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Kingsley Wood on Tour - Central Otago - Part Two

There are numerous sub regions making up the wine areas of Central Otago. I split up the main ones over two days – Cromwell/Bannockburn/Wanaka then the Lake Hayes/Gibbston area. The weather was ideal for visiting wineries, cold, wet, miserable in every respect – perfect.
 
We may have been lucky with our trip over the Crown Range as the snow at the top had turned to rain, lots of it, as we crawled our way down. We drove past several very recent slips and later that day the road was closed – for the next 2 days.
 
We started our day at fabulous Amisfield. You hear various comments about their experiences at Amisfield but there is no question that this place would rate in any of the world’s greatest wine regions. They charge $10 for a tasting of any 5 wines, including the Amisfield RKV Pinot Noir that retails for $120. And they use Riedel tasting glasses – it’s a class act.
 
Travel a couple of kilometres along Lake Hayes towards Arrowtown and you find the restaurant and tasting room (container) featuring the wines from Akarua. They have a reasonably substantial restaurant – serving breakfast and lunch and it was fully booked out on this day of miserable weather. They charge $5 for 5 wines.
 
Drive back to Amisfield, go up the hill and you find “Wet Jacket” – owned, run and named by Grey Hay – ex Peregrine. This is an old stone shearing shed – some of the shearing set up is still in place, but next door you can sample the local wines for $5 on the days they have the food truck outside. The Whitestone Cheese room, part of the complex, is well worth a visit. It was great to catch up with Greg Hay – our first encounter was around 35 years ago when several teams from Central Otago travelled to Dunedin for the Wilson Neill Wine Options competitions.
 
Our next visit was Chard Farm and we can tell people the entrance road has not changed. I cannot believe we once persuaded a driver to take a full-size bus into that winery. There’s a big range of wines to taste at Chard Farm and you pay a donation to do so – there is no set fee. No food – no fixed tasting fee. Rob Hay was our host at Chard Farm.
 
The Peregrine winery has not really changed since my last visit – some 14 years ago. The winery was new then, the winemaker was Michelle Richardson and there were only a few barrels in evidence – it’s now full. There is no charge to taste 4 wines at Peregrine and they are open from 11 am to 6 pm.
 
On the region’s wine map we noticed there was a Gibbston Tavern located on Coal Pit Road. This road is only a few hundred metres from Peregrine and we decided to check it out for lunch. The Tavern looks like a little old rustic building, and we are told it was made from containers – but you wouldn’t know it. The wood-fired pizza with a glass of Peregrine Chardonnay was very agreeable.
 
Travel up Coal Pit road, turn along Gibbston Back Road (which runs parallel to the Gibbston Highway) and you arrive at Brennan Wines. Open from 11 – 5, you pay $15 for a tasting of their wines, which are all made from locally grown Gibbston fruit.
 
Back on the main road we discovered Kinross. There’s a lot on offer here. Open 7 days, 8 am – 5 pm, they have boutique accommodation, a bistro, cellar door ($15 for 5 wines) and you can taste wines from Valli, Hawkshead, Coal Pit, Domaine Thomson and Wild Irishman. Kinross was packed with tourists and we thought this was a place to include on your visiting list.
 
Our last stop in the Gibbston Valley was to Waitiri Creek. They open 7 days 11 – 5, they have a busy kitchen (at least 3 people working in there) and for $12 you can taste 4 wines – or 4 craft beers. They have a lovely garden setting, somewhat inappropriate on the day we called in.
 
Heading back to Wanaka we decided we had to revisit Archangel which had been closed on the Tuesday. It’s closed every Tuesday. You will find Archangel at Queensbury – approximately 20 minutes out of Wanaka. This is a new complex, there is a food menu and every Sunday the Food Truck arrives. It’s $3 to taste each wine – rebatable if you purchase 2 bottles. Nothing to do in Wanaka or Cromwell, it’s worth the drive – but not on a Tuesday.
 
So that was my whistle stop trip around a lot of Central Otago wineries – 25 were open, 5 closed and while we tasted wines at only a few places, if you were planning on plenty of tasting you would need about 4 days to get around so many venues.

Constellation Brands with Chief Winemaker Wendy Stuckey

First Glass 28 February 2018
Constellation Brands with Chief Winemaker Wendy Stuckey
Notes by Sue Courtney

