Articles

All Whites

First Glass 30 May 2018
All Whites
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Sensi 18K Prosecco Brut NV - Italy 
Pale straw with a salted apple nuance to the lightly floral scent. Vibrantly fizzy with a soft stewed apple, tart zingy apple and muscat grape-like taste. Light and easy going with a creamy finish. Looks fantastic and tastes nice too. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Glossy lemon gold with an attractive toast and grilled peach scent. Quite savoury at first then juicy tropical fruit and stonefruit flavours burst through and the soft oak finish lingers with a spicy zing. Not too heavy, terrific socialising wine and top value for the money. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Te Mata Elston Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
A rich savoury wine with a light citrine hue; vanilla biscuit, gunflint and mealy aromas and more of the same in the palate. Quite tingly in its youth with the acidity subsiding to reveal ripe stonefruit and nectarine, savoury earthy notes (as in potters clay) with a creamy oak sweetness to the persistent full-bodied finish. 13.5% alc. Diam cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2016 - California, USA
Bright yellow gold, touches of tropical fruit with suggestions of caramelised banana on the nose and rich and oily in the palate with a ton of butter and vanilla underpinned by sweet citrus acidity and all of that rich ripe fruit making for a delicious wine. Fans of Californian Chardonnay will love this wine. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Mr Riggs Watervale Riesling 2012 – Clare Valley, South Australia
There’s a waft of kero to the scent together with apple and lime in this archetypal dry Riesling that’s quiveringly fresh and steely but with enough juicy apple and citrus / barley sugar sweetness to round out the edges while a touch of tarragon emerges as the long finish lingers. Still youthful with many years ahead of it.  11.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $11.99.
 
Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Riesling 2016 
White gold in the glass with aromas of lemon, quince and roasted apple and a spritzy tingle to the texture. A richer style that is just off dry with a toasty character starting to develop and a lingering taste of quince and apple and a very agreeable touch of sweetness. 12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Albert Mann Pinot Gris 2016 - Alsace, France
Pale straw with a moderately shy aroma that hints of spiced apple that is a little more obvious in the very dry, steely, flinty and slightly nutty palate. A contrast to the lusher sweeter styles we often see from Alsace, this fleshes out for a much fuller finish with ripe orchard fruit and a very alluring suggestion of anise. Youthful with potential. Intriguing wine. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
Spy Valley Single Vineyard Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2016
Light yellow gold with a heady bouquet of lychee, Nashi pear, crystallised violet and Turkish Delight, and ripe, concentrated tasty flavours with a touch of rose musk adding to the charm. Powerful yet with a lightness to its step, it’s just off dry with a seamless lightly oily texture and a sprinkle of ginger and white pepper. Trophy Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Alsace Gewurztraminer 2014 - France
Golden hued with intense aromas of candied tropical fruit, beeswax and nectar and a medium sweet taste that’s spicy and rich with an oily smooth texture and flavours of apricot honey with pepper and ginger-like tingles and fresh acidity imparting a clean balanced finish. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Noble Marlborough Riesling 2016 
This delicious sweetie has a deep yellow gold colour, a scent of toffee apple and unbelievable concentration in the palate. There’s ginger marmalade, tropical fruit, apricot and candied orange with the sweetness honed in by crisp fresh vibrant acidity. Gold NZIWS. 10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Osborne Pedro Ximinez Very Sweet Sherry - Jerez, Spain
It’s the colour of dark mahogany with a transparent green tinge to the edges. The bouquet is like muscatel raisins and treacle and it is warm and spiritous in the decadent palate with a thick almost syrupy texture and a luscious toffee grapey sweetness. 17% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Ten Reds

