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Wednesday Round-up - the 2015 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

January 2015
[ Click here for index to other months ]

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

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 14 Jan 2015
Summer Series Take 2
Wines were tasted blind.

Falconhead Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2013
The delicate bouquet hints of fresh orchard fruit with orange blossom and flower musk but the taste is much more powerful. It has a mouth-coating texture with nuances of marzipan-like almond together with apricot, poached pears and the heat of ginger and white pepper. A hint of sweetness to the soft fruity finish makes this very approachable. Trophy NZIWS. Trophy AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Golden in colour with toasty aromas and flavours, this is a full, rich, creamy wine with juicy grilled freshly picked Golden Queen peaches, a soft buttery mouthfeel, a fresh acid spine and lashings of spicy oak and salted caramel. Super approachable already, more so than many of the 2013s, and it can take considerable chilling.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Straw gold in hue with a mealy, nutty, nougat and butter milk aroma and nutty and lean in the palate, like a very youthful Burgundy or Grand Cru Chablis. It opens up beautifully with citrus, white peach and spicy oak flavours compounding in the mouth and the lingering aftertaste is long and expansive. A stellar wine that should go in the cellar right now. It can be cellared confidently for many years.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014
It's a light gold colour with a rich Nashi pear aroma and the taste is soft and just a little spicy. There are hints of vanilla poached pears with a savoury undercurrent while citrus zest adds a tingly brightness to the mouth-coating finish. An off dry style with oodles of concentration and flavour, it’s an all round pleaser.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2013 – Rhone Valley, France
This is a light pink colour with aromas of raspberries and strawberries and while the first taste seems a little edgy and stalky take a couple more sips and you will find it rather tasty and refreshing. It’s full of rose hips and bittersweet cherries with a tangy salty character and the finish is crisp and ultra dry. It looks light but tannins give this wine substance and the mouthcoating aftertaste is spicy and complex. A blend of Syrah and Grenache, it’s an ideal wine to serve very chilled for summer day al fresco dining. Trophy Spiegelau IWC
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012
This velvet-like deep ruby-hued pinot has an inviting gamey infusion to both the earthy savoury aromas and flavours that are interweaved with smoky oak, spiced plums, bottled cherries and thyme. The reasonably firm tannin structure and meaty depth is one clue to the region despite the perceived ripeness and plushness. The balance of fruit and savouriness is quite divine and the finish is silky and long.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Noir 2013
The colour of this wine is vivid, a purple-tinged ruby with reasonable denseness. The bouquet is so evocative of woodsmoke, polished oak, mulled wine spices, black cherries and plums … all these traits following through to the rich, juicy palate that has a silky edge to the smooth velvety tannins. Underlying acidity inputs freshness to the finish and lingers with a tingly brightness. Pure Elite Gold AirNZ. Blue Gold Sydney International.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Elefante Tempranillo Shiraz 2012 – Castillo La Mancha, Spain
Inky red black. Quite tarry and savoury on the nose and the taste is meaty, savoury, spicy, tarry and creamy with juicy blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, firm mouth-coating tannins and a raisin-like sweetness to the mouthfilling finish that's accented with red pepper. It definitely needs food and seems like it would go well with a lightly charred, or even well-charred hunk of meat.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Pasqua Romeo and Juliet's Wall Passimento – Veneto, Italy
This bright crimson-tinged black-red hued wine is interesting. Made from Merlot grapes that have been dried in the sun after harvest (apassimento) then blended with Corvina and Croatina with just 3 months in older oak, this wine has an almost floral perfume. The fruity taste seems a little red fruit confectionary with a touch of thyme, mint and pepper and a pleasing tannin grip to the earthy, savoury, velvety-textured finish. We're told it is not about the wine, it's about the label that’s an image of some of the love messages on Romeo and Juliet’s wall in Verona, and has been released in NZ for Valentine’s Day.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Torbreck Woodcutters Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Dense black red in hue. A little tarry on the nose with a rich jammy vinosity intertwined with woodsmoke. Given the options of Cabernet or Shiraz, it has to be the latter because it is so peppery. It’s a deep, dark, meaty wine with profound raisin and blackberry fruit concentration, fruit cake spices and a touch of anise, and the opulent flow is silky and smooth. The complexity of this heady wine evolves as it opens up in the glass.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
A blend of Clare Valley and Coonawarra fruit, this is youthful black red with crimson edges. There’s something very likable and familiar about the red fruit, mint and cedar bouquet and the cassis, mint, cedar and chocolate that fills the palate. It’s absolutely brimming with primary red fruits and has a firm tannin structure, a bright clean finish and excellent length.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 7 Jan 2015
First of the Summer Wine
Wines were tasted blind.

