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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

November/December 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 - 22nd December 2004
Last tasting of the Year
All wines were tasted blind.

West Brook Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Deliciously pungent, bright and fruity flavoured with lots of spicy citrus zest, gooseberry and a full-bodied rounded tropical fruit finish, just a touch of sweat and lingering grapefruit. Crisp, fresh and exciting with bright fresh flavours and fantastic length.
13% alc. $19.95/16.95. Screwcap.

Framingham Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
Creamy and buttery with smoky spicy oak, a lemony leesy backbone and stonefruit richness. Well-balanced, smooth and easy drinking with well-integrated oak flavours, a pleasing aftertaste and a hint of butterscotch as it lingers.
13.5% alc. $22.95/19.95. Screwcap.

Taylors Jaraman Chardonnay 2001 – Clare Valley / Adelaide Hills
Golden coloured, smoky, big, full-bodied, toasty and oily, a little older. 'Overblown' said some but others absolutely loved it. When it is chilled it accentuates the oak and dulls the golden tropical fruit but at room temperature, which is how we tasted it, it is big, round and toasty.
13.5% alc. $36.95/32.95. Screwcap.

Framingham Classic Marlborough Riesling 2004
Nice weighted, full and long, with terrifically balanced acidity, heaps of flavour in the citrus, pineapple spectrum and a lingering off-dry aftertaste. A smart wine, one of the best Rieslings of the vintage so far.
12% alc. $20.95/18.85. Screwcap.

Seifried Winemakers Collection Nelson Riesling 2003
This smells dry but tastes sweet, in fact it is luscious in its sweetness. Beautifully balanced with lime, honey, beeswax and apricot, this harmonious late harvest Alsace-like style has plenty of power and alcoholic weight, a dryish finish and lingering flavours of candied peel. A crowd-pleaser of a wine and a perfect wine accompaniment to the Christmas ham.
13.5% alc. $20.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
Juicy smelling ripe-fruited Pinot, tasting ripe and fruity too with cherries, strawberries and chocolate building on the soft, smooth silky texture and a slightly earthy, gamey note that adds to the long savoury finish. Nicely balanced with good vinosity, very easy to drink and enjoy.
13% alc. $22.95/19.95. Screwcap.

Kirrihill Companions Cabernet Merlot 2002 – Clare, Padthaway, Adelaide Hills
Black red and sweet smelling with menthol, spice, vanillin oak, tar, bitter chocolate, strawberry, cherry and raisin fruit and a dry nuggetty finish with good acidity to carry it. A tasty wine in the quaffer category, ready to enjoy now.
14% alc. $16.95/14.95. Screwcap.

Kirrihill Companions Shiraz 2002 – Langhorne Creek / Clare Valley
A denser, more savoury wine than the Cabernet with spicy cedary oak, rich plum and black berry fruit, soft acidity, smooth tannins and a long juicy finish with a savoury meaty aftertaste. A totally flavoursome quaffer with vanillin oak sweetness lingering.
14.7% alc. $16.95/14.95. Screwcap.

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Barossa Shiraz 2000
Deep garnet red with a little development creeping into the black red colour, savoury smelling with sweet vanillin oak, game meats, spice, plums, chocolate and leather. Generous, ripe and spicy with some interesting secondary characters coming through and herbs de Provence as well. Plenty of guts and flavour and ready to drink now. The perfect Shiraz for Christmas Day.
14% alc. $52.95/43.95. Screwcap.

Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz 2001
Immediately delicious, this more youthful deep, dense, red-black wine is ripe and rounded with beautifully balanced oak and fruit, a creamy texture, lovely tannin structure, chocolate, spice and tarry oak on the finish. A big wine with plenty of life ahead of it but drinking beautifully now.
13.5% alc. $24.95/19.95. Screwcap.

Kay Brothers Hillside Shiraz 2002 – McLaren Vale
A bigger wine still with an intriguing perfume, biscuity oak, plenty of sweet ripe, wild summer berry fruit and alcoholic warmth. A complex wine in many respects with layers and layers of fruit, oak, spice and anise flavours taming the beautifully structured tannins and culminating in a sweet-fruited lingering finish. The cellaring potential of this wine is enormous. An absolute treat to try.
15% alc. $56.95/50.95. Screwcap.

Valdespino Pedro Ximinez Candado – Jerez, Spain
Dark golden amber in colour with greenish rims, spiritous prune-like aromas and prune, raisin and dried fig flavours. A viscous textured, smooth, creamy wine with fine tannins, fiery alcoholic and a long, fruitcake-like finish. It is very like Aussie Liqueur Muscat in many ways except it is made from the Pedro Ximinez grape in the Sherry region of Spain.
18% alc. $46.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15th December 2004
Simply Delicious
All wines were tasted blind.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2003
A big, golden buttery chardonnay with creamy oak, bold stonefruit, a touch of grapefruit and a spicy toasty finish. A very tasty starter wine and big enough for those who like a 'bigger' chardonnay but not too oaky for those who shy away from too much oak. In fact an all-round crowd-pleaser.
13.5% alc. $19.95/15.95. Screwcap.

