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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

November 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 - 26 November
Gold Medal wines from the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards
Wines were tasted blind

Morton Premium Brut NV - Marlborough
Pale lemon in colour, mouthfillingly rich, bready and toasty with a citrus and marmite backbone, a dry, steely finish and a touch of rose petal. Itís got terrific mouthfeel from the fizz and terrific length with earthy bready flavours lingering.
12% alc. $18.95 special.
Gold medal and Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine, ANZ2003.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Water pale, smelling of apple and citrus on the nose with plenty of passionfruit and sweat in the palate, itís ripe, full-bodied and pungent with plenty of flavour and length. Itís got terrific palate weight and gooseberry flavours linger with citrus and a touch of Marlborough green.
13% alc. $18.95/$15.95 special.
Gold medal, ANZ2003.

Cairnbrae ĎThe Stonesí Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Water pale with gooseberry and apple on the nose, itís a musky sweaty, soft textured wine with a mouthfilling flavour of tropical fruit, limes, gooseberry and a passionfruit sweetness that lingers. A lightweight wine that is totally user-friendly in style. Screwcap.
12.5% alc. $17.95/$14.95 sp. $13.95 on case buys.
Gold medal and Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc, ANZ2003.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Lemon gold with an oily appearance, the sweet, mealy, savoury, honeyed oak aromas will be ultra-appealing to Chardonnay lovers. Hot and spicy with stonefruits, marzipan and mealy flavours filling the palate, its smooth and rounded, long and savoury with a citrussy backbone and a touch of spiced tobacco on the lingering smoky finish.
14% alc. $20.95.
Gold medal. ANZ2003.

Selaks Founders Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold, oily and brilliant in appearance, it smells of creamy oak and stonefruits. Sweet and fruity to the taste with tropical fruits and rockmelon on a wonderfully creamy backbone, the warm, spicy oak is beautifully integrated. Stonefruits come forth on the salty, savoury finish and butterscotch and mealy flavours linger. Drinking beautifully now.
14% alc. $28.95/$24.95 special. $23.95 by the case.
Gold Medal, ANZ2003. Gold medal and 2 Trophies, Liquorland Top100 2003.

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Pale gold and smelling of warm buttered toast, itís spicy and zingy with grapefruit and lime then mouthfilling melon and stonefruit layered with mealy savoury flavours from the funky natural yeasts. Creamy textured with a long savoury finish, the sweet honeyed oak is more obvious as the wine lingers. Youthful right now with plenty of heat from the alcohol, itís a wine you can cellar with confidence.
Screwcap. 14.5% alc. $36.95
Gold medal and Trophy for Best Chardonnay. ANZ2003.

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2003
Pale lemon, smelling delicately aromatic and perhaps even a little gewurz-like but nowhere near as pungent. Itís unadulterated in its primary fruit flavours of sultanas, white raisins and pears with musk, chrysanthemum tea and peppery exotic spices lingering on the lusciously fruity finish, faintly reminiscent of Cherimoya with its myriad of tropical fruit flavours. Just off dry, itís beautifully balanced and deliciously understated in its power.
Screwcap 14.5% alc. $25.95.
Gold Medal.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2003
Pale lemon, and powerfully pungent in its varietal musk and old rose aromas, itís laden with canned lychee juices, rose-flavoured Turkish Delight, lemon peel and aromatic spices. Itís not as oily as some gewurzís and seems fairly dry but a sweetness emerges as it lingers. Very pure gewurz with a fragrant powdery finish.
Screwcap. 13.5% alc. $24.95.
Gold Medal, ANZ2003.

