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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2003 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

August 2003
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website.
Prices listed are the retail at First Glass Wines and Spirits at the time. Check out for current availability and pricing and New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 27 August
South Island wines, almost exclusive of Marlborough
Wines were tasted blind

Kaimira Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2003 - Nelson
This pale-coloured, grassy, slightly sweaty, herbaceous wine is undoubtably sauvignon blanc. It's fresh, crisp and juicy with good palate weight, lots of gooseberry, lemons, limes, a touch of apple and tropical fruit lingering on the pungently persistent citrus and passionfruit finish. A terrific new season wine with great potential for the summer. Good price too.
12% alc. $17.95/$15.95 special.

Chard Farm Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Central Otago
A fruity wine with lots of citrus, lemon, orange and pear, a touch of honey and perhaps a faint suggestion of bean, it seems to lack varietal definition at first but the zingy full-bodied vibrant finish has strong gooseberry and passionfruit flavours so typical of sauvignon blanc, with just a touch of asparagus starting to creep in.
12.5% alc. $21.95.

Peregrine Chardonnay 2002 - Central Otago
Light onion-skin gold in colour, this smells quite oaky with caramel overtones. It's a rich full-bodied wine that tastes a little developed with its mellow mealy woody flavours, peach, nectarine, apricot, pear, savoury oak and lingering tropical fruit, a pleasant 'drink-now' wine but showing some bottle variation tonight.
14% alc. $23.95.

Mt Difficulty Chardonnay 2000 - Bannockburn, Central Otago
Golden yellow in colour with a milky, lanolin, malo-influenced nose, it's oily (buttery) in the palate with spicy oak dominating at first. It's full of rich, ripe white raisins and stonefruit with an oily texture and a hot finish. Good acidity is holding the wine well and the flavours linger with stonefruits, citrus and buttered toast. A good drink-now proposition.
14.5% alc. $25.95.

Carrick Riesling 2002 - Bannockburn, Central Otago
Masses of citrus and melon fruit on the nose makes this smell quite juicy and tempting. Lots of citrus in the flavour - limes, mandarins, grapefruit - plus citrus oil and zest, it's dry, steely and astringent, a little powdery and pithy but with terrific mouth-filling length.
12.5% alc. $19.95.

Fiddler's Green Riesling 2002 - Waipara
This smells ripe and fruity and a little sweeter than the Carrick. It smells like the type of Riesling that First Glass wine tasters love. Lemon zest, orange, mandarin, spice, honey and jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom flower, it's ripe and juicy with a not overly-sweet finish and lots of fruit hanging around in the mouth for ages afterwards.
12.5% $19.95.

Tasman Bay Vintage Selection Pinot Gris 2003
Pale in colour with pear and vanilla on nose, it's fragrant with its pear drop aroma but not overly aromatic. It's spicy and nutty first up in the palate with abundant pear laced with lemon, an oily honeyed concentration and a lovely ripe balanced finish. A good wine with a warm, slightly viscous texture and good length. Pinot Gris the way people like it judging by the show of hands on this wine before the variety was revealed. A blend of Nelson, Marlborough and Waipara fruit.
13% alc. $19.95.

Main Divide Pinot Noir 2002 - Canterbury
Ruby red, fragrant, savoury, slightly smoky and spicy with herbs, strawberries and cherries, it's dry, slightly oily, earthy and gamey. A generally well-liked wine with a good persistence of flavour and lingering fruit sweetness.
13% alc. $24.95/$21.95 special.

Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir 2002 - Martinborough
The ring-in! A pale translucent pinky-red with a whiff of cherry on the nose, then mushroom, forest floor and smoke, it's savoury and a little nutty with mulled wine spices, a touch of liquorice and a dry finish. What sets this wine apart is its silky texture, its subtle underlying power and the very persistent savoury, tarry, earthy, spiced fruit flavour that lingers. A very good wine that delivers so much more that it's pale-like appearance would suggest.
13.5% alc. $28.95.

Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir 2002 - Central Otago
Almost opaque in its black cherry colour with citrus peel, musk, violet, black cherry and smoky herbs on the nose, it's spicy, savoury and a little tarry with dusty blackberries and big chunky concentrated purple fruits. There's lots going on in this multi-layered, velvety-textured, ripe-fruited wine and the finish is long, savoury and succulent. Not so subtle, it's more "in your face - like Shiraz", as Bernard on the other side of the room pointed out.
13.5% alc. $31.95.

Chard Farm Finla Mor Pinot Noir 2002 - Central Otago
A youthful dense, almost opaque dark red, this is tarry, earthy, leathery, savoury and spicy with dark red cherry and plums. Creamy oak is more noticeable as is the firm tannin structure, there's a touch of mocha, some damp earth, succulent red berry cherry fruit and a thyme-herb flavour lingering on the smoky finish. A good sound Central Otago pinot with a good persistence of flavour. Built to last.
13.5% alc. $35.95.

Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2002 - Central Otago
Another almost opaque, black cherry coloured wine but wow! the nose is so-o-o-o fragrant with cherries, savoury herbs, violets and herb flowers. You immediately sense a huge step up in quality in this wine that is earthy, spicy, savoury and concentrated with anise, liquorice, rose petal, violet, game, brambles, tobacco, integrated oak and silky tannins - it's all there with power, weight, balance and length. Seamless in its texture and flow across the palate, the lovely array of spices and balanced acidity lifts the finish and draws out the lingering persistence of flavour. "Damn good" said someone. They are absolutely right for this is great, great New Zealand pinot noir. It doesn’t get much better than this.
13.5% alc. $107.00

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 August
Wine Options and Trivia
A selection of some of the wines - notes were not taken on all of them

Torlesse Canterbury Riesling 2002
An off-dry Riesling, apple flavours dominate the palate and citrus zest enlivens the finish. It's a light, care-free, summery wine that will suit chilling to the max. And it will also be terrific with spicy food.
12.5 % alc. $12.95 special.

Giesen Marlborough Canterbury Riesling 2003
Fruity with hints of honeysuckle on the nose, sweet lemons and mandarins fill out the palate with a touch of marmalade on the fruity finish. A light, easy drinker, with a long lingering flavoursome finish, it's off-dry (20 g/litre residual sugar) and would also suit chilling.
11.5% alc. $17.95.

Howard Park Chardonnay 2001- Western Australia
Gemmy gold in colour, this smells of rich, creamy classy French oak. It's a full-bodied mouth-filling style with nutty oak, strong yeast lees and malolactic influences and a touch of citrus on the finish that lingers with toasted stonefruits. It's dry, distinguished and very good.
13.5% alc. $43.95.

Corazon 'The Collective' Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
Buttery tropical fruit on the nose, it's fruit, creamy and nutty in the palate with a dry finish and lingering toasty butterscotch, tropical fruits, a touch of spice and a salty aftertaste. Made by Shayne Cox from hand-harvested Waiohika Estate grapes, whole bunch pressed and 100% barrel fermented. Third time lucky for the first two bottles that were opened were faulty.

Schoffit Lieu-dit Harth Gewurztraminer Cuvée Caroline 2001 - Alsace, France
A really intense aroma with an abundant bouquet of roses and hokey-pokey, this is simply unctuous with its warm viscous texture. It's delicious and mouth-filling like a dessert wine with caramel, toffee, rose-flavoured honey and a touch of rose-hip. There's seemingly lots of sugar but it's terrifically balanced and not overly sweet on the finish. Quintessential Gewurztraminer in all its glory, some may find the perfume overpowering but I just love it.
13% alc. $35.95.

