Every week we sample and taste dozens of wines at First Glass.

 

Sue Courtney

Sue Courtney is a nationally recognised wine writer, senior wine judge & wine critic
www.wineoftheweek.com

Many of them are samples that have been provided by wineries for assessment, others are opened and poured at our Wednesday or Saturday tastings.

These notes come from our Fine Wine Wednesdays tastings and are compiled by winewriter Sue Courtney.

The following reviews are based on how we found the wines on the day or evening. On occasions the review is made on a single bottle but at the Wednesday tasting there will usually be 3 or 4 bottles of each wine opened. Clearly wines will taste differently, depending on the various circumstances but as the views of a number of people are considered, the comments do not become the opinions of just one person. Many of the following wines are stocked by First Glass, others are wines that may be considered for stocking at a future date.

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First Glass 21 June 2017
Church Road Wines
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind

 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2016 
There’s a touch of copper to the golden colour. The bouquet is all pears poached in honey and spice and the taste is full and luscious with a mouth-coating texture. It’s a sweeter style than the norm with a tingle of ginger and white pepper, a touch of beeswax and loads of fleshy baked apple and pear flavours. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Brancott Letter Series O* Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Glossy citrine in hue with a heady bouquet offering toasted nuts and leesy barrel ferment delights. Smooth and creamy in its flow with initial flavours reminiscent of tropical fruit and caramel banana bikes together with hazelnuts, toasted brioche and a spicy heat then fleshy Golden Queen peach-like fruit and biscuity notes on the mouthfilling savoury finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
A rich, more linear, more flinty style of Chardonnay with a light lemon gold hue, a nutty aroma and warm, leesy, upfront citrussy flavours with stonefruit emerging. It’s quite dry with nutty savoury oak and lovely malty flavours on the long bright finish. Great buying to store in your cellar until the end of winter. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
The fantastically intense rich malty aroma is embossed with hazelnut and funky yeast and gun smoke notes and it is full and rounded and harmonious in its flow with malt, nuts, toast and a spicy zesty brightness to the finish, all the while those lovely savoury, funky, flinty notes in behind. Church Road describes as complex and multi-dimensional – I agree, absolutely. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.
 
Church Road TOM Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
The savoury oak bouquet has a wonderful leesy, mealy, malty sizzled butter allure with a haunting floral note wafting through and the taste is concentrated and powerful with a deep, sweet oak frame. It’s full of toasted brioche, fig, creamed nuts, delicate peach and the merest touch of mandarin with an incredibly malty finish, a lingering spicy zesty vibe and again an evocative floral note. Still such a baby but the potential is clearly there. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $149.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Marzemino 2015
Purple crimson in hue with a beautifully fragrant bouquet of concentrated berry, nutmeg, smoky creamy oak and sweet leather. Red and purple fruits fill the juicy palate with supple tannins that have a firm velvety edge while the finish is long and dry. There's something cosy and comforting about the slightly rustic flavour that has a fresh acid spine with accents of pepper and toasted aromatic Indian spices. A rare Italian grape variety that’s being discontinued by this winery so maybe your last chance to buy. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Impenetrable purple violet. Slightly jammy red fruit aromas with a hint of pepper and rosehip adding to the bouquet while Syrah’s signature spice and pepper is a feature in the palate. Full of juicy plum and dark cherry fruit with fine textured supple tannins, creamy oak with a polished edge, a slightly meaty undercurrent with a hint of chicory and again that seductive floral lift to the harmonious finish.14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015
There’s a youthful vibrancy to the purple red hue; the brooding berry fruit bouquet has a hint of dried fennel seed together with a hint of gun smoke and mocha wafting through. Mouthfilling and firm in the harmonious palate with signature pepper and an array of intriguing warm sweet spices infusing the juicy blackberry fruit flavours together with rose petal, sweet leather, a suggestion of chocolate dust and anise. Five stars and number 3 in the latest Cuisine. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.
 
Church Road TOM Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
This initially reticent inky powerhouse opens up to reveal a delicate fragrance of warm spices, rich plummy fruit, hints of rose spice, tar, liquorice, black forest chocolate and leather. Juicy is the first taste impression with fleshy plums and cherries over savoury French oak infused with toasted aromatic spices, a hint of liquorice and fine firm tannins with a supple flow. A heady and already harmonious Syrah with alcohol sweetness initially masking the youthfulness and a peppery bite to the long dry finish. “A stonkingly good wine,” says Sam adding it is as good as any he has tasted. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $199.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Inky red black. Lovely purity of cabernet fruit on the bouquet with a fragrant almost soapy floral note and freshly sawn cedar. Mouthfilling and immediately inviting in the bright, spicy palate – a zesty fruit cake spice rather than a peppery spice with creamy oak, juicy blackcurrant and blueberry fruit, fine tannins, hints of mocha, dark chocolate biscuits and more. Beautifully structured and harmonious. Very hard not to like. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013
Inky purple red with a complex winey cedary bouquet embossed with chocolate, poached cherries and crushed red jam berries. Still very youthful with very firm tannins, cedar, cigar box, pipe tobacco, juicy redcurrant and plum fruit, leather, mocha, a hint of anise and underlying dried herbs with a hint of mint on the very dry finish. This stellar blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Merlot is definitely still unfurling. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.
 
Church Road TOM Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2014
Inky purple black with a complex aromatic and cedary bouquet with lifted red fruits and hints of camphor, violet, anise, rose spice and fragrant herbs. The palate is almost ethereal with beautifully fine tannins and a savoury frame with spicy oak supportive but never intrusive. Blackcurrant and black cherry fruit is concentrated complex and ripe, there’s a hint of chocolate, a smidgen of mint and other dried herbs and the creamy finish just seems to float. A blend of 60% Merlot from the Gimblett Gravels and 40% Cabernet from Redstone. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $199.

 

 

 

First Glass 14 June 2017
Options Night
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

Spencer Hill Trés Elegant Nelson Chardonnay 2014
Light lemon gold with a bouquet that is creamy and toasty with a hint of vanilla. It tastes smooth and toasty with roasted nut flavours, hints of citrus and peach and a savoury finish with lingering butter caramel. Delicious drinking and a good wine to begin the evening.
 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
Moderate glossy gold. Quite heady on the nose and mouth-coating and textural in the palate with an ultra smooth creamy flow. Caramel oozes from this wine that’s balanced with a nice touch of acidity and underlying polished savoury oak and has a long, focussed finish with just a suggestion of vanilla poached peach. Monterey and Santa Barbara fruit. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.
 
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Marsanne Viognier 2014 – Hawkes Bay
Delicately scented yet with loads of flavour, this is just off dry with a whisper of honeysuckle among the musky rose petal-like florals with tropical fruit and hints of coconut and apricot also coming to mind. Gentle on entry but powerful textural intensity, palate weight and length. A blend of 55% Marsanne and 45% Viognier wild fermented and matured in older oak. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Lawson Dry Hills Pioneer Series Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015
Unmistakably gewurz with its powerful musk, spice, rose oil and lychee aromas that follow through to the juicy, flavoursome taste together with hints of orange pomander. Off dry, heading towards luscious but never cloying, just beautifully balanced with seamless flow. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Giesen The Brothers Late Harvest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Sunshine gold in the glass. Honeycomb and dried apricot on the nose. Concentrated like nectar yet with bright refreshing acidity that cuts through the beeswax flavours finishing with liquid toffee and on the finish the pungency of the sauvignon blanc grape comes through. Trophy winner. 10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99 375-ml bottle.
 
