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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

October 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 - 29 October
France, Italy, Spain and Portugal
All wines except the Vin Alto wines were tasted blind.

Albert Mann Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 - Alsace, France
Light gold, a touch of honey on the slightly smoky nose with wet hay and subtle aromatics, warm with soft acidity and a slightly oily texture. Its got nuts, lemon, stonefruit, apricot and a musky sweet fruit finish with terrific length and a savoury lingering after taste. It's rather nice in fact.
13.2% alc. $31.95.

Schoffit Lieu-Dit Harth Cuvee Caroline GW 2001 - Alsace, France
Yellow gold in colour with an exotic perfumed nose of lychees, musk and Turkish delight, this is a gorgeous, sweetish, rich and unctuous gewurztraminer layered with honey and rose, nutmeg and exotic spices with great texture and length. Every time you go back to this wine you get something different. Intense and persistent and a wine that die-hard Gewurztraminer fans will just love.
13% alc. $35.95

Weingut Paulinshof Brauneberger Jufffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2001 - MSR, Germany.
Straw gold in colour and quite closed on the nose in comparison to the gewurz., emitting only the gentlest of citrus and floral scents. Sweet and pure as low alcohol Auslese should be, it's a little grainy and powdery in its youthful texture and packed with peach, citrus and honey that lingers so sweetly. A terrifically balanced wine from one of the great German vintages. AP 2 586 061 012 02
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003

1996 Estola Reserva La Mancha - Spain
Garnet red of medium depth, this stinky barnyard medicinal nose is "a bit of a shock" ( as one person said) after the beautifully pure Riesling. It tastes like 'throaties' layered with tar but is lifted with spice and dark berry fruit. It's a really easy style, a soft and comfortable wine with a mouthfilling flavour, sound tannins and sweet fruit and vanillin oak persisting on the finish. Liquorice and spice linger. Made from 100% Tempranillo.
12'5% alc. $21.95

La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2002 - Italy
A terrific, inky deep magenta colour and a nose laden with purple berries and creamy oak, it's dark, spicy and savoury with leather, tar and an assortment of fruit ranging from cherries to mulberries to currants to raisins. Firm tannins hold the wine together and a touch of pepper lingers on the spicy finish. This is value packed for the price.
13.5% alc. $11.95 special.

Chateau Pesquie 'Les Terraces' Cote de Ventoux 2001
A medium depth garnet colour with youthful cherry rims, the spicy, sweet-fruited, smoky nose leads into a very approachable wine with clean fruit. Cherries and strawberries merge into the spicy backbone with a touch of pepper, a hint of vanillin oak and just enough tannins to make it serious. A gentle hint of barnyard on the savoury finish reminds you that it is European. I liked the elegance of this wine and thought it the best red so far. Drink it no worries.
13% alc. $22.95.

Castello del Poggio Barbera d'Asti 2000
A medium weight deep pinkish red that smells of sweet tarry fruit, it has got plenty of structure and flavour with firm velvety tannins, spices, tar, black fruits and currants then a long savoury peppery finish with a touch of smoke and a lingering cherry succulence. Nothing distinctive, just really good red wine. There's something in here that reminds me of the Brown Brothers Barbera that we had a few weeks ago and really goes to show that the Aussies are on the right track with this Italian variety.
13.5% alc. $26.95.

Chateau Sainte Marie Bordeaux Superior 2000
Garnet coloured and smelling of cedary oak, smoke, curing bacon, musk and pepper, the more you smell it the more overt the smokiness becomes - like a smoke house or burning grass. The flavour is on the savoury side with tobacco, worn leather, burnt caramel, plums and cough medicine-like fruit. There's a good texture and despite the way it sounds, the lingering taste is actually quite pleasant. It's a fairly developed mellow wine that begs for food.
12% alc. $26.95.

