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Wines for Christmas

First Glass 5 December 2018 
Last Tasting of the Year
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Jean Josselin Cuvée des Jean Champagne NV
The bouquet is softly scented with vanilla and lemon cream and the initially crisp, steely, effervescent taste becomes rich and nutty with savoury yeast autolysis characters emerging from the depths. It's quite full bodied and the lingering complex mouthfeel evokes subtle suggestions of peach. Cuisine Best Buy. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Beaumet Cuvée Brut Champagne NV – Epernay, France
The alluring bouquet has a brioche / apple tart scent and it’s crisp in the yeasty, savoury palate with the depth and complexity Champagne should have. The creamy mouthfeel has a baked apple sweetness, touches of rose hip and a lingering malty richness with a persistent tingle from the fizz. Elegant. Stylish. Cuisine No. 1. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $44.99.
 
Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV – Reims, France
Attractive, lightly floral, lightly malty, lightly yeasty aroma and a tingly taste that has a suggestion of salinity. It's yeasty and nutty with a hint of blackcurrant and the lovely full, rich, toasty finish lingers with hints of caramelised apple. Gold NZIWS. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $67.99.
 
Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2017 
Light yellow gold with a peach bubblegum aroma that leads into a decadently rich, toasty palate that is satisfyingly creamy and rounded. Full of tropical and stone fruit with a sliver of lime and lingering malt and burnt caramel, it is silky smooth in its flow. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Golden coloured with buttered sizzled peach and caramel corn aromas that follow through to the seamless flowing, mouthfilling palate that’s fattening out beautifully with bottle age but underpinned nicely by refreshing acidity, nutty oak and touches of gunflint. Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine NZIWS 2017. Gold NZIWS 2018. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.
 
Wrights Reserve Organic Gisborne Chardonnay 2016 
Light golden in hue with a bouquet suggesting canned peaches and apricot with a touch of passionfruit. In the mouth this is savoury and toasty with a lemon cream richness, a mealy complexity and youthful bubblegum oak, becoming more and more oaky as the flavour evolve – and the lingering aftertaste is juicy and creamy with a touch of spearmint emerging. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Light gold in colour with subtle nuances of butter and peach infusing the toasty oak scent and bright fresh tropical fruit accented with grilled pineapple filling the palate with layers of buttery oak, malt, caramel and peach. Well balanced acidity offsets the creamy richness and there’s a lovely roundness to the mouthfilling finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
A lustrous, deep, rich, plummy red in the glass with blackberry pie aromas infused with hints of tar and leather. Firm tannins are noticeable upfront in the rich, dense palate but soon succumb to the wonderful depth of fruit sweetness. Crammed with cherry, mocha, chocolate and savoury oak with a light smattering of rose pepper and finishing full-bodied and creamy with richness and complexity, this is a stunning example of NZ Syrah. Gold & Trophy NZIWS 2018, Gold NZ Wine of the Year 2018. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Barossa Linke Barossa Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This is a rich deep dark red with a cranberry hue to the edges. Classically spicy on the nose with a creamy chocolate aura and a little more of the same in the plush, velvety palate. It’s big, ripe, juicy and heady with raspberries, mulberries, chocolate-coated raisins, scorched almonds, tingles of pepper, and a deliciously satisfying, long, smooth, creamy finish. 15.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Sons of Eden 'Kennedy' Barossa GSM 2016 – South Australia 
Dark crimson red with a little translucency to the edges. The bouquet smells smooth and creamy with scents of chocolate and cherry. A youthful wine hinting of plenty to offer as it unfolds with bitey acidity and tingles of pepper underpinning red and black fruit, and while the tannins are still a little firm the class of this wine shines through as it opens up nicely on the finish where it reveals juicy blackberry and menthol tobacco. A blend of 53% Grenache, 31% Shiraz and 16% Mourvedre from multiple sites in the Barossa Valley. 14.5% alc. Cork/Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz 2013 – Victoria, Australia
This is a lovely rich dark red in the glass. The bouquet is dark and savoury with a berry fruit brightness and a gentle seductiveness. Concentrated in the full-bodied palate with touches of graphite, cigar box, cake spices, juicy mulberries and cherries, vanillin oak and cherry chocolate. A rewarding wine that five years on from vintage is smooth and velvety with beautifully resolved, svelte-textured tannins and impeccable flow. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Riverby Noble Marlborough Riesling 2015
There’s a copper sheen to the deep golden hue. The concentrated bouquet has a heady fragrance of flower nectar, honey, beeswax and orange liqueur macerated white raisins. All this and more in the lightly viscous palate where the hedonistic and finely textured honeyed sweetness is exquisitely balanced by delicious orange marmalade acidity. Multiple golds. Trophy NZIWS 2017. 5 stars Cuisine 2018. 11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99. 375ml.

