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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

March - April 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 - 28 April 2004
From the Valleys
All wines were tasted blind.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Clare/Eden Valley Riesling 2002
Roses lime juice aromas joined by slightly pineapple-like tropical fruit in the palate, this pale green-gold coloured wine tastes almost bone dry but is beautifully balanced with an earthy richness to the texture and a spicy zesty bite to the finish. Refreshing with good length.
11.5% alc. $23.95/20.95. Screwcap.

Matua Valley Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Pale straw gold, fresh and pungent on the nose, grassy, herbaceous and steely in the palate with apple and a tropical fruit richness, it becomes quite satin-like in texture and builds on the palate to a power house finish where it starts to develop a toasty richness. Terrific length. Classy savvie.
12.5% alc. $25.95/22.95. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Bright light gold, full of spicy oak with layers of toffee and caramel on the nose and rich creamy, butterscotch, toffee and ripe stonefruit peachy flavours in the palate, this easy drinking, flowing Chardonnay had almost universal appeal tonight.
14% alc. $20.95/17.95.

Villa Maria Waldron Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Light yellow gold with nutty oak and strong yeasty barrel ferment influences on the nose, it's full of juicy tropical fruit in the warm and spicy palate with a long toasty butterscotch finish and a touch of grapefruit peel joining in the lingering amalgam of flavours. Lots going on in this wine.
14% alc. $36.95/32.95. Screwcap.

Egon Müller Scharzhof Riesling 2002 - QBA
Straw pale in appearance with lemon peel aromas on the nose and a ton of spritzy acidity in the palate, it's bitter sweet with a nutty finish, a bit like biting into a lemon and getting a lemon seed as well. Desperately young. Wonderful cellaring potential.
10.5% alc. $32.95/27.95.

Huia Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2003
This drier styled wine is handicapped a little by following a sweet, delicate Riesling. Oily in appearance, perfumed musky aromas state the variety well and there's rose oil richness in the palate but it seems quite extracted, phenolic and unbalanced with a hard, nutty, bitter lemon finish. It simply did not deliver tonight.
13.5% alc. $25.95/20.95.

Sevenhill Clare Valley Grenache 2002
Youthful red of medium depth, the ripe, fruity, dried black cherry and strawberry sauce aromas leap out of the glass. Fruity and ripe in the palate with smooth tannins and spicy chocolate vanilla oak on the finish, it really does remind one of the smell and flavour of those Roses chocolates with the strawberry centre – without the lolly sweetness. Lifted and long, it's a well made lighter styled red that's perfect for drinking this winter.
14% alc. $22.95/19.95. Screwcap.

Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2001
Dense in colour, showing a little bricky-red development to the hue and secondary characters in palate with very little primary fruit and oak characters at all. Leather, earth iodine, toffee, liquorice, aniseed and peppery spice lead into a salty savoury finish with currants, macerated plums, firm leathery tannins and a sweet vinous character that lingers. There are lots of interesting things going on in this wine and I suspect it would open up very well in a big glass.
13.5% alc. $78.95/70.95.

Tempus Two South East Australian Merlot 2002
Brick red in colour, the earthy, savoury nose is a contrast to the upfront fruit sweetness in the palate. It’s a sweetish simple wine that is mouthfilling and flavoursome with strawberry, cherry and black plum flavours, lots of fragrant spice and little influence of oak, though slightly metallic on the finish.
13.5% alc. $16.95/13.95

Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Deep red black in colour with a classy aroma that is opulent and inviting, vanillin oak, eucalypt, spice, chocolate, tar, plums and currants all build on the smooth creamy texture to a wonderfully long finish with a bright berry flavours lingering. A beautifully balanced, comfortable red that reeks of quality and delivers exactly what we expect from this label.
14% alc. $24.95/21.95.

Willows Barossa Shiraz 2001
Liquid black currant jam is how someone near me described and they are so right. It's bright inky black in colour, opulently aromatic and rich and concentrated in the palate with a purity of flavour, then the coconut-like American oak kicks in and that hallmark minty character that is a signature of the Willow's reds. It's a powerful Shiraz with wonderful fruit richness, liquorice and spices and a terrifically long finish. Sheer pleasure.
14.5% alc. $31.95/28.75.

Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz 1997
Richly scented with chocolate raisins, sweet vanillin oak, cedar and tobacco on the nose, this blackish red wine showing some development to the colour is big, rich and sweet-fruited. Black forest chocolate and cherry-ripe mingle in with the leathery, salty, savoury secondary flavours that are coming through so nicely right now and there's a touch of liquorice, blueberry and currants on the long mouthfilling finish. Lovely development, impeccable balance and velvety tannins, it is seven years old and still going strong. A beautiful finish to a great night of wines.
13.5% alc. $58.95/49.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 April 2004
Aromatics and a Lone Shiraz
All wines were tasted blind.

Torlesse Canterbury Riesling 2003
Pungent and aromatic, ever so slightly chalky with tropical fruit and lime leaf on nose and crisp refreshing lime zest and green apple in the palate. Off dry in sweetness, it's bright, zingy and refreshing with a slightly oily texture and a lengthy juicy tropical fruit finish. A great starter wine. Gets rid of the toothpaste and prepares the palate for more.
Screwcap. 11% $14.95/$12.95.

Spy Valley Dry Marlborough Riesling 2003
Lime blossom aromas prepare the palate for this dry styled Riesling that has good weight and fruit concentration with apples, limes zest with a touch of gingery spice. Slightly warm with lovely balance and terrific length, dry Riesling fans will absolutely love this. I do.
Screwcap. 13% alc. $20.95/$18.85.

The Willows Barossa Semillon 2001
Pale green gold in colour, this smells so Aussie with its slightly hot rubber, talc and lime leaf aroma. It's dry and spicy with a toasty richness, a smooth creamy texture, a backbone of vanilla and a long citrussy, slightly honeyed finish. Made from 65 year old vines and matured in new American oak, this is the classic Willows style, smelling a bit like Riesling with the warmth and richness of Chardonnay and that unique hot climate Barossa Semillon flavour.
13%alc. $19.95/$17.95.

Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Gris 2003
Pale lemon in colour, it's fairly neutral on nose with a suggestion of nashi pear but spicy in the oily textured palate with a hint of vanilla and alcoholic warmth. This bottle seems ever so slightly oxidised on the finish and a ripe apple flavour lingers.
14% alc. $24.95/$21.95.

Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Pinot Gris 2000 - Alsace
Light gold in colour, there's a whiff of sulfur and damp straw on the nose at first then a nutty aroma, otherwise quite neutral. Definitely a Euro style, such a contrast to the previous wine, its got a dry, slightly burnt butter, toasted nut and toffee character upfront but fills out with sweeter honey, stewed apple and nashi pear on the long, spicy finish. Lots of alcoholic warmth. I think there was some bottle variation in the room. The back corner just loved it.
13.5% alc. $34.95/$30.95.

Allan Scott Marlborough Riesling 2003
Light gold in colour, apples, lemon blossom and the earthy character of lime on the nose carry through to palate where terrific acidity balances the sweetness of this off dry wine. I found it very pure with good length but perhaps overall just a little one dimensional, perhaps lacking the warmth and richness of the Spy Valley beforehand.
13.5% alc. $17.95/$15.95.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2003
Straw gold in colour with lovely aromatics of ginger marmalade that carry through to the palate where strong citrus peel acidity is beautifully balanced by 19 grams of residual sugar. It's a spicy wine with ripe fleshy flavours of apricot and honeysuckle nectar and a rich weighty finish full of ripe fruit and citrus zest. Great mouthfeel and length.
Screwcap. 11% alc. $23.95/$20.95.

Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Gewurztraminer 2001 – Alsace
Medium gold with a glint of green, you can smell the musky spice-filled aromatics from a mile away. Pink smoker lollies and rose hand cream on the nose lead into a rich, warm, oily textured palate with a good phenolic backbone to balance the sweetness. Lychees, spice, musk, and rose-flavoured Turkish delight abound, every time you taste it you find something different. A terrific example of Alsace GW without being stunning.
13.5% alc. $31.95/$28.50.

Mt Difficulty Single Vineyard Long Gully Riesling 2003 – Bannockburn, Central Otago
Bright straw gold in colour, the botrytis-filled sweet honeyed aromas prepare the palate for something extra special and the palate is not disappointed. It's utterly sweet without being overpowering as the balance of zesty citrus acidity to the sweet grape and tropical fruit flavours is immaculate. Crisp and clean with terrific length, this is an absolutely brilliant wine! I give it six stars.
Screwcap. 100 grams residual sugar. 9.5% alc. $32.95/$26.95.