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2003
A more biscuity, toasted white bread chardonnay with fragrant mealy scents and nectarines and white peaches beautifully balanced to the integrated savoury oak. A full-flavoured, mouthfilling chardonnay that is classy and seamless, a wine to grace the table on Christmas Day.
14.5% alc. $28.95/24.95. Screwcap.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2003 - Australia
Lemons and lime aromas lead into a fruity palate with good acidity and crisp exotic fruit flavours like feijoa and loquat. The fruit sweetness comes though to balance the slightly salty finish of this very dry wine.
13.1% alc. $26.95/23.95.

Richardson Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
Deep purple garnet in colour with cherries, herbs and slight earthy nuances on the nose, this velvety textured wine is full of ripe strawberry and cherry fruit with a lovely spicy, anise-like character that lingers on the full-flavoured aftertaste. Likely to develop a touch of chocolate with time, this beautifully balanced wine has lovely vinosity that makes it so approachable and easy to enjoy as a drink right now.
14% alc. $49.95/44.95. Screwcap.

Monasterio de Santa Ana Merlot 2003 – Jumilia, Spain
This deep black red wine with creamy oak, thick grainy tannins, rich cherry and plummy fruit, fruit cake spice, tobacco and tar is a mouthful of deliciousness, a new world-influenced European style, quite drinkable on its own but with enough structure to handle robust foods. A BBQ star.
14.5% alc. $18.95/16.95.

Serafino McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
A deep black-red wine that allures with its wonderful aromatics of creamy vanillin oak, cherries and cassis. Filled with sweet fruit flavours balanced by savoury oak and lifted by liquorice and spice, firm velvety tannins carry this huge wine to a long succulent finish with hints of chocolate on the aftertaste. 4 gold medals and 2 trophies. Winestate Magazine's 2004 'Cabernet of the Year'.
14% alc. $24.95/19.95.

Thorne Clarke Shotfire Ridge Barossa Shiraz 2003
Deep black red with purple tinges, full of creamy oak, nutmeg and cigar on the nose, spicy and lifted in the palate with juicy red berries, currants and plums, mocha, liquorice, just a hint of tar, well-structured tannins and a mouthwarming, almost Porty finish. With its long, juicy spicy aftertaste it delivers the quality expected of this label.
14.5% alc. $26.95/23.95.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Deep black red with fragrant sweet creamy vanillin oak, spice, toffee, liquorice, tar, cigar and beautifully fine tannins, this delicious berry-filled mouthful is layered with chocolate and mint. Beautiful now with the structure to cellar for years.
14.5% alc. $24.95/20.95.

Taspestry 'The Vincent' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
Black red, slightly minty on the nose, savoury in the palate with ripe stonefruit and sweet toasty American oak, soft tannins, integrated fruit and a savoury oak, slightly salty raisin finish. Showing some nice development, it has lost its youthful fruitiness as it develops a mellow richness.
14% alc. $40.95/36.85.

Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Shiraz 2002
Deep red black with bright hues, menthol and vanilla on the nose, sweet juicy plum and cherry fruit, spice, honeyed oak and a lovely tannin structure, a big powerful tarry wine with impressive flavour and a long creamy finish with lingering cherries and oak spice. Dressed to impress.
14% alc. $30.95/27.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting -8th December 2004
Rosés, Riesling, Gewurz and Port
All wines were tasted blind.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay White Cabernet 2004
The most delicate pink in colour and smelling of strawberry and spice. Fresh, clean, lively and balanced with a nice oily texture, a lightly herbaceous finish and a slightly sweetish, rose petal aftertaste. Very good. Nice to drink on its own.
13.5% alc. $20.95/18.95. Screwcap.