First Glass 23 May 2018
Ten Reds
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Clearview White Caps Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Yellow diamonds sparkle in the glass, the enticing bouquet is suggestive of manuka woodsmoke in the distance together with sizzled butter and bacon and there is a toasty veneer to the mouthfilling flavour crammed full of butterscotch and grilled peach and a smooth seamless flow. First wine of the night and pretty hard to resist. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Esk Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Translucent pinky red. A touch of smoke and a waft of roasted rhubarb infuse the cranberry cordial-like scent and there's a light touch to the savoury, gamey, earthy flavours with spiced bittersweet red berries, silky tannins and a lingering finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Ant McKenzie Wines Tono Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2016 
There's richness and vibrancy to the shiny magenta hue and a creamy note to the sappy spicy bouquet with a lovely array of anise-like spices and a touch of salinity. Dry at first in the palate with a dark tarry savoury note, more of those lovely spices, a touch of rose hip and increasing summer berry juiciness to the long bright finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
La Consulta Reserva Malbec 2014 – Mendoza, Argentina
The deeply translucent hue is a tamarillo skin colour, there’s a hint of fruit cake to the scent with almonds and cherries and increasing sweetness in the silky palate with a touch of woodsmoke emerging on the ripe juicy finish where the tannins seem a little more assertive, then lingering hints of violet. Not as dark in colour as some Malbecs can be but very tasty. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Quarisa Caravan Petite Sirah 2016 – South Eastern Australia 
Deep dark crimson red, intense aromas of musk and boysenberry, and ripe juicy flavours crammed with opulent berry fruit, firm tannins, underlying leather and tar, a touch of spice and strawberry chocolate on the lingering finish. Youthful but expressive. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Te Mata Awatea 2016 – Hawkes Bay 
Bordeaux character is the first aromatic sense of this bright crimson-tinged Cabernet-dominant red with cigar box, leather, earth, herb, polished French oak and harmonious berry fruit scents. Dry at first in the fine-tannined palate with all those lovely savoury, cigar box, leather and spice characters to the fore then a mouthfilling burst of succulent berry fruit and a slight herbal note to the sappy finish where the tannins are a little more assertive. Long and persistent.  13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2013 – Sonoma, California, USA
Dark red in hue with a hint of liquorice infusing the bright berry fruit scent that leads into a succulent, juicy, flavoursome palate. It’s soft and creamy with velvety tannins and tingles of peppery spices and lingering touches of musk, nut chocolate and currants. Despite the alcohol it doesn’t seem heavy. Nice wine. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Sons of Eden Kennedy Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2016 – Barossa, South Australia
Bright youthful red black in the glass with aromas of spiced cherry, vanilla and soft cedar. Juicy and bright in the palate with succulent red fruits, a peppery tingle, fine silky tannins, underlying savoury notes and touches of mocha. Rich and chewy yet beautifully poised without overpowering. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Chalk Hill Blue Lotus McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Dark pinky red. A little smoky and savoury on the nose with red berries and vanillin oak emerging.
Seemingly medium-bodied in the initially dark savoury palate with a medicine-masking fruitiness that becomes more obviously plummy, it’s fine and silky smooth in its flow, spicy and chocolate biscuit chocolatey, with increasing vinosity and richness that builds to a very fulfilling finish with smoky vanillin oak and a lifted floral allure. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Chalk Hill Alpha Crucis Titan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia 
Deep crimson red black with a generous and expressive aroma of mulberries, mint, chocolate, vanilla and cedar. Full-bodied and meaty to the taste with firm tannins, spicy vibes, jammy red fruit, mocha, chocolate and vanilla with harmonious savoury oak and leather and a lingering suggestion of mint. Rich, smooth, succulent and mouthfilling. In a word, delicious. Gold medal - NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Cape Barren Old Vine Reserve Release McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Dark purple red, fine in appearance. There’s purity of red fruit on the nose while a very appealing smoky oak regime introduces the taste that quickly bursts with magnificent red and purple fruit together with touches of sumac, touches of mint, touches of chocolate and touches of ironstone. Fine and silky in its flow with a sense of vinous sweetness to the lingering finish. 14.7% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $44.99.

Italian & Spanish Wine Festival

First Glass 16 May 2018
A selection from the Italian and Spanish wine tasting
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind

 
Astoria Treviso Butterfly Prosecco 2017 - Treviso, Italy
Pale straw with a lacy mousse. Ripe orchard apple scents fill the bouquet and it’s vivaciously fizzy in the mouth with a myriad of apple flavours and hints of musk. Fairly dry with a long creamy finish. 11% alc. $19.99.
 
Vilarnau Cava Brut Reserva NV - d’Espiells, Penedes, Spain
A dry, creamy cuvee of Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada grapes with secondary fermentation in the bottle that introduces complex yeast aromas and flavours to the fresh grapey taste. Served in a painted bottle that would look fabulous at any occasion. 11.5% alc. $20.99.
 
Tenuta Ulisse Pecorino 2016 - Terre di Chieti, Italy 
Luminous gold in the glass, aromatic, and rich and oily to the taste with a hint of apricot. A mouthfilling, textural white that’s a little reminiscent of Viognier with fresh acidity pushing through on the long, full, satisfying finish. 13% alc. $22.99.
 
Castello Del Poggio Moscato - Provinca de Pavia, Italy
Grapey, musky, floral aromas and a sweet, light and frothy taste full of muscat grape flavours with a green apple bite to balance the flirty sweetness. To be served very chilled as an aperitif or at the end of a feast. 7% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.
 
I Muri Puglia Primitivo 2016 - Salento, Italy
A rich garnet red (cherry juice) hue with light, savoury aromas with hints of raspberry jam adding brightness, and medium-bodied to the spicy taste with firm tannins, hints of nut chocolate and cherry with a juicy fruit sweetness to the finish and lingering touches of anise. 13.5% alc. $16.99.
 
Gran Sasso Colline Teramane Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2012 - Abruzzo, Italy
Deep black red in hue with a leathery overtone to the concentrated red and black jammy fruit aromas then in the mouth a profound vinosity frames the black cherry and plum fruit with a hint of liquorice and vanilla and beautifully integrated tannins. Svelte yet with understated power. Outstanding on the night. 13.5% alc. $30.99.
 
Fantini Edizione 2014 - Puglia & Abruzzo, Italy
A sumptuous, smooth, mouthfilling blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera with a youthful saturated black-red colour, a fragrant aroma reminiscent of chocolate-coated violets and a big, rich, ripe, almost sweet taste with loads of fruit, spice, vanilla, musk, chocolate and mocha. $57.99.
 
Banfi Bolgheri Aska 2013 - Italy 
There’s a little browning to the red garnet hue, the aroma evokes a mellow old world style with subtle barnyard and woody herb notes and the taste is initially dry, sappy, savoury and herbal with increasing vinosity that imparts a juiciness to the finish. A bit like leftover fruit cake with dried cakey bits and sweetness from the fruit. Very much a food wine. 13.5% alc. $29.99.
 
Rocce delle Macie Chianti Classico 2015 - Italy
Deep ruby red with a dark centre. The aroma is savoury with barnyard and leather then sweet herbs and glace cherries. Medium-bodied, dry and spicy with juicy cherry, plum and cranberry fruit, well-balanced underlying savouriness, freshness and lingering anise vibes. Accompany with antipasto nibbles or BBQ. 13.5% alc. $22.99.
 
