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Articles

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.

Last Wine Tasting of 2017

Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind  

Leveret Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 
There's a fresh vanilla custard creaminess to the bouquet and it’s smooth and rounded in the palate. A fruit driven style with a spicy zesty vibe, well balanced savouriness, beautifully integrated oak and accents of pineapple and apricot tart on the lingering finish. Very tasty and hard to resist at this price. Gold AirNZ 2016. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
 
Mills Reef Bespoke Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016
It's golden in colour, the aroma is creamed nuts and there's a touch of butter toffee lusciousness to the full-bodied taste that is smooth flowing with savoury oak while lifted acidity keeps the finish fresh. As Andrew said it is unashamedly made in an ‘old school style’ to enhance the buttery notes and I can attest it is an excellent match to oven roasted salmon. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Villa Maria Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013
The bouquet emanates gunsmoke and fascinating wild yeast connotations and the taste is full of polished nutty oak, grilled peach, vanilla biscuit and mealy notes with a flinty undercurrent and spicy savouriness to the warm, full-bodied finish where a citrus vibrancy comes through. A striking Chardonnay at 4 years of age that is full of flavour, long and intense. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. N/A.
 
Ceres Black Rabbit Central Otago Riesling 2017 
Inviting floral and tropical fruit aromatics and freshly juiced citrus and honeysuckle flavours are so en-pointe in this mouth-watering, lower alcohol, medium style that’s beautifully poised yet utterly refreshing with scintillating acidity and a spritzy vibe. Gold AirNZ. Gold NZIWS. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $22.99.
 
Rameau D'Or Côtes de Provence ‘Golden Bough’ Rosé 2016 – Provence, France 
The most delicate pink hue, subtle aromas of cherry and raspberry and almost bone dry to the taste which is savoury rather than fruity with spice and pepper nuances and a tangy finish. Fabulous lunchtime wine with attractive bottle presentation and a back label story to entrance. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi 2014 – Sardinia, Italy
This tasty blend of 60% Carignan and 10% each of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is rich black red with crimson edges. A pink bubble gum fragrance wafts from the glass at a distance with a delicious ripe berry scent when nosing. It’s fruity and expressive in the palate with sweet berry fruit, cherry pie, peppery spices, voluptuous tannins and underlying leather and tar. A lovely expression of old world meets new world made by the winemaker who used to work at Sassacaia. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Church Road McDonald Series Hawkes Bay Merlot 2015
Inky black red. Savoury on the nose with hints of freshly baked dark berry pie. Vanillin oak is noticeable on first tasting together with plums, cassis, currants and well balanced tannins cake spices and a touch of pepper. While still unfolding, it is full-bodied, generous and voluptuous with an ornate oak frame and an impressively long succulent finish with just a whisper of mint. Gold and Trophy NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $26.99.
 
Varvaglione 12 e Mezzo Primitivo del Salento 2015 – Salento, Italy  
Dark red, thinning/fading a little on the edges. Crushed chocolate biscuits, smoky oak and jammy berries fill the bouquet and it’s savoury in the palate which is nicely poised, not too OTT, with fine smooth tannins. Fruit is reminiscent of plums and cassis with cigar box, mocha, chocolate and a subtle pepper zing to lingering red berry finish. Like this a lot – lots going on. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Take it to the Grave Langhorne / Barossa Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
The scent is like dusty red plums and apples simmering on the stove for jam and the fruit is ultra ripe and generous in the palate with plump velvety tannins, a touch of mint and a peppery touch to the finish where blackberry and black cherry emerges a little while later as the flavours linger. An okay shiraz however the quirky label may not appeal to everyone. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $16.99.
 
Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 – South Australia
This is inky black red in the glass with an attractive bouquet of chocolate syrup, spicy oak and concentrated mulberries and berries that follow through to the bright spicy palate together with lashings of mint. Ripe, generous, lifted and clean with a velvet cloak of fine tannins and concentration and power to the full-bodied finish that is nicely balanced with a touch of pepper. A big wine with an elegant swagger and hard for Shiraz lovers to resist. Gold Medal NZIWS. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Countdown to Christmas

Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were tasted blind

Brancott Letter Series ‘O’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2016
This is a glorious Chardonnay that immediately tempts with its creamy, mealy, slightly citrussy, barrel ferment aromas and it’s smooth and seamless as it flows across the palate with nougat and hazelnut flavours together with grilled peach, toasty oak and a zesty brightness to the mouthfilling and lingering finish. 5 star wine at 5 star value. Gold AirNZ, NZIWS, Marlborough and Sydney. 14% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $19.99.
 