Pirramimma Late Harvest Riesling 1999 – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Bright lemon gold in colour, there's slight volatility on the nose at first that quickly clears to reveal rich apricot scents. In the palate there's a typical Aussie aged riesling character (diesel, kero) with burnt toffee, pollen and hot gingery spice atop sweet rich orange honey marmalade and dried apricot flavours. It's long and sweet with a richly viscous texture.
10% alc. $24.95/$21.95. 500ml bottle.

Selaks Founders Marlborough Noble Riesling 2001
This golden coloured nectar-like wine is all class. It smells a little Euro, dare I say it, like Sauternes, and is absolutely filled with flavours of toffee, citrus, honey and apricot. It has terrific weight and mouthfeel and is wonderfully balanced with sweet orange citrus balancing the rich sweetness. Deliciously sweet with lingering toffee, this multi gold medal winner is perhaps the ultimate desert wine, however I’d be quite happy to have this instead of dessert. But Creme Brulee would definitely be tempting!
10% alc. $28.95/$25.95. 375ml.

Pirramimma McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
What can I say, 'cos Kingsley's already said it. "Dark in colour, packed with plum, spice, chocolate, cinnamon and lots of American oak. Its a big powerful wine, very concentrated with a long very delicious finish". He's absolutely right!
OK – I’ll add my notes. Savoury smoky oak, leather and spice on nose. Big juicy rich and flavoursome in palate with chocolate, mocha, toffee, cinnamon, peppery spice and a long smoky vanillin oak finish. A big meaty chewy wine. Two years in new oak. Not for the faint hearted. 14.5% alc. $30.95/$26.95.

I didn't attend the first two tastings in April as I was in the South Island

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 31 March 2004
5th Birthday Party
All wines were tasted blind.

Belmonte Marlborough Chardonnay 2002 (sc)
It's not surprising that the first wine served at the First Glass 5th birthday party is Kingsley's favourite, Chardonnay! This smells like a good one, yellow gold in colour, savoury oak, peachy fruit, a touch of butterscotch, warm & cuddly, lots of flavour, ripe & balanced, good length. It's utterly approachable and hits the spot.
Made by John Forrest.
14.5% alc. $18.95/$15.95.

Abel Lepitre Champagne NV
Good fizz attack in mouth, which soon subsides to reveal marmite flavours with a toasty richness and a lemon bread finish. Full and creamy, long and flavoursome. A lovely Champagne.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003
12% alc. $50.95/$44.95.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2002
Bright light gold. Lemon butter aroma, nutty oak, lovely smooth creamy texture, a little honeyed, soft tangelo-like citrus and the essence of apricot, which reminds me a little of Viognier. A classy wine which has developed beautifully since its release a year ago.
14% alc. $36.95/$29.95.

Muddy Water Unplugged Riesling 2003 (sc)
Yum, riesling! Lots of honeysuckle and zesty citrus on the nose, lime curd and lemon honey in the palate. Quite warm with a glow from the alcohol but overall bright and refreshing with heaps of freshly candied peel on the long long finish. Ready to drink and enjoy now.
13.5% alc. $24.95/$22.45.

Waipara Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2003 (sc)
Light gold and slightly oily in appearance. Rose petal & spice on nose, a twist of fresh lemon, lime, rose petals, violets, cloves and something almost like anise / black jelly bean in the palate, then ginger on the pungently spicy and long, sweet fruited finish with a wonderfully floral, candied violet aftertaste. Reasonably dry with ripe fruit sweetness.
Gold medal and trophy, NZWS Royal Easter Wine Show 2004
13.5% alc. $21.95/19.75.

Rouge Homme Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet 2002
Deep red in colour, spicy and a little tarry on the nose, spicy in the palate too with an ultra creamy backbone, this with the fruit and the vanilla from the oak reminds me of boysenberry ripple ice cream for a moment. Soft & smooth, with caramel, liquorice and nutmeg and a savoury spicy finish. Gutsy and v. easy to drink. 75% Shiraz, 25% Cab.
13.5% alc. $17.95/$15.95.

Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - Clare/Coonawarra
Deep inky red colour showing a little development on the rims, it's closed at first on the nose with slightly sappy oak, leather and tar but once the ball has been whalloped through the covers the wine shows its true strengths. Sweet plummy fruit, mint, liquorice, pepper, quite grunty with firm tannins, lots of flavour and good length. Very tasty indeed.
14.5% alc. $20.95/$17.95.

Rosemount Estate GSM 1999
A blend of Grenache,Shiraz and Mourvedre, this is dense browny red in appearance and there's a bit of bottle stink at first with a salty, briney black olive aroma. Then sweet red berries push their way through to be joined with chocolate, leather, pepper, olive, spice and lots of creamy oak in the palate. The wine's showing some age, the tannins are soft and there's a lovely lift on the sweet fruited, blueberry finish. Ready to drink and enjoy now.
14.% alc. $34.95/$29.95.

Orlando Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Inky red black, youthful and bright. Clean smelling, mint & eucalypt on nose, blackcurrants, plums, buckets of spice and loads of tannins but plenty of fruit to balance it all. "Old school desks", said Aaron. Can you remember these? Flashbacks to carving initials in the varnished wood came to mind. Overall rather opulent, big, rich and pretty awesome with plenty of life ahead of it.
13.5% alc. $41.95/$37.50.

Rosemount Traditional 2001
Blackish red, deep and dense, it smells tannic with its rich nutty oak. It's a huge wine in the palate with mocha, red & black berries, pepper, energy chocolate, a touch of mint and savoury meats. It has a powerhouse of a backbone and a wonderful vinous complexity with the fragrance of roses and sweet fruit on the finish. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this is made for the long haul. It won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2002, and I suspect will still show well when they do a Jimmy Watson winners' tasting in 15 years time. A relative bargain.
14.5% alc. $34.95/$29.95.

A number of sweet wines were put out on the table together with brithday for people to help themselves. My notebook was put away.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 24 March 2004
Chardonnay, Chardonnay, Chardonnay
All wines were tasted blind.

Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2003
Pale lemon in colour, fragrantly perfumed and with melons, tropical fruit and hints of sweet toasty oak, this is juicy and citrussy with a soft creamy texture and just a reminder of bubble gum on the finish. A very acceptable aperitif pre-taster though you wouldn't want to drink it all night.
13.5% $14.95 special.

Hungerford Hill Dalliance Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc 1998 - NSW
This lemon yellow bubbly smells quite oxidised on the nose, but then so do a lot of great Champagnes. Get past this and you'll find a wine with good mouthfeel, good weight, good length, a creamy backbone, marmite and yeast lees flavours, a touch of melon and good stonefruit supporting it. The flavours are broad with a honeyed richness. It’s the kind of bubbly you'll ever love or hate. I loved it tonight while Neil disliked it immensely.
Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100, 2003.
12.5% alc. $29.95/$19.95

Cellier Le Brun Marlborough Blanc de Blanc 1997
This bright gold bubbly smells fresh and clean and is probably more to the Kiwi palate. Lemon gold in colour, toasty with lots of bready yeast lees influence up front, full-bodied with good palate weight and richness, crisp acidity from the limey citrus fruit and terrific length with fresh 'just ripe' apricot flavours lingering on the long toasty finish.
12.5% alc. $41.95/$37.95

Kaituna Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Light yellow in colour with a malolactic influence and subtle yeast lees character on the nose, then grapefruit, lime, passionfruit and vanilla in the palate. Quite understated in its attack, what you'd call an 'elegant' wine but it becomes richer as the flavours build with tropical fruit, yellow plums and spicy oak leading into a warm full finish. A touch of butterscotch lingers.
14% alc. $21.95/$18.95

Orlando St Hillary Padthaway Chardonnay 2002
Bright lime yellow in colour, the green glints give a clue to the country and the salty taste gives a clue to the Padthaway region. Don’t expect a big buttery blockbuster like the sought-after 2000 rendition, this is subdued on the nose and more restrained and citrussy in the palate with tropical fruit, white raisins and a spicy, toasted vanillin oak finish.
13% alc. $20.95/$17.95