 
Ruffino Momenti Prosecco Brut NV – Treviso DOC, Italy
This is a white gold hue with an attractive lacy edge. The bouquet is lightly floral and the taste is crisp and tingly fresh with tiny bubbles, underlying savoury slightly salty notes and lingering flavours of tart apples laced with vanilla creaming soda. 11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Emperical Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2016
Made from grapes grown at Charcoal Gully in the Lowburn subregion, this light golden wine has a fine elegant bouquet of violet, spun sugar and spice and it’s warm in the mouth with a silky flow. It seems fairly dry with a primary flavour of ripe musky grapes and the merest suggestion of lychee with a lovely spicy lift and violets again together with liquid orange blossom honey on the fine lingering finish. Understated with a nod to Alsace.13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Emperical Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Glossy citrine in the glass with a bouquet that is surprisingly quite toasty and full of butterscotch and creamy malo notes with the toastiness quite noticeable in the palate. A beautiful and subtle ‘alternative’ wild yeast barrel fermented style with warm spices, grilled peach, a fresh lemon verbena-like lift and underlying flint. From a trial that used all sorts of winemaking processes, this is from a single barrel selected from the six that survived the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. Rapaura fruit. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Emperical Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Light yellow gold in the glass with a full on tantalising leesy bouquet filled with toasty, biscuity, nutty, lemony, mealy notes and powerful in the seamless palate yet not overpowering. It’s decadently toasty with peaches and cream, flint and gunsmoke notes and a beautifully balanced dry savoury oak finish that's long and persistent with a touch of cedary salinity. Clone 15 grapes from the Corner 50 area adjacent to the famed Keltern Vineyard. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Selaks Founders Limited Edition Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
This light gold wine smells dry, leesy and flinty with hints of grapefruit and nougat and it’s lifted, lemony and nutty in the smooth flowing palate with wild yeast nuances, lemon meringue and mellow toasty oak underpinned with gunsmoke. While it seems a little tight at first this long term potential wine has increasing layers of complexity and a light touch of caramel on the finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Kim Crawford Small Parcels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
A wrap around the tongue wine thats light gemmy gold in the glass with a malty richness to the bouquet together with leesy, nutty, wild yeast and spicy savoury oak notes and full-bodied and powerful in the palate with toasty oak, touches of gunflint, dried hay, tropical fruit, citrus and juicy nectarine with a creamy malo softness and touches of caramel in harmony. Gold NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 – California, USA
Bright lemon gold in the glass with subtle buttery notes to the bouquet and restrained toasty oak floating around the fruit that seems more in the fig and melon spectrum but as the wine warms up flavours of bottled peach come through. It’s different and understated with textural complexity, refreshing acidity, a touch of salinity and a lingering savoury finish. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Wild Grace Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
A saturated deep ruby in the glass, the generous bouquet emanates rich cherry notes with roasted sappy woody herbs like thyme and rosemary and a nice touch of woodsmoke there too – all this and more in the savoury palate that has youthful velvety tannins and a peppery heat with blue-red fruit on the finish. From grapes grown around the Bendigo subregion, this pinot is still evolving and worth cellaring for a while. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012 – Tuscany, Italy
Garnet red with some bricking to the hue. The bouquet is mellow and savoury with a touch of redcurrant jelly, leather and game and it’s savoury and firm in the palate where the mellow cherry-like fruit is underpinned with lifted orange-like acidity that’s in harmony with the savoury gamey notes and seasoned oak. Evolving in the glass this dry wine has a very long finish but does need to be served with rich flavoursome food – a duck ragu will do. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Kim Crawford Small Parcels Corner 50 Vineyard Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013
Inky blackcurrant red in the glass looking so youthful for its 5 years of age. The bouquet is positively creamy with a chocolate box scent that recurs in the soft fine-tannined palate where pencil box oak and graphite frames the mellowing fruit that’s an amalgam of plums and bramble berries with just a smidgen of mint that adds brightness. 2013 is one of the greatest vintages ever in Hawkes Bay and this stellar wine is an absolute steal. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  2014 – California, USA 
The bouquet of this deep blackberry red hued offering promises a deep rich wine and the palate delivers. There's lifted woody scents that follow through to the taste – more sandalwood than cedar laced with woody herbs and spices that infuse the sumptuous blackcurrant, boysenberry and plum fruit with well balanced acidity and warmth while the tannins just meld. A heady, high alcohol wine that finishes a little sweet, it begs for a juicy rare steak. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99.

Kingsley Wood on Tour - Central Otago – Part One

They say timing is important in life – well how about choosing a suitable week to visit the wineries in Central Otago, in February, and you get a cyclone and snow.  Like a good Auckland resident, you travel with shorts and then the high for the day is forecast to be 6 degrees.  The shops in Wanaka have no long-sleeved shirts on the racks, unless you want to buy something for the mountains which costs $400 – and will probably last a lifetime.  I am envious of the 25 degrees forecast for the North Shore!

However, we didn’t need fine weather when my plan was to visit as many winery cellar doors as I could over two days.  Day one was around Cromwell and Bannockburn and the Gibbston/Arrowtown area the next day.  Sadly, there was not time to get down to Alexandra. 

My plan was to visit the Cellar Doors that were open – not intending to taste at most, it was just a chance to see what was new, what the wineries were offering – and charging.  We found out that many wineries did not charge for a tasting, supposedly because they did not provide any food.  What did surprise me, since my last visit about three years ago, was the incredible increase in vineyard plantings, mainly across the Lowburn/Dunstan plains, but even in Bannockburn and the famous Felton Road.

While scaffolding companies are ‘creaming it’ in Auckland, netting companies must be doing very well in Central Otago.  With the vintage still expected to be early, there are hundreds of hectares of vineyards covered in nets – it’s a great sight for the tourists.

These are the wineries I visited and this is what they offer:

Wanaka based Maude Wines now has a retail presence in town.  They share the facilities with French themed restaurant Bistro Gentil – Maude has the day, the restaurant the evenings.  They are right across from the Wanaka golf course – tourists could walk there.  Maude offers a sit down hosted tasting of five wines for $15.  We had a talk with the charming winemaker Sarah-Kate Dineen, in fact all of the staff were hospitable and knowledgeable. 

There must be no winery in New Zealand more photographed, or visited, than Rippon and because they don’t provide food, the tastings are free.  There were at least 50 people there when we called – they should work out how to charge people – few would complain.

Our first call in Bannockburn was to Mt Difficulty.  This winery is probably going to be sold to the Foley Family Group – another string to their bow – Vavasour, Grove Mill, Goldwater, Te Kairanga, Martinborough Vineyards etc.  Mt Difficulty charges $2 for five wines and you can pay $5 for tastings of their limited release pinots, served from the enomatic pourer. And of course, they have their popular restaurant with the amazing view – a must visit.