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay 2016 – Western Australia
This is very tight and youthful at this stage of its life. The bouquet is savoury and just a little reductive and it’s dry and citrussy in the full-bodied palate – what some would call an ‘elegant’ wine – but as the flavours linger and flesh out in the mouth with touches of nectarine joining more primary lemongrass, you can sense the potential. An icon wine that’s made to last and will offer so much more with at least 12 months cellaring time.  13% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $81.99.
 
Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2017 
This is refreshingly fragrant with its scent of lemon zest, honey and flower nectar and the flavours are bright, clean and aromatic with light viscosity to the texture, juicy citrus and apricot fruit, just a touch of sweetness and refreshing apple acidity to the bright zesty finish. Well-balanced and drinkable. Gold NZIWS. Gold & Trophy Air NZ. Gold and Trophy Marlborough Wine Show. 12% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $12.99.
 
Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017
This is a soft and fairly dry pinot gris with a lightly aromatic pear and apple skin scent and flavours of poached quince and peach with a hint of ginger adding a spicy vibe to the zingy finish. Made by Peregrine. Gold and Trophy AirNZ.  13.5% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $18.99.
 
Rockburn Stolen Kiss Central Otago Pinot Rosé 2017 
This is seriously pale pink and while the bouquet seems delicately scented it emanates wild cherry with a beguiling exotic flare. It’s full of flavour in the palate with off dry to medium sweetness, touches of strawberry floss and a zesty vibrancy to the quenching finish that's very long and tasty.  13% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $25.99.
 
Bannock Brae Goldfields Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
This has a translucent and slightly fading ruby hue. The bouquet is smoky and savoury with a floral allure and it’s dry in the savoury, slightly gamey palate where the aromatics infuse to give a sense of dried roses and polished oak furniture. The tannins are silky yet still quite firm with cherry and cranberry fruit and while it seems like a lovely lighter elegant style to start it has understated stamina and power. Gold NZIWS. 14% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $29.99.
 
Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
This has a rich ruby saturation to the deeply translucent hue. The colour is in sync with the succulence of the fruit-driven, spice-infused aroma and the fullness of the flavours that are crammed with juicy cherry and plum fruit, touches of rose hip, hints of vanilla and woody spices. A generous pinot with a velvety flow and a lasting finish that leaves an aura of mouthfilling satisfaction. Gold AirNZ. 13.5% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $38.99.
 
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Organic Merlot 2016
This is a vibrant crimson-edged black red hue. There's a leathery, dusty, woody herb, Bordeaux character to the bouquet and it’s dry and firm in the initially savoury, cedary, cigar box palate that opens up with plum and cherry fruit and a lingering succulence to the creamy finish. Smooth and elegantly poised in a medium to full-bodied style and very well received on the night. Gold and Trophy AirNZ.  13.5% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $14.99.
 
Coopers Creek Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2016
The colour is a bright pinky / crimson cherry jam red. The bouquet is concentrated and generous with succulent, almost jammy, berry fruit infused with chocolatey oak. It seems quite dry on first tasting with toasted spices and a slight hint of pepper but becomes more and more succulent as the berry and plum fruit pushes through to tame the tannins to leave a mouth-coating, vibrantly lifted finish. Gold and Trophy AirNZ Wine Awards. 13.5% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $49.99.
 
Giordano Primitivo Di Manduria Reserva 2014 – Puglia, Italy
There's a tawny aura to the bricking red hue hinting of a little age. The bouquet is full of sweet fruit and it’s full-bodied and sweet-fruited in the opulent, velvety-textured palate with rich raisin, date and prune-like fruit, Xmas cake spices, hints of almonds and marzipan and vibrant almost peppery tingles. Rich, warm, full-bodied and smooth-flowing and while the fruit is sweet there’s a beautifully balanced savoury undercurrent and the wine finishes satisfyingly dry. Hard to resist. 14.5% alc.  Cork.  First Glass Price: $24.99.
 
St Johns Road Blood and Courage Barossa Shiraz 2016 – South Australia
The colour is a fresh, youthful, deep dark red. Chocolate biscuits, creamy oak and shiraz spices fill the bouquet and it’s typically shiraz in the creamy, spicy palate that’s full of luscious berry fruit with integrated oak, fine smooth tannins and a long, succulent finish with a little flourish of mint. Gold NZIWS. 14.5% alc.  Screwcap.  First Glass Price: $19.99.