Mount Riley Marlborough Malbec Rosé 2004
Light salmon in colour, floral smelling, almost creamy textured with a hint of vanilla, a firm backbone, just a hint of liquorice and a citrussy finish. More earthy and savoury than fruity, more of a rosé to have with lunch than as lunch (i.e. a food wine).
12.5% $19.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Whitecliffs Merlot Rosé 2004
The pink of a ripe juicy watermelon, this is a well structured rosé with plenty of flavour. Plum, cherry, pink bubble-gum and strawberry sweetness on the finish, it has a bit of an earthy grip and just a touch of spice. Well balanced with pleasing length.
12.5% alc. $16.95/14.95. Screwcap.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Black Label Merlot Malbec Rosé 2004
Light ruby in colour with aromas of raspberries and vanilla ice cream, this is a lovely, balanced, mouthfilling wine with good fruit, good structure, good weight and a spicy finish. A richer rosé, fresh and bright, a crowd pleaser.
14% alc. $19.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Merlot Malbec Rosé 2004
A deeper coloured wine, almost a light red. Plummy smelling with concentrated berry fruit, good palate richness, an oily texture and nuances of rose hips on drier, spicy finish, it is also slightly earthy and grippy, and lingers with a fruity aftertaste.
13.5%. alc. 6g/L residual sugar.
$18.95/16.95. Screwcap.

Loosen Riesling 2003 - Mosel
Light straw in colour with floral, soapy scents and unadulterated pure, earthy, lime citrus flavours with good acid /sugar balance. There is a delicacy to this oily textured, sweetish, low alcohol wine with a hint of kero coming through on the citrus-driven, slightly spicy finish. Excellent value for quality German Riesling.
9.5% alc. $20.95/17.95. Screwcap.

Giesen Canterbury Marlborough Riesling 2003
Pale lemon, also floral and soapy smelling with clean crisp citrus and tropical fruit in the warm textured, talcy palate with just a lacing of honey. But it finishes just a little hard and seems quite dry on the finish for a wine with 20 grams/litre of residual sugar. Good length however, it will probably integrate nicely with just a little more time. Tonight the jury was out.
9.5% alc. $16.95/14.95. Screwcap.

Gisselbrecht Alsace Gewurztraminer 2002
With its bright yellow colour, it is an older looking wine than its vintage would suggest. Dried tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, etc), tangelo and musky spice, a higher alcohol wine with an oily texture, soft acidity and fruit sweetness on finish, it picks up some toastiness to the musky aftertaste with Turkish delight flavours lingering.
13% alc. $27.95/24.95.

Mills Reef Reserve Gewurztraminer 2004
Straw gold, a little phenolic on the nose, this seems like a sweeter gewurztraminer with spicy citrus, musk, cloves, a hint of lychee and orange peel. There's a tingling to the musky finish of this wine as the ginger and white pepper spice flavours linger, and it finishes dry.
12.5% alc, $22.95/19.95

Vinoptima Ormond Gewurztraminer 2004
Pale lemon in colour, not too obvious on the nose at this stage, but unequivocally varietal and beautifully balanced with soft acidity and an oily silky texture in the palate. Spicy with hints of custard powder, pink smokers, rose petal spice, musk, lemon blossom and orange honey, it becomes a little grainy on the finish. Very Alsace in style with a powerful sweetish finish.
16g/L rs. 13% $48.95/43.95

Orlando Liqueur Port - Australia
A gemmy transparent red/brown colour, this sweet, salty, spicy, wine has caramel aromas and rich flavours of muscatels and raisins with a woody, lanolin, sweet salty finish. A deliciously rich spiritous wine that combines a rich caramel-like sweetness with a salty savouriness, the flavours are a good example of what is often termed 'rancio'. A wine that slips down very easily and would be just delicious with aged Christmas cake.
17.5% alc. $19.95/17.95

Sandemans Founders Reserve 'Vintage Character' Port
A more opaque black-red garnet colour, this finer textured Portuguese port is quite spiritous with slightly oxidised (rancio) savoury, liquorice aromas and a more winey berry flavour. Hot, a little salty, with liquorice and macerated berries, it is a rich port with a firm tannin structure and a dryish finish with a long warming aftertaste .
20% alc. $38.95/34.95.

Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Same colour as the Orlando but much more fiery and spiritous on the nose and in the palate with savoury salted raisin and rancio lanolin characters, lots of spice and old wood, and a rich salty, nutty, slightly earthy finish. Smooth and silky textured and a warm, long aftertaste.
20% alc. $58.95/52.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting -1st December 2004
Xmas Bubbles, Chardonnay and Stunning Spicy Reds
All wines were tasted blind.

Arcadia Central Otago Methode Traditionelle NV
Bright, yeasty, biscuity, quite mellow and creamy yet fresh and crisp with a dry toasty finish. Ready now. 'Nice' was the compliment from the tasters tonight.
12.5% alc. $25.95/$22.95.

Daniel Le Brun Blanc de Blanc 1997
The yellow gold colour indicates some age and the powerfully rich flavours do too. Huge, creamy, full-bodied, dry and toasty with spicy, peach flavours, just a touch of honey and good acidity that gives a tingling aftertaste to the marmite-like savoury finish. If you like aged bubbles, you'll love this French look-alike from Marlborough.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100 2004.
12.5% alc. $41.95/$37.35.