Castelforte Valpolicella Superiore 2014 - Italy
Rich garnet red with the slightest suggestion of browning. Savoury aromatics with the blood of fresh game and hints of liquorice and anise, then touches of ironstone, bottled plums and green herb tones to the taste. An interesting wine in a rustic, old world style with pleasing vinosity and texture and rounded tannins. 13% alc. $20.99.
 
Castello Tricerchi Brunello Di Montalcino 2012 - Italy
Dark orange garnet. Lifted fine, mellow aromatics with a hint of orange cordial / orange pomander. Silky in the palate with old world savoury gamey notes, fine dry tannins and mellow dried orange tones. A little understated/delicate to start but builds in complexity and vinosity with an almost floral lift to the bright and extra long finish and just a touch of salinity. A thinking wine to savour with food. 14% alc. $69.99.
 
Muga Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
Dark red, browning on edges. The bouquet is a little dusty with hints of baked chocolate plum tart - the scent becoming more and more intriguing over the course of the tasting. Lovely concentration to the taste with fine tannins, sweetness to the mulberry and cherry fruit, touches of anise and an aura of complexity that comes with bottle age while the dusty oak is an alluring feature to the finish. 14% alc. $35.99
 
Torres Celeste Crianza Tempranillo 2014 - Ribero del Duero, Spain
Bright deep red. Concentrated fruit and fine oak aromas with a hint of cigar box. Smooth and flowing in the mouth with red fruit, nicely framed vanillin oak, pillowy tannins and plumpness to the long, creamy finish. A youthful wine with brightness to its astral aura. 14.5% alc. $29.99
 
Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserve 2010 - Rioja, Spain
Dark red black with orange tones to the edges. Aromatic, a little dusty with sweet oak and baked fruit pie. Firm in the mouth with tannins still quite pronounced. Savoury, gamey and just a little meaty with a softness/mellowness coming through and while it is still unfolding the vinosity/fruit sweetness that emerges shows the promise of the future. 13.5% alc. $29.99.
 
Castillo Armado Tempranillo Reserva 2009 - Valdepenas, Spain
Dark garnet red. The bouquet is of drying / baking red fruit with a touch of herb and spice. Flowing seamlessly across the palate it is medium-bodied with mellow plum fruit and a sprinkle of spice, perhaps a hint of oxidation but it is nine years old - or maybe it is rusticity. 13% alc. $17.99.
 
Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2011 - Rioja, Spain
Dark burnished red with a black core. Aromatic scents of plum and mulberry pie with sweet spices and perhaps even a suggestion of mint. Savoury, dusty and earthy to the taste with touches of red berry, vanilla and mint with smooth silky tannins and a long mellow finish with a brightness as it lingers. Rioja’s acidity is holding this wine nicely. 14% alc. $25.99.
 
Costers Del Priorat Petit Pissares 2015 - Priorat, Spain
Bright black red. Aromas of brambles bushes (juicy berries, sappy leaves and stems) on the side of a dusty road. A big wine. A full-bodied wine. An earthy, savoury, spicy, gamey wine with powerful yet rounded tannins, juicy drupelets of blackberry that pop in the mouth, a touch of pepper and a dark chocolatey oak finish. Fulfilling, modern and memorable. A crowd favourite on the night. 14.5% alc. $28.99.
 
Gran Familia Rioja Reserva 2012 - Rioja, Spain
Fading black red garnet. Fragrant aromas of cherry jam with a touch of rosehip and sweet spices. Lifted in the medium-bodied palate with moderately firm tannins to start, juicy red fruits, a touch of vanilla creaminess, a rose petal muskiness and subtle anise spices finishing smooth with the tannins dissolving to leave behind a pleasing roundness and well-balanced sweetness and savouriness. Star buy. 13.5% alc. $19.99.

Value Wines Shine

First Glass 9 May 2018
High Price Low Price
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind




Sebastiani North Coast Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
A  medley of tropical fruit, roasted persimmon and pannacotta fills the bouquet and it’s creamy and buttery in the palate with bright, fresh, almost pineapple-like acidity and a smooth, lingering aftertaste reminiscent of Macintosh Harrogate toffees. 13.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Simonsig Chardonnay 2016 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
The bouquet is fresh, acid driven and there are hints of apricot to the citrussy taste that's very dry with a dusty, mellow note and a mealy savoury undercurrent to the fruity finish. 13.5% alc. Cork/Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Bogle Reserve Chardonnay 2016 - Clarksburg, California, USA
There’s a suggestion of crushed brazil nut and hazelnut on the opulent, rich, toasty bouquet and the creamy taste is seamless with an ornate frame of spicy oak encapsulating  juicy stonefruit and a flamboyant caramel-coated finish that lingers for ages. A meal in a glass. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Greystone Sand Dollar Waipara Pinot Gris 2016
Scents of poached pear and peach crumble radiate from the glass and it’s cool and fresh in the steely palate that slowly reveals its textural complexity with touches of tarragon and spice lingering. Technically dry (just 3 g/l residual sugar) with a wild yeast, barrel component, it recently came 3rd in Decanter’s World’s best Pinot Gris buys. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017
Bright and tropical fruity with a light tingle of spritz, hints of musk and Turkish delight. An off-dry to medium style that hits the sweet spot with fleshy stonefruit and a brightness to the attractive finish.  Ripe, lush and immediately likeable. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Riesling 2015
The bouquet is like classic dry Riesling with lime, talc and a vague suggestion of kero. Searingly dry in the slightly spritzy palate with racy apple and citrus acidity nicely rounded out by a touch of toastiness that’s accrued with bottle age. Drinking beautifully now. Multi awarded. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2015
There’s a suggestion of grapefruit and mandarin zest on the nose and loads more in the palate that has a lightly viscous texture. It’s ripe and zesty with well balanced sweetness and suggestions of hokey-pokey on the lingering finish. Fulfilling and expressive. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 
Bright ruby with pinky edges. The bouquet is sweet-fruited, inviting, with spiced cherries and a hint of cedar and the firm, dry taste is foremost savoury and gamey than fruity – but the fruit is of course there – bittersweet fruit – wild strawberries, morello cherries - and its silky in its flow with mouthfilling richness to the finish. Gold NZIWS & NWWA. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Pegasus Bay Waipara Pinot Noir 2014
Garnet red, a little browning on the edges. The bouquet is savoury with woody herb notes and a touch of chocolate-coated cherry and the wine as a whole has a mellow aura and complexity that comes with a little age. Fruit is reminiscent of stewed tamarillo with underlying prickly acidity and savoury bretty / leathery notes giving a European impression. Tannins still noticeable on the magnanimous finish with hints of chocolate and rounded mouth-coating pinosity as it lingers. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $47.99.
 