Announcing the 2017 NZIWS Trophy Winners

New Zealand’s largest wine competition - the New Zealand International Wine Show – announced the Trophy winners for 2017 at the Awards dinner at Auckland’s Crown Plaza on Saturday 7 October.

The competition this year provided the industry with its first major assessment of the 2017 vintage for our most important variety, Sauvignon Blanc.  The judges awarded 18 golds from 152 entries from wines produced in the 2017 vintage, a terrific result.

New Zealand’s other major export variety, Pinot Noir, was rewarded with 29 Gold Medals – with 13 wines coming from Central Otago, 8 from Martinborough and 7 from Marlborough.

For the 9th time since 2005 a Chardonnay has been crowned Nissan Champion Wine of the Show. Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016 was selected as the top wine from the 19 Gold Medal Chardonnays and after voting by all of the senior judges, declared this to be the supreme winner.

Invivo Central Otago 'Michelle’s' Pinot Noir 2016 received the Trophy for Pinot Noir continuing their success for Pinot Noir’s produced in the southern region.

There were significant results in several classes, notably 19 Gold Medals for Pinot Gris and a very positive 13 Gold Medals for Rosé from a staggering 130 entries.

The variety receiving the most Gold Medals was Shiraz/Syrah with 40 wines exciting the judges, this was the most Gold Medals ever awarded to a single class in the history of the competition.

Go to the NZ International Wine Show website for a full list of results.

New Zealand International Wine Show 2017

New Zealand International Wine Show

Celebrating its 13th year, the New Zealand International Wine Show has been the biggest wine competition in this country since its inception. As its name suggests, wines are entered for judging from countries worldwide – in previous years this has included wines from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Israel & the USA.

The wines are judged ‘blind’ by some of New Zealand’s most accomplished winemakers and wine judges, under the guidance of Chief Judge Bob Campbell MW, assisted this year by Assistant Chief Judges Larry McKenna and Peter Cowley - two of New Zealand's greatest winemakers. The outcome of three days of judging is the NZ International Wine Show’s “Champion’s List” of gold medal winners which is published in the Sunday Star Times in October and listed along with other medal winners on their website www.nziws.co.nz. Wines that comprise The Champions List are tasted in a public tasting on Thursday 5 October 2017.

The presentation of Trophies is made at an Awards Dinner in Auckland on Saturday 7th October.

Tickets for both events are available at www.nziws.co.nz

First Glass will presenting many of the gold medal winning wines in their Wednesday tastings after the results are announced. Watch out for some great tastings coming up on our Tastings Diary.”

Decanter Results Announced

Decanter 2017 World Wine Awards

The results are now available from the 14th edition of the Decanter wine competition. What started out as a pretty big wine event has now grown into a logistical monster. This year they received more than 17,000 entries from 42 countries and there were hundreds of judges involved. Bob Campbell MW was the “Regional Chair” for New Zealand wines. The other Kiwi involved was Cameron Douglas MS.

From all these wines there were:

  • 34 Platinum Best in Show
  • 175 Platinum Best in Category
  • 456 Gold Medals
  • 3348 Silver Medals
  • 7044 Bronze Medals.

There are some interesting categories for the top awards such as Best Spanish Fortified, Best Very Old Sherry, Best Value Mature Sherry, Best Mature Sherry, Best Sweet Sherry etc. etc.

Platinum awards for N.Z. wines are:

  • Best N.Z. sparkling – Nautilus Cuvee Brut
  • Best N.Z. Riesling – Saint Clair Block 9 Big John Riesling 2016
  • Best N.Z. Sauvignon Blanc – Wairau River Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016
  • Best Value N.Z. Chardonnay – Te Pa Marlborough Chardonnay 2015
  • Best N.Z. Chardonnay – Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2015
  • Best N.Z. Pinot Noir – Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir 2015
  • Best Value N.Z. Red Bordeaux Varietals – Koha Merlot Cabernet Franc 2015
  • Best N.Z. Red Bordeaux Varietals – Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2014
  • Best Value N.Z. Red Rhone Varietals – Sileni The Peak Syrah 2014
  • Best N.Z. Red Rhone Varietals – Rod McDonald Wines Quarter Acre Syrah 2015
  • Best N.Z. Sweet Wine – Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2016

Twelve Bloody Chardonnays

Notes by Sue Courtney

Wines were tasted blind

 

Summerhouse Marlborough Chardonnay 2015

This lustrous gold coloured wine has a grilled peach and pineapple aroma with a subtle smoky overlay. A generous tasting, bright fruity wine with juicy acidity, a steely undercurrent and plenty of vanilla accents in the toasty savoury oak. Recommended by Cuisine. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $14.99.

