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

June 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 – 10 Jun 2015
Classic wines from classic regions
Wines were tasted blind.

Gancia Asti DOCG NV – Piedmont, Northern Italy
The colour is a lustrous lemon gold with a very fine bead appearing magically from the bottom of the glass creating a fine lacy rim. The bouquet is fresh and fruity like a Moscato should be, and the taste is vibrant, clean and refreshing with flavours of backyard grapes and juicy pears with a touch of sweetness and a foamy mouthfeel. A delicious Spumante that must be served icy cold and while normally enjoyed as an aperitif, with its low alcohols it is a fantastic 'cooks wine' and can be served as a desert accompaniment too.
7.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Straw gold in hue with touches of stonefruit and citrus infusing the slightly sweaty herbaceous bouquet, then abundant pineapple, citrus and greengage plum flavours fill the vibrantly tangy palate. Pungent and expressive with a finish that lasts and lasts, it’s not too aggressive which makes it a very consumer friendly style. Sharon, who doesn’t usually like Sauvignon Blanc, was waxing lyrical about how good freshly shucked oysters and this benchmark label would be.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
The colour is medium gold with a lustrous sheen, the bouquet is smoky and creamy with touches of grilled peach and there is a nutty savoury richness to the mouthfilling taste. Quite flinty on the front palate but full and rounded on the back palate with grapefruit-like acidity adding zing and sweet smoky oak adding complexity. A textural wine with a slightly grainy feel mid palate yet the finish is long and creamy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Archangel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012
There's a brightness to the black cherry hue and the bouquet has an enticing smoky savoury allure with a Morello cherry overtone. Quite firm in the palate with crushed velvet tannins, noticeable upfront acidity that melds into the cranberry and plum flavours, a very appealing smoky undercurrent and a long savoury finish. Quite a meaty wine and seemingly quite youthful, enjoy now or let it continue to evolve in your cellar for a while. From a vineyard between Queensberry and Luggate on SH6, closer to Wanaka than Cromwell and with successive AirNZ golds for this and the following vintage, it is definitely a label to watch.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.

Olagosa Crianza Rioja 2012 – Spain
A blend of 90% Tempranillo with Garnacha and Mazuelo, this is a dark plummy red colour, the perfumed bouquet has floral nuances to the vanillin oak and ‘cherry ripe’ scents – it smells juicy and sweet but the first taste is quite savoury. A fleshy medium-bodied wine that's more in the old fashioned American oak Rioja style with a touch of tobacco, a hint of mocha, well balanced underlying acidity and a juicy ripe cherry and redcurrant finish, then the lingering aftertaste has a savoury, smoky aura. A wine labelled Crianza must have spent at least one year in oak barrels, this had 16 months and was aged for 6 months further in the bottle before release. Looking very good on the night.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Braida Montebruna Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2013 – Piedmont, Italy
Blackcurrant red with bright pinky edges. There's a momentary touch of VA on the nose which is savoury and earthy with hints of cigar box and a dark fruit jam. Firm tannins are an upfront feature with refreshing bramble fruit acidity and a suggestion of peppery spices with touches of leather and a little bit of manure. It has a full mid palate and while it initially seems quite dry it fills out nicely on the lingering finish where the red berry fruits loitering in the background come right to the fore. A modern label presentation from this classic wine region, enjoy now with food or cellar for a while.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Zolla Primitivo di Manduria 2013 – Puglia, Italy
Dark red with blackcurrant edges. A little shy on the nose at first then aromatic red fruits, hints of dried peel, cigar box and sweet leather emerge. Full and fleshy in the velvety textured palate with chocolate and mocha, vanillin oak, dried currants, hints of violets and a long spicy finish with accents of orange peel and pepper and touches of graphite. Vinous savouriness balances the fruit sweetness beautifully and a slightly earthy rusticity emerges as the flavours linger. On the medium side of full bodied and classy bottle presentation too.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Seghesio Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
Youthful dark red in hue. Chocolate and cocoa powder fill the bouquet and carry through to the fine textured, peppery palate. It's fine, firm and dry in the mouth but voluptuous and juicy at the same time with lashings of savoury vanillin oak. Some pencil shavings infiltrate the flavours and the redcurrant fruit is resplendent on the long, full finish. Pretty seductive already but will benefit from bottle age. Interesting to do the Primitivo and the Zin one after the other, an educational comparison - thank you.
14.8% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

Brown Brothers 1889 Shiraz 2013 – Heathcote, Victoria, Australia
Rich purple red. Perfumed with sweet savoury oak, plump juicy cherries and vanilla, this gorgeous smelling wine is very fine textured and silky in the mouth with touches of chocolate, cake spices, hints of pepper and juicy red fruits. A medium bodied wine in the realm of Aussie Shiraz, it's very drinkable and a great price too. 4 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Chalk Hill Luna McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Youthful dark red with crimson edges. The sweet chocolatey oak on the nose whisks us to Australia and the McLaren Vale yet it is it is showing its youth in the palate with its slightly grippy tannin structure and underlying freshness. Full of pepper and spice with plum and prune fruit and a touch of leather on the savoury finish, there is something a little different and more cooler climate than the voluptuous previous vintage – the clue is on the back label where it mentions the addition of a small parcel of Barbera.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia Late Harvested Noble Riesling 2009 – King Valley, Victoria, Australia
Orange tinged gold like the colour of a near setting sun. The bouquet is all candied citrus, juicy tropical fruit and honey and the clue to its variety in the blind tasting is the subtle suggestion of kero that comes through in the taste. Sweet and viscous with loads and loads of a lighter delicate style of runny honey and exquisitely balanced and refreshing acidity to ensure it is never at all cloying. With its deliciously long finish this is a gorgeous example of a sweet wine made from botrytis-riddled grapes. According to the Brown Brothers website, John Brown Snr was the first Australia winemaker to purposely harness the botrytis to make this style of wine, back in 1962.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99 / 375-ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Jun 2015
High Price Low Price
Wines were tasted blind.

Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay 2013 – California, USA
Light glossy gold with a rich, concentrated oatmeal bouquet and toasty, creamy succulent nectarine flavours, hints of citrus zest, an estery youthful bubblegum almost confectionary sweetness and a long juicy finish with a rounded, nutty savoury complexity. Juicy is definitely the key word for this conversation starter.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012 – California, USA
Light yellow gold with a bouquet that is rich and nutty, and a ripe, creamy taste with a spicy oak brightness. Accents of lime infuse juicy melon and tropical fruit. A tighter, firmer, drier and slightly grainier wine in respect of the two, a wine that will fatten up with a little more time. After the conversation starter, a more elegant dinner style.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Pykes Clare Valley Riesling 2014 – South Australia
Straw gold in hue with a delicately aromatic bouquet that hints of apple blossom and the most subtle suggestion of lime curd. A vibrant, youthful, dry style of Riesling, still a little mouth-puckery at this early stage of its life, with apple the dominant fruit, a little ginger-like spritz and a salted lime tang to the finish. Accompany with seafood that you would usually serve with a wedge of lemon, or let it develop in the cellar for a while.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

Fifth Bridge Central Otago Riesling 2011
Light lemon gold with a concentrated bouquet of lime, talc, honeysuckle and hints of marmalade. Rich and powerful in an off dry style, fruit that’s reminiscent of baked apple with honey and date, an intriguing earthy underlay with nuances of sewing machine oil / kero, and just a touch of sweetness to foil the crisp acidity on the lingering finish. With its layers of richness and complexity it’s enjoyable now but will continue to evolve in the cellar. Made by the Diceys who also produce the Ceres label.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Ballasalla Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
This translucent tamarillo-hued wine has smoky overtones to the cherry jam bouquet and it is earthy and savoury to the taste with touches of dried herbs, piquant tamarillo-like acidity and sweeter red cherries and fruit cake mix. Medium-bodied with a dry finish, this is the second label of Folding Hill.
17% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Escarpment Single Vineyard 'Pahi' Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012
A deeply translucent ruby garnet hued wine with dark berry fruit aromatics infusing creamy vanillin oak - it smells layered and complex. While initially muscular and tight with velvet-rubbed-the-wrong-way tannins, this smoky, savoury wine opens up to reveal a warm texture with plums, cherries, creamy oak and a long, deep, multifaceted finish. One to cellar or decant now and serve in a Burgundy glass for the utmost enjoyment.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $69.99.

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2011 – Central Italy
Fading translucent cherry red. So European on the nose, it’s more savoury than fruity with a tea-like tannin character that carries through to the palate. Initially very dry and tannic then a vinous complexity emerges and the wine becomes more rounded and endearing as it opens up in the small XL5 tiny tasting glass. I recommend decanting.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Sebastiani Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
Vivid purple black with crimson edges, the bouquet is all sweet smoky oak with tantalising touches of strawberry-filled chocolates and the smooth, full-bodied taste is creamy, savoury and chocolatey with lashings of plums and strawberry fruit and a tickle of spice. Heady and succulent with lush plush flavours that simply ooze hot climate grape growing, it fooled some of us into thinking it was its alias Primitivo from Southern Italy.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Ravenswood Sonoma Old Vines Zinfandel 2012 – California, USA
The red black hue is fine in appearance, the bouquet is all chocolate, leather and sappy cedar and the fine, silky, smooth textured palate is initially slightly leathery then juicy, spicy, peppery flavours kick in, chocolate emerges again and the finish is long, elegant and creamy with well-balanced savouriness.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

The Pugilist Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
Dark purple red, fine in appearance. Dried herbs, bitumen and bramble fruit on the nose with a smidgen of orange chocolate wafting through. Medium to full-bodied to the taste with fleshy red fruits, cocoa and touches of cedar. It seems sweet, juicy and easy-going with soft-centred firm-edged tannins and finishes dry.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Wynns Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – South Australia
Inky dark red with an enticing vanillin oak bouquet embellished with smoky cedar, chocolate and cassis. Savoury and spicy in the plush textured palate with very dry firm tannins, creamy oak and blackcurrant and plum fruit – and while initially there is a prickly, peppery feel it rounds out beautifully and finishes smooth and long. A lovely wine to accompany juicy rare steak that will cut right through the tannins - or put away in the cellar for a while.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

* * * * * * * * *

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 www.firstglass.co.nz 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.
February 2015 tasting notes.
March 2015 tasting notes.
April 2015 tasting notes.
May 2015 tasting notes.
June 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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