Thelema Mountain Red 2008 – Western Cape, South Africa
A touch of bricking to the dark red hue hints of some age. It’s dusty and mellow on the nose but full of bright red fruit in the palate with firm tannins, a meaty depth and a smoky savoury allure. Plums, Christmas cake, cigar box and a touch of chocolate emerge and the finish is ripe and juicy. The blend includes 26% Cabernet Sauvignon,28% Merlot, 21% Petit Verdot and 22% Grenache. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015
Vibrant purple red in the glass with dark berries, cola and chocolate aromas and thick and firm in the mouthfilling palate with flavours reminiscent of purple plums, mulberries, black pepper and mocha with underlying fragrant herbs, savoury oak, touches of vanilla and a long, succulent, fulfilling and lingering finish. No 1 in Cuisine NZ Syrah tasting 2017. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Braida Montebruna Barbera d'Asti 2013 Piedmont, Italy
A deep dark red fading on the edges. The savoury, funky aroma immediately whisks me to Europe with ‘barnyard’ muttered by several people in the room. All this and more in the palate with worn leather, mercurochrome, herbs and a slight acid bite then the fruit emerges – red fruits, cherry fruits, red and blackcurrant jubes and a peppery vibe to the firm tannin finish where all those barnyard notes disappear and the fruit wins out on the day. Fascinating wine, best accompanied with food. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Quinta do Crasto ‘Crasto Superior’ 2013 – Douro DOC, Portugal
Bright blackcurrant red hue. Brooding on the nose with a sense of dark chocolate. Dense and meaty in the palate with a succulent aura. The berry fruit is ripe, almost raisined, there’s a touch of mint, a hint of chocolate, firm tannins and winey sweetness to the finish. A clean, modern wine from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Sousao grapes grown in the Upper Douro region. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
It’s a concentrated crimson-tinged red. The bouquet is like mint velvet and the taste is ripe and succulent with striking mint, chocolate and berry tones, supple tannins and a long smoky savoury finish. A cooler climate Australian red developing nicely. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Shinas Estate The Verdict Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – Mildura, South East Australia
Bright purple red. There’s purity of bramble berry fruit on the nose with perhaps a hint of leather and it tastes rich and ripe with fine-grained tannins, redcurrant and blackcurrant fruit, touches of raspberry jam, hints of chocolate and graphite and a warm spicy finish with a touch of pepper. 14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Shinas Estate The Guilty Shiraz 2015 – Mildura, South East Australia
Deep dark red. A little brooding on the nose but oh so flavoursome in the rich, ripe concentrated mouthfilling palate. It’s full of vanillin oak, coconut oak and sappy oak with loads of pepper, succulent berries, plums and black cherries, a touch of mint and loads and loads of black forest chocolate cake flavours. An enormous wine that with this vintage is right back on form. 15.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

 

 

First Glass 7 June 2017
Ten Different Varieties
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Verdelho 2016
Golden in colour with a fruity aromatic allure and the taste is spicy with a touch of pineapple adding brightness to the mellow yellow fruit flavours with perhaps a hint a melon jam. There is palate concentration throughout and a touch of gunsmoke infusing the bright fruity zingy finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Villa Maria Library Release Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Glorious golden yellow with a full, complex and aromatic bouquet that has a waft of vanillin oak and brightness to the fruit. Smoky and toasty in the rounded, mouthfilling palate with hints of stone fruit and a creamy flow. There’s plenty of oak and a lovely touch of caramel to the deliciously satisfying finish with still enough acidity to keep it on the road - and best of all it can be well chilled. Keltern and Ngakirikiri vineyards.13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $54.99.
 
Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
Light gold in hue with a medley of apple on the nose – heritage apple, slightly stewed apple, lemon and apple – and an attractive delicate floral blossomy note wafting through. Flinty, steely and crisp in the palate with apple and Nashi pear and a zing of aromatic spice on the lingering finish that is softened with a touch of honey. Surprised several pinot gris detractors who, when tasting blind, found they liked it. Made by Mt Difficulty. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015
Light golden hued with powerfully fragrant rose musk and Turkish delight following through to the strong flavoured zingy spice taste that’s on the sweeter side of off dry with a bit of sweet/sour tension mid palate and a powerful finish. Thai food will make this wine sing. 14% alc. Screwcap. b
 
Lauregan Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 – Central Hawkes Bay
This deep Burgundy-hued wine is in an attractively presented bottle with no indication of origin on the front label, which is good because it’s definitely not your typical kiwi fruit-forward style. The bouquet is smoky, savoury and just a little gamey with wafts of dark cherry and brambles while firm tannins and savoury, earthy, leather, bacon brine, mushroom and gamey notes fill the palate. A sensuous funky Burgundy look-alike with considerable depth. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Guigal Côtes Du Rhône 2012 – Rhone, France
Vibrant dark red with a touch of cerise. The bouquet is quite savoury with hints of red plum, pepper and graphite and it is full-bodied and juicy in the palate with fine tannins, underlying savoury notes, loads of pepper and plum stone. Made from a blend of 50% Syrah, 45% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, it has more of a winey sweetness than a distinctive fruit sweetness and the lingering finish is velvety and long. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Sardòn 2014 – Castilla y León, Spain
Vibrant purple red with considerable saturation. Restrained on the nose with hints of rhubarb and berry jam, yet the taste overflows with ripe, fruity, almost raisiny flavours. A big, mouthfilling, instantly gratifying wine with juicy red fruit, hints of paint box, dusty tannins, dark earthy notes and blood warming heat. Made from 93% Tempranillo blended with Garnacha, Cabernet and Malbec. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Petit Pissarres 2015 – Priorat, Spain
A bright, saturated deep ruby hue with a fruity bouquet and a fresh taste with firm yet supple tannins. Smooth flowing across the palate with ripe red cherry / glace cherry fruit, underlying savoury notes that hint of tobacco and cigar box and a long creamy finish with a spicy lift. Made from 60% Garnacha and 40% Sanso (aka Carignan). Nice. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Quarisa Enchanted Tree Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Concentrated and intense with brightness to the purple red hue it has powerful coconut American oak aromas and considerable structure and well-balanced savouriness in the palate. It tastes full-bodied, plush, lush and beautifully rounded with fine silky tannins, juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, coconut and vanilla oak and spicy accents with hints of pepper. Gold and Trophy NZIWS.  Fabulous value. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99 or by the case $14.99 p.b.
 
Houghton’s Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Frankland River, Western Australia
Inky black red with crimson edges. Initially brooding and earthy on the nose before revealing a concentrated fruit scent with a touch of mint stalk. Bright from the outset in the full-bodied, concentrated, plush-tannined, creamy flowing palate with vanilla, cedar, juicy red and black currant fruit and chocolate raisins. It’s plump and plush with spicy oak and a very subtle suggestion of mint and a deliciously rounded, creamy, long juicy finish. Regarded as one of Australia’s greatest Cabernets, it is a blend of 93% Cab Sav, 3% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $56.99.
 
Krohn Quinto de Retiro Novo 2009 – Rio Torto Valley, Portugal
Bright, glossy, impenetrable black red in the glass. The raisiny, port wine scent is aromatically intoxicating and the mouthfeel is enveloping and luxuriously velvety. It tastes spicy, hot, spirituous and heady with succulent jammy red berries together with brandy macerated raisins, hints of liquorice, a touch of cigar box and an almost everlasting finish. Champion Fortified Wine, NZIWS. 20% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $65.99.