Cape Barren Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia 
Shiny black red in the glass. Juicy red berry scents laced with vanillin oak fill the bouquet and its lifted and spicy in the palate that seems so velvety smooth and flowing. Full of dark plums and chocolate, it is immediately approachable with a mouth-coating finish.  14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
E & E Limited Release Black Pepper Barossa Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Rich red black with translucent edges hinting of a little age. The bouquet is overflowing with opulent dark berries, spice and savoury notes and the taste is rich, creamy and velvety. It's voluptuous yet structured with a tantalising vanilla and nut chocolate oak frame, underlying savouriness, touches of chicory and anise, lots of pepper and a long firm finish that leaves a memorable impression. 15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $99.

Ceres Wines with James Dicey

First Glass 2 May 2018
Ceres Wines with James Dicey
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind

 
 
Fifth Bridge Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017
Beautifully aromatic with a bright apple and citrus blossom scent and a very appealing off dry to medium taste that’s textural and lightly viscous. A delicate spiciness mingles into the apricot, custard apple and honey poached pear flavours and there’s a sense of spritz to the finish. A touch of late harvest Riesling adds an x-factor to the enticing taste. Impressive. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Ceres Swansong Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
Served lightly chilled which gives a sense of coolness, this has a classic poached pear and apple strudel scent and it tastes fairly dry and crisp with a savoury, slightly mushroomy note, a zingy apple brightness and an attractive rose petal nuance on the lingering finish. A gris with palate weight and texture, it’s made from a vineyard ‘field blend’ where every 10th vine is Gewurztraminer. 14% alc.Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Fifth Bridge Central Otago Riesling 2017
This is a slatey smelling riesling with a soapy floral nuance, maybe, and cut lime most definitely. It smells dry but tastes medium with soft apple acidity and an initial light delicate impression that increases in power with more emphatic green apple and lime flavours balanced by honey and apricot, and a pleasing persistent finish. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Ceres Black Rabbit Central Otago Riesling 2017
The attractive bouquet radiates honeysuckle, sweet citrus and tropical fruit and the taste is a masterful balance of scintillating acidity and medium sweetness. It’s juicy, tingly and delicately spritzy with tropical fruit sherbet, lime, tangelo, honeysuckle and apple skin. An expressive wine oozing deliciousness and finesse with the structure to cellar for decades. Multiple gold medals and Easter Show Trophy. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Fifth Bridge Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
Deeply translucent bright purple violet. There’s a sense of chocolate, roasted spice and concentrated purple-coloured berries to the scent and it’s initially savoury to the taste with velvet-edged silky tannins, chocolate-coated bitter-sweet cherry then a more concentrated berry fruit sweetness and anise-like spices lingering. Soft, supple and easy drinking. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Ceres Composition Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A moderately translucent purple violet. Fragrantly scented with cherry, plum and sweet herb notations. Bright and intense in the silky-textured palate where bittersweet red fruit, oak, spice and savoury notes combine in harmony. Dense and concentrated with a vinous sweetness and touches of anise infusing the persistent finish where the tannins become more noticeable. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
Ceres Artists Collection Inlet Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
There’s a little hint of pink to the purple hue. A touch of rosehip radiates out of the glass with an amalgam of cherry, a hint of spice and expressive pinosity. Concentrated in the silky, velvety, firm, structured palate that’s spicy, meaty and savoury with chewy red fruit jellies and glace cherries and captivating briar rose notes to the fabulously long mouth-enveloping finish.  14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $75.99.
 
Mr Riggs Three Corner Jack McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2015 – South Australia
Rich red black with ripe plum and black cherry scents and savoury, meaty, tarry notes underpinning juicy plum and black currant fruit flavours with just the merest hint of liquorice. The texture is firm and velvety in this seemingly more medium bodied Aussie red with lingering cake spices and cherries. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Mr Riggs The Truant McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
This shiny red black-hued wine has a fascinating bouquet that’s like the scent in the kitchen when cooking spicy plum sauce – plus hints of crushed chocolate biscuits, cigar leaf and leather that follow through to the initially quite dark tarry palate that quickly bursts with succulent plum and blackberry fruit while red pepper spices lift the powerful, plush-tannined finish. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Mr Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Black red in the glass. The bouquet is smoky and sensual with hints of crushed iron, chocolate, mint and cedar and it’s deliciously bright and minty in the palate (mint sauce rather than peppermint) with concentrated blackcurrant, plum and boysenberry fruit, a spicy brightness, and a long silky, mouthfilling finish. It’s an incredibly smooth, delicious and memorable wine that’s concentrated and meaty with lingering mint chocolate, cassis and cedar. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Australia versus New Zealand on ANZAC Day

