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

May 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 – 17 May 2017
Mostly New New New
Wines were tasted blind.

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards ‘Limeworks' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
The attractive bouquet of peach and hazelnut carries through to the smoky savoury palate. It's smooth, soft and creamy with harmonious malt and oatmeal and a long stylish finish with the peachy flavours lingering deliciously. Five star value.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2014
The bouquet is reminiscent of vanilla custard and spiced apricot and the mellow taste backs up the golden colour that hints of a little age. With flavours like juicy nectarine, zingy citrus, an exotic pepper like papaya seeds and a touch of cedar, it’s soft, rounded and ready to go.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Tony Bish ‘Heartwood’ Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
A Burgundian influenced chardonnay that smells a little steely with touches of lime pith and dried hay, The first taste is quite restrained, flinty and lean with fruit initially reminiscent of apple and kiwano (horned melon) then it fleshes up nicely with a juicy finish where French oak (25% new) and stonefruit come more into play. “Pretty smart,” says Kingsley adding it will develop into something special with time.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Craft Farm Home Vineyard Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2014
From the southern banks of the Karamu Stream near Havelock North, this is vibrant yellow gold in the glass, the heady bouquet is immediately redolent of spicy, floral Gewurztraminer with the addition of a butter honey layer and it’s powerful in the soft, rounded, off dry palate with flavours suggestive of Turkish Delight, rose petal, apricot and white pepper. Ant McKenzie’s own wine with tank and barrel fermentation.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Burn Cottage Moonlight Race Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A youthful ruby purple hue introduces this brooding style of pinot where deep inhaling reveals rosehips and a waft of grapey sweetness. The taste is foremost savoury with moderately firm pinot tannins and a salty note coming through. It’s a delicate, medium-bodied wine with fruit reminiscent of purple grapes and cranberry jelly and a concentrated finish. From a number of vineyard sites, it’s biodynamic and organic with low sulphides and natural fermentation.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $40.99.

Castille Armado Tempranillo Reserva 2009 - Valdepenas, Spain
Dark red with some bricking to the edges. The bouquet is savoury and leathery with just a hint of citrus and the taste is concentrated with light but ripe juicy brambles, slightly dusty tannins, a savoury gamey undercurrent and a dry finish with a winey sweetness. With the bottle age the fruit is starting to fade as the complex bottle age characters take over. Price to enjoy and drinking well now.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Ernesto Cantina Animal Malbec 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina
Fine dark red with a savoury, slightly gamey bouquet that also suggests red plum skins. Spicy and bright upfront in the fine textured palate that has gamey, leathery, slightly barnyard connotations. The finish becomes quite fleshy with touches of chocolate and sour cherry. ‘Natural Wine’ adorns the label and it’s organic too.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.

I Muri Primitivo 2015 - Puglia, Italy
Inky purple red, showing its youth. The bouquet is crammed with berry fruit and a well balanced savoury oak allure. It's spicy and peppery in the initially firm, savoury, slightly gamey palate with juicy red fruits, soft velvety tannins and a long fleshy finish with lingering notes of cranberry jelly. Medium bodied with Southern Italy generosity.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - California, USA
Inky dark red with ripe, juicy, red and black berries and hints of chocolate filling the bouquet. Fine silky tannins are an attractive feature with touches of vanilla, spice, rosewood and cedar and a long, fine elegant finish with lingering nuances of redcurrant jelly. Very smart indeed.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Three Dark Horses McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 - South Australia
Very youthful purple red. The inviting bouquet offers up violets, purple plums, hints of vanilla and cedar and the taste is concentrated with dusty tannins and loads of spice and pepper. It’s full-bodied and creamy to the taste with mocha, red liquorice, raspberry jam, well balanced spicy oak and a long fine finish. Pretty much a blockbuster in tonight’s scheme of things tonight.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Chocolate Box Barossa Shiraz 2015 - South Australia
This big, bold wine is deep in colour, the bouquet is full of creamy oak, juicy ripe berries and chocolate and the taste is spicy and peppery with juicy bramble fruit soaking into the slightly sappy vanillin oak while firm muscular tannins add grip and the aftertaste is long and savoury. With its 15% alcohol, it’s quite simply massive.
15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 10 May 2017
An evening with Steven Bennett MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Champagne Paul Louis Martin Bouzy Grand Cru NV – Riems, France
A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, this is a very stylish, savoury, yeasty, style of bubbles all the way through. It has an attractive baking bread scent and the complex flavours offer up green grape and lemony tones, just ripe peach and a salivating, crisp, dry and every so slightly salty finish. Primes the palate for the evening ahead in the nicest possible way.
12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $65.99.

