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Sue Courtney's blog of Vinous Ramblings

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Welcome to Sue Courtney's web log (blog) of vinous ramblings.  It's my on line journal and an adjunct to my website which is for more formal tasting notes and articles.

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Archive: September 2010
Sep 29th: Diamonds are a girl's best friend
Sep 28th: Boulders amongst the vines
Sep 26th: Morepork from Fat Pigs
Sep 20th: The Best of the Best
Sep 10th: Gold Medals Galore
Sep 6th: A Stolen Kiss at Show Time
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Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 29th 2010

Diamonds are a girl's best friend ...

... so the lyrics in the song say. And I've found a diamond that every girl will love.   It's a White Diamond and of course it's a wine - a sweetish fruity wine that is the total essence of grapes. It is Longview Estate White Diamond 2010 and it comes from Northland, New Zealand, specifically Whangarei. 

Richard and MarioIt was a great privilege last week to meet Mario Vuletich, owner of Longview Estate in Whangarei, and his son Richard.  Second and third generation winemakers. Both born into wine families, Richard is carrying on the family tradition, going to EIT in Hawkes Bay straight out of School to gain the qualifications that every young winemaker needs today. With vintages in Hawkes Bay, the Napa Valley and Margaret River behind already, he has a great career ahead of him. And who knows but one day he may be back at Longview Estate permanently to take over the reins of the family business. 

Longview Estate White Diamond 2010 is this week's Wine of the Week. Click here to check out my story and review.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 28th 2010

Boulders amongst the vines

Boulders amongst the vines may have been the name inspiration for the Marlborough producer Bouldevines but whatever the name, the proof of quality is in the taste. The wine in the glass tonight is Bouldevines Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009, a recent gold medal winner at the NZ International Wine Show. And now, sipping on a freshly opened bottle in the comfort of my home, I can see why the judges loved it.

Colour: This wine is a very deep colour, like a shiny black cherry freshly plucked from the tree.
Aroma: Smoky and savoury with a suggestion of concentrated winey sweetness.
Taste: Gutsy and savoury with a smoky richness balancing the succulent bittersweet red fruits that hint of black cherry and tamarillo. Underlying this is an earthy gamey depth and gorgeous velvety tannins with a fine seam of spice running through the delicious savoury finish. But it is the deep sumptuousness and satisfaction that this wine offers that makes you reflect with a deep feeling of satisfaction.
Price: About NZ$30 - but remember GST rises at the end of the week.

Well done Phil and Janey Walsh and winemaker Drew Ellis.  I think this is the pinnacle of your wine production to date.  Cheers!

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 26th 2010

Morepork from Fat Pigs

Where would you find a hairy dog, a fat pig, a bent duck and a morepork? In Puketotara Road in Northland, that's where. These are some of the names of the small vineyards in Kerikeri that have formed a cluster within 300 metres of each other. A fifth vineyard is Chinook Wind. Rumour has it that the Morepork Vineyard was named as such because the owners, Phil and Rosemary Minehan, have two pigs, not just one fat pig as the vineyard across the road has, so they called it Morepork. The real reason is that the native morepork owl lives in the trees in the property and each night sings its haunting song.

The stories were told to me when I was in Northland the other day for a sneak preview of the 2010 vintage. It's called the 'Fight Club' because what goes on in the room in regards to unfinished samples, stays in the room. But I will say I was besotted with the quality of the 2010 Pinotages. When the wines are finished and released they will make more than just the pinotagophiles turn heads. Rich, succulent wines that will be very long lived.

There were some finished wines tasted and those I can comment on. One was Morepork Rosemary's Reserve Pinot Gris 2010 from the afore-mentioned Morepork Vineyard where Pinot Gris is the only variety grown. Now this is an interesting wine. Lots of classic Pinot Gris aromas of pears and Nashi with some flower nectar coming through too, the taste starts with a rush of lusciousness but finishes decidedly dry, begging you to take another mouthful. But the thing that's intriguing is the hint of tarragon that lingers with tropical fruit on the finish. I liked it.