Kingsley Estate Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2000
(Merlot 85%, Malbec 14%) Dense and opaque in its blackcurrant colour, this is a rich and powerfully scented wine with an immense concentration of flavour. Ripe fruit tannins, plums, blackberries and violets fill the palate with mocha-like creamy oak, a little pepper and earth, new car leather and juicy black plums on the long rich finish. A beautifully structured, velvety and simply fantastic wine that boldly shows the direction that several of the top Hawkes Bay vintners are heading.
13.5% alc. $48.95

Also in the 'Options' but not reviewed
Kaituna Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2001 - $47.95
Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - $21.95
Marienberg McLaren Vale Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - $18.95

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 August
Cuisine Magazine 'Top 10 Aussie Reds'
Wines were tasted blind

Stones Premium Ginger Beer NV
Cloudy, off-white and slightly bubbly, this is a sweetish, ginger-flavoured fizzy refresher with a strong lingering flavour and a citrus bite to the finish. 5% alcohol, 30ml bottle. $3.20. Not rated by Cuisine.

Grant Burge Hillcot Merlot 2001
(Cuisine ****, 89/100)
Medium deep garnet red, showing a little development, this is oaky with plums and faint leather on the nose. There's a hint of mint in the palate with a whack of spice and ripe red fruits, creamy oak and well-integrated tannins, then leather and violets lingering on the finish. 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.
14% alc. $23.95.

Rosemount Traditional 2001
An inky deep red with blackcurrant hues, there's lifted cassis, mint, leather, plums, prunes, red fruit and chocolatey oak in this big smoky, meaty wine that has lots of tannins and lots of vanillin oak. Rather gripping right now, this is a wine that is built to last and will reward cellaring or recorking to drink the second day if you want to pull the cork this week. The 2002 Melbourne Wine Show Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner for Best 1-year old Dry Red.
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot matured in a blend of French and American oak. Not rated by Cuisine. I rate this 5-stars.
14.5% alc. $34.94.

Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
(Cuisine *****, 93/100)
Deep blackberry coloured red, creamy, spicy, sweet-fruited and slightly minty on the nose that has lots of American oak influence. Pepper and menthol dominate the palate first up to be quickly joined with liquorice, spice, chocolate, mocha and juicy plummy fruit. Big, ripe slightly grainy tannins and a savoury, tarry, salted liquorice nuance on the finish. Aussie Shiraz as we love it - simply delicious!
14% alc. $24.95.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2000
(Cuisine ****, 90/100)
Dark red-black garnet in colour with a barnyard, leathery nose and marinated blackberries, dark chocolate, tobacco, old spice, and mocha in the rich, meaty palate. It has a silken texture, integrated tannins and a lifted vanilla and spice finish. Based on this bottle, it's a wine to drink with lamb shanks.
13.5% alc. $32.95/$24.95 special.

Basedow Johannes Barossa Shiraz 1998
(Cuisine ****, 89/100)
A deep, lively looking black-red showing a little development on the fading rims. There's mocha, meat and chocolaty oak on the nose and it's finely structured in the palate with mint chocolate, rose pepper, spices, vanilla and prunes. It tastes clean, compared to the Kalimna tasted immediately prior. The tannins build to become quite immense on the mouth-filling finish and mint, mocha, liquorice and spicy oak linger. It is. perhaps, just a little porty.
13.8% alc. $49.95/$39.95 special.

Orlando St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
(Cuisine *****, 94/100)
Deep black with garnet red rims, this is a youthful looking wine. The first wine I tasted had stewed fruit and very very dry, harsh, leathery, gripping tannins that dominated everything and left the mouth puckered and withered.
The second bottle redeemed itself. It's a big, big wine, well endowed with tannins, cassis, blackberry and spicy, savoury vanillin oak with a strong menthol character lingering on the finish.
13.5% alc. $41.95.