The Cups and Rings Godello 2015 – D.O. Monterrei, Spain
Light golden in colour, with richness to the hue. The bouquet is savoury with hints of yeast lees and it is crisp, dry, flinty and textural in the palate with peach skin, hints of apricot and a spicy ginger-like heat without the ginger taste. It has mouth-watering acidity and the delicate fruit finish is long and dry with a sucking-on-a-river-stone mouthfeel. 20% fermented in old oak. Match to seafood especially oysters.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Montsable Chardonnay 2015 – Pays d’Oc, Languedoc, France
Montsable, pronounced ‘mont-sar-blay’ offers up hazelnut skin aromas and is foremost savoury in the palate. There's a touch of creaminess to the texture, a vague nuance of lemon and honey, and the nutty finish is long and expansive. 20% fermented in oak, but no oak flavours, a nice little lunch time wine.
12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.

Viento Aliseo Rosado 2015 – Castille La Mancha, Spain
Pale coral in hue with a hint of strawberry and rosehip to the bouquet and spicy and peppery upfront in the textural palate. It’s bone dry yet ultra refreshing with its juicy, mouthwatering summer berry flavours nicely offset by a touch of salinity and a terrifically long finish where the spicy nuances emerge again. Made from the Bolbal grape, this is organic and biodynamic.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Mont Rocher Carignan 'Veilles Vignes' 2014 – Pay's d’Herault, France
Deeply translucent ruby red. The bouquet immediately whisks you to Europe with its savoury, slightly leathery nuances and hints of blue fruits coming through. Very dry in the palate where the tannins are fine with a light sense of grip. A lighter styled red made from Carignan grapes with minimal use of oak. I get a sense of the vineyard – the leaves, the berries, the clay, the vineyard workers' sweat. It’s juicy with purity of fruit and a long finish. A lighter styled red that definitely has its place.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Argento Mendoza Shiraz 2013 – Argentina
Bright shiny red. The scent of ripe juicy blackberries and raspberries tempt the nose and it is spicy and bright in the medium bodied palate with juicy berries, cake spices, a hint of pepper and a touch of vanillin oak all wrapped up in soft velvety tannins. Steve says Argentina is the most exciting Southern Hemisphere country in the world but the demand here in NZ is for its Malbec, not Shiraz, hence the ridiculous price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

The Cups & Rings Mencia 2014 – D.O. Bierzo, Spain
A rich, dark, deeply translucent red in the glass. There’s profoundness to the savoury, berry-embossed nose and it screams Europe in the palate. It has all of those earthy, savoury, tarry, peppery nuances with fine youthful tannins and very concentrated juicy red fruits that remind me of cranberries and red guavas – yes, guava jelly – with a touch of salinity to the very long and very succulent finish. An unoaked red made from the Mencia grape, it will develop in the bottle for several years.
13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Discovery Point Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014
Deeply translucent Burgundy red. Ah – NZ pinot – it smells sensually smoky and savoury with bittersweet red fruit and pinosity. It’s made in a medium-bodied Burgundian style with only old oak contact and flows across the palate with its fine silky tannins offering depth and concentration of juicy red fruit together with cake spices, a zing of acidity, sappy notes and a bright, salivating finish. This is Steve’s own label with Rob McDonald holding the winemaking reins.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.

Thorny Devil Old Vine Barossa Grenache 2015 – South Australia
A little jammy on the nose. Bright, lively and creamy in the palate with juicy red fruit reminiscent of blueberries and raspberries together with cakes spices, hints of pepper and a touch of salinity to the long juicy finish that has a sucking-a-cherry-stone feel. A fine tannined, delicately spicy wine with what seems like medium bodied palate weight (the alcohol is masked by the succulent fruit) and a welcome savoury bent as the wine lingers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Es lo Que Hay Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2011 – Calataylud, Spain
Rich red black. Concentrated cherry jam and aromatic herbs fill the bouquet and it’s ripe and juicy in the full-bodied palate where the flirty high alcohol is immediately heady. It’s crammed with ripe, juicy, succulent blue and red fruits with a touch of graphite and iodine in behind and the finish is incredibly long with firm grunty tannins taking command. ‘Es lo que hay’ means ‘it is what it is’ and it definitely created a buzz around the room. Steve says this unoaked red will live 30 or 40 years but as it is unfined and unfiltered, expect the bottle to throw a huge amount of sediment.
15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Sierra Cantabria Rioja Gran Reserva 2005 – Rioja Alavesa, Spain
Bright black red with some bricking starting to show on the edges. The bouquet is aromatic and enticing with its concentrated scent of plums, cherries, spice, hints of vanilla and cedar. Full of flavour in the palate with bright acidity, concentrated red berries, hints of cigar box and vanilla, savoury / tarry notes in the background, still youthful slightly chalky tannins and a long, dry finish. Made from 98% Tempranillo and 2% Graciano grapes, aged for 24 months in American oak (25% new) then bottled unfiltered and further matured before release.
14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $46.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting – 3 May 2017
Simply Delicious
Wines were tasted blind.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This is a light gold hue and it’s toasty on the nose and youthful in the citrussy palate with fresh oak to the fore, juicy peach and nectarine, apricot pie with crispy caramelised edges, hints of custard and a well balanced savouriness on the lingering finish. Just a little tight however this brand new release is not fully broken out of its cocoon just yet. One to watch with anticipation.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light yellow oak with a bouquet that’s reminiscent of hazelnut oatmeal biscuits. The first sip seems mild and mellow then bold toasty oak bursts through. It’s bright with fresh acidity, a flinty undercurrent, fruit reminiscent of grilled peach and a very dry finish that’s offset with honey-coated oatmeal as the mouthfilling flavours linger. Silver NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
The fascinating bouquet of this glossy light gold wine offers up wild yeast funk with slight sizzled butter notes and stonefruit. It seems quite Burgundian in the seamless palate with mellow malo notes, lemonade citrus, lovely seasoned French oak and a long dry finish that expands with mouthfilling vinosity and lingering flavours of nectarine and peach. Trophy AirNZ 2015.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