Lincoln Reserve Barrel Ferment Gisborne Chardonnay 2002
Light yellow gold, vanilla bean & stonefruit on nose with a hints of musk and toasty oak, there's a youthful barrel-ferment influence with pink bubblegum, lots of tropical fruit, yellow guavas and banana passionfruit. Lots of interest in this long, juicy, flavoursome wine with good mouthfeel and linger flavours of spice, vanilla and stonefruits. We liked this and with its soft acidity it can definitely take chilling.
Silver Medal Liquorland Top 100, 2003
14% alc. $22.95/$19.95

Greenhough Nelson Chardonnay 2002 (screwcap)
Pale gold in colour with bold, toasty, barrel ferment aromas and rich golden fruit flavours, it's soft and mealy with oak spice and grilled stonefruit. Ripe, round and well balanced throughout with a tasty finish and just a touch of caramel, it's what Kingsley calls a 'safe' wine because it has all the elements of likeability. A show of hands proved the point as 90% of the people in the room like this wine.
14% alc. $22.95/$19.95

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Gleaming light gold, this is slightly floral on the first whiff with perfumed oak taking over. In the palate it's super smooth and classy, seamless in fact with no overt characters, just totally integrated with fruit, oak and acid in harmony. There's a touch of tangelo zest on the nutty finish and the smooth creamy flavours linger til the next wine is poured.
14% alc. $21.95/$18.95

Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Yellow in colour, rich and fruity, ripe and round, a touch of grapefruit on the nose, chock full of pineapple, pears, apples and passionfruit in the palate with a touch of honey and spicy, savoury, slightly smoky oak. While there's more acidity in this wine, there's plenty of fruit and oak to support it. Totally delicious and mouthfilling with plenty of substance and power, a Dawn French of a wine and probably my favourite of the night.
14.5% alc. $28.95/$26.95

Kaituna Valley Canterbury Chardonnay 2002
Bright gold with perfumed scents of spicy French oak and citrus, lots of class exudes from the glass. There's a touch of grapefruit and a creamy malolactic influence with biscuity, honeyed oak, green melons and limes. Slightly oily in the palate with mouthfilling richness, the acidity refreshes the palate while warm French oak and ripe stonefruit flavours linger.
14% alc. $21.95/$18.95

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay 2000 – Western Australia
Green gold in colour with a ton of toasty savoury spicy oak on the nose, it's broad and rich in the oily textured palate. Biscuits, cornmeal, cedar, integrated fruit, a heady wine, made to last but needs time to settle. It has all the ingredients and tons of richness & power but right now it's all kind of lost behind the dominance of oak. Blind tastings are interesting - the most expensive wines are not always the favourites and this was not a favourite tonight.
14% alc. $91.95/$81.95

Sileni 'The Lodge' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002 (screwcap)
Light gold. Creamy smelling with sweet seductive oak, wheat, lemon tart and vanilla pod, after the Leeuwin this is so ready to drink. It does have lots of oak but it is all in harmony with the tropical and stone fruits. A wine with lovely mouthfeel and terrific length with a touch of caramel and warm spicy oak lingering.
14% alc. $34.95/$29.95

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17 March 2004
Central Otago
Most wines were tasted blind (except for the Pinot Gris).

Felton Road Vin Gris 2003 (sc)
Made from the juice of Pinot Noir bled off as the grapes were crushed, this has the just the slightest hint of pink to the colour. The first taste is strawberry then the smooth mellow oak and spice of the barrel ferment kicks in adding a touch of caramel and chardonnay-like richness. Good body, terrific length, I liked it last time and I like it even better as a pre-taster.
14% alc. $25.95/$22.95.

Peregrine Chardonnay 2002 (cork)
Medium gold in colour, a yeast lees-influenced barrel ferment style with creamy oak, juicy stone fruit and a spicy backbone, this well-worked wine is soft and approachable with good length on the oaky, lingering tropical fruit finish. Could take a bit of chilling.
14% alc. $23.95/$21.50.

Carrick Chardonnay 2002 (sc)
Fragrantly perfumed with oak, ripe tropical fruit and stonefruit scents, this light gold wine is chock-full of caramel creme in the palate with stonefruit, figs, toasty oak, spices and a citrussy grapefruit note to the finish. It's full-bodied and absolutely approachable with good complexity and lots of toasty oak. Chardonnay the way I like it.
13.5% alc. $23.95/$21.50.

