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Articles

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

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

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

Easter Show Trophies, Gold Medals and more

First Glass 14 March 2018 
Easter Show Trophies, Gold Medals and more
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind



Te Hana Sparkling Reserve Cuvée NV
This methode traditionelle made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir is yellow gold in the glass with fine bubbles and a lacy froth when poured. It evokes bacquette aromas and hints of marmite to the flavour that suggest a little bottle age. The upfront tingly effervescence subsides to reveal vibrant acidity,  malt and nut bread nuances and a dry, toasty, lingering finish. Outstanding value. Gold Easter Show. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $13.99.
 
Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Emanating youthfulness with its glossy pale straw hue and with its bright breezy scent full of greengage plum, grapefruit and bright summer herbs that recur in the crisp, dry flinty palate where juicy pineapple, red capsicum, celery and fleshy peach add to the quintessentially pungent and delightful sauvignon blanc taste. Trophy Easter Show 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
The colour is lustrous lemon gold, the tantalising bouquet conjures up toasty oak, gunsmoke, malt, nectarine and peach with some reductiveness noticeable and the taste is bold, toasty and mouthfilling with lashings of peaches and cream and a long rich savoury oak finish with lingering wheatmeal and woodsmoke. Gold Easter Show 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This light gold hued wine has a gentle bouquet with wild yeast, barrel ferment, malo, melon and gunflint scents and the taste shows lovely creaminess and restraint with melon, white peach, hazelnut and fig and a long, dry, mealy finish. Subtle, seamless and absolute class. Gold Easter Show, Gold AirNZ. Trophy NZIWS. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $32.99.
 
Summerhouse Marlborough Verdelho 2016
This barrel-fermented wine is straw gold in hue with a bouquet of gunsmoke and nuances of pear, guava, peach and nectarine – the fruit more obvious in the palate. It's dry, flinty and focussed with a refreshing acid backbone, touches of salinity, hints of manuka woodsmoke and the fruit opening up the wine for a fleshy finish. Trophy Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
 
Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2016
Light gold hued with a heady fragrance of violets, lychee, Turkish Delight and rose oil and off dry to the tingly taste with sweet ripe grape and lychee flavours, white pepper and musky spices with a powerful, toasty, smoker lolly finish that’s soft and seamless. Begs to be accompanied with Thai or and Indian curry. Trophy Easter Show. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Gewurztraminer 2017
Straw gold in hue with a delicate yet fragrant perfume of lilac and strudel spices with hints of musk and vanilla poached pear. Bright and spicy to the fairly dry taste with delicate tropical fruit and mandarin and just a smidgen of honey that enhances the texture. A subtle Alsace-like style that’s not too OTT. Gold Easter Show. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
This Bannockburn pinot is a rich dark ruby hue with a beguiling smoky savoury aroma infused with black cherry, vanilla and tar and its seamless in the palate that’s ripe, fruity, flavoursome and intense. Full of musky, spicy, cherry and plum fruit with hints of briar rose, pillowy tannins and subtle smoky oak with underlying acidity that will see it evolve over many years. Gold Easter Show, Gold AirNZ, Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2016
Intense crimson-edged blackberry hue with an attractive bouquet of savoury oak, pencil box, blackcurrant and woody herbs that carry through to the palate where there is refreshing brightness of mint infusing the earthy savoury undertones and the succulent plum and blackberry fruit. The tannins are velvety and firm and there are hints of cigar box on the finish where the purity of the fruit and the savouriness of the oak linger harmoniously. Gold Easter Show. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Mills Reef Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2016
Deep blackberry red in the glass with the bouquet revealing leathery notes overlaying plum, chocolate and spicy cedar and more leathery, earthy, savoury tones in the soft rounded silky palate that’s brimming with plums and bramble berry fruit with underlying acidity and touches of chocolate and vanilla on the long, smooth finish. Trophy Easter Show. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Riverby Estate Noble Marlborough Riesling 2015
Light yellow bronze in the glass – almost amber. The bouquet is all honey, botrytis, toffee, candied citrus and candied peach and the taste is a mouthful of sweet deliciousness. The lightly viscous nectar is seamless in its flow leaving memories of dried apricots, liquid honey, orange toffee and peach with refreshing acidity honing in the sweetness. A magnificent finish to a dinner party – or any evening when you want to enjoy beautiful wines. Trophy Easter Show. 11% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99. 375ml.
 
