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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2004 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

July 2004
[ 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. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Where two prices are listed they indicate normal retail and the 'special' price on the night. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 28th July 2004
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
All wines were tasted blind.

Shingle Peak Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Crisp and fresh with a grassy, herbaceous aroma and a spicy, zesty, gooseberry, apple, capsicum and tropical fruit flavour. Oily textured. Nicely balanced. Passionfruit and apple persist with a fruity sweetness.
13.5% alc. $16.95 special. Screwcap.

Gunn Estate Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Perfumed aromas of apple, capsicum and grass, quite tight in the palate, oily, seemingly drier with much more lemon, apple and gooseberry acidity, good length and a smoky, gunflint finish. Fresh and bracing!
13.5% alc. $16.95/$13.95. Screwcap.

Ra Nui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Ripe fruit aromas, much oilier and richer than the previous wine, it just seems a little unsettled at this stage. Grass, lime and smoky cut grass, ripe acidity, grainy texture and a long pungent finish where tropical fruit flavours come out in force.
13.5% alc. $19.95/$17.95. Screwcap.

Lawsons Dry Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
It's back! Scintillating Marlborough Sauvignon aromas with tropical fruit and a hint of musky armpit, lovely balance and richness in the palate and exuberant flavours of apple, grass, herbs, limes and passionfruit building to a round, mouthfilling finish. Spicy, zesty, crisp and fresh, an excellent example of new vintage Sauvignon Blanc.
13.5% alc. $21.95/$18.95. Screwcap.

Kingston Estate Echelon Chardonnay 2002
Medium-gold in colour, this smells like a hot climate wine with its 'burnt tyres in the desert' aroma. Smoky to the taste with spiced pineapple, creamy oak, a flinty character to the finish and good length, a 'drink now' wine.
13.5% alc. $23.95/$20.95.

Cottage Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Light gold, lightly toasted oak aromas, creamy oak, mealy, leesy, malo flavours with peach and yellow plum. A soft, smooth, creamy wine with lovely balance throughout, a buttery finish and excellent length. "You would be churlish to turn this down", said Kingsley and I agree. After the four Chardonnays were finished, this was voted as the favourite by the majority of the tasters.
13.5% alc. $30.95/$26.95.

Tohu Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
Medium gold colour. Spicy oak, biscuity aromas. Dry and mealy with stonefruit, spicy tropical fruit, spicy oak and hot butterscotch on the smooth aftertaste, there's a lovely fatness to this rich, creamy, buttery, soft wine with a warm rounded finish. A wine that will definitely handle chilling. Kingsley's favourite.
13.5% alc. $23.95/$19.95.

Penfolds Bin 00A Chardonnay 2000
Rich gold in colour with lots of brilliance. Reasonably closed on the nose, the first taste is savoury, rich, mealy and nutty, rather Burgundian-like. It's a full-bodied wine, smoky and earthy with lemony oak, a mealy richness, a grainy texture, good viscosity and weight. Savoury rather than fruity, this beautifully crafted wine is at a different level, made for cellaring rather than quaffing.
13.5% alc. $61.95/$54.95.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
Good depth of colour with a deep centre and ruby rims. Cherry, spice, herbs, smoke and savoury mushroom aromas and flavours with good texture and mouthfeel, a touch of sweetness and a hint of chocolate on the creamy, smooth finish. Affordable, drinkable and tasty, undeniably pinot, ready to enjoy now.
13.5% alc. $24.95/$21.95. Screwcap.

Neudorf Moutere Home Vineyard Nelson Pinot Noir 2002
More developed in its medium-depth, translucent, ruby garnet colour. Fragrant aromas, smoky tamarillo, floral, rose petal. Spicy in the palate, light but not lightweight as it dances across the tongue, savoury, gamey and a little earthy. Nice use of soft oak adds a slightly vanillin character to mingle with the mushroom, forest floor and red guava. Savoury finish. Serious wine with great length.
13.5% alc. $64.95/$57.95. Screwcap?

Daniel Schuster Omihi Vineyard Canterbury Pinot Noir 2002
Even more developed looking in its translucent red garnet colour. Cherry, macerated strawberry and smoky bacon on the nose, creamy in the silky textured palate, seems to have headed to a secondary phase. Savoury, a little leathery, a suggestion of herb and rose petal and a spiciness to the creamy finish. Good length. A seemingly elegant wine, the power comes through on the finish.
13.5% alc. $59.95/$49.95.

Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
A huge wine, rich and intense in its deep red black colour and sensuous floral, cherry and tar aroma. Plummy fruit, spicy vanillin oak, a hint of leather, silky tannins and an incredibly long finish so Merlotesque, this is a wine that begs to be aged to let the pinosity and winemaking finesse come through. Later spice, cherry and bitter chocolate, brambly fruit. Intriguing wine, you want to keep on sipping it and hope the glass is bottomless.
13.5% alc. $59.95/$53.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21st July 2004
Yalumba with Jane Ferrari.
All wines were tasted blind.

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2003
Fresh, crisp and warm with a pleasing palate weight, limes, flowers, a hint of white honey and just a touch of ginger lingering with apple on the finish. Nicely balanced with good texture.
12.5% alc. $19.95/$12.95. Screwcap.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2003
Slightly nutty on the nose and quite neutral in the palate but with a creamy texture giving good mouthfeel, it soon opens up to show hints of musk and a lemon bread aftertaste. Warm, textural, food friendly, a good introductory style.
14% alc. $19.95/$12.95.

Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2002
Appealing aromatics with spice, apricot, musk and a hint of ginger carrying through to the rich creamy palate with subtle oak characters coming through to give a hot butter, butterscotch nuance to the apricot and cream finish. Lovely persistence, balance and finesse. Very stylish.
14.5% alc. $49.95/$44.95.

Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2002
Nice deep core of colour with garnet rims, not revealing too much on the lightly smoky nose, spicy and warm in the palate, crisp berry flavours with a soft oak influence, nice weight, not too heavy, hints of strawberry, cherry and just a touch of eucalypt as it lingers.
14.5% alc. $19.95/$15.95.

Yalumba Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2000
Showing a little more development to the colour and rich intense sweet oak aromatics with cassis and vanilla, there is good acidity in the palate, a spicy backbone, good tannins and a savoury finish with a sweet minty aftertaste. The generosity of the Shiraz comes through in this 'Old Australian Claret style'.
13.5% alc. $19.95/$15.95.

Yalumba Hand Picked Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2002
There's a deep core of black/red colour in this youthful looking red with strong aromas of mint, earth, violets, vanilla and cedar leading into a richly concentrated meaty taste with fine grippy tannins, red/black liquorice intensity, rosemary herbs, anise spice and a long sweet/savoury finish. There's good acidity throughout and the acidity carries the length. 50%M, 30$% G and 10% Shiraz. Parker rated this 94/100.
14.5% alc. $37.95/$29.95.

Yalumba Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier 2001
Seven per cent Viognier was co-fermented with Shiraz to fix the intense purple red of the deep, rich colour. Lovely aromatics of spicy lifted oak, red berries, rose petals and a hint of eucalypt pave the way for this thick dense wine layered with fine silky tannins, fruits of the forest, cherry, chocolate, mocha, liquorice and pepper. Mouthfilling, almost chewy, with good acidity, it is made with French oak which makes it so elegant and just a little atypical for Australia.
14% alc. $37.95/$29.95.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Earthy, delicate tight cassis character, meaty, firm, a hint of anise and a lovely brightness of fruit that lingers on the dry finish with sweet leather, cigar and that quintessential Coonawarra mint. There's a lovely generosity to the flavour with persistence and elegance. Fruit wins over the tannins on the day.
13.5% alc. $40.95/$32.95.

Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2000
There's a yummy opulence to the thick dusty Shiraz aromas with creamy vanillin oak, tar, mocha and abundant spices. Lovely concentration and depth of flavour with upfront fruit disguising the tannins behind, a savoury finish and a mouthfilling, chewy aftertaste. Good acidity with mint and mocha lingering. Very approachable and generous now but definitely has the legs to age.
13.5% alc. $40.95/$32.95.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 1999
A deep inky wine with sweet fruit, liquorice, chocolate and tobacco on the nose, fruit forward in the palate with intense plummy flavours, powerful yet amazingly elegant with lovely oak sweetness, vanilla, liquorice, cherry, spices and hints of American oak coconut all held together by lovely fine tannins. Show flashes of youth with great balance and persistence of flavour. An underrated vintage showing very well now. Parker rates this 96/100.
14.5% alc. $126/$112.

Yalumba The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 1998
Deep inky red with a very deep rich scent, just a hint of eucalypt, cassis, chocolate, vanilla and mint. A rich concentrated wine with wonderful fruit, dark spices, liquorice, musk, bready oak, nutmeg, earth and fine silky tannins. Wonderful flavour, mouthfeel and length with lifted acidity, lingering cassis, hints of cherry, black liquorice and chocolate cream. Very seamless, a beautiful wine. Soulful! Parker rates this 98/100.
13.5% alc. $126/$112.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14th July 2004
Vive La France.
All wines were tasted blind.