 

Summer Selection

First Glass 28 November 2018
Summer Selection
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Bedin Extra Dry Prosecco NV – Treviso, Italy
Softly sweet and foamy with a light lemon colour, fine lacy bubbles, apple aromas, creamy apple and fleshy green grape flavours, and a crisp steely refreshing and slightly salted tarragon undercurrent that keeps the sweetness in check. Delightful fresh summer fizz attractively presented. 11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 
Light gold in the glass with a tempting butterscotch aroma and smooth creamy peach and malt flavours framed by polished savoury oak that's bold and spicy on the finish. This has mellowed out nicely with time in the bottle and is seamless drinking now. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
The creamy peach bubble gum bouquet doesn’t really hint of oak and it’s initially soft in the intriguingly sweetish palate then the power of the wine takes over with nutty oak infusing canned tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and chunky papaya. Ripe and generous and terrific summer quaffing as it can be chilled to the bones. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Yellow gold in the glass with a buttered toast and apricot jam scent that belies the savouriness of the slightly zingy palate with light viscosity to the warm, mouthfilling, lightly viscous texture and a varnishy oak and gunflint note to the incredibly long and fleshy finish where the apricot, now with custard, brims again. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $30.99.
 
Starborough 'Sons of the Soil' Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 
Straw gold radiating vanilla poached pear  / pear drop scents and bright refreshing red apple, pear and zingy citrus flavours nicely balanced by a tickle of ginger on the finish. Just off dry in sweetness level, it's soft, juicy and easy to drink. Gold NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Rosé 2017 
A darker coloured, fuller bodied rosé with a hint of orange to the grenadine hue, fruity aromas and an off dry sense to the taste with a lightly viscous texture and a nice touch of earthy savouriness underpinning the slightly confectionary raspberry and cherry fruit, finishing dry. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Rockburn 'Stolen Kiss' Central Otago Rosé 2018
There’s a hint of rose petal on the nose of this alluring pink sapphired-hued wine together with hints of cherry and pear, and it’s off dry to the taste tending at first towards medium in sweetness level with a light earthy savouriness underpinning the apple, pear and watermelon flavours with a lovely touch of tarragon and refreshing acidity reigning in the sweetness for a beautifully rounded and definitely more-ish finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Greystone North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2016
Translucent Burgundy-hued hinting of a little age, this emanates a cherry jam scent and is spicy and savoury to the lightly tannic taste with upfront earthy, gamey, truffle-infused, savoury notes falling back to firmly support the dark cherry and Black Doris plum fruit and nicely honed savoury oak. Silky in its flow with the tannins asserting themselves again on the savoury finish with the fruit sweetness kicking in again as the fabulously long and replete flavours linger. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $36.99.
 
Te Awa Single Estate Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2016
Inky crimson red in the glass, this emanates Bordeaux-like scents of leather, cedar, plums, brambles and earthy complexities and ripe juicy brambly fruit fills the medium bodied palate with savoury, cedar, cigar box, pencil shavings and sweet leather characters making their presence known.  A smooth flowing, classically dry red with a silky edge to the velvety tannins and well balanced acidity completing the package. Gold Hawkes Bay Wine Awards. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Quarisa Wines Caravan Petite Syrah 2016 – South Eastern Australia
Inky black red with a sweet heady raisin and berry scent infused with a gamey, savoury vibe. A big, plump, mouthfilling wine fill of plums, prunes, mulberries and cake spices with a light twist of pepper, this is soft and comfortable despite the power to the tannins while the fruitiness yields to the savouriness on the finish making the wine seem a little more serious than initially thought. Multi gold medal winner. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Sevenhill Inigo Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia 
Inky crimson black with an alluring and deep winey scent infused with chocolate and dark berries and a beautifully honed palate where the firm and beautifully structured tannins are tamed by the intensity of dark berry fruits. It’s mouthfilling, plush, lush and velvety with vanillin oak, nut chocolate, liquorice, mocha and a gentle touch of spice. A blockbuster wine that punches above its price point. Gold NZIWS. 15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Great Summer Bargains

First Glass 21 November 2018
Summer Selection
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Blind River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 
Crammed with pungent aromas and fresh tropical fruit salad flavours that brim with pineapple, passionfruit and mango with ripples of summery herbs and a wham bang punch of quiveringly tart grapefruit that leaves behind a vibrant zing. Trophy NZ Wine of the Year Awards. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Butter tossed hazelnut and melon on the nose then bright and zesty in the palate with spicy oak underpinning juicy stonefruit and a toasty finish that increases in complexity as it lingers. Smooth, rounded and gutsy with plenty of flavour and slips down easily. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
Glinting like rays of sunshine in the glass, this has toasted grapefruit on the nose and is full of stonefruit, citrus, caramel and malt in the seamless flowing palate with vanilla and spicy cedar. A mouthfilling wine that has opened up beautifully since last tasting. Fabulous drinking now. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Marisco Craft Series The Pioneer Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
A little shy on the nose with subtle nuances of butter caramel and tight and restrained in the palate. With noticeable acidity it is made for the long haul yet shows its class with balanced and harmonious (but not intrusive) French oak and its incredibly long and compounding length where the nougat, nutty, white peach flavours emerge and linger beautifully. One to put away.  Gold NZIWS. Gold and Trophy at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $65.99.
 