Felton Road’s actual winery can only be visited by appointment now.  We called, but winemaker Blair Walter was away this week.

Terra Sancta had a sign on the gate “Visits by Appointment Only”.

We were surprised to find a new tasting facility on the hill right next door to Felton Rd.  Domain Rd has 14 acres of vineyards planted there now and their tasting room is made from shipping containers – its new and stylish but apparently the severe heat after Christmas really gave visitors a stressful visit.  No such problem when we called.  They do not charge for the tasting.  Open 11am – 5pm, 7 days.  Check it out.

Just a few hundred metres from Domain Rd, also in Felton Rd, is a sign for Gate 20 Two.  They have a Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, grown on site and made by Mt D. The tasting is conducted in the foyer of the owner’s house – we recommend no more than two people to call at a time.

The other wineries in Bannockburn are located around the Southern end of Lake Dunstan, but still only a couple of kilometres from Felton Rd.  Akarua was proud to tell us about yet another gold medal for their Pinot Noir and I was delighted to see just three Trophy certificates on the walls of the Akarua tasting room – all from the NZ International Wine Show.  There is no charge for the 4 or 5 tasting wines at Akarua.

Bannock Brae was closed so we travelled another few hundred metres to Carrick which has a popular restaurant – almost booked out for lunch.  I’m not a big fan of tastings in stemless glasses and while we decided we would taste the Carrick EBM Chardonnay 2016, the tasting sample was so tiny it really didn’t tell us much.  They charge $10 for 5 wines, but we did notice everyone was getting extremely small servings.

Bald Hills was unfortunately closed but up the hill at Ceres it was all action and delight after the news had filtered through about another gold medal for their Black Rabbit Riesling in the Royal Easter Wine Show Awards.  James Dicey is a compelling figure who will be at First Glass on Wednesday 2nd May. 

Wild Earth now have their wines on for tasting at the Goldfields complex several kilometres along the road to Queenstown and we were hopeful of lunch.  But the presence of a bus and several vans told us the place was pretty full, so it was just a whistle stop to see what they offer.  They have a $10 tasting of 5 wines which is rebated off a wine purchase.

Wooing Tree right on the outskirts of Cromwell was busy and they are open all week, 10 – 5pm.  They have a full food menu available and a good family set-up.  Excellent Pinots and glorious Rosés.

The visit to the new Misha’s Vineyard tasting room was a highlight.  Their “cellar door” is located on the main road between the Shotover River bridge and the Cromwell township.  Misha was on deck to present her wines and it’s a place you should visit.  $10 for five wines of your choice.  The Limelight Riesling 2014 is delicious!  This is a very hospitable visit. 

At Quartz Reef we did run into the inimitable Rudi Bauer who was supervising the arrival of the first grapes from the vintage, 3 weeks early.  Quartz Reef sparklings are great wines.

The Scott Base tasting room has a great view over Cromwell and Lake Dunstan. They charge $5 or $10 for a range of Alan Scott wines or Moa beer.  Aurum Vineyard is a few kilometres along the Wanaka road and there is no charge for the tasting.  The Lazy Dog past Lowburn was closed as was Archangel at Queensbury (closed Tuesday) but it looked impressive from the gate so we visited again the next day.

The decision to charge or not to charge for Cellar Door tastings seems to be a decision made by the respective winery licence and whether they serve any food or not.  There were some mixed messages from some wineries.

Part two will include a trip over the Crown Range, in snow, and the Winery Cellar Doors around Lake Hayes and in the Gibbston Valley.

When Kingsley's Away …

First Glass 21 February 2018 
When Kingsley's Away …
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Starborough Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Straw in the glass where the bouquet radiates out soft tropical fruit, apple and white peach with a waft of basil. Distinctively varietal but soft rather than aggressive with flavours of pineapple, green passionfruit, citrus, apple and herbs with basil, tarragon and fennel coming to mind and increasing pungency to the long, juicy finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Tasca Cavalo Delle Fate Grillo 2016 – Sicily 
Straw gold in hue with a shy restrained nose and a steely, flinty, slightly chalky feel at first with moderate palate weight. It tastes bright and fresh with scintillating acidity, touches of tropical guava, apple, lemon and hot/ peppery/zesty vibes and lingering hints of tarragon on the long quenching finish.  Grillo is an Italian grape variety and this wine is a refreshing change. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Deep golden yellow in the glass with a light lanolin overlay to the buttery nuances infusing the soft cedary oak bouquet. Juicy peach fills the creamy palate that’s smooth and seamless in its flow with layers of butterscotch and butter caramel, well-balanced underlying acidity and a powerful finish. New vintage, new label, New Zealand winemaker. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Leveret Estate Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2015
Bright yellow gold with an abundance of tropical fruit, sweet citrus and honeysuckle filling the bouquet  and juicy in the off dry palate where touches of apricot and honey are underpinned by a crisp acid spine  while a hint of savoury salinity on the warm rounded finish adds to this youthful looking wine’s allure. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2016. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Willy Gisselbrecht Pinot Gris 2016 – Alsace, France
Looking viscous in the glass with a light gold hue. The scent is fragrant and floral and the taste is mouthfilling and unctuous with delightful flavours of apricot, poached pear, violets and honey. The touch of sweetness sits well and it’s smooth and satisfying with a lingering finish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Hunters Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2017
Watermelon pink with a scent of candy floss and strawberry and red cherry juices following through to the lightly spicy zesty palate that has a refreshing flinty undercurrent and touches of rose hip jelly. Technically bone dry but the fruitiness belies this. Gold Medal NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 
Youthful bright, burgundy hue with shimmering translucency. The haunting bouquet emanates subtle wood smoke with spice and florals, perhaps violets, and the mouthfilling taste is deeply savoury with spiced cherries and purple fruit notes. The tannins are silky and fine and the wine seems almost creamy on the captivating finish.  Gold Medal NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Trulli Primitivo Di Manduria 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Moderately bright black red and while dark in the core of the glass it’s pinky red on the edges. The wine smells ripe, like plum jam cooking on the stove, but there’s ‘old world’ connotations brimming through too. The ripeness continues with the taste full of currants with a slight red jelly confectionary feel that’s nicely offset by the robust tannins and the meaty undercurrent. Well-structured and chewy with a warm finish and a touch of char and spice. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Grenache 2016 – South Australia
There's a violet glow to the bright purple garnet hue. The perfumed bouquet hints of red and purple fruits with perhaps a sprinkle of five spice, and the fragrance continues in the spicy, peppery palate that has firm yet supple tannins and lift to the finish where Chinese spices come again to the fore and a touch of cherry chocolate emerges. There's an incredible lightness and elegance to this old vine wine. Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy Winner 2017. 15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Xavier Arcane XV Le Diable Mourvedre 2015 – Rhone, France
Dark red  almost translucent with pink edges. The bouquet of fresh game meat and iron is subtle and it’s meaty and savoury to the taste with rich dark plummy fruit and bright cherry. The tannins at first seem fine and accessible but pack a punch on finish. A blend of old vine Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cote de Rhone fruit where it’s rare to see a wine solely made from Mourvedre.15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 
The Willows Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 – South Australia.
Inky black red with youthful brightness. The bouquet tantalises with its winey fragrance of berries and chocolate and it’s concentrated and spicy in the palate with chocolate and cocoa to the fore and while not as minty as we night expect from this label it has the lift, brightness and cleanness that the Willows wines always have and followers of this label won’t be disappointed.. It’s a powerful wine with harmonious oak and pillowy tannins that make it seem almost approachable but really would benefit from further cellaring. 14.9% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.