Veuve de Vernay Brut NV Sparkling Blanc des Blancs
Crisp and lightly toasty with a creamy oily texture, lanolin and snow pea aromas, apple, grape and lemon biscuit flavours and a tart refreshing finish.
11% alc. $15.95/$10.95

Drappier Carte Blanche Champagne NV
Light gold with yeasty marmite aromas, good mousse and upfront bubble attack in the mouth, crisp, dry, nutty and yeasty with a creamy mouthfilling richness and a lingering lemon bread finish, it is perhaps a bit reminiscent of eggnog in its flavour. An outstanding wine, especially at the price.
12% alc. $44.95/$35.95

Michel Laroche Chardonnay 2002 South of France
This dry rich gold coloured wine is buttery and steely with nutty, lanolin flavours warm, nutty, fat lemony finish with a sprinkling of spicy dusty oak.
13% alc. $17.95/$15.95

William Fevre Petit Chablis 2002
Straw gold in colour it is dry, tight, nutty and steely at first with citrus and apple flavours but as it warms up there is a suggestion of tropical fruit too. It has good mouthfeel and texture but no evidence of oak, just a touch of spice on the dry, nutty finish. A wine to match to seafood.
12% alc. $35.95/$27.95

William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis 2002
Light gold in colour, there's more lactic influence in this dry, tart, creamy textured wine with flavours of crisp apples and pears and a saline bite to the citrussy finish. Good mouthfeel and length with lingering creamed nut flavours.
2.5% alc. $41.95/$31.95

Albert Mann Alsace Riesling 2000
Golden coloured with good palate richness and smoky toasty aromas with obvious kero. "Smells like diesel" said Harvey. Lots of flavour after the steely chardonnays with good acidity and limes, citrus, spicy baked apples and lanolin leading into a warm finish.
12.5% alc. $30.95/$17.50

Domaine d'Andezon Cotes du Rhone 2001
"Cows revving up the V8 in the back yard. "
"Burning rubber on dairy cow droppings."
Apart from the comments the aromas evoked, this wine has a good deep colour and flavours of baked currants, cherry fruit, smoke and tar with dusty tannins, a touch of spice, a hint of liquorice and creamy oak lingering. Much much better when accompanied with creamy harvarti cheese.
14% alc. $19.95/$17.95

Oliver Leflaive Auxey Duresses 1999 Grand Vin de Borgogne
Medium weight garnet colour tending towards brick. Smoky oak, strawberry, cherry, dry fruit cake, earthy tannins, mushroom, a touch of spice, perhaps a little anise and a nice silky texture with good mouthfeel and weight. A clean, respectable Burgundy with lots going on.
13% alc. $49.95/$44.95

Delas Chateauneuf du Pape "Haute Pierre" 1998
Upfront chocolate and peppery spice on a thickly textured mouthful with smoothish tannins and mouthfilling flavours of macerated spiced cherries and currants with a touch of liquorice together with tar and leather. Showing some development, it is still very much an exiting wine, with lovely mouthfeel, savoury oak, peppery spice and a smoky finish. 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah.
13.5% alc. $49.95/$44.95

Chateau Mangot St Emilion Grand Cru 2000
Inky and youthful in appearance, dark, smoky and savoury with tar, leather, earth and grunty tannins, a lovely depth of cassis and plum fruit with smoke and sweet cigar-like oak on the finish and a lingering liquorice flavour from the concentrated fruit. Deep, dark and sensuous and at the price, simply amazing value.
12.8% alc. $54.95/$39.95

Delas Hermitage "Marquis de Tourette" 1999
Another deeply coloured wine with just a little more development to the colour and taste. Smoky savoury oak, tar, violets, juicy cherries and plums with herbs, leather, rose pepper and bitter chocolate. Good acidity and sumptuous tannins build to a spicy, velvety finish with a lingering vinous savouriness. Lovely concentration and length. A beautiful wine.
13% alc. $97.00/$87.00

Jaboulet Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2002
Golden yellow, spicy to the taste with raisins, muscats, quince jelly, lime and ginger marmalade and a slight saltiness to the warm waxy finish. Not overly sweet, it would be an ideal aperitif wine with sushi or nuts.
15% alc. $24.95/$19.95

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7th July 2004
Hawkes Bay vs Marlborough vs Somewhere else.
All wines were tasted blind.

Twin Islands Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Pungent herbaceous aromas and flavours of apple, gooseberry, grapefruit & capsicum with a touch of ripe tropical fruit and a bright warm finish. Nicely balanced, fantastic length.
12.5% alc. $15.95/13.95. Screwcap.

Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Pale straw with a greenish tinge, slightly sweaty on the nose, gooseberry, guava, lots of green grassy traits, fennel, a hint of pineapple and a smoky finish. Full-bodied, dry but distinctly full of acid at this stage. It has the cachet, it has the reputation and is priced to sell.
13% alc. $20.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Selaks Founders Reserve Chardonnay 2003 - Marlborough
Pale gold, toasty, fragrant, lots of creamy lactic influence, wheaty, rich, spicy vanillin oak, rich, buttery, stone fruits, nectarines, great persistence with a lingering spicy lemon butter. Utterly moreish.
13.5% alc. $28.95/23.95.

Vasse Felix 'The Heytesbury' Chardonnay 2002 - Margaret River, WA
Golden coloured, dry, toasty, biscuity, savoury French oak with a hint of butterscotch and pineapple. Warm and toasty, lots of yeast lees influence, good acidity, citrus, melons and nutmeg spices. Mouthfilling and sophisticated with a lovely texture, a great finish and a bready aftertaste.
14.5% alc. $39.95/35.95.

Vidal Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Pale gold. Quite powerful. Smoky savoury oak on nose, a little toasty and creamy. Well-integrated - nothing sticks out. Mealy, nutty, dry, tight, it opens up to reveal stonefruit and tropical fruit with lemony oak on the warm long finish. Powerfully persistent with the essence of apricot liqueur.
12.5% alc. $34.95. Screwcap.

Main Divide Riesling 2003 - Canterbury
From selected vineyard sites at Waipara, Swannanoa & Burnham, medium sweet with concentrated citrus on a weighty thick texture, zesty, slightly spritzig on the tongue, lingering spiced apples, honey, and ginger on the finish. Tasty. Pushover wine, everyone loved it, it sells on reputation.
9% alc. $16.95/14.95. Screwcap.

Selaks Founders Reserve Merlot 2001 - Marlborough
Deep red in colour, spicy, cherry biscuit on nose, fruit cake, good tannins, plums, leather, cherry, tar, spicy oak and good acidity on finish with lingering sweet oak. Developing well with plenty of life still ahead of it.
13.5% alc. $28.95/25.95.

Irvine Merlot 2002 - South Australia
A dense garnet red, a tarry, blackcurrant jam aroma then in the palate fruit cake spices, raspberry, mint , leather, earth and liquorice. Grippy tannins, soft acidity, not as soft as the previous vintage but still very appealing and very popular on the night.
13.5% alc. $19.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Newton Forrest Gimblett Gravels Cornerstone Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Great colour, big rich and ripe, wonderfully concentrated fruit, liquorice, cassis, plums, velvety tannins, smoky oak. Powerful and persistent an excellent wine. Will continue to develop for many years.
14.5% alc. $39.95/35.95. Screwcap.

Irvine Eden Crest Merlot Cabernet 2000 - Barossa & Eden Valley
A bit of bottle stink at first but once this dissipates there's quite a tasty wine underneath. An older wine, orangey red in colour, well into its secondary phase, slightly porty on the nose with softening tannins, savoury mellow oak, chocolate, liquorice, truffles, mocha and lingering sweet fruit. Lots of interest and drinking well now.
14% alc. $29.95/26.95.

Newton Forrest Gimblett Gravels Cornerstone Merlot Cabernet Malbec 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Intensely coloured blackish purple, youthful, bready, wonderfully concentrated ripe fruit, liquorice, chocolate, cigar and a lifted, spicy, slightly peppery finish. Very tight in its structure, quite brooding at this stage of its life with fruit sweetness on finish. A blend of 35% Cab Sauv, 34% Merlot and 31% Malbec.
14.5% alc. $39.95/35.95. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix 'The Heytesbury' Cabernet 2001 - Margaret River & Mt Barker
A blend of 84% Cab Sauv, 8% Shiraz, 6% Malbec & 2% Merlot, this intensely coloured red is rich and full with smoky oak, cassis, tobacco, cigar & rosemary, a beautifully balanced wine with powerful tannins, building in the palate to linger with wonderful fruit sweetness, just a touch of mint and lingering chocolate.
14.2% alc. $60.95/53.95.

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 2004 Tastings
Jan-Feb 2004 tasting notes.
Mar-Apr 2004 tasting notes.
May 2004 tasting notes.
June 2004 tasting notes.
You are here - July 2004 tasting notes.
August 2004 tasting notes.
September 2004 tasting notes.
October 2004 tasting notes.
Nov/December 2004 tasting notes.

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