Vin Alto Celaio 1998 - Clevedon, South Auckland
A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
There's some development to the dark brick red colour of this wine that is so intensely fragrant it made me go 'Wow' when I smelt it - the mellow aromas of fruit, liquorice, spice and old cedar are just so rich and inviting. In the palate there's cedar, spiced plum jam, cherries, bread and spice - a soft, round, mouthfilling wine yet the tannin backbone is firm. I just love the savoury complexity on the finish. Terrific flavour, terrific mouthfeel, terrific length, a wine to sip and savour, try it with venison or plain spaghetti pasta topped with gorgonzola cheese and basil.. A New Zealand wine made in a 'Super Tuscan' style. My wine of the night.
13% alc. $31.95

Masi Campofiorin Ripasso 1999
Garnet red, developing in its colour. It's smells of barnyards and sweet raisiny fruit tending almost toward muscats. Simple and easy to drink with lots of flavour but some boisterous furry tannins come into the play indicating once again that European wines are really food wines. Blueberry and liquorice linger on the woody, sweet-fruited finish.
13% alc. $28.95.

Vin Alto Limoncello
Lemon in colour and absolutely pure lemon in flavour, think lemon honey, lemon meringue pie, candied lemon peel, but with a huge hot alcohol kick - no wonder, it has 31% alcohol by volume. Two months ago the lemons that made this liqueur were still on the tree in Enzo Bettio's Clevedon Hills orchard. It tastes simply terrific in ice cream, as the Fine Wine Wednesday tasters can attest to (recipe below) and can be used in cooking in so many dishes. Available in several sizes and presentations, the cute little 200ml bottles ($19.95) will make a neat gift too, if you're looking for change from a $20 note.

Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Clear and translucent with a coppery brick hue, it smells of raisins and spice and is hot and nutty, sweet yet dry, woody and spirituous, with a spicy richness and a flannel texture. It's not a heavy port, just mouthfilling and vein warming, the sweet lingering flavour lasts all the way home.
20% alc. $49.95.

Limoncello Icecream
4 large egg yolks
250g castor sugar
600ml cream
120ml Vin Alto Limoncello
30ml lemon juice
Whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar until light in colour and thick. Add the Limoncello and juice and whisk in briefly to combine.
Beat the cream with the remaining sugar until it has the consistency of soft whipped cream.
Gently fold both mixtures into one another, then gently stir in the Limoncello.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 22 October
Brent Marris on Wither Hills, Shepherds Ridge and Wine Judging
The Wither Hills and Shepherds Ridge wines were not tasted blind. The other three were.

Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (screwcap)
This is exactly what we expect Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to be with its 'leap out of the glass' lime, gooseberry & passionfruit that so characterises the region. Crisp, fresh & zingy, weighty, full of fruit with a prickly grassiness and a long pungent gooseberry & passionfruit finish, there's a touch of 'sweat too'. A must for Sauvignon Blanc-lovers. 'Lovely layers' said Brent.
3 international gold medals to date, surely there will be more to come. I'd love to see it get gold in NZ too.
13% alc. $17.95 special.

Shepherds Ridge Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc SB 2003
Pale straw, fruity smelling and driven by its terrifically fruity flavour, it's seemingly softer in acidity than the vibrant Wither Hills, but there's a good acid backbone of lime and lemon intertwined with gooseberry, kiwifruit, capsicum & ripe tropical fruit salad. Lovely palate weight, slightly grainy in texture, and a dry grassy finish that has terrific length with citrus coming forth to linger. From a single vineyard site at Rarangi at the northern end of Cloudy Bay, where the Richmond Range meets the sea.
13% alc. $20.95.

Shepherds Ridge is Brent's export brand that is now available in New Zealand for the first time. The range of three single vineyard wines is officially being released on 1 Nov, when they'll be in store. Orders taken until then.

Shepherds Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Straw gold in colour with smoky, mealy, melon, stonefruit and savoury oak, the palate fills out with tropical fruit. It's a dry medium to full-bodied wine, full of spice with honeyed oak and a creamy backbone, finishing dry and flinty with lingering smoke and a touch of lemon on apricot. "A wine for those who like creamy, elegant, harmonious Chardonnay" said Brent.
14% alc. $20.95.

Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
A step up, it's a full-bodied powerful yellow gold Chardonnay has a sweeter, riper and more obvious glycerol component. Rich, mealy and spicy with toasty oak, honeyed fig, creamed nuts and stonefruit, there are hints of grapefruit and tangelo citrus too. It's got underlying warmth, a powdery velvety texture and terrific length, and will develop honey butterscotch characters with time. Right now it's mealy and vibrant. A wine for drinking on release but with great potential to cellar.
Gold medal: Bragato Wine Awards 2003 and Liquorland Top 100 2003.
14.5% alc. $28.95 special.

Shepherds Ridge Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
Pinky-red, deeply coloured in the bowl of the glass but still translucent, it's fruity and spicy with plenty of cherry on the nose and in the palate, tasting sweet & ripe with lovely youthful tannins, a savoury backbone and a touch of winter herbs. This wine has plenty of charming pinot flavour, it's not too heavy and I think it's a very tasty, user-friendly style.
13.5% alc. $31.95

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
Purple-pinky-red, dense in its colour but not totally opaque, the initial tarry, earthy scent on the nose is overtaken by chocolate, liqueur cherry & savoury oak while in the palate it's full of musky sweet fruit that immediately appeals. There's a rich savoury earthy layer that balances the fruit and the velvety tannins are lovely and round. Chocolate and cherry lingers with subtle and zingy fruitcake spices while a touch of orange citrus lifts the finish and lets me know that this wine is going to develop well in the cellar. But its got terrific balance and harmony already that makes in so delicious to drink now. Mouthfilling and moreish.
Gold medal and Trophy, Bragato Wine Awards 2003
13.5% alc. $47.95.

Peter Lehmann Clancy's 2001- Barossa Valley, South Australia
A deep brick red, opaque in the bowl of the glass and showing some development with its tawny hue and fading orange rims. Plums and cherry on the nose with interesting nuances of violet, cold tea, spice and creamy chocolatey oak, it's juicy and fruit driven with plenty of flavour coming from the blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It's not too oaky and the soft, spicy creamy finish lingers with tobacco, tar and cherry. A 'drink now' style of solid bronze standard.
13.5% alc. $14.95 special.

Temple Bruer Shiraz Malbec 2001 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Immediately appealing in its deep purple colour with a black opaque centre and bright magenta rims, it's looks like a baby but in fact it's the same age as the previous wine. There's cherry, tar, mocha and liquorice on the nose but the more you smell it the more it opens up with fruit and the pepper of Shiraz. It's well structured with plenty of oomph, fine rich ripe tannins, sweet fruit all the way through together with peppery spice, tar and chocolatey oak to finish dry. The lingering flavour is lifted with the fragrance of violet. An intense wine. I'd give it gold. It's also organic.
14% alc. $20.95 special.

Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling 2002 - Waipara
Deep straw gold, it smells of honeysuckle and tropical fruits while in the palate it's seems spritzy with its upfront zesty ginger ale and sweet citrus flavours. A wine with lovely balance, the terrifically fresh clean tropical fruit flavours interweave with runny honey and honeyed citrus lingers. The bright acid backbone makes it perfect for a sweet summer quencher (served very chilled) while there's enough viscosity to make it serious enough for an aperitif, a mid-course sorbet imitator or an after-dinner palate refresher perhaps with a light dessert. Only a touch of botrytis, the grapes were pricked right at the end of the season with some harvested on the shortest day of the year. Around 120 grams per litre of residual sugar.
9% alc. $31.95.