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
Fairly dense though not inky in its magenta red colour, itís an earthy, spicy, rustic pinot with a myriad of bittersweet flavours. Itís smoky and savoury with cherry, mixed berry, pomegranate seeds, fruitcake spices and smooth chocolatey oak. Good acidity gives a bright, lifted and moreish finish that is long and savoury. Perhaps just a little hot on entry but a well-deserving gold medal wine that is very smartly priced.
14% alc. $29.95.
Gold medals at ANZ2003 and Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002
Inky black red, this smells intensely of plums, new car leather, cigars and spice. Itís ever so youthful in the palate with the robust ripe fruit tannins, creamy winemaking and oak influences hitting you in the face but so mouthfillingly rich, dark and juicy with earth, chocolate, plums, spice and malt. An intense wine, a big meaty, savoury wine with a grippingly tannic and nuggetty finish, thereís no doubt it will last for years.
Screwcap. 14.5% alc. $23.95.
Gold medal, ANZ2003.

Vidal Estate ĎSolerí Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002
Inky in its deep purple-red colour, thereís leather, cracked pepper and smoky exotic spices on the nose, wonderfully sweet spices, juicy plums, black peaches and honey oaked oak in the palate with a creamy texture and smooth, approachable tannins. The creamy vanillin oak seduces with its chocolatey nuances and thereís the subtle spicy peppery muskiness of my Dublin Bay rose on the finish. Itís dry and savoury yet spicy and succulent. Itís just as impressive as impressive can be.
Screwcap. 14.8% alc $33.95.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Syrah. ANZ2003.

Kim Crawford ĎRekaí Botrytised Marlborough Riesling 2002
If you want to know what sweet wine is about, then this is it. It's golden in colour, beautifully balanced, not too cloying and laden with honey, marmalade, passionfruit and butterscotch. Wonderfully mouthfilling with a luscious texture, the nectar-like liquid covers every nook and cranny in the mouth. Then when its all been swallowed the waxiness of comb honey atones to the citrus backbone.
12.5% alc. $23.95/375ml.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Sweet Wine, ANZ2003.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19 November
Redmetal and Sileni with Grant Edmonds
Wines were tasted blind

Sileni Cellar Selection Chardonnay 2002 (screwcap)
Pale yellow gold. A warm rich toasty wine with mouthfilling stonefruits, apricot and custard and bright citrus on the spicy lees-influenced finish that is crisp and refreshing with lingering tropical fruits. A blend of 55% Hawkes Bay and 45% Gisborne fruit, 80% was fermented in tank and the rest in oak.
13.5% alc. $21.95.

Sileni Estate Selection Semillon 2003 (screwcap)
Pale gold. A fruity smelling wine with fruit salad, stonefruit, some subtle barrel leesy influences and a touch of grapefruit. It's bright and refreshing with a smooth soft palate and a long warm fruity finish. 20% saw fermented in oak and 30% underwent malo. A user-friendly style that sits somewhere between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
12.5% alc. $24.95.

Sileni Estate Selection Chardonnay 2000
Yellow gold. Mellow spicy oak and butterscotch on the nose, creamy butterscotch caramel in the palate. It's a lovely rich mouthfilling wine with a firm acid backbone, a creamy texture and plenty of oak but it is well-integrated oak and lets the concentrated stonefruits sing. Spicy grilled peaches and nutty nougat flavours linger on the deliciously savoury finish. You need a big glass of this to appreciate all that's going on. Then another to experience it all again. 60% new French oak. 2 gold medals.
13.5% alc. $34.95.

Redmetal Rose Merlot Franc 2003
A dark ruby spinel gemstone colour, there's raspberry and strawberry on the creamy smelling nose joined by red plum in the palate. There's a creamy character from the malo together with a slight stalkiness (tannin) and subtle leather that gives it bite and balances the sweet fruit. It's a crisp red, a little heavier than most Rosť's, with a subtle nuance of oak and a warm alcoholic kick. It's actually quite moreish and while perfect for the summer, you could drink it all year round.
13% alc. $20.95.

Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2002
A medium depth, dark cherry red, with cherries, raspberries and rosehips mixing in with a touch of chocolate and a mocha barrel characters on the savoury and slightly earthy nose. It's a creamy textured pinot with good acidity, lots of savoury winter herbs, leather and just a touch of mint. Everything you expect in pinot and opens up well in the glass. Savoury cherry flavours linger. I wouldn't want to have to pick the region. It's actually from a higher altitude, inland vineyard in Hawkes Bay. Ready now.
12% alc. $24.95.