Summer Variety

First Glass 14 February 2018
Summer Variety
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Tohu Nelson Pinot Gris 2017 
This golden beauty has a savoury nuance to the scent with hints of melon and bottled peach and it’s smooth flowing with a nutty apricot richness and a warm, lifted, slight peppery note to the tropical fruit finish. Oozing fruit concentration with mouthfilling textural complexity it’s Pinot Gris at the Viognier end of the spectrum. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Glossy citrine gold in the glass with tantalising grilled peach and hazelnut scents and lightly toasty, savoury and nutty to the taste with warmth to the compounding mouthfilling finish that oozes malt and butterscotch with the lusciousness nicely offset by juicy grapefruit acidity. Noticeably dry and flinty as it lingers – a top wine that’s still evolving and will reward with further cellaring. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $42.99.
 
Wrights Vineyard Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2015
There's a lime green glint to the light golden hue. The bouquet is full of sweet spices, mealy nuances and gunflint connotations and it's powerful and heady with a lightly viscous texture, sweet vanillin oak and tasty tropical fruit, mango, candied pineapple and grapefruit. Organically grown Mendoza clone chardonnay from the Ormond region (old Revington vineyard). Cuisine 5 stars. 15% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Lawson Dry Hills Marlborough Riesling 2015
This smells so bright, clean and refreshing with wafts of honeysuckle and sherbet more obvious in the lightly spritzy palate which is like a medley of citrus with a dried apple toastiness that has evolved with bottle age. It seems like a dry Riesling but the honeysuckle reins in the racy acidity and the super quenching finish is rounded and complex with phenomenal length. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Beach House Stony Beach Gravels Hawkes Bay Riesling 2017
Lemon straw in the glass with pear nectar nuances and touches of oyster shell to the bouquet. A sweeter, delicate, low alcohol style with light viscosity to the texture and racy apple and lime acidity honed in nicely by tropical fruit and mandarin honey. Balanced and long. Gold Medal and Trophy NZIWS 2017. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Vavasour Marlborough Rosé 2017
This is a deep watermelon hue. The bouquet is a like a bowl of candied strawberries and the taste even more so with blueberries, red cherries and crab apple adding to the juicy medley. Made from Pinot Noir it's an off dry, low acid, lightly viscous pink with a touch of spice on the finish. It begs for a plate of antipasto. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Saint Clair Block 17 The Plateau Hawkes Bay Merlot 2016
The colour is seductive crimson black red. The bouquet entices with its vinous scent of blackberries, black Doris plums, spice and cedar and it's concentrated, sweet fruited, spicy and savoury to the taste with smooth tannins and a silky flow. The fruit is dense and ripe and there's a creamy milk chocolate character to the rounded finish. Harmonious and remarkably approachable. Finalist in the Winestate Merlot of the Year. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Cascina Bruciata di Carlo Balbo Barbaresco Nebbiolo 2012 – Piedmont, Italy
Transparent bricking red garnet in the glass. The savoury, slightly salty, slightly leathery bouquet emanates the vinosity of older wine and it seems very dry on first tasting with its huge yet fine tannin structure, dried cherry fruit, hints of dried orange peel, tobacco and sappy dandelion herbs.  Get past the dryness there's some lovely things happening as the vinosity of the wine evolves and the tannins dissolve. With an amazingly long finish that goes on and on this is a wine to sip and savour. Very true to type for the region and wonderful to experience. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $59.99.
 
Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2015
Youthful red black in hue with a touch of leather infusing the dark berry and cigar box scent and well-balanced in the juicy fruity palate with loads of currants, a touch of spice, hints of mocha and a smidgen of chocolate. A well balanced dry red with soft velvety tannins and a bright, satisfying, lingering finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 
Rich black red in the glass with an enticing bouquet of chocolate coated almonds, sappy berries and just a smidgen of mint then in the mouth the tannins are fine with a silky flow. The taste conjures up chocolate coated roasted coffee beans with a satisfying depth of bright red plummy fruit, blackcurrant and blackberry and a creamy roundness to the harmonious finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
Inky purple crimson with a dark chocolate and prune-like scent then succulent and rounded in the palate with a harmonious, seamless, velvety flow. Very approachable from the outset with intensity of berry fruit including raspberry and cherry with creamy nut chocolate nuances and a peppery brightness to the super juicy finish. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.

older wines revisited mingled with new vintages

First Glass 7 February 2018
Older wines revisited mingled with new vintages
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
The bouquet of this citrine-hued wine is reminiscent of lightly toasted hazelnuts and stonefruit with just a hint of pineapple, and it’s smooth, creamy and nutty in the palate with lifted lemony leesy flavours that sign off with malty savoury oak that’s underlined with a lingering and very pleasing bright pineapple /peach / mandarin flourish. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
This is a rich straw gold colour with a wild yeast / fumé nuance to the grapefruit and tropical fruit scent and the taste is full-bodied and textural with a flinty shimmer rippling through the concentrated passionfruit, mango, apple, herb and lime flavours with grapefruit again on the deliciously long quenching finish. Not an over-exaggerated style by any means. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014 – NSW, Australia
Light gold in hue with an enticing bouquet of light nutty toasty notes, the most delicate suggestion of butterscotch and hints of peach but unexpectedly restrained in the more lemongrass palate that does not hint at all of its four years of age. It's a very smart, elegant, cooler climate, higher altitude, Burgundian-inspired style with underlying gunflint notes, lingering tropical fruit and nectarine and exceptional length. Will be very long lived. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.
 
Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
It's a light golden hue with an enticing malt, stonefruit and gunsmoke scent and terrific concentration to the profoundly flavoursome palate with deliciously juicy peach, melon and tropical fruit and toasted hazelnut lingering on the polished finish.  Of all the chardonnays tonight this is the most sociable, the most readily drinkable and the most hard to resist. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Tenuta Ulisse Terre di Chieti Pecorino 2016  - Italy
Pear and citrus fill the bouquet of this straw coloured, off dry wine that’s characterised by bright acidity and a juicy medley of citrus with a touch of honeysuckle / beeswax on the fresh, clean finish. It’s a fruity wine with substance and texture and served chilled it’s juicy and refreshing. 13% alc. Cork.. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Giesen Gemstone Limited Release Marlborough Riesling 2017
This has the most intriguing scent of pear and quince with a slightly earthy / funky  / apple skin note. It’s a little spritzy in the palate with apple sherbet and pineapple dominant tropical fruit with a touch of sweetness balancing the refreshing acidity and an apricot hint to the lingering finish. What’s unusual about this wine is fermentation and maturation in granite rock tanks. 10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Rich ruby garnet hue. Generous cherry and summer berry fruits fill the bouquet yet it’s surprisingly quite fresh in the palate with upfront acidity indicating it needs to be accompanied with food right now. It’s a savoury, earthy, mushroomy pinot with a little bit of grip to the tannins and fruit sweetness evolving on the finish with a touch of toasty spice.  13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Archangel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
This has a saturated dark ruby / crimson tinged hue. There's a hint of mocha infusing the opulent bottled black cherry bouquet together with a touch of tar and char and it’s earthy and savoury to the taste with firm tannins, sappy oak and spicy notes and the sought after 'peacock tail flare’ on the finish where creamy chocolate and black forest cherry emerge. An oaky sumptuous mouthfilling pinot that leaves a great deal of satisfaction. AirNZ Pure Gold Medal.   14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.
 
Terra Sancta Shingle Beach Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013
The edges are thinning on the fading ruby garnet hue. Sweet strawberry and red cherry fruit fill the bouquet with a savoury gamey undertone. It's a medium-bodied wine and quite dry on first tasting  with savoury, gamey, smoky, spicy oak and sappy herb notes, a little bit of grip to the chalky tannins and ripe red berry fruit together with violets pushing through on the satisfying, rounded, lingering finish. A versatile food matching wine. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $40.99.
 
Tenuta Ulisse Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2015 – Abruzzo, Italy
It's a bright inky crimson black hue. The concentrated bouquet has a profound depth of jammy blackberry and black cherry fruit and it’s lifted in the full-bodied palate with smoky cigar box notes, touches of vanilla and ripe bramble fruit. Rounded in its flow with the firm tannins tamed by the sumptuous fruit and there are hints of chocolate biscuits on the succulent and generous finish that’s balanced by harmonious savoury notes. Gold NZIWS 2017. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Chalk Hill Luna McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Bright glossy, blackberry red in the glass. Ripe dark berry fruits with a touch of eucalypt and smoky oak fill the bouquet and it’s full-bodied, sumptuous and mouthfilling to the taste with vanilla, plums, mulberries, touches of chocolate and cake spices and velvet cape tannins adding an aura of mystery and intrigue. A big wine with a powerful underlying oak presence at this youthful stage of its life. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Buller Wines Fine Old Muscat NV – Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
Clear golden amber in the glass. The mesmerising heady bouquet is redolent of muscatel raisins, rancio and spirit and the taste is like liquid toffee nectar infused with muscatel raisins, candied peel, honey and fruit cake. It’s sweet but nicely balanced to the rancio savoury tones that come from years of maturation in old oak barrels. It’s A decadent treat. 18% alc. Cork. 750ml. First Glass Price: $41.99.

