes.
July 2012 tasting notes.
August 2012 tasting notes.
September 2012 tasting notes.
October 2012 tasting notes.
November/December 2012 tasting notes.

2011 Tastings
January 2011 tasting notes.
February 2011 tasting notes.
March 2011 tasting notes.
April 2011 tasting notes.
May 2011 tasting notes.
July 2011 tasting notes.
July 2011 tasting notes.
August 2011 tasting notes.
September 2011 tasting notes.
October 2011 tasting notes.
November 2011 tasting notes.
December 2011 tasting notes.

2010 Tastings
January 2010 tasting notes.
February 2010 tasting notes.
March / April 2010 tasting notes.
May 2010 tasting notes.
July 2010 tasting notes.
July 2010 tasting notes.
August 2010 tasting notes.
September 2010 tasting notes.
October 2010 tasting notes.
November 2010 tasting notes.
December 2010 tasting notes.

2009 Tastings
January 2009 tasting notes.
February 2009 tasting notes.
March 2009 tasting notes.
April 2009 tasting notes.
May 2009 tasting notes.
July 2009 tasting notes.
July 2009 tasting notes.
August 2009 tasting notes.
September 2009 tasting notes.
October 2009 tasting notes.
November 2009 tasting notes.
December 2009 tasting notes.

2008 Tastings
January 2008 tasting notes.
February 2008 tasting notes.
March 2008 tasting notes.
Apr / May 2008 tasting notes.
Jun / Jul 2008 tasting notes.
Aug / Sep 2008 tasting notes.
October 2008 tasting notes.
November 2008 tasting notes.
December 2008 tasting notes.

2007 Tastings
January 2007 tasting notes.
February 2007 tasting notes.
March 2007 tasting notes.
April 2007 tasting notes.
May 2007 tasting notes.
July 2007 tasting notes.
July 2007 tasting notes.
August 2007 tasting notes.
September 2007 tasting notes.
October 2007 tasting notes.
November 2007 tasting notes.
December 2007 tasting notes.

2006 Tastings
January 2006 tasting notes.
February 2006 tasting notes.
March/April 2006 tasting notes.
May 2006 tasting notes.
July 2006 tasting notes.
July 2006 tasting notes.
August 2006 tasting notes.
September 2006 tasting notes.
October 2006 tasting notes.
November 2006 tasting notes.
December 2006 tasting notes.

2005 Tastings
January 2005 tasting notes.
February 2005 tasting notes.
March 2005 tasting notes.
April 2005 tasting notes.
May 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
August 2005 tasting notes.
September 2005 tasting notes.
October 2005 tasting notes.
November 2005 tasting notes.
December 2005 tasting notes.

2004 Tastings
Jan-Feb 2004 tasting notes.
Mar-Apr 2004 tasting notes.
May 2004 tasting notes.
July 2004 tasting notes.
July 2004 tasting notes.
August 2004 tasting notes.
September 2004 tasting notes.
October 2004 tasting notes.
November/December 2004 tasting notes.

2003 Tastings
January 2003 tasting notes.
February 2003 tasting notes.
March 2003 tasting notes.
April 2003 tasting notes.
May 2003 tasting notes.
July 2003 tasting notes.
July 2003 tasting notes.
August 2003 tasting notes.
September 2003 tasting notes.
October 2003 tasting notes.
November 2003 tasting notes.
December 2003 tasting notes.

Other Wine Reviews.
Wine of the Week archives.

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