Waipara Hills Pinot Rosé 2018 
Light salmon pink with the bouquet emanating the purity of watermelon and cherry juice with a waft of pink bubble gum and just off dry to the taste that is full of summer berries. It has pleasing concentration and palate weight and a lightly spritzy finish with a zing of peppered strawberry. Gold and Trophy at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards. Gold and Trophy Sydney International. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Julicher 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015
There's brightness to the deep Burgundy red hue, the bouquet offers up spiced cranberries, vanilla and nutmeg and while it seems a little mellow in the palate there are slightly furry firm tannins in the background, a typically Martinborough savoury, earthy, gamey undercurrent and bittersweet cherry fruit with tingles of orange zest and pepper and a fabulously long finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Akarua Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
There’s a touch of pink to the Burgundy hue, a sense of black cherries and plums to the scent and it’s fruit forward in the palate with christmas spices infusing the succulent red and black cherry fruit, beautifully balanced savoury notes and silky tannins. Soft, juicy and ready to drink. Best Pinot Noir, Best Red and Best Wine at Sydney International 2019. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2016
This super stylish Bordeaux-styled wine is inky vibrant purple red in the glass with leather, cedar and dark brambly fruit filling the bouquet and it’s tightly framed in the palate at first then succulent plump fleshy fruit spills through. A beautiful mouthful of plum, cassis and polished cedar on the finish. Four show golds plus Trophy NZIWS and Trophy NZWotY. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.
 
Giodarno Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2015 – Torricella, Italy
Deep dark red hinting of a little age. The inviting bouquet seduces with its succulent bottled cherry and raspberry jam scent and the juicy taste is verging on porty. It’s spicy and succulent with crushed velvet tannins and a lingering raisiny sweetness. Soft, delicious and easy to drink. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
San Marzano 62 Anniversario Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2014 – Salento, Italy
Deep dark red in colour, no indication of its four years of age. A dark juicy wine with a perfumed berry pie scent and mouthfilling flavours of plums, prunes, christmas cake spices, mellow toasty oak and a light dusting of pepper. Smooth and velvety with a fine silky edge and a finish that lingers for ages. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $51.99.
 
Reillys Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This opulent wine is inky black red with black cherry and dark berry aromas laced with vanilla and more of the same in the full-bodied palate together with a red berry vibrancy, a twist of black pepper, a dusting of red clay, a smidgen of dark chocolate, and the slightest suggestion of mint emerging on the very dry finish. Big alcohol, big tannins, big pleasure. Gold NZIWS. 15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 

Summer Selection

First Glass 14 November 2018
Summer Selection
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Huntaway Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2016
Served chilled this seems fresh and bright with lemon-infused buttery oak scents and a touch of caramel softening the palate with tropical fruit, accents of citrus and an increasing toasty richness. Gold NZIWS 2018. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Beach House 'Selection' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
There's a hint of apricot and marzipan to the nutty oak scent and juicy stonefruit fills the palate with a creamy malo-influenced softness and savoury oak underpinning the bright, dry finish. Cuisine Best Buy. 13.5% alc.Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
Radiating tantalising grapefruit and toasty oak scents that come to the fore again together with stonefruit in the full-flavoured tasty palate, this seamless-flowing wine has touches of gun smoke, hazelnut and a lingering vanilla-tinged finish. Superlative expression of chardonnay and it takes chilling well. Three gold medals so far. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $52.99.
 