 

 

First Glass May 31 2017
Northern Hemisphere v Southern Hemisphere
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2014 California, USA
Light gold in hue with sweet smoky oak and tropical fruit aromas and bright in the palate with tropical fruit to the fore, a touch of canned apricot over brown sugar custard, spicy oak and a slight malo influence to the savoury finish. Easy drinking style and a great price for an introduction to Californian wine. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 2012 Burgundy, France
This chardonnay is an intense citrine and bright in the glass. The bouquet offers up sizzled butter notes infused with cedar and it is bold and toasty in the palate with spicy oak, juicy stone fruit, a zingy flash of mandarin, an oily mouth-coating texture and a touch of lanolin on the long, savoury finish. Impressive. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $102.
 
Westbrook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
It’s golden in colour, the bouquet is full of zest and sweet winey notes while savoury oak and nutty, leesy barrel ferment characters fill the palate with fairly restrained notes of stonefruit, tingles of sherbet and a lingering suggestion of spice. Kingsley says really starting to hit its straps. 13.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Dr Loosen Ürziger Würtzgarden Kabinett Riesling 2015 Mosel, Germany
The bouquet of this pale coloured wine offers up lemon/lime pith with the merest hint of kero and a faint suggestion of honey and the taste is fresh and bright and a little suggestive of green apple cider – both flavour and lightly spritzy texture. A quenching off dry style with spine tingling acidity and a lemon and honey finish. “Racy acidity – lively – low alcohol,’ says Sam. 8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 

Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Waipara Riesling 2014
Deep gold coloured. The bouquet is orange honey and brulee toffee with hints of beeswax that’s even more obvious in the bright spritzy palate where the tingly vibrancy is a nice foil to the golden syrup / honeyed sweetness. Made from late harvest grapes fermented to dryness, which makes the alcohol higher, this is a concentrated, weighty style with a long rich finish. 14.5% alc. Cork/Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.
 
Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru 2014 Burgundy, France
This is a gamey savoury style of pinot noir with a translucent strawberry jam hue. There’s a whiff of cowpat under the raspberry coulis scent and it is medium-bodied in the palate with upfront moderately firm dry tannins, a slight herbal edge and sour cherry on the silky finish. Brooding in its youth but classically Burgundian with lots of promise. Made to accompany food. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
The colour is a rich cerise rimmed magenta hue – ‘the colour of raspberry jam,’ says Jim. Enticingly fragrant and full-bodied in the palate with velvety tannins, succulent cherry fruit, spicy oak, touches of anise and toasty notes together with pinot’s quintessential savouriness. Rich, fruity, supple and generous. Gold Easter Show. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Chateau Des Ganfards Bergerac Rouge 2014 France
Youthful pinky red.  The bouquet is succulent and inviting with concentrated fruit, a hint of chalk dust and leafy notes. There's a suggestion of chocolate on first tasting and the fruit is in the red plum spectrum. with medium-bodied palate weight and a long savoury finish. A food friendly style made from 100% Merlot. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Te Awa Single Estate Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2014
Concentrated purple red. Opulent aromas of vanilla and cedar and savoury and spicy in the full-bodied palate that’s brimming with creamy oak, opulent ‘velvet cloak’ tannins and well-balanced sappy notes. Mouth filling and supple with oodles of concentration and flavour and outstanding quality for the price. Gold AirNZ. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Toño Hawkes Bay Tempranillo 2014
A young wine in many respects yet the pinky red colour is starting to break up on the edges to correlate to the age. It’s savoury on the nose – a little leafy with cherry fruit and perhaps a hint of chicory and pepper.  Medium-bodied, savoury and slightly gamey to the taste with brambly fruit and a long, clean, juicy finish. One of Ant McKenzie’s labels. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Pesquera Condado de Haza Crianza 2012 Ribera del Duero, Spain
The intriguing bouquet of this inky dark red tempranillo offers up earthy, savoury, leathery, mercurochrome notes with cowpats in the brambles. Full-bodied, plush and velvety in the palate with a frame of acidity around succulent red fruits, touches of  pepper, vanillin oak and a long brooding finish where a suggestion of strawberry chocolate emerges. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Shingleback The Davey Estate Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
Inky purple red. The bouquet of spicy cedar and red berry fruit is infused with creamy vanilla. It tastes like a youthful sweet-fruited dry red with a spicy complexity, silky tannins, concentrated purple fruit, touches of vanilla and cedar all building to a long smooth finish with an earthy pepper savouriness. 14% alc. Screwcap First Glass Price: $22.99.

 

 

First Glass 24 May 2017
Brand New to First Glass
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
RM Wines Mister Chardonnay 2016 – Hawkes Bay
The bouquet hints of tropical fruit with a lightly toasty polished oak flair. Served chilled it tastes young and flinty with fresh polish and edgy stonefruit but when it warms up it’s soft with apple, pear and fleshy peach tones and a much richer, creamy finish. Mister is the new name for Rod McDonald’s former ‘One Off’ label but this is still a master and needs to be swaddled for a little while longer.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Tony Bish Wines Fat and Sassy Chardonnay 2016 – Hawkes Bay
There's a slightly oily / shea butter nuance to the scent and the taste lives up to the name with sassy savoury oak and fat almost buttery creamy flavours together with generous very ripe fruit and zest on the finish leaving a tingly aftertaste. Tony Bish calls this “old school style”.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Bogle Reserve Clarksburg Chardonnay 2014 – California, USA
Golden in colour with a glorious caramel toffee aroma and smooth flowing and seamless in the palate with lashings of malt, cream, fleshy peach, coconutty American oak and an ultra long mouthfilling finish that, to quote Heather, “keeps on giving.” And for Lesley and me there were flashback memories of Mackintosh’s Harrogate (yellow wrapper) and egg and cream (orange wrapper) toffees. Big, rich and swooningly delish.
14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Theory And Practice Pinot Gris 2016 – Hawkes Bay
This is a rich, satisfying, mouth-filling pinot gris with a heady scent that hints of musk and violets and fruit flavours reminiscent of spiced quince and pear. It has considerable palate weight with a creamy texture and flow, a sweetness level on the cusp of off dry and a savoury undercurrent to the lingering aftertaste. 40% of the wine had wild ferment and partial mlf in large ‘Fuder’ oak barrels, the remainder fermented in tank. Ant McKenzie's own label. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Falconhead Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
A young looking pinot with a savoury, slightly gamey, slightly cherryish aroma and smooth, juicy and easy going in the medium-bodied palate. It tastes savoury and just a little gamey with bright cranberry and cherry fruit, mulled wine spices and a fine tannin finish. 4 stars and Best Buy in Cuisine. A little cracker actually.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
I Muri Primitivo 2016 – Puglia, Italy
This has a bright, intense, inky, magenta hue. The smoky bouquet is like blackberry jam on toast and it is juicy and generous in the smooth flowing medium to full-bodied palate where fleshy purple fruit is infused with a smoky, cigar box savouriness, a hint of violet, a touch of cocoa, cake spices and a long creamy finish where brighter red fruits emerge. Lots to love in the brand new vintage.
13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Quarisa Johnny Q Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
The colour is a deep rich ruby. The bouquet offers up chocolate biscuits, vanilla, cedar and berry jam and it tastes spicy and peppery with fine chocolate dust tannins, plummy fruit and a juicy finish with a touch of eucalypt/mint and a pleasing firmness to the lingering aftertaste. Kingsley describes it as smooth, easy and not too complex for everyday drinking. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
RM Wines Quarter Acre Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015
Purple and fine in the glass. The bouquet is plummy and it is fine textured with silky tannins in the juicy yet refined and elegant medium-bodied palate. It’s full of plump blackberry and plum fruit with a touch of pepper, a judicious touch of savoury oak and a creaminess adding generosity to the finish where the silky textural finesse is an outstanding feature. A quadruple trophy winner at the 2017 London International Wine Challenge including the esteemed accolade of Best International Syrah.
13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Langmeil Valley Floor Barossa Shiraz 2014 – South Australia
Inky purple red with Roses chocolate box aromas and big, generous, juicy red and black berry flavours infused with lashings of creamy vanillin oak, mint, spice, pepper, chocolate, mocha and more. It’s a beautifully structured and harmonious full-bodied red with soft pillowy tannins and while seductive and comfortable already, it’s one of those wines that will evolve over many many years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
A saturated black red in the glass. Raspberries float off the bouquet that's deep and brooding and complex with hints of vanilla and finely spiced cedar and it is texturally superb in the palate with its fine-grained svelte tannins and depth of flavour. ‘Sweet tannins,’ says Colin. A complex wine with ripe berry fruit, hints of violets, vanilla, cream and beautifully integrated spices. A standout wine on the night that offers equally much as some wines you could pay two or three times the price for. “Sensational,” says Kingsley. We agreed.
14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $48.99.
 