First Glass 25 April 2018 
Australia versus New Zealand on ANZAC Day
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Riesling 2016
Golden coloured with a bright lime-scented aroma and a hint of toastiness to the quiveringly dry taste. This is classic Clare with flavours of lime, talc and honeysuckle florals, a touch of oiliness to the texture and concentration to the finish. 11.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Mount Pleasant 'Elizabeth' Hunter Valley Semillon 2016 – NSW, Australia
Straw gold with wispy floral aromas infused with the slightest hint of apricot, and a touch of salinity to the flinty taste with yellow apple joining the delicate apricot that imparts the finish with fruit sweetness. A subtle style and very different to the ones held for 5 years before release, this begs to be accompanied with seafood. 10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Albarino 2016
There's a hint of beeswax and toast to the scent of this light yellow gold hued wine. It’s tropical fruity and creamy with mealy, leesy notes and a honeyed nuance to the full, smooth finish.  13.5 % alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015 – South Australia
There’s an appealing sense of vanilla and malt on the nose that follows through to the palate that’s full, fat and rounded with a mealy richness, sweet ripe fruit reminiscent of white peach and apricot, underlying flinty notes and a spicy zesty zing to the long, mouthfilling finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Golden in the glass with hints of roasted pineapple  / pineapple wood on the nose while tropical fruit abounds in the palate. It’s oaky, sappy, and very very dry with a flinty character to the dusty finish and underlying mealy notes adding richness. Closed with natural cork again Mission believes it will impart more complexity with ageing.  13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
This bright, smooth, tasty pinot is a brilliant violet-edged ruby in the glass with seductive smoky nuances to the scent and touches of anise, spiced cherry and red guava in the palate with harmonious savoury gamey tones moseying about in the background where firm youthful tannins are tamed by the succulent fruit. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Tolpuddle Vineyard  Pinot Noir 2016 – Tasmania, Australia
A translucent pink garnet in the glass with a delicate bouquet hinting of dried herbs, rose pot pourri and red cherry. An ethereal pinot with fine silky tannins and seemingly subtle yet increasingly complex old-school, earthy, savoury, spicy notes with compounding richness and mouthfeel, just the right amount of fruit sweetness and fabulous length. A wonderful nod to Burgundy.  13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $58.99.
 
Take it to the Grave Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2016  – South Australia
Bright black red with crimson-pink edges. Earth, savoury and just a little tarry on the nose more akin to a cool climate wine until deep dark berry sweetness unfurls from within. Similarly in the palate it seems tight, herbal, firm and savoury then, like on the nose, the succulent fruit breaks through and all the while a bright and delicately peppered spiciness glides through. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
The Landing Bay of Islands  Syrah 2013 – Northland, NZ 
This bright black-red hued Syrah is a big wine, the only indication of its age the mellow character that frames it. Green pepper and dried herb aromas mingle with the scent of chocolate-coated berries and syruppy chocolate is foremost in the firm dry palate with dark plums, pepper, mocha and vanilla adding to the sumptuous complexity with creamy oak a feature on the silky finish. Gold Easter Show. 13.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016
This is a deep dark red in the glass with crimson edges. The bouquet emanates blackcurrants, leather and cedar while black pepper is harmonious in the dry yet silky, succulent palate that’s full of dark fruit, dark oak, cake spices and liquorice with a youthful brightness to the finish. Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Heartland Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Black red, silky in appearance. Super attractive bouquet of vanillin oak, spice, chocolate and cherries and smooth, creamy and juicy in the palate that’s crammed with black plums, blackberry, chocolate and vanilla with a well-balanced spicy savoury undercurrent, pillowy tannins and a long succulent aftertaste. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.

Peter Lehmann Wines with Malcolm Stopp

First Glass 18 April 2018
Peter Lehmann Wines with Malcolm Stopp
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind

 
Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This has a light golden hue in the glass with peach and citrus floating through the nutty oak bouquet and a lovely mealy savouriness with fleshy peach stone to the taste. It's smooth and creamy with increasing richness to the finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz 2012 – Barossa, South Australia 
Almost black in the glass with rich garnet edges. There's a deep-set plum and bottled cherry bouquet and the taste is bright, tingly and effervescent with underlying structure from the tannins, ripe berry fruit and a dry lifted finish with a creamy aftertaste and a lingering suggestion of chocolate. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $56.99.
 
Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon 2010 – Barossa, South Australia
Straw coloured with a gorgeous bouquet redolent of all the wonderful lemony tones that Barossa Semillon is known for - lemon blossom, lemon grass, lemon honey and lemon lolly with honeysuckle and lanolin notes. All this and more in the remarkably youthful and zesty palate that has a sense of a mellow toasty character as the aftertaste lingers. It’s fine textured and slippery smooth with a deliciously refreshing finish.  11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2011 – Eden Valley, South Australia
There's a lovely bright aura to the scent that conjures up lime and lemonade zest with honeysuckle and a 'fusel' note we sometimes call ‘kero’, and the taste is bright and deliciously refreshing with mouth-watering lime-like acidity zinging through with a touch of flower nectar complementing the tingly zest. Just on the cusp of dry with a slight sucking-on-a-riverstone earthiness, a slatey texture, increasing toastiness and phenomenal length. Seven years old yet fresh, vibrant and exciting. 11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Peter Lehmann VSV Ruediger Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Barossa, South Australia
This is a saturated deep crimson red. The creamy bouquet emanates violet jam, chocolate and mocha and it's firm to start in the palate that's full of upfront eucalypt notes with vibrant red- and blackcurrant fruit, an underlying charred meatiness and a sense of roasted nuts on the fine cedary oak finish that lingers with a silky mouthfeel and comes full circle back to the scent with hints of chocolate and mocha. There's still noticeable acidity in this five year old wine from an excellent vintage so will continue to develop in the bottle for years.  14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Peter Lehmann Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Barossa, South Australia
This is a deep dark red in the glass. The creamy bouquet offers up a deep sense of blackcurrant, cassis and shaved cedar with the subtlest suggestion of mint that becomes more obvious in the savoury, spicy palate with initially noticeable brushed velvet tannins. Very attractive, sappy and succulent with pleasing sweetness of fruit and touches of tobacco that become more obvious as the wine lingers. This has the addition of Malbec this year. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016 – Barossa, South Australia
Saturated purple red with concentration and opacity. Mocha is the first sense that emanates from the bouquet then concentrated plums, black cherries and cedar. Sweet fruit balances out the palate’s earthy, savoury, toasty oak and tingly pepper notes; the tannins are soft and velvety and there's brightness to the creamy finish with hints of chocolate and touches of aniseed and then, like the previous wine, coming full circle back to the mocha.  14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Peter Lehmann The Futures Shiraz 2014 – Barossa, South Australia
Shiny black red with fine opacity and a wonderfully fragrant sweet mint and berry aroma with touches of vanilla and chocolate. Juicy and bright in the fine-tannined palate with an upfront hit of spice and pepper then chocolate, mocha, savoury oak, cigar box and underlying meaty notes with lingering touches of mint and all the while succulent plum and mulberry fruit. A great label and hard to resist. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Peter Lehmann VSV Hearnden Shiraz 2013 – Eden Valley, South Australia
This inky black red wine with crimson edges has a lovely deep earthy sense to the bouquet with touches of dried rose, rooibos, mocha, vanilla and aniseed. The fascination continues into the deep-set savoury yet silky textured palate where intense dark plum and blackberry fruit melds into savoury oak with bright touches of pepper-infused spice and lingering hints of violet and chocolate. While lighter bodied than Lehmann’s Barossa reds, it radiates finesse. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Peter Lehmann VSV Hongell Shiraz 2015 – Barossa, South Australia
Shiny black red in hue with the bouquet offering up plum and mulberry fruit with touches of eucalypt and hints of cigar box and leather. Lifted, bright and youthful with  upfront firm fine tannins that seem soft and rounded mid palate yet stamp the ground on the finish. A powerful wine with ripe juicy fruit that mingles with sappy, minty, peppery notes and has a lingering hint of coffee bean.  14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Peter Lehmann 8 Songs Shiraz 2014 – Barossa, South Australia
Concentrated red black in the glass with a sense of old world on the nose with touches of leather and barnyard and sappy herb notes but such vibrant, rich, sweet ripe fruit in the palate with invigorating underlying acidity and tingles of pepper. The firm upfront, tight-grained tannins become quite silky and svelte on the finish with a chocolate, vanilla, mocha and succulent dark fruit profile to balance the cedar and earthy savouriness. A stellar ‘old vine’ wine with an ultra long finish.  14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2012 – Barossa, South Australia
Intensely purple red with concentration and opacity. Immediately attractive sweet berry fruit, mint, chocolate and cedar fill the bouquet and it’s full-bodied, ripe, velvety and chocolatey in the palate with classic vanillin oak, succulent red and black berry fruit, deep savoury undertones, beautifully balanced spice and pepper and the most subtle suggestions of mocha and mint. Released as a 5-year-old wine it’s beautifully structured and radiates finesse. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $96.99.