The wine is made by Rod McIvor at Marsden Estate Winery It has 13.5% alcohol and of course a screwcap. Perfect for summer. Hard to find but worth the effort, check out the Northland Wine Centre at Mangonui and the local wine shops in Kerikeri.

And if you want the ideal place to stay up north for a few days this summer, I can recommend the stylish apartment at Sailfish Cove Vineyard in Tutukaka. Upstairs bedrooms, a downstairs kitchen and lounge, free wireless Internet, magnificent views to the Poor Knights Island and a cove to fish from the rocks. It's a perfect place to relax and the Sailfish Cove wine is there for you to enjoy too. Click on the link - - and you will see just how spectacular it is.
You'll find more about this luxury apartment in the vines at

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 20th 2010

The Best of the Best

What a fantastic and hectic last several days.  First of all finishing the tasting notes for the 195 gold medal and Trophy winning wines from the 2010 New Zealand International Wine Show - they were finished five minutes before I went away. (If truth be told, I couldn't go away until they were finished).  Then off to Mt Ruapehu for a few days genuine holiday - the clouds even parted once or twice to reveal the mountain pinnacles and peaks and blue sky, and after the rain, lots of fresh new snow. Then, after digging the car out it was back to Auckland in time for the 2010 New Zealand International Wine Show Awards Dinner and lots of Champagne before dancing the night away.  

So the Trophy winners have been revealed and what a line up!  The magnificent Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008 won Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of the Show. What a deserving winner this wine was.  This rich, savoury, seamless wine was one of my top two wines when I tasted the 23 gold medal winners so I was very pleased that one of my favourites was the judges' favourite too.

Saint Clair, with four gold medal winning Sauvignon Blancs, was definitely a top contender for the trophy and they took the gong with the Saint Clair Pioneer Block 21 Bell Block Sauvignon Blanc 2010. A vibrant and tangy wine with nuances of grass and a ton of passionfruit - just delicious.

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 was the big winner in this important red wine class. 258 wines were judged and of the 28 gold medal winners, this was voted by the judges as Champion Pinot Noir.  Well done Roger and Jean Gibson for this wonderfully perfumed, velvety textured, richly flavoured wine with a harmony of fruit and savoury characters and a lovely seam of acidity adding the sought after 'peacock tail' flare.

The wine I most preferred to drink of all the winners, however, was the gorgeous, gorgeous, Champagne Bollinger Rose. What an absolute treat and well done to the judges who put down their vote for this stunning pink wine, especially when the very sophisticated Louis Roederer Brut Champagne 2003 was in the lineup. I'm a sucker for pink bubbles - want to give me a gift, then pink Champagne will score you heaps of brownie points. There were five pink bubbles in the gold medal lineup and the Bollinger Rose and the Champagne Pommerey 'Springtime' were my two favourites.  While the Louis Roederer 2003 had disappeared by the time I arrived at the Awards Dinner pre-tasting, there were lots of lovely pink bubbles just waiting for me to finish at dinner while everyone else go stuck into Chardonnay and Shiraz. I drank Bollinger and Pommerey.   Yum!

And I have to mention the Tyrrells Belford Hunter Valley Semillon 2004 - a variety that struggles these days, but a variety that can so reward with a little patience. This searingly dry and emphatically tangy wine is beautifully perfumed and has concentration and power that simply pulsates through the palate. Add to that the wonderful mouthfeel, great tension and excellent length. This was awarded the Trophy for Champion Other White Wine. Greg Day of Kahurangi Wines in Nelson imports this little beauty into New Zealand and those who make the effort to discover it are all the better for it.

All of the trophy winners, along with my brief descriptions, can now be found at and the booklet with all the gold medal descriptions will be available at fine wine stores from next week.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 10th 2010

Gold Medals Galore

It's a hard job but someone has to do it and that someone is me. The task in hand is to write the descriptions of the gold medal wines from the 2010 New Zealand International Wine Show and with a record gold medal tally, 195 all up from the 2100-odd wines entered, my head won't be coming up for a while.  I've now actually tasted all the wines and I can say, wow, some of the wines are downright delicious. Now I have to edit my notes right down.