Beach House Noble Chardonnay 2016 – Hawkes Bay
The colour of sunshine on a blue sky day this has an enticing nectar and honeysuckle bouquet while the texture is like fine syruppy nectar. Bright acidity balances the orange toffee and candied peach and apricot fruit flavours and the overall impression is sweet yet refreshing with a lingering finish.
12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99. 375-ml.

 

 

First Glass May 17 2017
Mostly New New New
Notes by Sue Courtney
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.
 

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.

 

 

First Glass 10 May 2017
An evening with Steven Bennett MW
Notes by Sue Courtney
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 Rod McDonald holding the winemaking reins. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 

Thorny Devil Old Vine Barossa Grenache 2015 – South Australia
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.

 

 

 

First Glass 3 May 2016

Simply Delicious

Notes by Sue Courtney

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: $33.99.

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 / full 750 ml bottle.

 

 

First Glass 27 Apr 2017
Options Night
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Clark Estate Block 8 Marlborough Riesling 2015
A light delicate style with an attractive lime sherbet bouquet and tangy lemon, lime and apple jelly flavours with a touch of kero in the background and a nectar-like touch to the finish. It's clean and refreshing and a perfect start to the evening. Two golds. Trophy. 8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
The scent of juicy grilled peach and biscuity notes are tantalising and the wine is beautifully harmonious in its flow across the palate. It’s toasty and creamy with nutty barrel ferment complexities, juicy stonefruit and the brightness of zesty grapefruit on the finish.  Almost perfect and five star value.13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This seems to be a change of direction for this label. At first it seems very dry and restrained with cheesy malo notes that make me think France - a cooler climate style with flavours of lemon pie then toasty oak pushes through with a touch of peach and vanilla and the finish is juicy and long. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
This proudly flaunts classic pinot gris poached pear and apple strudel aromas and flavours with a honeyed sweetness to the finish and a zesty brightness tickling the tongue as the wine lingers. 30% of the wine was fermented in barrel and it’s just off dry with 8 g/l residual sugar. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Peregrine Rastasburn Central Otago Riesling 2014
This is moderately rich and weighty for Riesling. It’s a light golden colour, there’s an intriguing bouquet that reminds me of bath salts and it’s starting to show some kero characters that come with a little age. In the mouth it’s spritzy and while there’s a touch of sweetness the overall impression is dry with lashings of apple on the persistent yellow fruit finish. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Black Peak Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014
Deep ruby violet with an attractive bouquet of woodsmoke, bottled spiced cherries and thyme. Generous in the silky textured palate with spicy savoury oak to the fore, juicy cherry and plum fruit and lifted acidity on the finish. From a vineyard on the Queensbury Hills near Wanaka, this is a big pinot that would benefit from a little more time. 13.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.
 
Antinori Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore 2013 Tuscany, Italy
This is a dark red colour, the bouquet offers up leather and tar with sweet brambly fruit wafting  through and the taste is dry and savoury with moderately firm tannins, herbs and tobacco, a little sour cherry upfront then a cherry jam sweetness evolving. It’s nicely balanced with classic Chianti characters and a juicy mouthfilling finish. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Bodega Piedra Negra Alta Coleccion Malbec 2016 Mendoza, Argentina
This youthful, bright red-black hued wine has oodles of bright fruit aromas and flavours in a medium-bodied package. It’s soft and juicy with a hint of cigar box, a touch of vanilla, plums, blueberries, rosehip conserve, herbs and spice and a lingering finish. Certified organic. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Langmeil Blacksmith Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 South Australia
Inky black red. Vanillin oak and red berries tease the nose and the first impression in the palate is a eucalypt/mint feast. This is a big wine and seems quite oaky to start but there is a plethora of juicy blackberry and black currant fruit to tame it. The tannins are silky and fine and there’s a classic Cabernet lift to the savoury finish with touches of pepper and mint chocolate lingering. A bit of a charmer. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.
 
Kilikanoon Killermans Run Clare Valley Shiraz 2015 South Australia
Deep dark red with purple tints to the edges. Chocolate dust on the nose and concentrated in the palate with black pepper, savoury oak and an intriguing tarry note. Fruit is reminiscent of black cherries and blueberries, the tannins are fine with a velvet fringe, there’s a suggestion of Oreo biscuits and just a smidgen of mint on the finish where vanillin oak lingers. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Esk Valley Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2013
Inky blackberry red with a bouquet that is reminiscent of a well worn leather jacket as well as more classic chocolate box, cedar and bramble berries. A massive chewy wine in the sumptuous palate with fine and moderately dry tannins, sappy oak, herbs, mint, graphite and succulent berries. This is a stellar wine and is developing beautifully with many years to go.  Two golds. Trophy. 14% alc. Cork/Screwcap. First Glass Price: $54.99.

 

 

First Glass 19 April 2017

Dare to be Different

Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 

Soljans Fusion Sparkling Muscat NV – Gisborne

The bouquet is redolent of sweet apples and muscat grapes and the juicy sweet / tart grapey flavours continue in the soft, foamy and gently spritzy palate with a subtle hint of anise and then, on the aftertaste, the merest hint of spearmint leaf. This multiple gold medal winner has medium sweetness and is best served very chilled as an aperitif or after dinner with fruit salad. 8.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.

Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2015 – Stellenbosch, South Africa

Reasonably golden in colour with a ripe, fruity bouquet that offers up bright tropical fruit and melon with yellow skin heritage apples also coming to mind. It’s full-bodied and reasonably complex with chardonnay-like palate weight and chenin’s hallmark acidity initially tamed by a mead-like honey richness but singing brightly on the very long finish. Lovely example of South Africa’s number one white grape. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Giesen The August Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

This is brightly aromatic with passionfruit honey, roasted citrus peel, wild yeast and oak barrel notes. It’s a full-bodied, mouthcoating wine and and while it initially tastes a little oily and 'funky’ from the wild yeast fermentation, the sweetness of the tropical fruit melds into the savoury backbone with grapefruit zest zinging through the incredibly long and pungent finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.

Te Mata Estate Zara Viognier 2016 – Hawkes Bay

This is a lustrous citrine hue and the bouquet offers haunting scents of apricot, mango and tropical fruit that is ripe, bright and sweet to the taste. It’s lightly oily in texture with musky spices and a touch of white pepper while the use of neutral oak adds palate weight and a harmonious complexity but only the most subtle oak taste. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $26.99.