Pinot Passion

First Glass 11 April 2018
Pinot Passion
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Leveret Estate Hawkes Bay Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Tasted chilled on the first cold night of the year this four-year-old comes across as bright and fresh with a touch of oyster shell and a hint of smoke to the tropical fruit scent and more tropical fruit in the palate that's lightly creamy with a bright finish. Gold Hawkes Bay. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mission Estate Barrique Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
This is a smooth, medium to full-bodied style with lemony, malo notes to the bouquet and upfront savouriness to the taste with just a touch of zest and ripe stonefruit fleshing out the very dry finish with a nice touch of butterscotch emerging to linger. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Harken Barrique Fermented California Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
From the creamy vanilla biscuit aroma to the complex leesy full-bodied palate this oozes flavour and character. It's mouthfilling, mouth coating and mouth enveloping with tropical fruit bursts, banana bikes, pineapple and caramel with harmonious buttery oak and a creamy sweetness to the tasty finish. Verging on irresistible. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Misha's Vineyard Limelight Central Otago Riesling 2014
The earthy / slatey / limey / honeyed bouquet with lashings of kero is so expressive and totally en pointe for this off dry to medium Riesling with flavours of apple, honey and touches of tarragon and a crisp clean mouthfilling finish. Complex, full, concentrated and tasty with the 33 g/l residual sugar balanced by refreshing acidity. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir 2015
Bright ruby with luminous translucency. There's richness to the cherry scent with touches of dried herb and woodsmoke, and complexity to the fruit driven yet savoury flavours with a nuance of smoky bacon coming through. It's soft and velvety and full of flavour. Upper Moutere fruit. Fabulous value. Gold Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2014
Dark ruby heading towards garnet. The bouquet offers up bramble fruit with savoury, slightly herbal nuances and it is full of ripe berry fruit flavours in the firm yet silky palate with classical savoury, smoky, earthy, gamey vibes and appealing fruit sweetness to the lively finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Russian Jack Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Brightly hued with a touch of barnyard on the nose but full of bright fruit that is a little reminiscent of raspberry in the silky palate that features sensual savoury undertones. It's still youthful with a spark of acidity and firmness to the finish. Made by Martinborough Vineyards. Gold New World, Gold Easter Show.  14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Maude Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
Ruby hued, clear and bright. The deep fruited aroma suggests plum and blueberry with harmonious yet subtle spicy oak, and it’s wonderfully concentrated in the creamy palate with Christmas cake spices, bottled cherries, plums and hints of chocolate on the long, full-bodied and increasingly complex finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016
Dark ruby hued with a  lovely savoury expression of pinot both on the nose and in the palate that’s full of dark fruit and lovely savoury gamey notes with beautifully balanced smoky oak . It's smooth and complex with silky tannins and a long firm finish. Very impressive. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mission Estate Jewelstone 'Antione' Hawkes Bay 2016
Dark red black in hue with considerable density. The bright blackcurrant and plum aroma is infused with smoky oak and it’s full-bodied and concentrated in the palate with dark savoury notes, sappy herbs, oak spice, ripe juicy fruit, firm yet pillowy tannins and a gobsmacking succulent finish with nuances of mint adding brightness. Made from predominantly Merlot with a touch of Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, it’s stylish and memorable.  14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
A Good Dirt Barossa Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Dark red black in hue with savouriness coming through on the nose to balance the dark, concentrated, ripe, almost jammy fruit scents and super ripe in the palate with touches of mint, savoury oak notes and iodine underpinning the succulent plum and blackberry fruit with touches of vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Velvety in its flow with a rounded finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 

Happy 19th Birthday First Glass

First Glass 4 April 2018
Happy 19th Birthday First Glass
Notes by Sue Courtney
All wines (except the Champagne) were tasted blind

 
Champagne Charles de Cazanove Stradivarius 2007 – Riems, France
This has a 24 carat gold colour, the bouquet oozes the gorgeous malty and slightly oxidative characters of bottle aged vintage Champagne and the taste is lemony, leesy, malty and savoury with tantalising salinity and brightness to the long, extra dry finish while a fine effervescence radiates all the way through. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $85.99.
 
Mount Riley 17 Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This is a rich, oaky, grilled peach style of Chardonnay. It's golden coloured with an opulent toasty bouquet and a juicy taste where polished oak, gunsmoke, malty mealy notes, fig and stonefruit are all in harmony. Developing beautifully in the bottle. Gold NZIWS 2017. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This light lemon-gold hued chardonnay is a full-on leesy, flinty, reductive style with nuances of gunsmoke, lemon, fig and cedar filling the bouquet and upfront youthful acidity in the palate with full, fat, leesy, gunflint, funky wild yeast notes taking over. Mouthfilling and increasingly complex with fruit in the lemon/melon spectrum and masterful use of oak. Still evolving so one for the cellar right now. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Lawson Dry Hills ‘The Pioneer’ Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015
This lustrous light gold wine has honeyed poached pear aromatics that are delicate and enchanting. A sweeter, lightly viscous style with a nod to Alsace, it flows beautifully across the palate and teases with it’s powerful and almost gewurztraminer-like flavours that hint of violets and ginger infused spices. Impressive. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses 2017 – Languedoc, France 
The most attractively bottled and romantic of any rosé on the market today, this blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault is a pale pink sapphire hue with a lightly floral / rose hip / pink candy floss aroma and tastes like it is just on the cusp of off dry. It's deliciously quenching with delicate wild strawberry, ‘rose de mai’, hints of violet and a whisper of tarragon on the refreshing finish. 13% alc. Vinolok Stopper. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
There's a pink tinge to the garnet hue of this ripe, mouthfilling pinot with fruit sweetness infiltrating the slightly herbaceous scent and a nice touch of savouriness to the taste that brims with black cherry, plums and spice with a suggestion of woodsmoke and chocolate velvet tannins. Nicely aged expression. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Dona Paula Estate Valle de Uco Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina
This deeply coloured wine smells quite earthy and savoury with a depth of red berry fruit, and it's sappy and juicy in the medium to full-bodied palate that has a smoky, leathery, meaty, tobacco-like character, touches of plum skin, fairly firm but nevertheless approachable tannins and a long, bright lingering finish.  13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 – South Australia 
This is an impenetrable deep dark red with an opulent bouquet suggestive of chocolate and mulberry with a haunting floral allure and a subtle suggestion of mint. It's irresistibly smooth with concentrated plum and blackberry fruit laced with mocha and chocolate, smoky oak and tingles of pepper and a mouthfilling succulent finish.  14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Old Vine Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
This is a bright black red with luminosity to the hue. The bouquet is close to  mesmerising with hints of dried roses, touches of chocolate, succulent berry fruit and wafts of oak and it's velvety smooth in the palate with vanillin oak, chocolate, dark berry fruit and a lovey savoury underpinning of spice that’s judiciously laced with pepper. Firm on the finish with an x-factor-like vinous sweetness that wells up and lingers.  14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Two Hands Fields of Joy Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This is a vibrant saturated crimson red in the glass. The bouquet is smoky with hints of cigar box and tobacco and the taste is juicy, succulent, silky and smooth yet with a profound berry fruit concentration with underlying youthful vibrancy, touches of pepper, herbaceous notes, hints of chocolate and an earthy, savoury finish that is dry and salivating. Lots going on. Will last for years. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.

