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Wednesday Round-up - the 2016 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

February 2016
[ 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 Feb 2016
Sparklings, Aromatics and Aussie Reds
Wines were tasted blind.

Champagne Lanson White Label Sec NV – France
Beautifully presented in a white bottle, this is star gold in the glass with tiny bubbles rising to create a rim of lace. The hedonist scent of bakers yeast and lemon brioche is simply glorious and the scent also has a deeply savoury aura. The sparkly taste has all that together with toasty layers and a wonderful fleshy peachy richness – like peach jam on toast with a sweet citrussy zing. It has 27 g/l residual sweetness, yet it finishes delectably savoury and dry. 'Sec' means 'dry' but is used on Champagne to denote 'off dry'. Classy both in presentation and taste.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $68.99.

Cloudy Bay Pelorus Brut Methode NV – Marlborough
Gemmy lemon-hued in the glass. The bouquet is savoury with toasty yeast autolysis notes and the most subtle nuance of bacon. Then in the mouth it is crisp, dry, zesty and full of energetic bubbles that dance across the tongue and a mouthfilling bready savouriness not only from the time on yeast lees but also from the use of oak in the cuvee. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with at least two years bottle ageing, it finishes with the zing of apple and citrus and leaves an exceptionally long aftertaste with malty leesy flavours lingering.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.

Hunters Mirumiru NV – Marlborough
Straw gold with delicate lemon hues and tiny bubbles levitating to the rim. The bouquet offers up a vanilla creaminess, a suggestion of creaming soda, a hint of toast – something delicate yet tantalising in there. Beautifully rounded and creamy in the mouth with the bubbles breaking softly into foam, a harmonious citrussy brightness all the way through and a hint of rosehip on the finish. This blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier isn't too bold or edgy, giving it all round appeal.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Domaine du Vieux Preche Sancerre 2013 – France
Light gold, quite oily in appearance. The bold aroma is unusual - struck match, sewing machine oil and yellow fruit reminiscent of tropical guavas and melon. Quite hot, flinty, oily, earthy and seemingly alcoholic in the mouth (even though the abv is stated as 12.5%). While smooth in its flow it's a high acid wine with an assertive finish that is characteristic of the green pungency of the sauvignon blanc grape.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Saint Clair Premium Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Palest of citrine with an adamantine lustre to the hue. Bursting with green passionfruit both on the nose and in the mouth – it's vibrant and fresh and juicy and fruity with a vivacious brightness and a long flavoursome rounded finish with the classic character of cut grass and loads of zingy citrus and tropical fruit. Easy to see why people around the world love NZSB.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Gris 2015
Light gold. Initially shy on the nose (especially after SB) but opens up nicely to reveal vanilla and spice poached apples and pear. In the palate the fruit echoes the bouquet with honey and spice layers and a touch of viscosity adding richness to the texture. It's off dry in sweetness level and slips down very easily. Partially wild fermented with 10 g/l residual sugar, it's quite rich on its own – I think it needs food. Elite Gold AirNZ 2015.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Gemtree Uncut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Black red of considerable density. The bouquet is all chocolate, mocha and crushed mulberries with a lovely nuance of mint. Quite firm in the palate – the first red of the night so tannins quite noticeable in this context. Ripe berry fruit is supported by savoury French oak with hints of leather, allspice and a touch of acidity. "A cracker of a vintage," says Sam. Enjoy now with food or ideally put away for a while. Gold NZIWS 2015.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier 2013 – South Australia
Inky purple red, dense right to the crimson-bright rim. A touch of rose petal and a dusting of chocolate infuse the lifted bouquet with the floral notes no doubt from the 5% Viognier. A blockbuster of a red with loads and loads of flavour, it is firm and muscular and absolutely rippling with polish. Dark fruited, savoury and meaty with hints of vanilla, chocolate, coffee bean and chicory, it's more cake spicy than peppery and has a lovely supple mouthfeel as the chocolate coated flavours linger. Truly delicious but definitely needs time to evolve in the cellar as the tannins are quite grippy on the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2015.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

St Johns Road Blood and Courage Barossa Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Dark red, starting to garner a burnished hue that suggests a little age. All chocolate on the nose – chocolate raisins and savoury oak, then in the mouth there's a soft-centred chocolate smoothness with little vibes of pepper, mocha and savoury oak and the tannins are smooth, plump and pillowy with a velvety flow. Warm on the finish with a harmonious mouthfeel, it's a mellow Shiraz that is ready to drink. Made by Phil Lehmann – son of the late Peter, with fruit from the Greenock sub region.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – South Australia
Purple red with a deep dark core. Juicy currants on the nose ooze ripeness, and chocolate layers are exciting, yet the bouquet is embossed with cedar and has Cabernet's classic herbal edge. Youthful in the palate with fine tannins and a pleasing savoury undercurrent, it's bright and juicy with classic cassis, plum and pencil box and a lovely minty freshness.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale Church Block CSM 2013 – South Australia
Inky black red in hue – seemingly opaque and impenetrable. The concentrated deep, dark, brooding bouquet also offers up a berry brightness, chocolate biscuits and cake spices. Full bodied and creamy in the mouth with thick velvety tannins, mocha, spices and savoury notes with youthful acidity adding brightness and a mouthfilling finish that is well integrated and seamless. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz and 13% Merlot with 18 months in both French and American oak.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 Feb 2016
Top Value
Wines were tasted blind.