Orlando Lawsons Padthaway Shiraz 1998
(Cuisine *****, 94/100)
Deep black purple, youthful and vibrant, fooling me as to its age. Mocha, spice, leather, liquorice, mint chocolate and cedar on the complex and rather glorious nose, then masses of mint in the palate together with salted liquorice, spice, blackberry, plums and creamy vanillin oak with just a touch of coconut and lingering menthol. A rather gorgeous, beautifully structured wine.
14% alc. $59.95.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
(Cuisine *****, 94/100)
A slightly developed colour, black red with garnet rims. It smells rather savoury with its dairy shed, damp earth, tar and rubber on bitumen nose but it's full of lovely cassis, blackberry, plum, tobacco and dark chocolate in the palate. A harmonious, seamless, rich and opulent wine that has terrifically, well-integrated tannins and a beautiful undercurrent of French and American oak. I love the way the savoury flavours kick in with roasted rosemary and just a touch of spice and a hint of leather on the finish.
14% alc. $34.95

Wirra Wirra RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz 1999
(Cuisine ****, 90/100)
Black-red in colour, it's rich and savoury with mocha, chocolate, blackberry, blueberry, plums and toasty oak on the nose, then creamy and smooth in the palate with a beautiful structure and terrific balance. There's a savoury complexity with peppery oak supporting the dark berry fruits and just a hint of mint on the powerful finish that builds and builds. Strong, but very well integrated tannins. A wine that showed particularly well tonight and one of the crowd favourites, I rate this 5-stars.
(RSW Stands for Robert Strangways Wrigley, the founder of Wirra Wirra).
14.5% alc. $51.95.

Orlando Jacobs Creek Limited Release Shiraz Cabernet 1997
(Cuisine *****, 93/100)
There are some lovely, developed secondary characters coming through in this complex, cedary wine that is deep red in colour with a fading rim. It's a little closed on the nose but seamless as it flows across the palate with a lovely integration of sweet fruit, a touch of mint, cigar, chocolate, currants and tobacco, then more mint that uplifts the chocolatey oak finish. Beautiful tannin structure. The top wine from Orlando, a blend of 71% Barossa Shiraz and 29% Coonawarra Cab.
13.5% alc. $59.95.

Orlando Lawsons Padthaway Shiraz 1997
(Cuisine *****, 93/100)
Deep, dense black red with only the slightest development in colour, there's mint, tar, spice and smoke on the nose of this massive wine that has a dense tannin structure that makes the texture just a little grainy. It's spicy with lots of pepper, dark chocolate, mocha with primary blackberry and cherry fruit then secondary characters of spice, cedar, tar, tobacco, mint and chocolate. The finish just goes on and on.
13.5% alc. $59.95.

Wines of the night by popular vote
Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Wirra Wirra RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001

Surely one of the best line-up of red wines ever tasted at a Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting. While I agree with the wines of the night, I personally found the Orlando wines rather spectacular as a group with their immense flavours and the terrific aging potential of all five Orlando wines tasted.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 August
New Releases
Wines were tasted blind

Jansz Premium Cuvée NV - Tasmania
Slightly acidic, creamy fizz with lots of steely bready yeasty flavours. Good body and length that leaves a refreshed lemony flavour in the mouth that is slightly reminiscent of peaches and strawberries. Where is Jansz? According to the label you head south of the mainland and if you see icebergs you've gone too far! 12% alc. $18.95

Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Pale straw in colour, this is sweaty and grassy on the nose with gooseberry, limes, grapefruit, guava, lots of cut grass flavours and a long pungent finish. Good texture, a little powdery right now but that will integrate over the next few months and at the same time the flavours will intensify. Very smart. 13% alc. $20.95/$17.95. Screwcap

Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
Pale gold. Buttery aromas with peaches and melon while citrus, fruit salad, custard and butterscotch flavours dominate the palate of this full-bodied creamy textured wine. It's soft, attractive and easy to drink and great for the summer as it will suit chilling. "Lightly oaked" says the label, the richness comes from the full malo treatment. 13% alc. $17.95.

West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Pale gold. A rich, full-bodied, wheaty wine with caramel, butterscotch, stonefruit, citrus, a lovely integration of oak, lots of barrel-ferment nutty characters and a lovely stonefruit sweetness on the sumptuous finish. A wine with all the bells and whistles. Hard to pick as Marlborough, Kingsley says he wouldn’t put this in Wine Options. 14.5% alc.$26.95.

