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Wednesday Round-up - the 2014 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

November 2014
[ 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 – 19 Nov 2014
Villa Maria Wines with Nick Picone
Wines were not tasted blind.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2011 – Hawkes Bay
The bouquet is smoky and nutty with a toasty allure and a fragrant citrus brightness, and the taste is creamy with a nutty sweetness and a savoury richness with funky wild yeast notes and grilled stonefruit joining grapefruit on the finish. Rich, powerful, mouthfilling and long. Multi gold medal winner and developing beautifully.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gisborne Albarino 2014
Lifted aromatics of pear and quince joining an attractive yet elusive floral scent. Texturally complex for an aromatic white, possibly to a wild yeast portion, with yellow spectrum fruit that is juicy and bright. I get yellow plums, nectarine and tropical fruit, perhaps banana passionfruit and mountain paw paw with bright acidity in behind beautifully balanced by a suggestion of honey and a spicy almost pepper note, like you get from the seeds of mountain paw paw that grows so well in Auckland. A very exciting wine, finishing dry, it shows the potential for the variety to become a star. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Dry Riesling 2012
Delicate apple blossom, lime juice on flint on the nose and the taste is crisp lemons, lime and flint with a subtle suggestion of honey and ginger. Concentrated and intense with great verve and bite to the finish with the bittersweet mandarin zest that emerges just delightful. Mouthwateringly crisp and refreshing served chilled – this had two hours in the fridge and was just perfect. A blend of Awatere and Wairau Valley fruit. Gold AirNZ.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2014
Orange blossom fills the nose, and the taste is super flavourful and creamy with flavours full of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, musk and exotic spices with a touch of oak adding a biscuity complexity and a crispness to the long clean finish. Ticks the boxes for the generic description – somewhere between Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Serve lightly chilled, just to tone the unctuous flavours down. From the Waikahu Vineyard, this was the Viognier Trophy winner at the Hawkes Bay Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet is all nougat and cream, quite delicate at first but getting more and more fragrant as the wine opens up. Funky, mealy and mouth-coating creamy with a beautifully balanced citrus, a touch of apricot and savoury oak intrigue. There’s a spicy brightness to the finish and very good length. From a collection of vineyard sites in the Bay with natural ferment occurring in 40% of the blend. Four golds and a Trophy this year.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Ferment Gisborne Chardonnay 2013
This seems to be departure from previous chardonnays under this label. The shy bouquet is delicately fragrant but the taste is creamy and mealy with biscuity oak and funky notes. It's spicy and bright with tropical fruit to the fore – dried banana and melon come to mind – and the finish is rounded, mouthfilling and long with exceptional length. Garnering complexity as the flavours linger, it’s a wine that can be cellared with confidence. From two sites in Gisborne with natural ferment occurring in 30% of the blend. Overall Champion at the Gisborne Regional Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2013 – Hawkes Bay
The fragrance is mealy with a lemon and butterscotch infusion, becoming more smoky as the wine opens up, and the taste is ultra malty and funky – it is 100% wild yeast ferment, the first time that Nick has achieved it. Full-bodied with a juicy brightness and flavours of stonefruit, citrus and toasty oak combining in harmony. There’s a slightly earthy, flinty undercurrent and touches of sweet orange also come through. Complex and layered with fantastic mouthfeel and length, it is set to evolve beautifully over the next few years. Gold AirNZ and Champion Wine of the Show at the Hawkes Bay Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Grenache 2013
Bright black cherry red in hue with crimson pink edges. A warm smelling wine with sweet toasty oak, peppery spices and juicy mixed berries. Distinctly Grenache with its medium-boded palate weight, hints of tar, a touch of leather and fruit in the strawberry, raspberry and red plum spectrum with creamy oak and aromatic pepper-infused spices. Very smooth in its delivery yet structured on the finish. Heading towards European in style.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2013
Rather more concentrated in its inky purple red hue, this is rather shy on the nose but makes up for this in the full-bodied, concentrated, meaty palate. Dark and savoury tasting, yet quite lifted in the mid to front palate with blackberry and purple plum fruit and quite firm tannins at this stage of its life. An array of florals and aromatic spices add to its charm while a juicy vinous sweetness adorns the finish. Cheese works beautifully to cut through the tannins. Gold AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Organic Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Boysenberry red, fine looking in appearance. The rich plummy aroma is infused with earthy savoury notes, smoky oak and leather. This shows the floral traits of Merlot beautifully in the palate. It's juicy and succulent with a silky edge to the grippy tannins and has a touch of cigar box and a leafy note coming through on the finish. Gold NZIWS and Hawkes Bay. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2013
Inky blackberry red. Crushed chocolate biscuits and crushed cherries on the nose – Black Forest comes to mind while creamy oak adds to the aromatic allure and charm. A baby wine at this stage of its life, it is massively tannic and dry, but look past that and there are some very desirable traits coming through. Classic Merlot in a Bordeaux style with cigar box, leather, violets, plums, cake spices, sappy notes and underlying acidity to aid and abet its cellar potential. A wine to cellar but will be totally worth it – it just needs patience and time. Silver AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013
Inky blackberry red. Intriguing chocolate chicory notes on the creamy yet savoury oak nose. In contrast to the Merlot tasted before it, this is fine and flowing in the palate. It tastes dark and savoury with abundant wood / oak notes and plum and cassis fruit. The fruit is bright, the oak is fine and classy, the tannins are silky, the wine is elegant and the finish is long and lingering. Silver AirNZ.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 5 Nov 2014
High Price, Low Price
Wines were tasted blind.