Vavasour Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017
Bright and fruity on the nose and soft in the palate with ripe fleshy pear, a fruit salad brightness and a lemonade tingle. A touch of passionfruit emerges as the flavours linger. Easy drinking. Juicy. A crowd pleaser. Gold NZIWS 2017. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Maude Mt Maude East Block Central Otago Riesling 2018 
There’s a soft scent of apple on the nose and the crisp refreshing taste is bright and tangy with the most subtle suggestion of tarragon. Delicate to start but with increasing power and the medium sweetness is offset by racy acidity that makes it seem more dry. Gold NZIWS 2018. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Te Kano Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
This beautifully presented wine is watermelon pink in hue with strawberry, raspberry and pink bubble gum scents and juicy ripe berry fruit flavours that flesh out the mid palate, and the finish is crisp and dry. Two gold medals. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
Moderately deep bright pinky red, bragging of its youth. Attractively scented and full of flavour, this medium-bodied, smooth-flowing and immensely drinkable pinot gushes with chocolate-coated cherries nicely honed by the freshness of wild berries with lovely savoury notes emerging on the long tasty finish. Gold NZIWS 2018. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Dark Burgundy red with moderate colour intensity. Appealing aromas of chocolate and cherries underpinned by savoury oak follow through to the silky palate that is ultra smooth in its flow. Full of juicy cherry and raspberry fruit with touches of chocolate, vanilla and cake spices, this soft and beautifully balanced pinot is long, savoury and satisfying. Trophy for Best Wellington wine at NZ Wine of the Year. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Quarisa Q Malbec 2017 – South Eastern Australia
Inky crimson-edged dark red with a savoury, earthy aroma embellished with concentrated berries and the slightest suggestion of mint. Spicy and bright in the silky palate that’s crammed with dark plums, jammy blueberries, vanilla, smoky oak and leather with a sprinkle of pepper and a firm, ripe finish that lingers more-ishly. Gold NZIWS 2018.
14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Quarisa The Great Bonza Shiraz Cabernet 2017 – South Eastern Australia
Dark red with the slightest suggestion of bricking to the edges. The sweet fruited scent leads into a seemingly medium-bodied palate with upfront juicy red and black currant fruit and stewed plum flavours balancing out the slight edgy and subtle herb notes with an underpinning of tar, leather and spice. Soft. Easy going. Perfect BBQ wine. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Reillys Dry Land Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia  
Inky black red, intense, bright, deep. Seductive spices infuse the deep winey scent and it is intensely concentrated in the succulent palate. Full of black and blue berries, plums, prunes and a raspberry jam brightness with dark smoky cigar box vibes and peppery spices, this opulent wine is framed by massive tannins that will soften over time. One to buy for the cellar right now. Trophy for Champion Shiraz, NZIWS 2018. 15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Cabernet Superbuy

First Glass 7 November 2018
Summer Selection
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Vavasour Awatere Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Radiating pungent aromas of freshly picked summer herbs and capsicum with wafts of pineapple and passionfruit all overflowing into the vibrantly fruity taste. The juicy tropical fruit is laced with mandarin-like citrus and purple passionfruit lingers on the bright tangy finish. Gold NZIWS 2018. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99. 
 
Vavasour Marlborough Chardonnay 2017
Light buttery oak scents and more of the same in the soft, smooth, creamy palate that has a captivating coating of caramel with the voluptuous curvaceousness brought into check by soft citrus, touches of peach and spicy oak tingles. Great for socialising / ice breaker drinks. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99. Limited stocks at this great price.
 
Matchbook Old Head Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay 2016 - California 
Savoury oak tinged with sizzled butter, nougat and candied fig emanates from the bouquet and it's fine and silky flowing in the opulent palate with touches of caramel, ‘banana bike’ candy and lingering fleshy flavours of apricot and peach with the savoury oak more noticeable again on the seamless finish. 13.9% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
The extravagant and compelling bouquet radiates toasty oak, grapefruit, butterscotch and grilled peach and it's a complex wine in the concentrated palate with reductive characters of gun smoke and struck match together with butterscotch-coated oak framing the focussed tropical fruit and peach with the grapefruit detected on the bouquet emerging again to linger on the classy finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Archangel Lace Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
Like a pink sapphire gemstone in hue, the prettiness of this wine continues into the bouquet and taste. There’s red cherries on the nose and it’s initially crisp and delightfully dry in the palate that has soft creamy flavours of apple, pear, raspberry and morello cherry with unexpected richness to the texture with a touch of pepper to the lingering finish. Gold NZIWS 2018.Gold & Trophy NZWotY Awards 2018. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99. Very limited stocks.
 
Te Kairanga Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 
This deep Burgundy-hued wine has an attractive and inviting bouquet of bottled cherries, berries and cream, followed by spicy, savoury flavours with Martinborough’s classic earthiness in the lightly jammy palate where the silky tannins provide a firm bed for the plump berry fruits while the finish lingers with vibrant accents of cake spice. Gold NZIWS 2017. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 
This remarkably opaque hued pinot is a deep pinky red with a shiny allure. The bouquet is embellished with savoury gamey notes that carry through to the concentrated, fruit driven yet deeply profound palate with plums, black cherries, subtle woody herb notes, silky tannins and the sought after 'peacock tail' flare to the finish. An opulent and succulent pinot with a phenomenally long finish. Awarded overall Wine of the Year at the NZWotY Awards 2018. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay 2015
An inky, vibrant, purple-stained, crimson-edged hue. Plum jam fills the bouquet with a touch of smokey oak in the background and the blackcurrant, plum and blackberry fruit profile is juicy and ripe with beautifully honed savoury cedary oak, velvet-cloaked tannins, touches of vanilla, a whisper of mint and hints of Christmas cake spices. A massive wine that will continue to develop in the bottle if you can resist the urge to drink it right now. Five gold and four trophies. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Kirrihill Gleeson & Co Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 
This striking red black-hued wine has a touch of boot leather on the nose together with plums and the oft-found Clare Valley mint, and it's firm yet juicy in the silky palate with dark savoury leathery notes, touches of nut chocolate, creamy oak, a twist of pepper and more obvious mint on the long, succulent finish. Gold NZIWS 2018. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mister Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
This beautifully honed cabernet is a deep black red hue and the bouquet that reveals dark chocolate, cassis and cedar gives an impression the wine will be smooth and creamy. It’s firmly framed in the palate, however. Crammed with flavours of mint, cedar, redcurrants and blackcurrants, peppermint and a lingering sense of vanilla and jaffa, it’s bright and exciting with the initial tannins seemingly dissolving with every sip. Gold NZIWS 2017. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99. Superbuy.
 