Carrick Central Otago Chard 2002
Pale gold, lemony, leesy, a little bready on the nose, grapefruit is very distinctive on the palate together with pears, lemons and a hint of apricot. Lots of barrel-ferment characters again, the oak is savoury, nutty and spicy and the texture is creamy. A stylish wine that is made for food. 13.5% alc.$23.95. Screwcap

Brown Brothers Moscato 2002
Pale, almost watery in colour but with a vibrant aroma of fresh green ginger coated in honey. The vibrancy continues into the palate when the bubbles from the spritzy texture bounce off the tongue. It's slightly sweetish and definitely refreshing, with raisins, oranges, musk, zingy spice and a rose petal delicacy to the finish. With its low alcohol you can drink it any time of the day or night. Just don't pay any attention to it. Fun in the sun, for sure. 6% alc. $15.95

Brown Brothers Barbera 2001
One of the most widely planted varieties in Italy, this is the 14th vintage of Barbera from Brown Brothers. It's medium cherry-red in colour, light and savoury, peppery, earthy and slightly gamey with tarry tannins, creamy vanillin oak and a suggestion of mint on the long fruity punchy finish. Made for early drinking and is just terrific with pasta. I know. I've tried it. 14.5% alc. $19.95.

Walnut Ridge Martinborough Pinot Noir 2001
Pale garnet starting to fade. Mocha-like oak on the nose and crisp cherry flavours first up in the palate, the tannic, herbal, savoury, earthy, medicinal and smoky flavours take over. It's a little nutty, perhaps a little dirty in a Burgundian way with the cherry, raspberry and plum coming back into play later in the piece. Spicy oak dominates the salty finish. I was just a little disappointed as I had been anticipating great things from this label after the awesome trophy-winning 2000-vintage pinot. This price probably reflects this. 14% alc. $28.95.

Kingsley Estate Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2001
A vibrantly coloured deep blackcurrant red, this wine reeks of cracked black pepper, leather and succulent berry fruit on the nose. Earthy and spicy with violets and musk, it is also meaty and leathery with tannins quite dominant. The pepper, cherry, raspberry, plum and creamy oak flavours linger. A wine with lovely fruit ripeness and plenty of body and a terrific example of where we are going with Syrah in NZ. Gold Medal Easter Show. 13.5% alc.$43.95. Screwcap

Grant Burge 'Filsell' Barossa Shiraz 2001
Dense black-red with sweet creamy oak and berries on the nose, there's pepper, mocha, tar, spice and lots of creamy oak in the palate with a hint of mint, lots of liquorice, power and grunt, lingering vanillin oak with a touch of coconut and ripe cherry. A beautifully structured Barossa red built to last but offering so much now. Everyone said "yum". 14% alc. $32.50.

Thorn Clarke Shotfire Ridge Barossa Shiraz 2002
A hugely coloured wine, purple, almost black. The fine oak aromas with their hints of violets smell incredibly classy. In the palate, it's smooth, seamless and delicious with chocolate, plums, a touch of eucalypt, vanilla and plenty of peppery spice. Plenty of tannins too but they're ripe and fine. Licorice, roses and spicy oak linger on the finish. It's a huge wine, drink it now if you have to but why not cellar for a year or two. 14.5% alc. $25.95

Margan Botrytis Hunter Valley Semillon 2002
A lovely sweet, well-balanced deep gold, waxy wine that smells and tastes of oranges steeped in Cointreau, passionfruit and honey. It builds in power in the palate and the orange marmalade flavours that linger are just divine. 10% alc. $24.95

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were commissioned by First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna and recorded at their Fine Wine Wednesday Tastings for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Prices listed are the retail at First Glass Wines and Spirits at the time. Check out for current availability and pricing and New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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Other 2003 Tastings
January 2003 tasting notes.
February 2003 tasting notes.
March 2003 tasting notes.
April 2003 tasting notes.
May 2003 tasting notes.
June 2003 tasting notes.
July 2003 tasting notes.
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September 2003 tasting notes.
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