Wither Hills Noble Riesling 2001 - Marlborough
Deep yellow gold, the nose is intense and honeyed with the aromas of toffee, apricot and sticky raisined grapes. It's powerfully rich and treacle-like in its texture with the graininess of fresh pears, and intensely concentrated in its flavour with a slight suggestion of citrus oil before it fills out with honeycomb and orange toffee. A wonderfully botrytised wine with a good stream of acidity that makes it seem fresh and youthful and you know its got simply years of life ahead of it. The honeyed flavour lasts for ages. Gold Medal. Liquorland Top 100 2002
375ml. 10.5% alc. Normally $75 a bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15 October
The Best Value Wines of the Liquorland Top 100 International Wine Competition 2003
Wines were not tasted blind

Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (sc)
Very pale lemon. Gooseberry, capsicum and just the slightest hint of sweat on the nose, it's dry and racy with lime, lemon, gooseberry and underlying tropical fruit on a rich, slightly oily, full-bodied texture and a spicy tobacco and cut grass finish.
13% alc. $18.95.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Ra Nui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (sc)
Fruit, cut grass and a typically herbaceous nose, it's pungent racy and rich with chilli pepper gooseberry, capsicum, citrus and pineapple building to a lifted pungent finish. A little fatter than the Waipara Hills with terrific length.
13.5% alc. $18.95.
Silver medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold with a lovely buttery toasty nose and a ripe, round palate full of mealy nutty stonefruit and smooth spicy oak, it's hard not to like with its concentrated fruit weight and terrific creamy length. Mealy savoury oak and whiffs of honey cured bacon linger with a buttered peach sweetness.
14.5% alc. $23.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Elderton Eden Valley Riesling 2002 (sc)
Pale lemon. Floral, limey, and dry smelling with its powdery nose, it's racy in the palate with zesty lemon and lime, a touch of spice and a suggestion of honey. Lovely palate weight, it's a little grainy in texture with a dry, lemony, steely finish and lingering citrus and mandarin.
12% alc. $17.95.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Canterbury House Waipara Riesling 2002 (synthetic cork).
Pale lemon. Sweet fruity aromas and lively juicy, fruity flavours, it's full of ripe tropical and citrus fruit with passionfruit, pineapple, mandarin and lime. Made in a medium style with terrific balance of fruit sweetness to the acidity, it's very, very approachable and will appeal to all riesling drinkers at any time of day.
13% alc. $13.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
Medium with dark ruby colour. Ripe cherry and chocolate on the nose, there's a savoury richness to the black cherry and juicy plum flavour with spicy oak on a creamy, chocolatey backbone, it's juicy and long with a savoury complexity on the lingering toasty finish.
14% alc. $19.95 special.
Silver medal Liquorland Top 100.

Red Rock Gravel Pit Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002 (sc)
Terrific colour that's inky purple black. Leather, spicy, pepper, blackberry and creamy oak on the nose, the earthy Malbec grapes influences the aromas and palate with its rich, succulent, leathery black fruit. It's a big rich full-bodied red with powerful chocolatey tannins, lingering marmite and blackberry. Serious wine at a not so serious price.
13.5% alc. $18.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Maglieri McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
Opaque red black. Sweet oak, plum, cherry and spice on the nose, it's mouthfillingly spicy with cherry, chocolate, liquorice, sweet vanillin oak and soft grainy tannins. Matured in French and American oak, it's simply sensational value for drinking now or short term cellaring.
14.5% alc. $17.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2001
Opaque purple black, mint and chocolatey spice on the nose, there's dark plum and currant fruit with cedary oak, violet, mocha and tar, the fruit becoming more concentrated with currants, raisins and purple berries as the wine flows through the palate. There's beautifully structured fine tannins and liquid chocolate adds to the complexity on the spicy creamy oak finish. Terrific length too. Matured for 18 months in American and French oak.
14% alc. $19.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Grant Burge 'Filsell' Barossa Shiraz 2001
Opaque purple-black with sweet plum, liquorice and lots of opulent spicy vanillin oak on the nose of this dry cedary wine that has an abundance of cherry, plum, mocha and hot peppery spice with a fine rich texture, a mouthfilling richness and a long, berry filled finish. Just a suggestion of mint with chocolate on the lingering finish.
14% alc. $28.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
Opaque black-red. Cedar, spice, mocha, tar, liquorice and buckets of chocolate together with peppery spice, plum, blueberry and dark black cherry with a stack of seductive velvety tannins. It's a rich meaty wine with immense concentration and a full lingering flavour of toffee, berries and cedar on a soft cushion of velvet. It's powerful, rich, sweet and delicious.
13.9% alc. $22.95 special.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003 and Trophy for Champion Commercial Red wine (red wines under $25).