Gibbston Valley China Terrace Central Otago Chardonnay 2016

Light lemon gold with a subtle biscuity oak aroma that also hints of hazelnut and lemon.  Harmonious and elegant in the palate with touches of nougat, malo-influences, an ethereal white peach infusion and a delicate feel to the creamy finish which is very long with an enticing compounding richness. One to sip and savour. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $34.99.

Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014 - NSW, Australia

Rich lemon gold with stonefruit filling the bouquet and a lifted nutty complexity. Concentrated in the palate with oiliness to the texture, an elegance to the polished spicy French oak, a fresh nectarine and peach fruit profile, a punch of zesty acidity and a long, dry and very harmonious and satisfying finish. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $39.99.

Clearview Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016

This is a moderate gold colour with perfumed peach and vanillin oak aromas then in the mouth it’s full and fat and big and bold and rich and generous with barrel ferment notes, grapefruit, vanilla, peaches and cream and a long tasty finish. Five stars Cuisine. Gold Easter Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.

Penfolds Reserve Bin 15A  Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015

Lemon gold in hue with a haunting bouquet reminiscent of nougat and toasted brioche then the taste is crisp, dry, steely, and leesy with subtle wild yeast funk, creamed macadamia nut notes and touches of citrus. Echoing a youthful white burgundy it is classy and sophisticated, harmonious and elegant, and very very long on the focussed aftertaste. Trophy winner at the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge.

13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $93.99.

Mills Reef Bespoke Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016

Golden coloured with a strong tropical fruit aroma that has the estery scent of ‘banana bike’ lollies and an intriguing woody nuance a little like camphor. The taste is bold, brash and fruity with spicy oak, a hint of cinnamon and lingering butterscotch on the rounded finish. A new label made in a retro 90s style that slots in between the Elspeth and the Reserve. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $29.99.

Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Limeworks Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016

A golden coloured wine with an attractive, warm, butter shortbread aroma and a delicate floral allure. Bold toasty oak and golden fruit upfront in the palate falls away to reveal soft creamy notes, a nutty undercurrent, a medley of stonefruit and a lingering apricot glaze. 

14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.

Kidnappers Cliff Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2014

Light gold in colour with a delicate lemon and white peach scent together with nutty oak, haunting smoky notes and later, in the empty glass, original Radox bath salt scents. This is an in-vogue reductive, flinty, wild yeast style with all those lovely intricacies that the best wines have with touches of cashew and hazelnut, a background of nougat, delicate nutty oak and a harmonious melon-like sweetness to the finish. Beautifully sophisticated, seamless and long. Five stars and No.1 in Cuisine’s 2017 chardonnay tasting. 13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $47.99.

Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 - California

Though light in colour it’s big, bold and fruity on the nose and the taste is jam-packed with juicy tropical fruit, mellow oak and creamy, buttery, easy drinking chardonnay goodness. The most popular Californian chardonnay at First Glass, it is easy to see why. Keep the cork screw handy. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.

Ata Rangi Petrie Martinborough Chardonnay 2014

A moderate gold colour with honey roasted nuts and lifted fruit aromas filling the bouquet with perhaps a hint of stewed rhubarb. Rich, rounded, full bodied and tasty with zesty, spicy notes, hints of caramel and a medley of tropical fruit with underlying peach. There’s a touch of development to this very satisfying wine that has harmonious oak and a warm mealy finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $28.99.

Vavasour Anna’s Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2015

This light yellow hued wine has a bold aroma offering up honey dew melon, spicy oak and touches of hazelnut. More spicy and savoury than fruity upfront in the palate - perhaps white currants and citrus notes - with polished French oak and a touch of hokey pokey on the warm, rounded, lingering, mouthfilling finish. 4 stars Cuisine. 14% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $35.99.

Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Sonoma Chardonnay 2015 - California

Citrine in hue with an inviting tropical fruit bouquet and rounded and clean in the palate with the tropical fruit profile continuing together with spice, oatmeal, honeyed oak, touches of butterscotch and a warm juicy finish. Very drinkable and best of all it you no longer need a corkscrew to open it. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $25.99.