The Landing Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2015
Full of nutty oak on the nose with hints of stonefruit and a waft of gunsmoke an. Rich in the palate with well integrated nutty savoury oak, loads of tingling spice, malo buttery notes, juicy tropical fruit and a hint of tantalising whisper of salinity – perhaps from the seasoning of the oak. Looking very classy tonight.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.

Kahurangi Nelson Gewurztraminer 2014
This has a classic rose petal bouquet and it is juicy and spicy in the palate with viscosity to the mouthfeel, lychee-like fruit flavours and a white pepper and ginger-like heat. It’s a soft, low acid style and the sweetness level is off dry. It’s ready to drink and enjoy now and why not at the price.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.

Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2005 – Mosel, Germany
Brilliant yellow gold in the glass with a glossy lustre. The bouquet offers up citrus, blossoms and white honey and while there is a hint of kero both on the nose and in the palate, it is just a suggestion. The mouthfeel is textural and the wine is luscious though not overly sweet. It’s light in its impression with hints of apple butter and lemon biscuits. Already 12 years old and nowhere near its peak. Words uttered around the room included ‘Striking’, ‘delightful’ and ‘delicious’. 8.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $45.99.

Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Merlot 2014
This is a saturated shiny red black. The bouquet smells ripe and creamy with scents of cherry and plum jam and it presents as velvety smooth with supple tannins in the creamy palate. There’s a bit of a spicy kick with a hint of pepper, juicy plums, a touch of leather and Christmas cake connotations on the long mellow finish. A super full-bodied, deep, dark Merlot that I would be happy to recommend to everyone.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Craggy Range Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2015
Deeply translucent in the glass, not quite opaque. This is a deep dark brooding wine both on the nose and also initially in the palate that’s characterised by fine textured tannins and a rounded mouthfeel. Made from predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec mixed in, it offers up hints of violets, earthy brambly notes, nuances of chocolate and a suggestion of cigar box with lifted acidity brightening the finish. What stands out for me is the profound and lingering fruit purity.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Yalumba The Paradox Barossa Shiraz 2013 – South Australia
A very deep dark red in the glass without being inky. Blackberry and vanillin oak tempt the nose and in the mouth it is fine and silky in its flow. It has an upfront spiciness and dry meaty tannins that complement the succulent chewy fruit with touches of mocha, chilli-infused chocolate and just the slightest suggestion of mint on the long, rounded, persistent finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Molly Dooker The Maitre D’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Deep dark red in the glass. The bouquet is meaty, oaky and savoury with a peppery aura and it is full-bodied and textural in the mouth with obvious alcohol / ethanol heat. It’s savoury, sappy, cedary and peppery with an earthy undercurrent, abundant plum and mulberry fruit, hints of cola and a welcome accent of mint. A big, heavy, alcohol-laden red.
16% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Osborne Pedro Ximinez 1827 Sherry – Jerez, Spain
A transparent mahogany hue with yellow/green tints to the edges. On the heady bouquet there’s that alluring and intriguing ‘rancio’ scent that comes from the oxidative ageing of the sherry in ancient oak barrels then in the mouth it’s thick and viscous and coats the tongue and the sides of the mouth deliciously. It tastes like liquid muscatel raisins that have been macerated in spiced brandy with hints of caramel, mocha and a luscious honeyed aura.
17% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99 / 750 ml bottle.

* * * * * * * * *

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.
March 2017 tasting notes.
April 2017 tasting notes.
May 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.

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