Peter Yealands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
The lemonade hue is a clue to a new vintage wine and with its pungent herbaceous aroma and bright tangy, citrus, herb, flint and grilled pineapple flavours it couldn’t be anything other than our nation's number one white variety. Fresh, lively, perfect served ice cold as a quenching summer sipper.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
While a similar hue to the previous sauv, the concentrated grapefruit aroma suggests this is a much more serious wine and the taste confirms it. A deliciously rich, full-bodied and sophisticated wine with a savoury wild yeast infusion to the rounded tropical fruit flavours with a touch of tarragon to the sweet citrussy finish that lingers in a most harmonious way.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Sacred Hill HALO Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
Light gold with a tantalising sweet toasty aroma reminiscent a little of fresh-out-of-the-oven just buttered croissants and a taste crammed with caramel, citrus and juicy nectarine with a toasty savoury undercurrent to the long creamy finish. Just so smooth and easy-going in a medium-bodied package, a great Xmas party socialising wine and classy drinking for the price.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Obsidian Reserve Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2013
This has a medium gold lustre to the glossy hue and is smoky and toasty on the nose with hints of grilled peach that's joined in the palate with citrus. A rich, rounded, full-bodied wine with a spicy oak brightness, an exciting mealy savouriness, lovely smooth edges and a powerful creamy finish with tantalising touches of nougat.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Hawkshead Central Otago Pinot Gris 2013
This light glossy lemon gold wine with an aroma of pear drops and strudel spices joined by citrus in the palate puts you right in the Pinot Gris zone but there's also a heady hint of apricot that could have you leaning towards Viognier momentarily. A fascinating wine, just off dry in style, it is weighty and textural with a touch of savouriness on the lingering finish. From the Gibbston Valley, and as Andrew said, "it is more interesting than Pinot Gris usually is."
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Wairau River Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014
This spicy, zesty, light gold coloured wine is a little more typical Pinot Gris with an orchard fruit bouquet and apple, pear and citrus the dominant flavours. Some vanilla notes on the finish add creaminess and complexity. A pleasing and reasonably dry style.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Poggio Civetta Toscano Rosso 2013 – Tuscany, Italy
Bright ruby crimson, a little like young pinot noir in colour, but the old school European aroma has you going in a different direction. Plump red fruit and bitumen infuses the smoky, savoury scent and the juicy, savoury taste has a tarry note to the spiced cherry and raspberry flavours. Smooth in its flow with medium bodied palate weight, a twist of pepper and a bright clean finish, it is made from a blend of Sangiovese and Syrah.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Olagosa Reserva Rioja 2006 – Rioja, Spain
This is a dark red colour with lashings of smoky vanillin American oak filling the bouquet that has a mellow soft aura that perhaps indicates some age – I am immediately reminded of the sumptuous Spanish Riojas from my early wine appreciation days. It’s succulent and spicy with again a mellow character to the red fruit flavours, a smoky cigar box finish and brightness to the lingering aftertaste. The tannins are nicely resolved, which makes it so smooth and flowing. If you like this classic style of wine you should not be disappointed in this delicious offering so long as you get a bottle that is as perfect as the one poured into my glass on the night. A blend of 88% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha and 4% Mazuelo.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Te Mata Coleraine 2011 - Hawkes Bay
Boysenberry red in hue, concentrated in appearance and also in aroma and taste. My first impression from the ultra-savoury, smoky, leathery, almost tarry scent was Bordeaux and the taste kept me on the same path. It's tight as tight can be with fine grippy tannins, underlying dried herbs, a profound concentration of leather, smoke and cedar with fruit a little shy although dried blackcurrants do come to mind. Made from a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, this Hawkes Bay icon could be cellared for 20 years – or more. Decant or pour into a big glass for drinking right now to realise its full potential.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $79.99.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Western Australia
Blackberry red in hue with a spicy oak scent infused with bright red fruits and hints of liquorice. It smells inviting and clean and is succulent and spicy in the juicy palate with plump fleshy currants and cherries, hints of mint and a smoky cigar box finish. Smooth and seductive drinking already yet it has a well-structured backbone that will let it develop in the cellar for a year or three.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2007 – Barossa Valley, Australia
Deep black red, very dense in hue, only the slight bricking edge gives a clue to some age. Sweet brambly fruit on the nose and full, fleshy and spicy in the palate with smoky sweet oak, strawberry chocolate and spiced plums the primary flavours. There is so much going on in this wine that has accrued a pleasing mellow character with cedar, camphor, nutmeg, liquorice and menthol tobacco emerging as the wine flows. There is some grip to the plush velvety tannins, like velvet rubbed the wrong way, and the finish is long and fulfilling. A treat to try.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $239.00.

Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Deep black red with a crimson-like edge, this is concentrated with a spicy brightness and fruit complexity. A succulent wine with firm tannins, a lovely smoky savouriness and layers of mulberries, chocolate and pepper, it seems so young compared to the previous wine and I wonder what complexities this delicious wine will accrue with another 5 years - it is from such a terrific vintage and definitely has the cellaring legs.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

* * * * * * * * *

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 oportunity 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
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 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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