Simonsig Chardonnay 2014 – Stellenbosch, South Africa

This is a yellow-gold hue with smoky oak and buttered roasted nut on the nose and quite dry in the palate with mellow yellow fruit and a soft oily / creamy note. Quite a full fat heading-towards-butterscotch style with well-balanced toasty oak and nutty notes and while obviously chardonnay there is something quite different – the South African ‘x’ factor perhaps. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA

Light gold in hue with lashings of peach and a hum of spicy cedar filling the bouquet and peach upfront in the palate with sweet toasty oak, marshmallow, citrus and spice, underlying savoury notes and hints of ‘banana bikes’ on the lingering mouth-coating finish. Bright and fresh and oozing finesse. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $25.99.

Gilles Robin Papillon d Leonie et Lucie Crozes-Hermitage 2015 – Rhone Valley, France

Saturated purple black with a bouquet that’s dry and savoury with peppery spices, tar and leather. In the mouth it’s a well-structured, meaty red with firm fine-textured tannins, cigar box and pepper, wonderfully juicy Black Doris plums, blueberries and black cherries and a nuance of liquorice on the mouth-filling finish. This stunning 100% Syrah pitches way above its price point and the ‘free wing’ butterfly on the label adds its overall charm. This bottle had been open 90 minutes before tasting so decanting is recommended. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Vidgal Porta 6 2015 – Lisbon, Portugal

This blend of Tinta Roriz, Castelao and Tinta Muida grapes is a deep pink red in the glass. Sweet red berries and tobacco fill the bouquet and the smooth taste is dry, savoury and just a little gamey with red pepper, sappy oak, red plums and raisined cranberries, a touch of raspberry liquorice and a velvety warmth to the juicy medium-bodied finish. The packaging is also fun with its colourful arty label. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Mission Estate Vineyard Selection Merlot 2015 – Hawkes Bay

Youthful pinky red with a concentrated cherry and blueberry scent mingling with a touch of cedar.  It tastes fruity yet quite savoury with tobacco, cigar box, tar and leather and while very dry, a touch of dried mint adds brightness to the finish. A medium-bodied red that needs food to counteract the dry tannins and cheese went well on the night. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Castello di Radda Guss Merlot 2011 – Toscana, Italy

Deep dark red with the slightest of bricking on the edges. The nose is ultra inviting with ripe, juicy fruit vanillin oak and a gamey, meaty allure. It’s soft and velvety on entry to the palate with oodles of creamy vanillin oak, hot peppery spices, cherries, cigar box, tobacco, chocolate and liquorice and pillowy tannins that  become more assertive on the finish.  This full-bodied red made from 100% Merlot is really quite spectacular but does need time. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $91.

Williams & Humbert Don Zoilo12 Year Old PX Sherry – Jerez, Spain

Dark mahogany in the glass with a heady lifted bouquet of liqueur macerated raisins, hot treacle and sherry’s unique ‘rancio’ character. Thick & viscous in the palate with a myriad of mouthcoating flavours like cedar, spice, treacle, Christmas cake, preserved orange peel and Muscatel raisins with a cosy warmth to the finish where the unctuous flavours linger for ages. 18% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.

 

 

 

First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday 12 April 2017
State of Origin
(Wines that come from the areas they are chiefly recognised from)
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Forrest Marlborough Riesling 2010
This pre-taster to the main event has apple blossom on the nose and tastes crisp, fresh and super dry with bracing racy acidity and flavours reminiscent of Roses lime juice and green apple fried in a little butter with fullness to the finish and a hint of honey emerging. Seven years old and in terrific condition, still nowhere near full development. 12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru Montée dé Tonnerre 2014 – France
After a momentary whiff of struck match the shy and delicate citrus pith bouquet has a desirable hint of creamy malo. It’s flinty and steely in the mouth with fresh apple acidity, not quite ripe peach and greengage plum becoming fuller on the finish and the lingering flavours hint of lemon cream. Classic unoaked chardonnay from Burgundy’s Chablis. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $60.99.
 
Dr L Loosen Mosel Riesling 2015 – Germany
The bouquet is moderately expressive with fruit tree blossoms, green grapes and chalk and the scintillating flavours in the medium sweet palate are a harmony of green apple, lime sherbet and honeysuckle. A crisp and fresh yet delicate Riesling with finesse and length.  8.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Le Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rosé 2016 – Rhone Valley, France
A very desirable delicate pink hue and a fragrant red berry aroma introduce this 'very fresh' off dry rosé with raspberry drop lolly and bramble leaf flavours and bright vibes of zest and spice. A tasty blend of Syrah and Grenache, this is exceptional value and nicely packaged too. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Chermette Les Griottes Beaujolais 2016 - Burgundy, France
This is an inky blackcurrant hue and it smells warm and inviting with its concentrated black cherry conserve and subtle spice scent. Velvety in the mouth with sumptuous blackberry and cherry fruit and underlying savoury notes. Made from Gamay Noir grapes, this is fresh, juicy and immensely sippable right now and a wonderful insight into the more serious side of Beaujolais. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Gilles Robin ‘Terroir des Chassis’ Crozes-Hermitage 2014 – Rhone, France
Dark red in hue with a fine appearance. Delicately floral on the nose with a dusting of cocoa. The taste offers up initial savoury earthy notes with fresh acidity, a touch of pepper, subtle cherry and blueberry fruit, fine youthful tannins and well integrated oak with perhaps a hint of mint on the lingering juicy finish. Made from Syrah. 13 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Velenosi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 – Piceno, Italy
Inky black red – bright in the glass. Smoky and savoury on the nose and quite earthy and savoury in the palate to start then juicy sweet plummy fruit wells up and stands its ground. A fresh, young wine with velvety tannins, fruit cake spices and a long meaty finish and despite the smoky nuances that initially waft through it evidently has no oak. Ripe and fleshy and ready to enjoy now. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Muriel Rioja Crianza 2013 – Rioja, Spain
This deep dark red-hued wine has a wonderfully fragrant bouquet like blackberry jam infused with cedar and mint and the flavours are crammed with plums, cherries, spice and liquorice with sappy vanillin oak and perhaps a hint of tobacco. It’s bright in the mouth with silky tannins, a meaty richness and an underlying tarry savouriness and the lingering finish is long, juicy and flavoursome. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Simonsig Pinotage 2014 – Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dark red with a fine appearance. Chocolate and leafy herbs on the nose. Smooth and creamy in the palate with concentrated red fruits, touches of spice and a well-balanced slightly herbal, slightly gamey savouriness. Seems medium bodied in its palate expression with harmonious flow and a slight confectionary (boiled red lolly) note emerging on the fresh lingering finish. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
The Crusher Petite Syrah 2014 – California, USA
Inky black red. Berries, spice and vanillin oak fill the bouquet and it's bright and spicy in the palate with firm velvety tannins, creamy oak, loads of fruits of the forest berries with the slightest suggestion of mint. Very juicy and flavoursome and ready to go. 13 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2015 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Dark red. Creamy oak, mulberries, hints of chocolate and sweet spices fill the bouquet and it is bright and spicy in the full-bodied, creamy textured palate with silk-edged soft velvet tannins together with mocha, chocolate and vanilla and plump macerated plums and cherries. Smooth, harmonious and super seductive on the night. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

 

 