Piedra Negro Gran Malbec 2011 – Mendoza, Argentina
Deep dark inky red with saturated colour intensity. The jammy, almost porty bouquet hints of cranberry and plum and the taste is savoury, spicy and gamey with a tangy peppery vibe, firm tannins and concentrated plum, cherry and cranberry fruit. It's a big wine with sweetness from the alcohol and a heady sense to the finish with a lingering taste that is like Christmas cake in a glass. 15.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 

Gold Medal Bargains

First Glass 31 October 2018 
Gold Medals from the 2018 NZIWS
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Lawson's Dry Hills Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 
Flamboyantly scented with passionfruit, lime, mango and fragrant summer herbs. Juicy and quenching to the taste with vibrant zesty citrus and peppery pawpaw seed vibes, moderate palate weight with a pleasing lightly oily texture, and lingering tropical fruit salad, tangelo and passionfruit underpinned by an exciting savoury complexity. Gold NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2017
Glorious scents of vanilla, hazelnut, lemon-scented oak and cream then powerful and flavoursome in the flavour-packed palate with a touch of gunflint to start then bursts of juicy grilled peach, touches of melon and an oaky, savoury finish with underlying orange zest and grapefruit acidity. A crowd pleaser on the night. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Starborough Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
From grapes grown in the Awatere Valley, the nutty bouquet has delicate hints of peach and it’s dry on entry to the nutty savoury palate which is super smooth with a seamless flow. Subtle peach and hokey pokey notes are embellished with harmonious oak spices and the underlying youthful acidity is balanced by the wine’s creaminess. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2017
There’s a sunshine glow to this enticing wine with the bouquet emanating nougat, white chocolate, lemon biscuits, toasted nuts and vanilla cream. Mouthfilling and savoury with lovely flinty gun smoke tones abating to let the harmonious flavours of creamed nuts, peaches, vanilla and toasty oak sing. Concentrated and powerful with an irresistible spicy vibrancy. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $42.99.
 
Two Rivers Juliet Marlborough Riesling 2018 
Evocatively scented with hints of lemon and butter poached apple. An off dry style that served chilled is mouth watering and quenching with crisp, refreshing acidity, a slippery slatey texture, vibrant citrus and granny smith apple vibes and accents of pineapple on the lingering finish. Gold and Trophy at both NZIWS and NZWotY Awards. 12% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Farnese Fantini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2017 - Italy
Intensely coloured with touches of crimson to the deep red hue. The bouquet offers up chocolate-coated cherries with an underlying leathery vibe and the taste is youthful and refreshing with tingly acidity, touches of pepper and profuse brambly fruit together with plums and prunes. It’s juicy and drinkable with smooth rounded tannins and a sweet jammy finish where the chocolate detected on the bouquet lingers. Gold NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Paulett's Polish Hill River Clare Valley Cabernet Merlot 2014 – South Australia
A fruit-filled Aussie red that’s dark red in hue with a deep core and bricking emerging on the edges. There’s a hint of mint to the bouquet together with beautifully balanced oak and sweet juicy cherry, plum and blackcurrant fruit that all flow through to the velvety smooth palate that’s accented with spicy oak, berry pie and after dinner chocolate-coated mints with lashings of pepper, velvety smooth tannins and a long creamy finish. Delivers for the price, ready to go. Gold NZIWS. 14.4% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Merlot 2015
Intense purple red, vibrant and youthful in appearance. Deep and dark on the nose with suggestions of chocolate, plum, vanilla, pencil box and cacao. Beautifully structured in the seemingly still youthful palate where refreshing acidity balances out the power of the tannins that succumb to the intensity of the dark red and black fruit framed by the lovely savoury tones of cigar box, sweet leather and spicy cedar with lift and length to the long dry finish. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $42.99.
 
d'Arenberg The High Trellis McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – South Australia
Inky red black in hue. A little brooding on the nose slowly revealing cigar box, leather, dark blackcurrant fruit and the most faintest hint of menthol that adds fragrance and vibrancy. Moderately firm in the palate with earthy tones enhanced by the brightness of the underlying acidity and the waves of concentrated sweet juicy plum, black cherry and black currant fruit with lingering hints of chocolate and mint. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap.
Sold out - for now.
 