The most exciting result for the industry has to be the 23 golds awarded to Sauvignon Blanc, all from the 2010 vintage. This concurs with my thoughts from my August 31st blog post when I said that the new vintage sauvs are quite thrilling.

The medal results are announced next Monday, September 13th so check them out on However my descriptions won't be on the website until after the Trophies are announced on September 18th.

Pick the Trophies

You too can taste all 195 gold medal wines next Thursday night, September 16th, at the New Zealand International Wine Show Pick the Trophies tasting - although tasting 195 wines in the time allocated might quite a challenge.  It's being held at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Albert Street, Auckland City from 6 pm to 9pm and the literal challenge is to try and pick at least four of the preselected Trophies. All those who can achieve the goal go into the draw for $1000 cash, paid on the night. Tickets are $30 - check out for details.  $30 is not much to pay when you consider the calibre of wines on the tables for tasting.  If I was going I'd be making a beeline for the pink Champagnes.  It's not often I get to taste wines as delicious as these.

Other Show News

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is one of the big winners at the Royal Perth Wine Show. Awarded the Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc, group winemaker Alastair Mailing MW says, "This is an award that we've been striving for in recent years and to achieve this from our Private Bin wine reinforces our belief in the quality of the 2010 vintage in Marlborough and New Zealand".

At the International Wine Challenge in London Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2008 won the NZ Red Trophy and the NZ Syrah Trophy, while Ngatarawa Alwyn Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay 2007 won NZ White Trophy and NZ Chardonnayy Trophy. Schubert Block B Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008 won the NZ Pinot Noir Trophy, Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 won the NZ Sauvignon Blanc Trophy and Sandihurst True And Daring Riesling 2007 was awarded the NZ Riesling Trophy. All the trophy results for all the countries that entered can be found at

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Sep 6th 2010

A Stolen Kiss at Show Time

I've got rocks in my head after four days at the 38th National Gem and Mineral Show for which I came out of rock club retirement to coordinate the national competition on behalf of North Shore Rockhounds Club. I've been a member of the club for as long as I've been married.  I've been thinking of wine names that would be appropriate. Names like Gem, Jasper, Obsidian, Red Rock, White Diamond ...

But before the gem and mineral show was even over, the New Zealand International Wine Show got underway and on Sunday morning through early afternoon I was at Albany Stadium helping with the wine show setup before heading to West Wave in Henderson for gem show breakdown.

Judging at the gem and mineral show last Thursday night took only between two to three hours for the fifteen judges but judging at the wine show, for which there are about 2100 entries this year, takes six panels of three senior judges three days.

This year, for the first time, I'm not wine show judging but as usual I am doing the notes for the official little booklet so I get to taste every gold medal wining wine and of course all the trophy winners, once they are found. The gold medals are announced next Monday and you will find the list on then.

Meanwhile I haven't had much time for anything, even kisses had to be stolen, so this gorgeous new release with its evocative name is most appropriate.

Rockburn Stolen Kiss 2010 is a gorgeous watermelon pink-coloured wine that performs best with chilling. The bouquet is reminiscent of heady peach blossoms* and glace cherries. Made from pinot noir it has the grape's natural savouriness with fruit reminiscent of strawberry and watermelon and a lovely long mouthcoating finish. It's a perfect sipper best served chilled to enjoy on a sunny afternoon or to accompany wood smoked salmon - either as an entrée or canapes. It costs about $20. Check out for more.

*We picked a blossom off the tree - see them in the picture to the left of the wine bottle - the scent of the wine and the pink Golden Queen peach blossom is so similar, it's uncanny.

Rockburn Stolen Kiss 2010 is this week's Wine of the Week. You'll find the same review here.

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