First Glass April 5 2017
Chardonnay and Shiraz
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Kahurangi Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2015
Golden with a fragrant lemon-infused nutty oak bouquet. Fresh tasting with bright tropical fruit, accents of citrus (orange marmalade comes to mind), underlying mealy notes, vanilla-tinged savoury oak and a long smooth juicy finish with lingering notes of peach. Smooth and not too overpowering. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Neudorf Rosie's Block Nelson Chardonnay 2015
Light lemon gold with subtle smoky nuances to the nutty, oatmeal bouquet that also hints of stonefruit. Bright and fresh with a light dance of lemonades across the palate becoming more savoury and nutty with a funky wild yeast leesy character evolving and a very dry finish. Needs more time but would be great with a creamy sauce to cut through the still taut acidity. FYI, not a ‘Kingsley style’. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Delegat Crownthorpe Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Rich lemon gold. The bouquet is a little shy but the taste is full of flavour. It’s malty and savoury with honeyed oak, grilled peach and a harmonious creamy flow. Acidity is nicely integrated and the wine can be well chilled. Ready to go now. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Greystone Waipara Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2015
Glossy gold with a rich full bouquet of nutty oak and peach, then bold and savoury in the palate with a creamy texture and flavours of malt, cedar, grilled stonefruit, cashew, sumac spices and underlying touches of grapefruit. A mouthfilling wine with harmonious flow and an impressively long finish, and it can take moderate chilling. 14.2% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Church Road Grand Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
This is a glorious wine. It’s citrine in hue. Tantalising smoky French oak and grapefruit fill the bouquet and the taste is rich, creamy, toasty and harmonious with nutty yeast lees and vanilla biscuit notes, gorgeous savoury oak, spice and zest. The acidity is accented yet beautifully integrated and the golden peach and tropical fruit flavours linger with haunting nuances of woodsmoke. Sophisticated yet more-ish, it really is the full package.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Taylors Clare Valley Shiraz 2015
This bright hued red is creamy and spicy on the nose with generous plummy fruit and vanilla-tinged oak. More medium bodied in palate weight with primary plum and berry fruit, lifted acidity, chocolate biscuits, smoky oak, fine tannins and a touch of char on the finish. Adorned with nine gold medal stickers and unbelievable value for money.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.
 
Sisters Run Epiphany McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
Sweet and juicy from the outset – it’s spicy, chocolatey, bright and juicy with tannins that are structured yet supple, hints of pepper, blackberry and black cherry fruit, purple violets and something a little intriguing, a little leafy – perhaps tobacco or perhaps dried mint but tending more and more toward spearmint as the flavours linger. A new label for us and an impressive debut.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
The chocolate-infused bouquet is aromatic and spicy with bright brambly fruit and the taste is rich and velvety with generous blackberry and mulberry fruit together with chocolate, mocha, pepper, Black Forest cake and vanilla and a meaty richness to the finish – delivers everything you expect from the Vale with mouthfilling satisfaction and a lasting finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
The chocolate box and black cherry bouquet is immediately captivating and the taste is rich, ripe and full with voluptuous velvety tannins, vanillin oak, juicy mulberry fruit, double chocolate biscuits, touches of mint and a meaty depth to the bright creamy finish that is mouthfilling and long. Offers so much gratification for a $20 bill.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Henry's Drive Dead Letter Office Padthaway Shiraz 2014
Sweet vanillin oak and red fruit fill the bouquet – I sense a hint of strawberry that also shimmies through the taste. There’s a point of difference to this cooler climate wine – it’s a little tarry with hints of rose hips, lovely fine tannins, smoky oak, cigar box and touches of mint and lingers beautifully with finesse, clarity and harmony. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Haselgrove First Cut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
Concentrated black fruit and wafts of empty chocolate box fill the bouquet that has an aura of finesse and class. Ripe and juicy to the taste with fruits of the forest and Black Forest cake with red pepper adding a spicy heat and the 30-second aftertaste is red berries and vanilla cream. Tannins are beautifully fine – more silky than velvety – but the oak is still a little woody on the finish so would benefit from a little more time. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Molly Dooker The Boxer McLaren Vale / Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2015
This is a rich, ripe, juicy blockbuster. Concentrated red and black fruits fill the bouquet with a dusting of chocolate and a suggestion of liquorice and it’s deliciously spicy in the smooth creamy palate with bright fruit reminiscent of blueberries, mulberries and black cherries together with a touch of chocolate on a bed of plush velvety tannins. It’s cosy and enveloping with a blood warming feel, underlying vanillin oak and a touch of savouriness bringing it into balance. The most spiciest and peppery of the red wines tonight, this heady high alcohol red is dangerously seductive.
16% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 

 

 

First Glass March 22 2017
International Varieties and New Wednesday Wines
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Crafters Union Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2016
The subtle yet fruity bouquet is evocative of stonefruit and vanilla poached pear and the taste is fresh and crisp with upfront crunchy apple and quince becoming softer and textural mid palate with a nutty savouriness, a zing of aromatic spices and tropical fruit brightening up the lingering finish. It seems to me just off dry and with its attractive packaging it is an all round crowd pleaser. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Beach House Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
The initial sense of orange blossom / orange sherbet on the nose is joined by a whisper of sweet nutty oak and it’s youthful and bright in the palate with a creamy butterscotch flow, touches of stonefruit and a roundness to the finish with there’s a lovely zing of citrus and more and more butter caramel emerging as the flavours linger. . But very attractive and appealing at this stage. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Brancott Letter Series 'O' Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This oozes class from the outset. The bouquet is nutty and mealy with shortcake crust, brioche, gunsmoke and wild yeast scents and there is plenty of oomph and flavour in the palate that’s harmonious throughout. I get juicy ripe stonefruit, a touch of grapefruit zest, all those lovely nutty, mealy connotations, beautifully integrated creamy oak and a long, concentrated finish. Outrageously good and an excellent follow on from the Trophy winning 2015 edition. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Soho White Collection Marlborough Rose 2016
Crisp and fresh, with just a touch of blush to the hue, it has a pinot gris-like poached pear scent followed by light pinot noir-like strawberry fruit in the palate. A light playful, zingy, medium dry style very suitable for lunch or an aperitif. Gold NZIWS. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
San Marzano Talo Primitivo Di Manduria 2014 – Southern Italy
Saturated black red. Quite tarry and smoky on the nose with a touch of cedar and a sweet spicy allure. Concentrated and ripe in the palate with vanillin oak, sun-baked cherries and currants, sumptuous pillowy tannins, touches of tar and game that balance the fruit beautifully, and a little bit of grip revealing there is indeed structure to this generous, velvety wine. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Ruffino Modus IGT 2012 – Tuscany, Italy
Start to show a little bricking to the black red hue. Cedary / leathery on the nose. Earthy, savoury and firm in the palate that has an ‘old school’ rusticity with a slight oxidative note, a touch of brett, sappy oak, a suggestion of herb, and the fruit is heading towards prunes. A blend of 50%, Sangiovese, 25% Merlot and 25%, it’s made to go with food. Ruffino suggests bold dishes such as duck with olives and pancetta, beef-stuffed manicotti with Bolognese sauce, and aged cheeses including taleggio, pecorino and gouda. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico 2011 – Tuscany, Italy
There's translucency to the brick red hue. Dried redcurrants, cherries and drying out cow pats on the nose. Fine textured in the palate that's very dry and showing bottle age characters like tobacco, cigar box and leather with underlying game and herbs, lifted red fruits and orange acidity. There's a halo of velvety warmth and sweetness to the very persistent finish but with its age-worthy high acid and high tannins this blend of 80% Sangiovese with 20% Merlot and Cabernet definitely needs food. Ruffino suggests traditional Italian dishes such as pasta Bolognese, wild boar ragù, and eggplant Parmesan. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi 2014 – Sardinia
Vibrant blackberry hue. The lavish bouquet oozes sweet vanillin oak, red berries and a subtle nuance of mint but there’s a suggestion of game meat too. Quite savoury in the palate with cigar box-like oak and plump ripe plum and cherry fruit pushing through. An immediately impressive wine with supple tannins, juicy fruit and a mouth enveloping finish with touches of liquorice, it’s made from a blend of 60% Carignano and 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. Absolutely worth trying this unique Sardinian offering from the producer of the legendary Super Tuscan Sassicaia. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Calabria Three Bridges Durif 2015 – NSW, Australia
Inky purple red with vibrancy and concentration. A big, dark, rich, sumptuous monster with pillowy tannins and mouthfilling sweet ripe fruit reminiscent of plums, blackberries and black cherries together with chocolate, vanillin oak, tar, spice, pepper and refreshing acidity lifting the finish. From the grapes known as Petit Sirah in California, this juicy wine is ready. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Vasse Felix Filius Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2014 – Western Australia
It’s deep in colour with a savoury aura to the bouquet together blackcurrant, spicy cedar and a hint of mint. And it's definitely savoury on the more medium-bodied palate with vanillin oak, a gamey undercurrent and a hum of acidity in the background. The tannins initially make the wine seem quite dry then a juicy blackcurrant and plummy fruit sweetness surges through with fruitcake nuances to the smooth succulent finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
The colour is blackberry red. There’s chocolate dust on the nose and the taste is opulent and lush. It’s a big wine but the tannins are fine, the red and black fruits are juicy and ripe and there’s lots of mocha and pepper. There’s everything you expect in Barossa shiraz with a well balanced savoury undercurrent and glowing alcohol warmth to the lingering finish of chocolate coated berries. A little more forward than the previous vintage. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.