Don't Tell Gary Shiraz 2017 – Grampians, Victoria, Australia 
Light purple with youthful resplendence. The bouquet is redolent of crushed mint chocolate biscuits together with savoury leather tones and concentrated bursts of freeze dried plum and raspberry. The palate is crammed with juicy berry fruit on a cushion of soft, plump, smooth flowing tannins with creamy oak, cake spices, crushed pepper and menthol tobacco. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Vigne Vecchie Leggenda Primitivo di Manduria 2016 – Italy 
Youthful deep red with a pinky glow. A muscular wine on the nose with a suggestion of iron wafting through the prune-like scent. Concentrated, powerful, sumptuous and spicy in the dense, full-bodied palate with plush voluptuous tannins that dissolve into the dark berry fruit with touches of musk and spice and chocolate emerging on the long creamy and very gratifying finish. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Cork.
First Glass Price: $52.99.
 
Kirrihill Vineyard Selection Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Bright black red. Creamy chocolate on the nose with a hint of jaffa and the most subtle yet delightfully alluring suggestion of mint. Rich and concentrated in the palate that’s brimming with juicy, plump redcurrant, raspberry and cherry fruit that’s beautifully magnified by the moderately firm tannins with underlying spices and savoury oak and a long smooth creamy finish with touches of tobacco and rosehip. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap.
First Glass Price: $24.99.
 

Gold medals announced for the inaugural New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards

Following three days of judging over 1300 wines, 77 gold medals have been awarded in the inaugural New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards.

Chair of the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards Warren Gibson says he was very pleased to see a spread of gold medals throughout the majority of the New Zealand’s wine regions. The larger areas of Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago took out the lion’s share of the awards but golds were also given to Gisborne, Martinborough, Nelson, Canterbury and North Otago.

“The gold medal list shows that our maturing and evolving wine industry begins to display a very strong relationship between variety, style and wine region. This link appears far more dramatic than in past awards and suggests we are beginning to find a true sense of place.”

Marlborough dominated the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sparkling and aromatics classes. Central Otago similarly was prominent in Riesling and Pinot Noir, as has been the recent norm. Chardonnay was shared between Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough and the full-bodied red classes were very strong and as expected, dominated by Hawke’s Bay.

“The average quality of the wines was very high, particularly considering the recent challenging vintages in a number of regions”, said Mr Gibson.

In addition to the 77 gold medals, 236 silver medals and 601 bronze medals were awarded by a team of 29 judges. There was a total of 914 medals awarded across 16 classes, including the newly introduced Provenance Class, in which wines were judged over three vintages.

The 77 gold medal winning wines are now vying for the 13 varietal trophies and 11 regional trophies with the winners of these trophies announced on Wednesday 24 October.

The final act will be the awarding of the eight major trophies for the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards. These will be announced at the New Zealand Wine Awards dinner on Saturday 3 November and include; New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Champion, Best Single Vineyard White Wine, Best Single Vineyard Red Wine, Best Open White Wine, Best Open Red Wine, Best Organic White Wine, Best Organic Red Wine and Best Wine of Provenance.

More information on New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards can be found at https://www.nzwine.com/en/events/new-zealand-wine-of-the-year-awards/

Glorious Gold Medal Wines

First Glass Wine Education Evening
Glorious Gold Medal Wines
Wednesday 3 October 2018


This week’s line-up included descriptions by Sue Courtney and Sam Kim.
 
Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 $19.99.
Sweet nutty oak and subtle orange zest fills the bouquet and its full of juicy peach and nectarine in the rich, creamy palate with a delectable nutty oak undercurrent that lets the vibrant fruit sing.
 
Clearview Beachhead Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2017 $25.99
The bouquet is nutty and toasty with touches of vanilla and the seamless creamy nutty flavours are crammed with juicy peach and nectarine with a touch of oak spice and orange zest.
 
Mills Reef Elspeth Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2015 $35.99
Beautifully harmonious with alluring scents of vanilla pod, hazelnut, gentle oak spice and sandalwood joining poached peach in the creamy, smoky, rounded, complex and mouthfilling palate.
 
Domain Road Defiance Central Otago Pinot Gris 2018 $21.99
A little steely on the nose with aromas of apple and pear and honeysuckle flowing through the creamy apple and peach flavours with the beautifully rounded lingering taste accented with orange zest.
 
Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2017 $27.99
Super concentrated flower nectar and beeswax scents and expressive flavours of violet, hokey pokey, orange toffee, lychee and peach with tingly five spice and ginger infusing the lightly viscous flow.
 
 
Domain Road Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 $21.99
Delectably dry with plum and nectarine scents and zingy fresh summer berry flavours melding beautifully. Tasty, juicy and deliciously refreshing with a soft creamy flow.
 