Delgado Zuleta Pedro Ximinez Monteagudo NV - Jerez, Spain
Dark mahogany in the glass with yellow green edges. The heady scent and unctous flavours are like muscatels and sticky dates macerating for the Xmas cake with a hint of salinity that comes from the old barrels the win has age in. It’s seamless, viscous, heady and intense with absolutely amazing length. Hard to resist but a little goes a very long way. 17.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $31.99. 375ml.

New Arrivals and the Return of some favourites

Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

 
 
Murphy Goode Chardonnay 2016 – California, USA 
Golden hued with a bouquet that suggests lemon scented butter caramel and more of the same in the smooth seamless palate with just a whisper of oaky savouriness together with harmonious acidity that hones in the caramel sweetness beautifully. A real crowd pleaser. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99
 
Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2016 
Glossy gold with a touch of gunflint to the stonefruit and melon scent, this full-bodied savoury wine has richness and underlying power and plenty of fresh stonefruit flavours accented with zest and a polished, spicy, nutty oak finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99
 
Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – California, USA
There's a touch of gunsmoke to the scent of this golden coloured, bold, rich, creamy wine that oozes butterscotch and caramel with beautifully balanced savoury oak and succulent tropical fruit flavours infused with grilled peach.  It's a voluptuous wine with a long rich finish that lingers harmoniously. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99
 
Le Vieille Ferme Rosé 2016 – Ventoux AOC, Rhone, France
This distinctly European style is barely-there pink in the glass with a whiff of struck match and dilute berry tea. The fruit is restrained but the wine has texture and vinosity with hints of strawberry and pepper and a very dry finish with a suggestion of tarragon as the flavours linger. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99
 
Rabbit Ranch Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016
The bouquet of this translucent Burgundy-hued wine is intriguing with red cherries, hints of thyme and touches of strawberry jam. It seems very dry on first tasting with a hint of gunsmoke and firm and slightly hard tannins that remind me of Villages Burgundy and while light to start it has increasing vinosity and silkiness with textbook savouriness, woody herbs and red cherry fruit. 13.6% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $24.99
 
Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017
This is a deeply coloured, generously scented and full on flavoursome pinot with succulent red and black cherry fruit, plum pie, deep savoury notes and spices. Velvety tannins frame the bountiful fruit that brim to the fore on the finish. First of the 2017s we have seen, it’s to drink now and over the next 12 months. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99
 
Tenuta Ulisse Sogno di Ulisse Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – Terre di Chieti IGP, Italy
Opulent in its saturated black red hue with a touch of barnyard, leather and game wafting through the rich berry and chocolate tones of the scent and it's juicy and succulent in the velvety textured palate. It’s a big wine with chocolate, creamy oak, touches of herbs infused with mint and those savoury notes from the nose surging again on the fabulously long mouth-filling finish. Top value and simply ideal for a meat lovers BBQ. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99
 
Finca Constantia Parcela 23 Tempranillo 2015 – Castilla VdIT, Spain
The bouquet of this shiny black red coloured wine is fragrant and enticing with its chocolatey oak, berries, herbs and spices. It's succulent and juicy in the fine silky palate with a firm backbone, ripe berry fruit, hints of vanilla, pencil like oak and fabulous concentration to the long, dry, satisfying finish that brims with vinous sweetness and hints of anise. Best served with food. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $20.99.
 
Kingston Estate Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Deep crimson-edged blackberry hue with an attractive and concentrated bouquet of plum and cassis underpinned with creamy oak and spices. In the palate there are touches of chicory and mocha infusing the creamy chocolatey oak and succulent red berry flavours with tingles of cake spices and pepper and the tannins are silky with a velvet trim. A fulfilling flavoursome Shiraz that at the price point over delivers. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99
 
St Hallett Faith Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Deep purple in the glass, inky and intense. Ripe red and black berries and leather fill the bouquet that's laced with chocolate and woody spices and it's stellar and structured in the palate with reasonably firm tannins that have a supple velvet-coated edge. The mouthfilling flavours exude smoky oak, hints of bacon, leather, spices and an amalgam of ripe berry fruit including plums, mulberries and cherries, and the finish is long and satisfying. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99
 
Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
Looking youthful with its saturated purple red hue yet the bouquet hints of a little maturity with it’s sensual, earthy, mushroomy, savoury notes together with chocolate and mint that carry through to the palate. It’s a big wine, almost a blockbuster with its succulent, mouthfilling, jammy berry fruit flavours, creamy oak, supple tannins and harmonious spice. Lots going on. One that will last in the cellar. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99

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.