Redmetal Merlot Cabernet Franc 2002
It a medium weight red, translucent not opaque, with plum, leather and a touch of tobacco on the lifted nose. Plenty of juicy sweet fruit with good concentration, good ripe tannins, and excellent length. Plums, currants, spice and nutty oak fill out the palate and there's a hint of liquorice on the slightly smoky, wild berry finish. A mouthfilling well made wine that certainly delivers far more than you expect it to.
13.5% alc. $22.95.

Sileni Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet Franc 2002
An opaque black red, the bright colour influenced by a smidgen of Malbec, it's fruity yet savoury on the nose with sweet fruit in the palate together with lots of spice, leather, mocha and creamy oak on a soft tannin backbone. Deep, dusky and savoury with just a touch of marmite, there's a hint of blackberry joining the red fruits on the full-bodied lingering finish. A very approachable and exciting wine with 2 gold medals already. Drink or cellar.
13.5% alc. $24.95

Sileni Estate Selection Merlot Cabernets 2000
Showing a little development to its blackish red hue with biscuity oak on the nose, it's a densely flavoured, creamy textured, terrifically balanced wine with a good concentration of sweet ripe plum and cassis fruit, firm tannins and spice. There's some salty, cedary vanillin oak with an American oak signature that we associate with some Aussie reds and a leathery mocha character to the finish. Quite juicy and ready to enjoy now - though it's a big rich wine that needs food. Think a big juicy steak.
Matured in French & American oak. 13% alc. $34.95.

Redmetal Basket Press Merlot Cabernet Franc 2000
Deep and dense in its dark red-purple colour, it's quite Bordeaux-like on the fragrant cedary nose, perhaps even a little floral. It's a big meaty wine with sweet leather, tar, bitumen and bread with heaps of plum fruit concentration. Rich and powerful with a firm, fine yet soft tannin structure, nutmeg and fruitcake spices linger with marmite on the savoury finish. Rather moreish with an underlying juiciness. A great food wine.
13.5% alc. $39.95.

Sileni Estate Selection Late Harvest Semillon 2003 375ml
Yellow gold. Clean and fresh on the nose, smelling of oranges and lemon tea, the palate is just as refreshing as the nose suggests. Lime fills the palate and tropical fruits linger. There's terrific acidity that balances the sweetness of the wine and there's the slightest hint of honey of the finish. Just 10% botrytis, so not cloying at all. It's light and easy and finishes fresh. Serve chilled on very hot days or enjoy as a palate refresher during or after dinner.
11.5% alc. $21.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 November
Kingsley Heaven - Nothing but Chardonnay
Wines were tasted blind

Huntaway Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
A lifted, barrel-fermented style not showing much on the nose initially but soft and creamy in the palate with ripe fig and stonefruit, mealy spicy biscuits and just a touch of caramel. Not over the top in oak and a good benchmark for the evening ahead. 13.5% alc. $17.95.

Hungerford Hill Dalliance Sparkling Chardonnay 1998
Fizz fills the mouth in this powerful sparkling wine. It's earthy and dry with hints of citrus on the biscuity nose and a rich creamy texture with lots of yeasty, marmite, nutty, sherry-like flavours, peach and white raisin undertones and a long nutty finish. It's serious stuff and to me it's quite Champagne-like, others may find the strong yeasty influences, from the three years on yeast less, overpowering. 12.5% alc. $27.95.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2002 Lemon gold, smelling smoky and perfumed, it's a fruit-driven wine full of tropical fruit, melon and citrus on a soft creamy palate. Not a big oaky style, just harmonious in its flow and building in power to a lengthy, slightly nutty finish. 13.5% alc. $19.95.