El Burro Kickass Garnacha 2017 – Spain $16.99.
A full-flavoured Garnacha, showing ripe plum, dark cherry, warm spice and subtle chocolate notes, backed by juicy and rounded palate that’s delightfully smooth and sweetly tasty. Great value.
 
Varvaglione Linea Oro Papale Primitivo Di Manduria 2015 $45.99
Powerful and sturdy, this substantial red delivers loads of black/blueberry, chocolate tart, spice and vanilla flavours with a firmly structured palate. It’s engaging with gratifying fruit flavours and an impressively long energetic finish.
 
Farmers Leap Random Shot Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 $16.99
True to variety, exhibiting blackcurrant, juicy bramble, cigar box and spicy oak notes with succulent palate that’s flavoursome and filled with dark fruit flavours and rounded mouthfeel, well structured by chalky tannins. Very drinkable.
 
Alpha Crucis Titan McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $29.99.
Captivating aromas of crème de cassis, plum jam, cigar and toasty oak lead to a superbly ripe and silky palate that offers outstanding depth and punchy flavours. Solid and persistent with dazzling richness. An outstanding Cabernet. Cellar 5-8 years.
 
Shingleback Davey Estate McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 $22.99
Perfumed and compelling, this gratifying Shiraz displays gorgeous dark fruit, cranberry jelly, toasty oak and mixed spice notes with a concentrated and plush palate, finishing impressively long and sturdy. Drink now or cellar 5 years.
 

Outstanding Tasting Line-ups

First Glass 5 September 2018 
Theme: New and Not So New
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2017 – California, USA
Lightly toasted nutty oak fills the bouquet and it's full of caramel and citrus in the creamy, lightly honeyed palate that has a nice little savoury twist and a lingering butterscotch taste. Value plus. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016 – Hawkes Bay
Grilled peaches and cream tantalise the nose and toasty oak and creamed nut flavours fill the warm, rounded, mouthfilling palate. It's savoury, spicy and zesty with nicely balanced peach and nectarine fruit and a tangy and satisfying finish.  13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Albarino 2016
The bouquet radiates pear and tropical fruit, and there's mouthwatering pineapple-laced tropical fruit and honeydew melon in the palate with a touch of honey and beeswax to the just off dry and slightly salty and salivating finish. Refreshing and summery and while seemingly light to start there’s increasing complexity to the texture. Gold Medal Sydney Top 100. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Millton Riverpoint Vineyard Gisborne Viognier 2015 
Moderately gold in hue with a bouquet of apricot and honey following through to the rich, oily palate with a bees-waxy sweetness beautifully balanced by a nutty savouriness, a zing of exotic spices and a juicy green melon aftertaste. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Conde Valdemar Rioja Reserva 2010 – Rioja, Spain 
Starting to show bricking to the burgundy hue, this has spiced cherries and vanillin oak on the soft bouquet and an edgy bite and slightly furry tannins to the upfront savoury taste, then cherry and blueberry fruit comes to the fore and the mellow finish is creamy and satisfying with touches of cake spices, oak and anise.  13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
Chateau Loudenne Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2012 – Bordeaux, France 
Dark red in the glass with signs of bricking. Smoky and brambly on the nose and strong and moderately tannic to the taste. A savoury wine embellished with smoke, spices, pencil box and leather with a refreshing undercurrent of acidity and a juicy berry sweetness on the velvety, almost creamy finish. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet. 13.5 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Paritua Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Black red with crimson edges. Dark berry fruit wafts through the savoury bouquet that has a faint suggestion of barnyard and game. Full-bodied and mouthfilling in the silky palate crammed with dark berry fruit and layered with Black Doris plum chocolate with a sprinkling of cake spice and pepper and a savoury oak frame. Soft and velvety as the flavours linger. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $41.99.
 
Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Hawkes Bay Syrah 2014
Purple red with crimson edges. Hints of Black Forest chocolate on the nose and nicely honed peppery notes in the palate with plump plum and berry fruit, harmonious nutty savoury oak and sweet spices.  Velvety and long with enveloping fruit sweetness. Drinking beautifully. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Cape Barren Native Goose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
Purple red with crimson edges. The bouquet is reminiscent of chocolate chip biscuits and the taste is rich and smooth with a savoury spine, a vibrancy of pepper and spice, mulberry and plum fruit and touches of menthol emerging as the wine lingers. A juicy wine with a velvety flow. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Grant Burge Barossa Ink Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Inky black red. Dusty on the nose with concentrated cherry jam and blackcurrant fruit, hints of tar and leather. Deep and dark at first in the soft juicy palate, the brambly fruit infusing almost milk chocolate-like notes with touches of praline and brightness to the lingering finish with subtle nuances of mint. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Linke Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015
Inky black red in the glass. Crushed chocolate biscuits, plum, cherry and savoury vanillin oak laced with mint fill the bouquet and there is all this and more in the velvet cloaked palate. This is a massive wine, a heady wine, an opulent wine with a smooth seamless flow, raisined cherry fruit, pepper, anise, nut chocolate, cedar and vanilla with a touch of mint adding to the bright lifted finish. Kapow! 15.7% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