Mt Difficulty Manson's Farm Late Pick Pinot Gris 2003 (sc)
Light gold with just a suggestion of pink to the colour, it smells of spiced pear and oily hand lotion on the nose. There's lots of juicy citrus in the palate joined by feijoa, tropical fruit and a touch of honey with a warm oily texture. The finish is long with beeswax and honeyed citrus lingering. It's a full-flavoured pinot gris, nothing neutral about this wine at all. Picked one month later than the standard pinot gris, it has allowed the grapes to concentrate their flavours.
25g/L rs. 14.5% alc. $28.95/$26.05.

Amisfield Rocky Knoll Riesling 2003 (sc)
Straw gold. A little earthy on the nose smelling like wet potter's clay, it seems incredibly sweet at first, then the acid hits to balance the sugar. It's juicy, juicy, juicy with lots of apple, mandarin and lemon honey and finishes a little like lime cordial, though with much more substance. Totally refreshing.
70g/L rs. 8.5% alc. $29.95/$26.95.

Amisfield Saignée Rosé 2003 (sc)
This has a neat colour, a gemmy, translucent, ruby pink. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, the smell of freshly picked cherries and strawberries fill the nose and the intense fruity flavours continue to the palate. It's more robust than the usual run of the mill Rosé with a firm spicy backbone, lots of body structure and weight, a great finish with excellent length and a touch of rose petal as it lingers. I've had this wine before and it's absolutely delicious when chilled and will be perfect for lunches for the warm days of early autumn. "I humbly accept I've made a mistake" said Kingsley, acknowledging he should have chilled the wine before serving.
13.5% alc. $22.95/$19.95.

Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 2002 (sc)
Medium depth, dark-red garnet colour, brambles and herbs on the nose, quite spicy in the palate with mushroom, smoky bacon and a hint of leather. It's more savoury than fruity, a little biscuity, velvety in texture with cherry and currant fruit and savoury herbs lingering on the finish. A nicely balanced Pinot that does not overpower. There's lots going on in the wine and its good acidity will ensure it lasts.
14% alc. $43.95/$39.50.

Peregrine Pinot Noir 2002 (sc)
Black red, quite deep, a little tarry and smoky on the nose, more extracted, a bigger, more tannic, more grippy wine than the Quartz Reef. Good fruit weight, quite savoury, a touch of tamarillo, cherries and an appealing sweet fruit finish with just a touch of chocolate and lingering savoury herbs. Champion Pinot Noir at the Sydney International Top 100.
13.5% alc. $35.95/$31.95.

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2002 (sc)
A medium weight pinky red, not quite opaque. Masses of cherry fruit on the nose together with savoury oak and hints of rose petal and herb flowers. In the palate there's cherries, plums, a touch of earth and masses of fruit on finish supported by beautifully balanced oak, spice and lingering savoury notes. It's soft and approachable with its smooth silky texture and ready now. I find this quite classic, not too big, the wine has a lovely charm to it and will be terrific with food.
13.8% alc. $41.95/$37.75.

Valli Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2002
Dense, deep red black, cedar and savoury herbs on the nose, it's a meaty, slightly earthy wine with spicy oak, a touch of tamarillo and spiced plums. It's full-bodied, slightly leathery, a little tarry with lots of depth and a robust long finish. There's lots going on in the wine. Woody herbs, wine soaked field mushrooms and anise linger and there's that 'peacock's tail' flare on the finish. A complex wine and a bit of a grunter in this line-up.
13.5% alc. $44.95/$39.95.

Mt Difficulty Single Vineyard 'Pipeclay Terrace' Pinot Noir 2002 (sc)
Dense deep red-black, quite fragrant on the rich creamy nose with chocolate, cherries and a touch of spice adding intrigue. Rich and spicy in the palate with liquid cherry flavoured chocolate, plums, musk, spices, anise, cedar and quite robust earthy tannins, it has a lovely velvety texture and a long savoury, meaty finish. In fact it's totally voluptuous. An outstanding wine and a stunning example of Central Otago Pinot Noir.
14.5% alc. $59.95/$53.95.

Peregrine Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2003
Light gold. Sweet and juicy with musk (muscat) and spice on the nose, stewed apples, pears and spice in the palate, loads of raisins, a little honey on the finish but no botrytis. A wine without much substance,w hich makes it so easy to drink and enjoy. Will be fabulous as an accompaniment to Roast Pork & crackling.
11% alc. $24.95/$22.35.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10 March 2004
Cabernet and Shiraz including the new Penfold's releases
Wines were tasted blind.