Cranswick Autumn Gold Botrytis Semillon 1997
Amber gold with orange hues, there's the smell of orange toffee together with lanolin on the toasty oaked nose which leads to honey, apricot, quince and orange toffee in the full rich palate. Sweet, a little woody and just a touch drying on the finish where plump, liqueur-macerated, raisin flavours linger.
11.5% alc. $23.95.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 8 October
The Best of the Liquorland Top 100 International Wine Competition 2003
Wines were not tasted blind

Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Pale coloured. Pungent on nose, a little sweaty in palate, lots of gooseberry & tropical fruit with a touch of grapefruit & lime leading into a toasty finish. A powerful, full-bodied, rich savvie with a great deal of finesse and terrific length.
Trophies for Champion Sauvignon Blanc and Champion Commercial White Wine.
12.5 alc. $19.95

Selaks Founders Reserve Chardonnay 2002 - Marlborough
Pale gold with a gemmy glow. Inviting peach, melon and mellow mealy oak aromas. Good dollop of spicy oak leads into a beautifully textured, warm, mealy, rich wine with a lovely toastiness and lots of fruit. It's a big full style that is warm, round, textured, with terrific length. Simply a great chardonnay. Drink & enjoy for the next 3 years.
Trophies for Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of the Show.
14% alc. $28.95

Zilzie Viognier 2003 - Riverina NSW
Shy on the nose with delicate citrus and slightly yeasty nuances. Peach, apricot, white raisin, musk, spice and underlying French oak from the barrel ferment build to a rich textural, full-bodied wine with a fat mid-palate and a rather warm, lush, spicy finish reminiscent of gewurztraminer. Spicy raisin bread flavours linger. An exciting wine.
Trophy for Champion Other White Varieties.
14% alc $17.95.

Johanneshof Gewurztraminer 2003 - Marlborough
Very pale in colour. Unmistakable to the variety with its perfumed rose petal bouquet and wonderful concentration of flavour with attar of rose, lychee and Turkish Delight to the fore. It's slightly sweetish, rich and textural with fabulous mouthfeel, terrific balance and immense concentration. Pink smoker lollies and exotic spices with just a hint of anise linger with nectarine on the luscious finish. A fantastic wine - gewurztraminer made just the way I like it.
Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer.
13% alc. $24.95

Melness Riesling 2002 - North Canterbury
Pale yellow, bright and spritzy, the wonderfully scented aroma of citrus blossom, honeysuckle, all sorts of citrus juices, ginger and marmalade lead into the sweetish palate where the flavours promised on the nose deliver. There's a touch of botrytis too that adds a honeyed richness to this beautifully balanced wine that has a nectar-like texture and terrific length. A wine that is no stranger to First Glass tasters, only very limited stocks remain.
Trophy for Champion Riesling.
12.5% alc alc. $23.95

Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2002
A medium-bodied, slightly translucent wine with black cherry hues and smoky bacon, tar and brambly fruit on the nose. It's a savoury, earthy wine that seems slightly bretty and sour at first with toast and marmite, tar, shoe leather and strong tea tannins but opens up well to reveal some lovely cherry fruit with dusty honeyed oak and a pleasing touch of acid on the sweet fruit finish. Cherry flavours linger well.
Trophy for Champion Other Red Varieties.
13% alc. $14.95.