 

 

First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday
15 March 2017
Alastair Maling MW
with a selection from Foley Family Wines

Notes by Sue Courtney

 
Te Kairanga Martinborough Riesling 2014
This is straw gold in hue with an intense lime, talc and apple skin bouquet and refreshing in the palate with racy acidity and flavours that morph from crisp apple to citrus to apple butter with a welcome sliver of sweetness on the long, persistent, invigorating finish. 12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Vavasour Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Wow, this is vivaciously aromatic. The ravishing tropical fruit scent has passionfruit highlights and gooseberry pungency and the flavours are crisp and tangy with juicy stonefruit joining tropical fruit, a squeeze of citrus, tomato stalk in the background, salivating salinity and a rounded finish. Made from 100% Awatere fruit, it’s ‘da bomb with oysters’ says Alastair. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Te Kairanga Martinborough Chardonnay 2016
This newly bottled lemon-hued wine is youthfully restrained on the nose with a hint of peach skin and subtle malo / butter / caramel notes while the flavours offer up stonefruit with a zesty undercurrent and a nutty richness to the warm, long, expansive finish that hints it will unfold nicely in the months to come. Alastair says it has drinkability with natural acidity and elegance and finesse. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay 2014 – California, USA
This is a moderate gold hue. The full bouquet suggests buttered toasty oak and it’s toasty in the palate with underlying zesty vibes, loads of juicy stonefruit (canned apricot comes to mind), and a creamy / buttery feel to the seamless flowing, long lasting finish that's flushed with butterscotch and caramel. It's rich, powerful and bold with instant mouthfilling satisfaction. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Te Kairanga John Martin Martinborough Chardonnay 2014
The bouquet is tantalisingly mealy and nutty with smoky French oak that oozes finesse and the flavours are elegantly stylish, toasty and nutty with modern winemaking flare. There’s peach and nectarine with hints of vanilla and lime-infused chantilly cream and lovely mealy barrel ferment complexities with the oak integrated beautifully and terrific length. “With only 15% new oak it’s all about capturing the fruit,” says Alastair. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.
 
Vavasour Anna's Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
This is a rich, savoury, mouthfilling style of Chardonnay with malo and wild yeast adding intrigue. There’s a buttery nuance to the bouquet and it’s toasty in the palate with concentration to the semi-dried peach and nectarine fruit that mingles with ripe citrus with a touch of hokey pokey and biscuity oak in the background. Alastair explains the grapes hang on the vines a little longer to get the flavours. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014 – California, USA
The bouquet is initially all about restraint. There’s an intriguing oily character – hair oil maybe – and then peaches and cream. Initially quite citrussy in the palate then fattening up nicely with a touch of butterscotch together with peach, nectarine, vanilla and nutty oak and the finish is warm, rich and rounded with a touch of spice. From a cooler coastal-influenced site and aged in French and Hungarian oak, this fascinating chardonnay is not what we expect from Cali and definitely oozes class. 14.1% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
Brilliant translucent ruby hue. Savoury and inviting on the pretty perfumed bouquet that’s flushed with vanilla tinged oak and red berries like the tiny Chilean guava. Juicy red plums, red guavas and bittersweet cherry in the medium-bodied palate that has a silky flow and just a little underlying earthy grip like you get in some Villages Burgundies, with delightful harmonious gamey notes infusing the finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2014
This is a saturated dark ruby hue with considerable density. The distinct pinot bouquet is alluring and savoury while the taste is rounded and full with deep, soft, smooth tannins and a momentary peppery zing. There’s a meaty richness to the wine with dark, ripe berries – loganberries come to mind, and a touch of salinity to the salivating savoury finish. Concentrated with weight, structure and intensity, it’s exceptional value. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Martinborough Vineyards Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013
This is a monumental Pinot Noir with wonderful mouthfeel and flow. Its dark in colour. The bouquet has waves of floral notes, forest floor, Shrewsbury biscuit jam, tar, earth and game. The taste is concentrated and mouthfilling with a momentary peppery zing quickly enveloped by plump fruit and pillowy tannins. Typical Martinborough fruit of cherries, bittersweet red berries and touches of guava jelly with integrated smoky oak and gamey savoury notes. An outstanding and ethereal pinot that reveals more and more with every sip. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $59.99.
 
Vavasour Felix's Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
This is youthful ruby with violet tints. The bouquet is fresh, aromatic and fragrant with subtle smoky oak and there’s lifted red cherry and concentrated purple grapes in the palate with underlying savouriness and spiciness, tobacco-like oak, brushed velvet tannins and a succulent finish that is fine and long. Unfolding nicely but still not in full bloom. Gold NZIWS 2016. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Sebastiani Sonoma Zinfandel 2013 – California, USA
Deep fine blue-red with clarity to the edges. Opulent bouquet of gentle vanillin oak and ripe red berries that follow through the palate – the red fruits juicy and sweet heading towards but not quite jammy with cigar box-like oak and tingles of pepper. Upfront firm mouth-coating tannins seem to melt into a velvety smooth finish and there’s a touch of raspberry chocolate and liquorice. “Gutsy with richness and weight,” says Alastair.
14.6% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

 

 

First Glass 8 March 2017
Gold Medals from the 2017 Royal Easter Wine Show
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay Gamay Noir 2016
A vibrant, luminous blue red in the glass. ‘Rose madder’ said Jim. The bouquet is fresh, floral, grapey and winey while fruit-driven purple plum and fruits of the forest flavours fill the palate with pleasing underlying savoury notes and hints of anise on the juicy finish. A light styled fruity red that can be served chilled. (Pre-taster and not in the Easter Show). 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
A modern ‘reductive’ style with a glossy light citrine hue; a mealy, grapefruit, wild yeast nuanced, nutty oak scent and a touch of 'struck match' infusing the juicy nectarine and white peach fruit flavours with delectable smoky oak and a long creamy finish with a trill of citrus. Andrew says it’s best with only the slightest of chilling. Gold Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light golden yellow with a bouquet that offers up suggestions of gunsmoke with nutty, mealy notes and hints of ripe peach all carrying through to the full, rounded palate that tonight has a noticeably dry, flinty undercurrent, lots of leesy notes and tropical fruit salad. Incredible value. Gold Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Glossy lemon gold with immensely attractive leesy, mealy, smoky aromas infused with ripe stonefruit, and seamless flowing, rich, full, rounded flavours of stonefruit and melon with a touch of nutmeg and other subtle woody spices and a fabulously long, harmonious and creamy, malo / wild yeast influenced finish. Gold Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2016
There's a slight oily appearance to the light gold coloured hue. The bouquet offers up honey-spiced red apple and stonefruit. Orchard fruit comes through in spades in the moderately dry but lightly oily textured palate. It becomes richer and more concentrated as the wine flows and the juicy stonefruit finish is accented with fresh fennel seeds and tangelo. Gold Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2016
Full of juicy apple and poached pear both on the bouquet and in the palate, this light hued wine has terrific concentration and texture with subtle savoury notes and spicy vibes to the mouthfilling off dry finish. Gutsy and flavoursome. Champion Pinot Gris at both NZIWS and the Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $13.99.
 
Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2014
The bouquet of this light lemon gold wine is powerful but not overpowering - it’s like fresh lychee and rambutan, these Chinese fruits also a feature in the smooth flowing palate which is mouthfilling and spicy with touches of ginger and white pepper and a lingering sense of Turkish Delight and spun sugar. Champion Gewurztraminer Easter Show. Gold NZIWS. 5 stars Cuisine. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Rose 2016
A striking deep coral hue with a fresh vibrant aura, this is initially quite plummy and savoury with a dry flinty backbone skilfully offset by juicy strawberry sweetness and enchanting touches of tarragon. Such a popular style of wine these days, this is one of the best and food friendly too.. Trophy NZIWS. Gold Easter Show. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A full-on, spicy, gutsy style of pinot with a tantalising intensely deep ruby hue; a lovely fragrance of cherries and spice infused with subtle smoky oak; then ripe, concentrated, juicy black cherry and fruits of the forest fruit with harmonious underlying savoury, spicy, meaty tones and a touch of mocha and anise on the finish. Complete and seductive with a velvety flow and a silky finesse. Trophy NZIWS. Gold Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
The Landing Bay of Islands Syrah 2013
Inky blackberry red with crimson edges. Dark creamy oak, dusty wild berries and peppery spices on the nose. It tastes concentrated, meaty and savoury with firm teeth-coating tannins and fruit that is just starting to mellow - think blackberry, black cherry and prunes together with chocolate and hints of anise and fruit-sweet high notes to the finish. With four years of age it is developing beautifully and would definitely tame a rare steak. Gold Easter Show.13.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $37.99.
 
Goldie Estate Reserve Waiheke Island Syrah 2014
Inky vibrant blackberry hue. Earthy, gamey, savoury, peppery, sappy oak aroma. Juicy and succulent to the taste with plush velvety tannins, loads and loads of green and black pepper, lovely underlying chocolate, cream and vanilla notes, hints of cake spices and a long mouthfilling finish. Champion Syrah Easter Show. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $51.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2013
Deep, vibrant and youthful with a concentrated bouquet of savoury oak and bright plummy fruit with hints of cocoa. Firm yet silky in the succulent palate that’s full of bright blackcurrant and plum with hints of cigar box, cake spices and creamy oak, whispers of chocolate and anise, underlying herb notes with rosemary and mint coming to mind and a long juicy, mouth-coating finish. Quite amazing actually. Champion Cabernet Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.

 

 

First Glass 1 Mar 2017
NZ versus the rest of the World
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 – Clarksburg, California
This is light yellow gold with a youthful vibrant oak-nuanced tropical fruit and custard apple scent and it’s very full on and concentrated in the palate with spicy, creamy, buttery, savoury oak flavours, canned apricot and touches of cornmeal. Simply summed up this fat, mouth-coating Californian style delivers oodles of satisfaction. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay 2013 – South Australia
Light gold with aromas of grilled peach and gunsmoke and steely in the fresh, citrus-driven palate with tropical fruit, touches of pineapple and a very subtle suggestion of honeycomb. Tingly to start but the lingering finish shows lots of promise, a wine I would like to see with a little bit of cellar time. 12% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Medium gold with an attractive and intense malty, mealy bouquet infused with polished oak and hints of citrus and stonefruit then very full and rounded in the rich, ripe, mealy palate with spicy vibes and well balanced underlying savoury French oak that's nicely integrated already. The fruit is concentrated yet subtle and touches of vanilla biscuits emerge on the lingering finish. Elite gold and Exhibition Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards 2015. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Kerpen Handpicked Riesling 2014 - Mosel, Germany
Golden yellow with a scent reminiscent of rich dark honey and luscious almost toasty flavours with viscosity to the texture and honeysuckle, botrytis, orange honey and bright acidity humming all the way through. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Riesling 2014
Light yellow gold with a delicate honeysuckle / citrus blossom scent and slatey textured with racy grapey acidity balanced by a delicate sweetness and lingering hints of lemonade peel. A light, youthful, just off-dry style. 5 stars and Cuisine ‘Best Buy’. 11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2015 – Alsace, France
The bouquet is gorgeously redolent of rose musk and violets and it’s concentrated and powerful in the palate that is lightly viscous and beautifully seamless in its flow with violets to the fore, a musky smoker lolly sweetness and a finish that is more savoury than fruity and tapers off gently. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.
 
Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015
The bouquet enchants with scents of lemon Turkish delight and lemon verbena and it is off dry in the palate with lovely viscosity to the flow, subtle tropical fruit and tingles of ginger and white pepper. Lovely concentration and persistence and very very impressive. 13% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Cotes du Rhone 2014 - Rhone Valley, France
Lovely bright youthful pinot noir-like hue. Generous bouquet with a hint of mocha and soft and spicy tasting with hints of chocolate coated berries, raspberry jam, lightly savoury oak, hints of tar and a peppery finish. A light, juicy, silky-textured easy going red with a little point of difference to the flavour. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
The colour is a saturated inky purple magenta. Chocolate and meaty spicy oak fill the bouquet and it has an initial medium-bodied feel with increasing concentration and suggestions of chocolate biscuits with a subtle nuance of mint, an earthy nuggety undercurrent, slightly furry tannins and a meaty finish with accents of pepper and lingering nuances of bbq'd pomegranate molasses. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Trivento Reserve Malbec 2015– Mendoza, Argentina
A rich, dense, youthful ruby garnet hue - not as saturated and deep as some malbecs can be. Ripe and jammy on the nose – plum jam and fruits of the forest maybe - carrying through to the fruit forward medium-bodied palate with smooth velvet-coated tannins, nutty oak, subtle nuances of chocolate, aniseed and tar and a well balanced savoury finish with a spicy flourish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Rod McDonald Wines 'One Off' Hawkes Bay Malbec 2014
Rich, bright red black with full saturation and density. There’s a dusty, slightly wild game scent and it’s full-bodied, perhaps heading towards blockbuster in the smooth, velvety, concentrated palate with smoky, nuggety, spicy oak, hints of vanilla and dark dried fruits - prunes come to mind - and vinosity and winey sweetness enveloping the finish. More seductive with every sip. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Thorn Clarke William Randell Barossa Valley Shiraz 2012 – South Australia
Lovely smooth looking red black. Inviting spice-infused bouquet with hints of mocha, chocolate and vanilla and full of the same in the grunty yet generous palate that’s characterised by supple tannins together with ripe berry fruit (macerated strawberries come to mind), hints of mint, loads of savoury oak, graphite and tar, crushed cameo cremes and a long mouthfilling finish. Succulent and ripe with the oak and savouriness giving it structure and presence. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $52.99.

 

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