Five Judges South Australian Shiraz 2002
Lots of colour, warm sweet spicy oak, purple plums and blackberries, a touch of liquorice too, not too much oak. An easy drinking lighter-styled Aussie red.
13.5% $8.95 special.

Penfolds Bin 138 Old Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2002
Sweet oak, mint and peppery spices give a lifted fragrance to this soft and approachable juicy deep red wine with sweet berries and cherries, a touch of tobacco and tar and a slightly earthy finish. Lots of appeal at this early stage.
14.5% alc. $29.95/$20.95

Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Syrah Viognier 2002
Deep red in colour, quite savoury smelling with black pepper, tar and sheep paddock on the nose. "New carpet", said someone on the other side of the room. Quite complex in its savoury, leathery flavours with good tannin structure, dark plums, blackberries and spicy oak. It seemed quite European to me in comparison to the Aussies.
13.5% alc. $26.95/$23.95

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2002
A deep, dark and creamy wine with mint, sweet oak and spices on the nose, mocha, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves in the rich and full-bodied palate with boysenberry/blackberry ice cream-like flavours on the savoury oak finish. Terrific structure, lots of flavour. Very very good.
13% alc. $29.95/$20.95

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Blackish red in colour, savoury oak, peppers, musk, briar roses and sweet American oak lead into mocha and red berries in the palate. Wonderfully fine tannins and terrific length. Lovely balance, ripe and juicy, a crowd pleaser for sure.
13.5% alc. $19.95/$16.95

Taylors Clare Valley Cabernet 2001
Cherrill got a whiff of iodine on the nose on this medium red coloured wine. I got savoury oak, earth, tar and tobacco with a core of sweet fruit in the palate joined by chocolate caramels, cherries, blackcurrants, leather and robust tannins, then a dark, savoury, slightly salty finish. I find it quite complex and unbelievable value for the price.
14% alc. $19.95/$15.95

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Deep blackish red, chocolately American oak and brambles on the nose, it's literally laden with tannins in the palate but with terrific fruit blackberry and cassis to balance their power. Mocha and liquorice too with spicy cedary oak lingering and just a hint of mint, this is just so much better than when I last tasted it. Matured in French and American oak.
14% alc. $32.95/$23.95

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2001
With its aroma of violets, this deeply coloured blackish red wine is classy from the outset. It's beautifully structured with fine silky tannins, vanillin oak, bursts of peppery exotic spices and ripe berry fruits with chocolate and cherries lingering, currants too. A totally delicious wine, balanced and harmonious, wonderfully persistent in its aftertaste. It's my kind of wine.
14% alc. $29.95/$20.95

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2001
Dense and dark, almost black. Nutty vanillin oak, black pepper and leather on the nose, cedar, leather, mint and spice in the palate, a big full-bodied wine with ripe red and black fruits and serious tannins. It's a wine with years ahead of it. Beautiful.
14% alc. $43.95/$30.95

Brookfields Hillside Syrah 2002 – Hawkes Bay
Deep and dense, purple-black in its colour, it smells a bit like fruit shortcake as it bakes, together with a smoky nuance and a touch of pepper. Fruit driven in the palate with leather, pepper, spices, a touch of tar and some smoky bacon, the tannins are fine and meaty, the palate is long and chocolatey oak lingers. Top dry red of the Sydney International Wine Competition and Best Full-bodied Red. Judged with food the match was Lamb Shanks with Lima Beans.
14% alc. $39.95/$35.95

Adam Brothers Shiraz 2001 – Barossa and Clare
Sweet American oak layered with mint characterises this juicy, approachable well-coloured red that has beautifully structured fine tannins, cherry and berry fruit, liquorice and spices and a long, lifted finish with terrific length. Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2003.
13.5% alc. $37.95/$24.95

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2002
A big rich, black-coloured, tarry blockbuster of a wine with huge sumptuous tannins, lifted peppery spices, stone fruits, currants, tar, leather and plenty of alcoholic warmth on the long creamy, slightly chocolatey finish.
15% alc. $29.95/$26.95

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 3 March 2004
Gold Medal Wines from the NZ Wine Society Royal Easter Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind - in fact they were double blind for the last two wines when the power went off.