Astrolabe Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Pale lemon. Ripe peach fruit, caramel cream and mealy nutty barrel-ferment characters and a touch of spicy oak characterise this mellow round wine. It's approachable, soft and easy, ready to drink now and the finish is long. 13.5% alc. $22.95.

Dauvissat Chablis 2001 - France
Some people though this wine was off, but it is utterly distinctive of its origin. It's a lean and savoury oily Euro style with nuances of smoky bacon and wild yeasts, very dry in its attack with lots of acid, it builds on the palate to become rich and mouthfilling. There's underlying honey and butterscotch with a green herb character and the finish is long. The more you drink of it the more it grows on you. This is a terrific Chablis. 13% alc. $41.95.

Tohu Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
The pale gold wine smells quite smoky from Sharon's 'big' glass that she brought along for the evening but it's more fruity and perfumed in my standard tasting glass. It's a deliciously creamy, rounded wine with toffee, caramel, peach and tropical fruit on a nutty oak backbone with soft ripe juicy fruit dominating the creamy finish. Utterly drinkable and at this price the star buy of the night. Gold medal Air NZ 2003. 13% alc. $15.95.

Kim Crawford Te Awanga Chardonnay 2002 (screw)
Yellow gold and a level up in structure, mouthfillingly tasty with heaps of power and heaps of flavour. It's full-bodied, rich and spicy with buttered brioche, butterscotch, honeyed oak, stonefruit, apricot and underlying mealy, barrel-ferment characters on a spicy oak backbone. The intensity doesn't let up at any time. Hot on the finish.
Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100. 14.3% alc. $28.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2002 (screwcap)
Lemon gold. Smoky and savoury, mealy and spicy, with nutty barrel-ferment characters, tons of underlying juicy tropical fruit and more subtle stonefruit, there's good acidity that lifts the finish that lingers with smoky nuts and a touch of grapefruit. It's so well balanced and harmonious and even though it's young and got heaps going on, it seems like it's ready to drink. Tremendously lengthy and simply delicious. If anyone knows how to make consistently fantastic chardonnay from anywhere in NZ, it's Villa Maria.
Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100 2003 and Gold Medal AirNZ 2003. 14% alc. $34.95.

Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba Chardonnay 1997
Green gold, it smells hot climate and distinctly Australian with its Cockatoo poo pong. It's a big, ballsy, oily chardonnay with spicy oak, canned pineapple, citrus, toffee, hokey pokey and dried mango, there's some gym locker room characters in the there too. It seems quite hot on the dry, lingering bready finish and tastes a little older and more developed than the rest of the wines so far, but with its underlying acidity there's still plenty of life ahead of it. Gold medal and Trophy, Melbourne 2002. 13.5% alc. $29.95.

Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay 1999 - Hunter Valley, NSW
This shy, yellow gold Aussie chardonnay is such a contrast to the 'in your face' Tumbarumba. It's a soft wine with plenty of savoury oak, custard, apricot and layers of tropical fruit on a mealy nutty backbone and smoky nuances on the powerful finish. Full-bodied and concentrated, it's still developing and begs to be consumed with food. 14% alc. $39.95.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Pale gold with perfumed citrus and subtle oak on the nose, this full-on rich, creamy, barrel-fermented wine is laden with citrus and citrus peel. Subtle in its power, it builds to a climax to linger with nuts and hay and spicy oak on the long clean juicy finish. 14% alc. $30.95.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Very Burgundian and mellow, smelling of nuts and figs there's plenty of smoky oak but it is beautifully integrated and balanced. It's rich, mealy, spicy and savoury with stonefruit, melons, figs, nuts and tobacco. The fruit is sweet and intense and the flavour is long. This is a huge wine emanates class. Gold Medal Air NZ 2003 14.5% alc. $42.95.

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.

Wednesday Wines index
Current month's tasting notes.
Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

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.
August 2003 tasting notes.
September 2003 tasting notes.
October 2003 tasting notes.
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December 2003 tasting notes.

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