Summer Mix

First Glass 31 January 2018
Summer Mix
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Daniel Le Brun Methode Traditionelle Brut NV
This straw gold bubbles made from a cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is a ripe creamy full-bodied style with a hint of pear to the scent and a nutty sweetness to the lemon bread flavours with the most subtle hint of mushroom and a flinty shimmer to the rather moreish finish. A stylish bubbles looking very good on the night. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
West Brook Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
Light yellow gold in the glass with a touch of grapefruit wafting through the tropical fruit and grilled peach scent and toasty in the palate with a seamless flow. It’s creamy and malty with well-balanced acidity, masses of peach, a touch of spice on the savoury oak finish and a lingering hint of butterscotch. Very tasty. Almost everyone in the room liked it.  13.8% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
           
Simonsig Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016 – South Africa 
Light glossy gold. A little shy on the nose with hints of melon and jubey sweet fruit. Light, mellow and creamy in the palate with a malo note coming through and a smooth flow. Savoury oak underpins the vanilla custard and apricot dominant fruit salad flavours. An easy drinker with a flavoursome finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
McGuigan 'The ShortList' Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 – South Australia
A full-bodied reductive style with an arresting aroma of gunflint, gunsmoke, hazelnut and grapefruit zest. In the palate it’s dry and flinty with a touch of malt and cedar, complex yeast lees notes and a tropical fruit and stonefruit finish that goes on and on. A head turning wine that's very enjoyable now but will blossom even more with cellaring time. Winestate’s No.1 wine of 2017. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Anne-Laure Vin D’Alsace Pinot Gris 2015 – Alsace France
Straw in the glass and light and delicate on the nose with a luscious overtone to the pear and spice scent that carries through to the off dry palate that has substance and texture. A delightful aromatic wine with a deliciously long finish. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Wooing Tree Central Otago Blondie 2017
Made from Pinot noir grapes yet the hue is a barely-there pink. The bouquet is cherry-tinged candy floss and it's fashionably just off dry to the lightly viscous taste with the hint of sweetness balancing slight herbal notes and the fizzy fruit sherbet citrussy zing. Delicious.  13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot Rosé 2017
There's a luminosity to the spinel pink hue. The bouquet is all plum and cherry and it's quite citrussy to the ripe, juicy, thirst-quenching taste with summer berry flavours shimmying through and finishing with just a hint of anise. While followers of this label will find it much lighter in hue and palate weight than it has been in the past, it’s equally enjoyable and drinkable. Gold Medal NZIWS. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Castelforte Corvina Veronese IGT 2013 – Verona, Italy
There’s a little bricking to the Burgundy red hue, it's dusty on the nose with a hint of chocolate and there’s loads of fruity satisfaction in the palate where there is bright cherry-like fruit with a sweet jammy overtone and a touch of rose petal, tar and leather. Medium bodied with super smooth fine flowing tannins that have the slightest of grip to the finish, this fruity wine is easy to enjoy and can be lightly chilled for summer drinking. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Sebastiani Sonoma Country  Zinfandel 2014 – California, USA
This is an attractive dark pinky/black red hue. The bouquet overflows with berry fruit and spicy cedar that carries through to the smooth flowing palate. It’s a soft, mouthfilling, intensely fruity red with chocolate and cherry, a touch of coconut oak and just the slightest tingle of pepper and while it seems voluptuous and velvety it’s actually not too heavy. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Kirrihill Regional Selection Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This bright inky blackberry red-hued wine has a dark chocolate biscuit and concentrated berry scent, and it's dry and firm in the palate with deep purple/red fruit and a lifted peppery vibe. It's a concentrated wine that would benefit from slosh decanting but opens up beautifully with lots of swirling. A massive wine at an irresistible price. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Molly Dooker 'The Boxer' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky black red - almost impenetrable. The heady bouquet fills the senses with sumptuous chocolatey oak and concentrated black cherry.  There a firmness to the tannins but they are fine and ripe. It’s full of succulent fruit and loads of pepper and spice with underling savoury notes and creamy mocha and vanilla on the long and memorable finish. Quite simply mesmerising!  15.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.
 

The Heat Goes On

First Glass 24 January 2018
Mixed Summer Theme
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Bedin Prosecco DOC Treviso NV – Italy 
This is a soft, creamy and very approachable bubbles and even though it’s labelled ‘Extra Dry’ and seems quite dry to start there's a honeyed note to the fragrance and a very appealing touch of grapey sweetness to the foamy taste. The bottle looks good and the wine tastes good with touches of baked apple, pear and tropical guava. 11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Tony Bish Fat and Sassy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Quite golden in the glass, savoury on the nose and mellow to the taste with a butterscotch and salted caramel overlay to the banana tropical fruit salad flavours and a soft easy finish. People were saying 'very drinkable’ and it can be well chilled. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Light yellow gold. Gunsmoke, flint and hazelnut biscuits fill the bouquet and its warm, rich and nutty in the palate with funky yeast notes, hints of grapefruit and lingering notes of juicy melon, stone fruit and creamy oak. Fabulous value for the price and has developed beautifully since we tasted it on the Church Road night in June 2017. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Te Kairanga John Martin Martinborough Chardonnay 2015
Light gold in colour with a fragrant toasty nutty note to the more dominant stonefruit bouquet and silky in the palate with a fine textured flow. There’s lovely acidity to the wine that hints it is still evolving and will reward more with time yet with it with its creamy mouth-coating finish infused with peach and dried apricot it’s satisfying to swirl, sip and savour now. Winemaker John Kavanagh (ex Neudorf) has made a head turning wine. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $30.99.
 
Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Gris 2016
Straw gold in hue, a concentrated pear drop bouquet with a shimmy of spice and just off dry to the taste with true-to-variety pear and quince flavours infused with fresh apple acidity and richness to the long creamy finish. A crowd pleasing style. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Mt Maude Vineyard Maude East Block Central Otago Riesling 2017
There's a wet rock after summer rain and a lime nuance to the scent and a tickle of spritz to the lime zest, nectarine and honeysuckle taste which is heading towards medium in sweetness level – like a German spatlese riesling – with acidity and sweetness in impeccable harmony. It seems light and delicate yet there is understated substance. I think it’s just delightful. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Maison Fortant Rosé de Provence 2016 – Provence, France 
This has an onion skin hue with tinges of pink, it’s quite savoury on the nose and initially seems very dry to the foremost savoury taste with fresh lemon/apple acidity and a slight herbal note to the finish where a touch of sweetness emerges and the lingering impression is juicy. Not a fruity Rosé in any respects because this is from Provence where wine and food are served together and this attractively presented Rosé definitely needs food to sing. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Invivo Michelle's Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
This Bannockburn pinot is seductive and generous with a dark burgundy hue, a bouquet of spiced bottled cherries, plum jam and subtle woodsmoke and is full of flavour in the ripe, succulent, summer berry fruit palate. Tannins are pillowy with a velvet veneer and there's beautifully balanced spicy oak underpinning the wine all the way through and coming more to the fore on the deliciously long finish. Served ever so slightly chilled on the hot January night it was perfect. Gold and Trophy NZIWS 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Lurton Piedra Negra Gran Malbec 2011 – Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina 
Inky blackberry red with a mirror-like sheen.  A heady, concentrated aroma of raspberry, redcurrant, plum and cedar. High-toned in the palate with sumptuous fruit, leather, tobacco and cake spice. A big wine with big tannins yet fine in its flow with fresh acidity that cuts through the succulent, winey, alcohol-driven sweetness leaving behind pure fruit concentration. Dangerously delicious. 15.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 – California, USA
This more medium-bodied wine is a fading red black colour with moderate depth.  It has a soft, mellow red fruit bouquet and the taste its quite fruity, perhaps a little confectionary with soft velvet-edged tannins, vanillin oak and underlying herbal spicy notes. Not a big jammy blockbuster just nicely balanced, soft and very pleasant to drink. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 

St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – South Australia
Dark red black, looking youthful but with a watery edge suggesting a little age. The bouquet is quintessential cabernet with eucalypt, mint, cigar box, blackcurrant and cedar.  Tannins are firm with the fabulous berry taste welling up and lovely underlying sappy, savoury, cedary notes all the way through. Perhaps even a suggestion of marmite. A classic label at a great price and still developing so if you are looking for wines to cellar you can’t go wrong with this. 14.1% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $33.99.

Terrific BBQ Wines

First Glass Wine Education Evening 17 January 2018
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Luna Argenta Prosecco DOC Brut NV – Italy
This is a white gold hue with fine bubbles forming a lacy rim. There's the merest hint of vanilla to the apple skin scent and lots of upfront fizz to the crisp steely taste with creamy apple and tropical guava fruit lingering on the long, dry, refreshing finish. Very pleasant with attractive bottle presentation. 11% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – Awatere Valley, Marlborough
It's a lustrous pale gold hue and the aroma is bright and tangy with pineapple, passionfruit and summer herbs wafting out of the glass. The taste is fresh and invigorating with tropical fruit, grapefruit, peach and pungent herb flavours and an intense and terrifically long aftertaste. Gold NZIWS. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $21.99.
 
Alchemy Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015
Bright yellow gold in the glass with a butterscotch-coated stonefruit aroma and hints of gunflint and citrus. It’s soft, seamless and almost creamy with butterscotch and honeyed oak nuances, yet desirably dry with brightness to the finish. Served with only light chilling on the night, it really enhanced the texture and the mellow caramel and stonefruit flavours, which makes it hard to resist. Gold Medal NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Bay View Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Tempting hazelnut and vanilla leesy notes fill the bouquet of this bright golden coloured wine. It’s one of those flinty reductive styles with loads of intrigue and fascination and while it seems quite linear to start with lifted lemon biscuit acidity, it’s actually quite mouthfilling and complex with elegant stonefruit and a spicy inflection to the cedary oak on the finish. Lovely to try now but will excel with a little more maturity. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $31.99.
 
Tiki Estate Waipara Pinot Gris 2016
Straw gold with honey, spice and orange blossom aromas – a touch of botrytis I sense that comes through in the beautifully balanced palate with honey and spice and pear drop flavours and fresh apple brightness to the finish. With its lusciousness and texture it will be universally appealing. Very popular on the night. Gold Medal NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Gibbston Valley GV Collection Central Otago Riesling 2016
Light glossy gold with a touch of honeysuckle to the scent and maybe the merest hint of kero. It's searingly dry with racy lime and green apple acidity yet leaves behind a juicy and quenching aftertaste. It really does need food if you want to drink now – fish and chips would be perfect – or take the punt on cellaring for several years because it will morph into something absolutely magnificent. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Gibbston Valley GV Collection Central Otago Rosé 2017
A delightful watermelon pink colour with an almost iridescent glow, the bouquet is suggestive of summer berries and it is just off dry to the taste which makes it so approachable and appealing. It’s full of plum and strawberry fruit with a long creamy finish and served chilled it is deliciously quenching. Gold Medal NZIWS. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
Alexander Dusty Road Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Deep rich youthful pinot noir hue. Generous bouquet of ripe cherry with just the most subtle nuance of chocolate. The tannins are supple and silky upfront yet firm on the finish, the fruit is dark, there's a touch of warmed spices and brightness to the finish with a well-balanced underlying savouriness coming through. A medium to full-bodied very drinkable pinot with a mellow, easy going aura.  Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
 
Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Cotes du Rhone 2015 – Rhone Valley, France
This is a fairly translucent light red-black colour that’s fading on the edges.The bouquet is soft, almost chocolatey with a touch of dark jammy fruit and just a little bit of oak char and it’s smooth and mouthcoating in the palate with generous blackberry and raspberry fruit and a long warm finish with a subtle tarry note adding well-balanced savoury rusticity.  A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Kingston Valley Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
This rich inky blackberry red hued shiraz has a warm rich inviting smoky aroma promising vinous pleasure. Velvety tannins shroud the rich plum and dark cherry fruit with a slightly tarry undercurrent and a long creamy finish with touches of chocolate. Superb value for summer BBQ drinking. Gold Medal NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Peter Lehmann 'The Barossan' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
Deep dark red with an inviting aroma of berries, cedar and mint. It's a juicy, succulent, mouthfilling shiraz full of mint, chocolate, berries and spice with warm supple tannins that impart a velvety smooth flow and a long creamy finish tinged with vanilla. Irresistible wine and for many the wine of the night. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Welcome to 2018

First Glass 10 January 2018 
Welcome to 2018 with new vintages of previously successful wines
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
Delaplace Vintage Champagne 2012 
Golden coloured with the tiniest bubbles, a tantalising nutty yeasty aroma and a crisp, lemon biscuit yeasty taste with vibrant fizz and just a hint of marmite in the savoury tones that come through. A delicious and very drinkable champagne that’s long and creamy with a satisfying lemony aftertaste and a lightly honeyed overlay. Fantastic way to start the tasting year. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA
Moderate gold in colour with a hot buttered toast aroma embossed with peach and vanilla and tropical and fleshy stone fruit in the palate. It’s smooth and mellow with a zesty vibe, underlying savouriness and a very long creamy finish. 13.5 % alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Selaks Founders Limited Edition Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
Light gold in hue with an intoxicating toasted oak and mealy biscuity aroma and a fresh, mouthfilling, flavoursome taste with a malty richness, a toffee caramel smoothness and loads of peach and nectarine fruit that fleshes out the finish and reins in the cedary oak. A youthful wine with excellent potential to develop. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017
Light gold in colour with a bright stewed apple and pear aroma, and poached spiced pear in the textural palate with a whisper of viper’s bugloss honey. It's off dry heading toward medium in sweetness level with refreshing acidity and loads of flavour. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Giesen New Zealand Riesling 2016
This bright lemon gold coloured wine is beautifully perfumed with honeysuckle and sweet citrus. It's one of those juicy and deliciously refreshing lower alcohol, Mosel-inspired styles with moderate sweetness offset by quenching apple-like acidity and a lingering zesty zing. Serve chilled to the bones at this time of year. 10% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $12.99.
 
Two Rivers Isle of Beauty Marlborough Rosé 2017
A trendy light salmon hue with berry aromas and a crisp dry steely taste – probably a little more European influenced than some of the ones we have been enjoying at First Glass lately. There’s hints of black cherry, blackcurrant and pepper and an exceptionally long, lingering aftertaste that is juicy and satisfying. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Lake Hayes Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 
Youthful purple translucent red with a fragrant and generous bouquet full of black cherry fruit and gamey savoury notes that follow through to the silky palate. It’s warm and spicy with a medley of juicy berry fruit, just a little bit of grip to the tannins and a long creamy finish. A lighter style red that’s soft, smooth and very tasty and would benefit from a little chilling on a scorching summer day. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $27.99.
 
Castano Hecula Monastrell 2015 – Yecla, Spain 
This is a dark red colour, the bouquet is savoury and earthy with a waft of leather, sweet spiced tobacco, some kind of bramble berry and a hint of mocha. The taste is mellow and spicy with underlying earthiness and a smooth tannin flow.  A medium-bodied food friendly red with light tannins and a juicy finish.  14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Sisters Run McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Inky blackberry red with crushed chocolate biscuit aromas – dark chocolate with a bit of toast. Smooth flowing in the spicy, creamy, savoury palate that’s accented with  pepper and crammed with juicy red and black cherry fruit together with plums and mulberries and lingering chocolate notes. It seems a little young but the sweetness of the fruit makes it seem very drinkable. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Wirra Wirra Woodhenge Basket Press McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia 
Shiny inky blackberry red with a tantalising bouquet of Shiraz spices, vanillin oak and berry fruit. Sappy cedary oak is prominent at first to the taste but the opulence of the focused berry fruit takes over. A gorgeous, full-bodied, lifted red with a long creamy finish and a lovely fine tannin structure that underpins the seductively smooth flow. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.
 
Belasco De Baquedano Swinto Old Vine Malbec 2012 – Mendoza, Argentina
The subtle tawny aura to the deep purple red hue suggests a little age. The opulent bouquet is velvety with concentrated bramble berries and perhaps a soupçon of mint and the taste is mouthfilling and sumptuous. It’s a heady wine with loads of oak and masses of fruit, jam, earth and tobacco and while its seems so smooth at first the tannins kick in on the ultra long finish. Should be a very long lived wine. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $46.99.