A Journey through France, Italy and Spain with Stephen Bennett MW

First Glass 21 March 2018
A Journey through France, Italy and Spain with Stephen Bennett MW
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind

 
 
The Cup & Rings Godello 2015 – Monterrei, Spain
There’s an oily appearance to the yellow hue, the bouquet is lightly honeyed with hints of almond, savoury leesy notes and loquat, and the taste is steely with texture and vinosity, hints of green apple, apricot and peach and refreshing acidity on the bone dry finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Champagne Charles de Cazanove NV – Reims, France 
Light yellow gold with striking snow white mousse that froths and subsides. The enticing yeasty bouquet hints of freshly baked lemon bread and touches of malt and it’s vibrantly fizzy in the fairly dry palate with a steely undercurrent to the rich, toasty, creamy leesy finish. A tasty cuvée made from 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Tesouro Segredo Albarino 2016 – Rias Baixas, Spain
Citrine gold in hue with a rich inviting fragrance  of apricots and orange blossom that’s almost heady. Concentrated and oily textured in the palate that’s dry and just a little spicy with apple, apricots and almond notes and a long finish with salivating salinity that makes you want to take another sip. This oak free wine was aged on its yeast lees that adds to the textural complexity and Stephen had us drooling over his descriptions of seafood matches. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mont Rocher Viognier Vieilles Vignes 2016 – Pays d'Oc, France
Glossy citrine gold. Ethereally fragrant with apricot kernel and an intriguing savoury earthy nuance. Very appealing lift and brightness in the warm, rounded, oily textured palate that hints of apricot, nuts, a touch of musky spice and a hint of honeysuckle that implies sweetness although the wine finishes dry. A smooth, curvaceous, textural wine to accompany rich buttery foods.13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Viento Aliseo Tempranillo Petit Verdot 2016 – Las Perdronas, Spain
Purple red in hue with an intensely fruity, winey bouquet. Full of flavour in the palate with warm gravelly tannins, vibrant red and purple fruit, earth and mushroom notes and a long dry finish with accents of tobacco and spice. A young biodynamic organic wine without any oak, which lets the fruit sing. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Gran Familia Rioja Reserve 2012 – Rioja Alta, Spain
Rich ruby garnet with watery edges indicating some age. Red ‘jelly baby’ candy on the nose with just the slightest suggestion of barnyard and leather. A mellow wine that’s soft, supple and gentle in its flow caressing the palate with its fine, velvet-fringed, silky tannins with harmonious touches of vanilla-tinged savoury oak, red summer berries and a succulent finish. This current release, aged in barrel then in the bottle before we see it, is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Garnacha with 50% American oak. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Il Mandorlo Negroamaro 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Dark red black in the glass. Savoury on the nose with leather and spice and hints of rosehip jelly and brimming with flavour in the juicy powerful palate with firm almost teeth-coating tannins, succulent purple and black fruit and a lovely violet-like fragrance floating through then later, as the bright finish lingers, hints of anise and crushed chocolate biscuits. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Soprasasso Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
Rich red black with moderate density. Savoury on the nose with hints of barnyard and leather that follow through to the medium-bodied, firm-tannined palate but overall bright to the taste with woody herb characters, slightly confectionary red fruit flavours, mouthfilling vinosity and spiciness, and a warm fresh finish. Made predominantly from the dark coloured Corvina grape using the Ripasso method, it’s best enjoyed with food. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Chateau Loudenne AOC Cru Bourgeois 2011 – Medoc, France
Deep dark red with a very enticing bouquet that’s a harmony of mellow fruit and cedar with earthy savoury accents. Classically earthy, savoury flavours with subtle plum and currant fruit and hints of cigar box, cedar, leather and thyme. What’s very striking, however is the fine but still unresolved and slightly tongue coating tannins and the very dry finish. A blend of 52% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc that has the elegance and class of top quality Bordeaux at a fraction of the price. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Pietra Primitivo Susumaniello 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Susumaniello is a grape variety that’s blended with 60% Primitivo in this brightly hued black red wine. The concentrated bouquet has cigar box-like woody notes infusing the luscious red berries and the taste is succulent and heady. It seems super ripe and luscious with ripe berries, creamy oak, chocolate, anise, sweet spices, a sprinkle of pepper and big tannins that sit in well with the overall opulence that’s underpinned by fresh acidity. Plush and flirtatious. Fabulous with cheese. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Piqueras 100 Anos Limited Edition 2011 – Alamansa, Spain
Made primarily from Monastrell and Garnacha Tinitoreo with a little Syrah and Grenache from 100 year old vines at 900 asl, this deeply hued wine is totally different. The wonderfully fragrant bouquet is full of winey extract with salty, saline, leathery notes and the taste suggests dusty gravel roads, graphite (pencil lead), earth, clay and possibly even a suggestion of mint. The vinosity of the red fruit is deep, like every last drop of juice has been squeezed out of the grapes and the tannins are dry and mouth-coating. Fantastic wine to muse over with vinously minded friends. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Soprasasso Amarone della Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
This has a fairly saturated dark red hue and a sweet, grapey, biscuity scent laced with raspberry, plum and cherry. Made from sun-dried grapes this smooth flowing, mouthfilling wine is concentrated, heady, warm, spicy, almost peppery. A big wine, yet a harmonious wine with succulent berries and noticeable tannins that are more noticeable on the finish. Superb with rich dishes like casseroles or to enjoy after dinner with cheeses. “Decant in the morning, drink at night,” says Stephen. Good advice. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $47.99.