A Bit of Beresford and Others

First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday 29 August 2018
A Bit of Beresford and Others
Notes by Sue Courtney
 

Vigna Nuova Prosecco DOC Brut NV - Treviso, Italy
White gold in the glass with a lemon cream biscuit scent and a crisp, fresh, lightly foamy taste with steely acidity underpinning hints of vanilla and creaming soda, and a fine dry finish with a soft and pleasing lingering taste of dehydrated apple.  11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
TED by Mount Edward Otago Pinot Gris 2017
Straw gold in hue with a delicate fragrance and a touch of salinity to the lightly zingy and fairly crisp taste with satisfying, food-friendly palate weight and tropical guava-like notes complementing out the sucking-on-a-peach-stone finish and just a hint of herbaceousness. Elegant and not a run of the mill style. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Vidal Hawkes Bay Soler Chardonnay 2017
Light yellow gold. Evocatively fragrant with delicate hints of peach, apricot kernel and almond blossom. Full-bodied in the palate with restrained spicy oak, an almost oily richness to the flow, underlying gunflint and lingering nuances of lemon and gauva. Exhibiting elegant Burgundian restraint rather than flamboyant fruit at this youthful stage of its life yet hints of stonefruit flesh out nicely as the flavours linger. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.
 
Paritua Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014
Light yellow gold with a bouquet reminiscent of salted caramel popcorn before it has popped, and full and fat in the spicy oak palate with sizzled butter, butterscotch and more salted popcorn suggestions with fruit playing a supporting role. There’s a mellow savoury impression as the wine lingers softly yet persistently with a touch of pineapple lifting the rounded and more-ish finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Wooing Tree 'Blondie' Central Otago 2017
There’s the merest wash of baby pink to the glassy hue of this Blanc de Noir made from pinot noir.  Cherry and subtle nuances of musk float on the scent and strawberry and pepper fill the taste with a lightly viscous mouthfeel and lingering touches of salinity that make you want to have another sip. Dry to off dry in style with a succulence to the cherry-filled finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva  2016 – Portugal
Made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roria and Alicant Bouschet, this is vivid purple black in the glass with vibrant magenta edges.The bouquet is awash with dark plums, prunes, tar and polished oak and it is immediately seamless in the spicy, savoury, oaky, medium to full-bodied palate filled with succulent dark berry fruit and accents of baking spices and pepper. Terrifically tasty with lovely balance of fruit and savouriness and tannins more noticeable on the long dry finish. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Tenuta Ulisse Amaranta di Ulisse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 – Italy 
Inky black red with crimson edges. Dark, dense, smoky and tarry with a wafting fragrance of plum jam cooking in the kitchen. A massive wine to the taste with bright berry fruit, powerful tannins, tar, spice, leather and fruit cake. It’s a rich, meaty, dry-styled red with touches of liquorice on the velvety and almost creamy finish. Very very tasty with loads of flavour. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
Beresford Barrel Select McLaren Vale GSM 2016 – South Australia
Deep dark cherry red, more translucent than opaque. Attractive rosehip and milk chocolate bouquet. Seemingly medium-bodied in the fruit driven palate with early season plums, glace cherries, blueberries and cake spices, a touch of toffee apple and creaminess to the mouthfeel as the flavours linger. An approachable blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mouverdre with fine tannins, vanillin oak playing a supporting role and a pretty finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Bright purple red with crimson edges. The fragrant bouquet is reminiscent of berry pie with a suggestion of chocolate box and tar. Immediately spicy and peppery in the silky palate with succulent purple plum, cherry and mulberry fruit, dry savoury oak, strawberry chocolate in the background and a long bright creamy finish with lingering juicy oomph. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Beresford McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – South Australia
Blackish red in the glass with dark red edges. Nut chocolate, vanilla and cedar fill the bouquet and there’s bright berry fruit balancing out the meaty rustic depth of the palate with oak spice and cabernet’s classic brambly acidity. The tannins have a firm teeth-coating exterior with a plump bouncy centre and a touch of cigar box lingers on the even-toned finish with a subtle nuance of mint. 14.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Galway Pipe Grand Tawny Aged 12 Years – South Australia
This fortified wine is a transparent amber hue with golden edges. The bouquet radiates raisins and brandy-soaked muscatels and the taste is heady, viscous and mouthcoating with candied orange peel and raisin flavours with the fruity succulence beautifully balanced by a pleasing nutty, rancio, mellow oak savouriness. Sweet yet not sweet with touches of orange toffee. Delicious. 17.8% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $41.99.