Mudhouse Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 sc
A pale coloured crisp and bitey dry herbaceous style with apples, lime and capsicum, lots of power and flavour and a long juicy finish. Gold Medal.
12.5% alc. $19.95/17.95.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 sc
Pale straw. Armpit and gooseberry on the nose, gooseberry and juicy tropical fruit in the palate, a touch of capsicum too, wonderful fleshy texture with a silky flow, terrific weight, good acidity and a long pungent finish. Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc.
13% alc. $29.95/26.95.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard 'Waldron' Marlborough Chardonnay 2002 sc
Pale gold. Mellow oak and stonefruit on the nose, well-defined spicy oak in palate with figs, stonefruit, caramel and butterscotch. Soft, round and harmonious with tropical fruit lift on the long savoury finish. Balanced throughout. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $36.95/32.95.

Sacred Hill 'Riflemans' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Pale gold. Peach and cashew nuts on nose, well integrated sweet oak in palate, lots of malo gives a full-bodied creamy texture, citrus and spicy oak comes out on the finish. Powerful and long, very harmonious throughout. Shows its class. Gold Medal and Trophies for Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of the Show.
14% alc. $33.95/29.95

Clifford Bay Single Vineyard Marlborough Riesling 2003 sc
Watery pale. Smells of pears and apples, I though it was Pinot Gris at first. Apples, limes and citrus in the palate, a touch of honey with fuller flavours like dates on the finish. Off dry. A disappointing Riesling for the trophy winner without the exuberant zestiness I was expecting. Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Riesling.
13% alc. $18.95/15.95

Twin Islands Pinot Noir 2002
A light to medium weight pinot with medium depth of colour, a savoury smoky aroma and juicy flavours of sweet cherry, mushroom and forest floor with a touch of musk and good acidity that lifts the savoury finish. A soft and easy approachable wine that is unmistakably pinot. Silver Medal.
13.5% alc. $18.95/15.95 (or 14.95 by the case)

Carrick Central Otago PN 2002 sc
Deep purple red, wonderful aromatics with fruit cake cherries, nuts and spice on nose. Savoury, spicy and slightly earthy in the palate with forest floor notes, wild thyme and succulent ripe black cherry fruit. Good tannins provide structure and mulled wine-like wine citrus and spices linger on the long dry powerful finish. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $38.95/34.95

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2002 sc
Deeply coloured but not totally opaque, this smells sweet and nutty in comparison to the drier Carrick. It's a silky textured wine with integrated tannins and oak and loads of flavour with juicy wild berries, hints of chocolate, a subtle influence of Central Otago herbs and a long, savoury, slightly gamey finish. Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and Champion Export Wine.
14.5% alc. $40.95/36.85

Esk Valley Black Label Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002 sc
Deep black red, totally opaque. Wonderfully aromatic and full of flavour with new leather, plum and black berried fruits, chocolate and spices galore, loads of ripe velvety tannins, creamy oak and a beautifully balanced acid backbone. This wine gets better every time I taste it. Gold Medal.
14.5% alc. $24.95/21.95

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002
Almost black, not quite opaque in colour but dense and dark in it its flavour. Chocolate, berries, plums, spice, tar and earth with absolutely load of fine ripe tannins, it's a powerfully rich and robust wine with that I though may have perhaps a smidgen of Malbec in the blend. Built to last. Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $26.95/23.95

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2002 sc
Deep red black and wonderfully fragrant, it's like putting your nose into a bowl of berries and chocolate. A richly textured, robust wine with excellent weight and length, chocolate persists in the palate together with succulent ripe berry fruit, a touch of tar and creamy oak. Drinking beautifully now but has the potential to age if you want to. Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Merlot predominant.
14% alc. $23.95/20.95

Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah 2002
As black and inky as they come with shiny crimson-purple hues, it's fragrant and appealing with pepper, spice, concentrated berries and sweet leather on the nose, wonderful fruit structure and weight in the palate with a rich creamy backbone, ripe fruit tannins and chocolatey oak finish, this wine has incredible flavour and length with lingering plums, berries and peppery spice. Outstanding!
Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Syrah.
14% alc. $33.95/30.50

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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