San Marco Extra Dry Prosecco NV - Italy
The 2015 tastings are off to a good start with this light, fresh bubbles. Apple pie aromas follow though to the creamy palate that has a tangy brightness, a well-balanced toasty savouriness and finishes crisp and dry. Thumbs up from the tasters tonight.
11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Even better is this big rich toasty Chardonnay that's crammed with aromas and flavours of grilled peach, spicy oak, caramel and citrus with a mouthfilling finish that is quite superbly long. Lightly chilled for this summer night tasting, the temperature was perfect. We loved it.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Man O' War Valhalla Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013
This is a grapefruit and nougat style of Chardonnay with leesy aromas and malt-like, nutty, funky wild yeast flavours that combine in harmony. It tastes serious and expensive, and it is! If you remember the deeply-coloured oaky Valhalla styles of the past you will find this elegant and restrained in comparison and the well-honed acid spine makes it an excellent wine to cellar for a while.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Waipara Riesling 2012
The freshly squeezed grapefruit aroma is so juicy and fresh, so summery, so bright and there's a tickle of ginger-like spritz when the wine hits the mouth. Lightly viscous with superb concentration and full of a myriad of zesty citrus and tropical fruit balanced by honey, it needs to be well chilled for maximum enjoyment this time of year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Brancott Letter Series 'P' Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2013
The classical aromas and flavours of violets and rose musk make it so easy to pick the variety. Joined by just a light hand of Moroccan spices in the palate the flavours are not overpowering and the texture is almost luscious. Just off dry in sweetness level, with lingering flavours of pink musk (smoker) lollies, Gewurz fans will love this 5 star value, 5 star quality aromatic stunner.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Two Rivers of Marlborough L'ile de Beaute Rosé 2014
The delicate baby pink hue is clear and bright, and the bouquet of briar rose hips and red cherries is just a delight. The texture is tending towards oily and the sweetness level is off dry. There's a touch of pepper that comes through on the savoury finish to balance the fruit sweetness beautifully. Made from Pinot Noir, it must be served chilled to the bones.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
The bouquet is earthy and savoury with red and black cherry fruit, perhaps even a hint of fresh blueberry, all following through to the palate where a spicy richness comes through with a touch of chocolate and a crushed velvet flow. It seems a little stalky on the finish, which polarised many of the tasters, but that's a winemaking decision to hone in the voluptuous nature of Central grown Pinot Noir grapes.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Peregrine Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
Smoky and savoury with a smooth silky flow, creamy oak and fruit that is reminiscent of raspberries and cherries, a little confectionary maybe, but there's a well balanced spiciness with a touch of pepper momentarily on the finish that balances it nicely. An easy drinking style for summer nights.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
This is the darkest in colour of the three and the aroma and taste hit the spot immediately. It's all black cherries, creamy oak, velvety tannins and spices with well-balanced earthy savouriness and a long, full finish with just the right amount of acidity imparting the peacock tail flare. Most of those in the room, including me, voted this as their favourite of the Central Otago trio.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Yalumba The Reserve Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2004
An inky red black wine with a voluptuous aroma of spicy vanillin oak, chocolate and the most subtle suggestion of mint, it is starting to develop some lovely vinous bottle age characters but the primary cassis and boysenberry fruit is quite remarkable and the distinctive Shiraz spice, pepper, is a highlight. Velvety and long with chocolate, mint, vanilla, cigar box and cedar, and a lasting and memorable finish, this magnificent wine is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Shiraz. It’s 5 star quality and gets my vote for ‘Wine of the Night.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $105.

Two Hands Fields of Joy Clare Valley Shiraz 2013
This impenetrable pool of deep purple is peppery and spicy with a bounty of creamy chocolate, smoky oak, leather, toasted spices and the slightest suggestion of mint. A blockbuster in every sense, it's plush and velvety and while the heady flavours are so evocative and seductive already, it will benefit from lying down for a while.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

* * * * * * * * *

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
2015 Tastings
January 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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