Akarua Pinot Noir 2002
With its massive extract of colour and bright magenta rims, this is one of the inkiest Pinot Noir's you will ever see. Very concentrated and rich with intense cherry fruit and creamy oak spice, musk, leather, brambles, herbs, a hint of mint and anise, it has a wonderful caramel toffee structure that you can wrap your tongue around. A pinot with balls, big grunty stuff, not the style of pinot for people who drink Burgundy (Claude Dugat excepted). This is big, bigger than the trophy winning Mt Difficulty and simply a tremendous pinot - if you like this style. You get seduced by the colour, the rich flavour, the incredible length and the alcoholic warmth and simply want more. The judges at the Top 100 and Cuisine Magazine certainly loved it. Gold Medal and Cuisine Magazine's No. 1 Pinot Noir in its latest tasting.
14.5% alc. $39.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2001
Blackish red, dense, dark, rich, opaque. Chocolate, plums, leather and plush creamy oak on the nose. Utterly concentrated in its awesome clack cherry, plum and smoky berry flavour with tar, leather, sweet vanillin oak and firm grainy tannins. It's big, rich and succulent with fantastic balance, a silky textured finish and lingering brambly fruit. A wine with pedigree carrying on the success of past vintages - this is NZ Merlot as good as it gets!!
Trophy for Champion Merlot.
Screwcap. 14% alc. $41.95

Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Black and bright with reddish rims, sweet oak, berry & tobacco aromas burst forth from the glass. It's a beautifully balanced wine with richly opulent flavours of chocolate, peppermint, cassis, blackcurrant, blackberry, nutmeg, tobacco and biscuity oak on a crushed velvet texture. Mouthfilling and warm with ultra-fine tannins, impeccable balance and terrific length, just stunning in its quality.
Trophy for Champion Cabernet Sauvignon.
14% alc. $50.95

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2001
Inky black-red in colour. Warm American oak aromas with distinctive 'cherry ripe' (cherry and coconut wrapped in chocolate). More cherry together with plum and blackberry fruit, chocolate, mocha, tar, creamy vanillin oak and voluptuous tannins. There's just a hint of mint too. A fantastic, beautiful wine. Barossa Shiraz at its best.
Trophy for Champion Shiraz.
14% alc. $29.95

Canterbury House Noble Riesling 2002
Light yellow gold. Honey & beeswax on nose lead into a richly concentrated palate with apricot, limes, honey, toffee and candied peel. Very sweet. Very sticky. Luscious. Moreish.
Trophy for Champion Sweet Wine.
9% alc. $29.95/375ml.

Morris Old Premium Liquer Muscat
Dark amber with yellow green rims. Fantastically rich & creamy with spirituous heady aromas enhanced by wood. Thick and unctuous with toffee cream caramel in the palate it's sweet but seemingly dry on the finish where nuts, dried fruits and muscatels linger. One of the great great wines in the world with wine of at least 25 years old contributing to the blend. It's sounds expensive but you donít need much. Just sip and savour. It's an unbelievable experience.
Trophy for Champion Fortified Wine.
17.5% alc. $69.95/500ml.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 1 October
Everything Home Grown in New Zealand
Wines were tasted blind

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Nutty, melon and barrel-ferment aromas, soft and creamy with good acidity, citrus and fruit salad flavours, spicy mellow oak and good length. Screwcap closure.
14% alc. $18.95 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
There's apricot, peach, lots of malo and lots of oak in this powerful, mouth-filling, full-bodied, fat yet soft chardonnay with spiced stonefruit and pineapple lingering on the toasty finish. Terrific length.
14% alc. $19.95 special.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003
A myriad of flavours in this powerful smelling, vivacious savvie. Passionfruit, green capsicum, gooseberry, tobacco and a touch of b.o. on the nose, then all of this plus tomato stalk, green plum, guava, nectarine and fresh lychees* in the palate. Lots of zesty acidity but the acids are soft and the wine is juicy. Great texture. Terrific persistence. Outstanding wine. Screwcap closure.
13% alc. $25.95 special.
*The legendary Sharon, just back from an overseas trip where she had experienced 'fresh' lychees for the first time, nailed this descriptor.