Forrest The Valleys Marlborough Riesling 2010
The colour is golden making you think this gloriously aromatic, honey-scented Riesling has a little age and indeed it does. And the taste is mouthfilling and ravishing with honeysuckle, toasted lime and orange ginger marmalade filling the palate that's bright from the zesty acidity and has a long, juicy aftertaste where the honey layers are rounded and make it seem off dry. A fantastic aperitif wine that makes a fantastic start to an evening. Gold Medal NZIWS 2015.
11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Saint Clair Premium Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Light lemon gold with a bouquet that offers up a delicate scent of vanilla poached pear that don’t foretell of the much bolder bright and fresh flavours crammed with tropical fruit salad, mandarin, juicy stonefruit and a lingering butter caramel mouthfeel. Not much influence of oak yet lots to like in this tasty wine that evolves with every sip.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Theory and Practice Gisborne Chardonnay 2014
Medium gold with an oily appearance. Savoury on the nose but all buttered oak and caramel in the palate with a smooth flow, orange zest accents adding brightness, a touch of spicy oak and a subtle funky mealiness imparting a savoury inflection. Made by Ant McKenzie, this is a different style to his similarly labelled Hawkes Bay wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Xanadu Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay 2012 - Western Australia
This glossy pale gold, toasty oak scented chardonnay immediately whisks me to Australia as the palate so dry and elegant with grilled pineapple playing a leading tropical fruit role together with citrus, all the while it has a lovely savoury oak disposition and a whiff of gunsmoke. Fermented with wild yeasts in French oak barriques, it's layered and complex with a long mouth-coating finish underpinned by bright acidity – an essential attribute for longevity.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $84.99.

Sea Level Home Block Nelson Pinot Gris 2015
A straw gold wine with a concentrated bouquet of musky spices infusing stone fruit, pear drops and quince. The concentration continues into the juicy and flavoursome palate that's just off dry in sweetness level and echoes the traits on the nose with a zing of citrus and ginger, and the aftertaste lingers deliciously.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2015
Moderate gold in hue with a bouquet of apples both fresh with skin on and honey-baked. Honey is also the star performer in the palate that's sweet and viscous in texture. It's gorgeously opulent and mimics the rich pinot gris styles from Alsace. Wild ferment and maturation in French oak, plus the heady alcohol, adds to the wine's complexity and rounds out the acidity with baked apples and spice coming through again on the aftertaste. Decadent and unctuous.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014
Rich ruby hued. Powerful on the nose with aromas of savoury oak, a subtle earthiness and bottled spiced cherries. Juicy yet firm in the palate with a silky edge to the pillowy tannins, a lovely savouriness that balances the bittersweet red fruits. This is a multi-layered pinot with something new to discover with every sip – evens hints of rosemary and leather. Opening up nicely and the consensus of the tasters around me was that it is easy to drink.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Saint Premium Selection Hawkes Bay Malbec 2014
Inky blackberry red. Concentrated on the nose with opulent aromas offering up savoury oak, cake spices, plums and brambles. Quite savoury, meaty and dark-fruited in the palate with profound concentration. The savoury oak quite brooding, the leathery tannins firm and assertive, these traits offset with a touch of spice and a beguiling rose hip floral lift to the finish, then a touch of anise/liquorice as the powerful flavours lingers. From the Gimblett Gravels region and incredible value.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Blackberry red. Redcurrants, leather, cedar, pencils and herbs on the nose with a smidgen of mint wafting through but the mint much more dominate in the palate where the fruit is concentrated and classically Cabernet with bitey blackcurrant / redcurrant fruit, cedar, tobacco, dried herbs and leather. Beautifully structured and concentrated wine with fine tannins and lovely clarity – this is what good Cabernet is all about and definitely worth trying at this price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Taylors The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Dark red with a burnished aura that hints of age. The rounded bouquet shows bottle aged characters with a cocoa layer to the vanillin oak and mint that carries through to the palate. First mouthfeel impression is that the bottle development is starting to disintegrate the tannins but as the wine flows the tannins are deceptively plump and fleshy as they are actually quite assertive. Flavours are reminiscent of cocoa, vanilla, cedar, cigar box and dried herbs with rosemary and mint infusing slightly jammy plum and cassis fruit and an extremely long finish savoury oak finish with hints of jaffa and lifted bright acidity that will hold it on this drinking plateau for a while.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $149.99.

Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Crimson-edged inky purple red. Fresh, young wine aromas of cherry, vanilla and hints of chocolatey oak. The tannins are big and just a little drying but they are offset by ripe juicy red and black fruits with savoury oak, chocolate, hints of pepper and loads of cake spice. Fantastically long aftertaste with hints of mint.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

* * * * * * * * *

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
2016 Tastings
January 2016 tasting notes.
February 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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