Millton Opou Gisborne Riesling 2002
Lemons and limes on the nose of this oily, off-dry style. It's fat and soft with honey and apples that are just starting to take on a buttery flavour - just as they when you do when you cook them in butter. Citrus pip, a touch of peel, some florals then a long, slightly spicy, seemingly dry, honeyed finish with terrific length. This is 'iconic' Riesling and certainly a benchmark for Gisborne. People who know their herbs well may find the scent of hyssop, a blue-flowered companion herb that grows amongst the vines on the Opou vineyard.
10.5% alc. $23.95.

Montana Reserve Marlborough Riesling 2001
Lemons, limes, lime oil, terpenes and hints of honey on the nose of this well developed smelling Marlborough riesling that could be mistaken for an Aussie. There's terrific richness in the spicy zesty palate that has a waxy, oily texture and an abundance of citrus with hints of coconut and tropical juices on the warm dry finish that is just a little hot, even peppery. Terrific acid structure, lovely richness and a seamless flow. A consistently good wine year after year.
13% alc. $18.95 special.

Phoenix Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2002
It takes a while to show it true varietal character on the nose but there's good definition in the palate. It's an off-dry, spicy, oily style with spiced oranges, Turkish delight, ginger and clove-like spices, rose petal infused sugar and the more bitter rosehips. Slightly developed. Well-balanced. Extra good length.
14% alc. $16.95 special.

Millton Gisborne 'Growers Series' Gewurztraminer 2002
It's an oily style of gewurz, slightly spritzy and citrussy with lots of ginger, peppery spice and rose infused honey flavours on a soft acid structure with good length. Just a little understated in expressing its varietal character so good for those who sometimes find the gewurztraminer flavours overpowering.
13% alc. $20.95.

Kawarau Estate Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir
There's massive colour extract in this bright maroon-hued, inky wine that smells so ripe and savoury with it's oak layered plum, black cherry and baked tamarillo fruit, smoky bacon, damp earth and spicy leathery aromas. There's kirsch-like concentration in the palate with a chocolatey oak backbone, spice, youthful velvety tannins and a savoury complexity. Cloves and leather linger with just a touch of pepper. Such a stylistic departure from the fabulous and more elegant offering from 2001, this is still fabulous - its grunt, power, flavour and length reflecting the terrific 2002 vintage in Central Otago.
14% alc. $37.95.

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002
Another fabulously coloured inky wine, there's exuberant black plum and black cherry fruit on the nose together with tar, new leather and creamy oak with just a hint of coconut to suggest an American component. This is an intensely rich and spicy wine from a very good vintage and although the ebullient tannins are quite gripping in their youth and overpowering the fruit in the palate right now, there's clear potential for the future. Screwcap closure.
14.5% alc. $23.95.

Vidal Estate Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2001
Deep red black. Smoky, creamy, floral, rose pepper, cherries, plums and a hint of currant, there's good balance in this smooth creamy wine that has a well balanced tannins structure, chocolate, leather and a good backbone of vanillin oak. It's youthful with lots of potential but drinking so very well now. Screwcap closure.
13.5% alc. $18.95 special.

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2002
Another richly coloured inky wine with a little more red in the colour, there's terrific fruit definition on the smoky nose with cabernet more obvious. It's very ripe with well-integrated tarry tannins, currants, blackberries, smoke, leather and a touch of violet leading into a spicy finish with just a touch of cigar smoke and cherry fruit cake lingering. More juicy and succulent than its bro', the Black Label Merlot at this stage of its life. Screwcap closure.
14% alc. $23.95.

Mills Reef Elspeth One 2000
(Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah)
Inky, dense, deep dark red. A big, powerful meaty full-bodied wine with sensuous aromas and big gripping velvety tannins though there's plenty of plums, currants and black and red berry fruit to balance it - with time. Add to this spice, leather, mocha, chocolate, nutty oak and even a hint of mint. Built to last, cellar for best result. This was the last wine and five minutes after I'd swallowed it the opulent chocolate, mocha and creamy berry flavours still continue to linger. An excellent wine from a terrific vintage and a fitting icon for the Mills Reef brand.
14% alc. $49.95.

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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