Piper Heidsieck Champagne NV
Straw gold in colour, more yeasty and floral with freshly baked brioche-like aromas, dryish to the taste at first becoming quite creamy with a white honey wheaty influence, just a touch of sweetness on the finish and a nuance of strawberry as it lingers. A beautiful fresh champagne, perfect for Christmas Day.
Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100.
12% alc. $66.95/$49.95.

Vidal Estate Unoaked Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
This yellow gold, fruit driven wine is like fruit salad in a glass with stonefruit, tropical fruit, melon and grilled pineapple on a rich, slightly oily texture. Quite powerful and creamy, this rich unoaked chardonnay builds to a mellow finish with pink bubblegum-like esters. A lunch-time wine.
14% alc. $19.95/$17.95. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Reminding me of juicy fruit chewing gum, this fruit-driven wine has nicely integrated nutty savoury oak alongside the pear and stonefruits mid-palate and the tangy tropical fruits that emerge on the finish. An early indication of the quality of the 2004 Hawkes Bay vintage, this smooth, creamy wine is already delicious. It will continue to develop nicely over the next 12 months.
14% alc. $21.95/$17.95. Screwcap.

Shadowfax Chardonnay 2002
Big, rich and toasty with honey and fig on the nose and nougat in the palate, a well-rounded, well-worked wine with spicy oak and a long rich, toasty, butterscotch finish. Last time we tasted this wine, it was tight and lean. A few months more in the bottle has seen it blossom into a delicious chardonnay mouthful.
A blend from Geelong and the Yarra Valley in Victoria and the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.
4% alc. $34.95/$30.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2002 – Hawkes Bay
A light golden coloured, big full malo style with nutty French oak and hints of grapefruit joining the mealy, citrus aromas. Very rich to the taste but beautifully balanced and rounded in its smooth, creamy delivery with gorgeous flavours of nutty spicy oak, citrus, stonefruit and melon and a long full butter-caramel finish. This wine gets better every time we taste it.
14.5% alc. $36.95/$32.95. Screwcap.

Kaesler Stonehorse Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre 2003 - Barossa Valley
Crimson red in colour, the savoury, smoky bacon and sweet fruit aromas pave the way for this fruity mellow, soft tannined wine that combines savoury, earthy, slightly barnyard flavours with Christmas cake and strawberries. A fruit driven wine without too much influence of oak, there's good acidity on the finish to balance the juicy fruit. A blend of Grenache(55%), Shiraz(37%) and Mouvedre(8%), a popular wine at the tasting.
15% alc. $24.95/$21.95

Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz 2003 - Barossa Valley
Purple red, a bit of a fruit bomb in some respects but with good balancing savoury, earthy, flavours. A big juicy wine with cooked berry fruit, blackberries, Throaties lollies, herbs, wet asphalt, tar, rosehips, a sweet fruit aftertaste and plenty of Shiraz spice, it is drinking well now. Another popular wine at the tasting.
14% alc. $31.95/$27.95. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Reserve Merlot Cabernet Syrah 2001 - – Hawkes Bay
Robust and dense in its dark red colour, savoury and earthy with grippy tannins, a little slow to reveal its potential, in fact it is quite Bordeaux-like if you can say that about a wine that contains a portion of Shiraz. Predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with plums, cigar box, a touch of menthol and a sweet juicy finish, it really is a stunner for the money. Treat yourself a taste in a big 'Bordeaux Selection' glass – they're made for wines like this.
13% alc. $26.95/$16.95

Palandri Western Australia Shiraz 2002
Crimson red in colour with appealing sweet berry and creamy oak aromas, it is sweet and juicy to the taste with vanilla, berries, mint, a touch of chocolate and cigar-like oak on the soft finish. Ripe, rich, spicy and deliciously drinkable. A definite crowd pleaser.
14.5% $24.95/$21.95

Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2002 - McLaren Vale
Inky, shiny, almost black, it radiates quality to the eye before the nose is seduced by the dark chocolate and cherry scents. Dense rich and spicy with toasty oak, ripe juicy red and purple fruit and fine velvety tannins, it's a young wine that will evolve beautifully in the cellar but already a treat to drink.
14.5%. $52.95/46.95.
Champion Shiraz at the Liquorland Top 100 in 2004.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 24th November 2004
Brand New to First Glass.
All wines were tasted blind.

Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Crisp, grassy, herbaceous and pungent with a slightly oily texture and mouthfilling melon, lime and passionfruit leading into a well-balanced and long ripe-fruited, crisp finish. Delicious sauv blanc, just as it is meant to be. Even Kingsley liked it so it must be good. Gold Medal Air NZ.
13.5%. $15.95 special. Screwcap.

Huntaway Reserve Chardonnay 2002 - Gisborne
Golden coloured with lime glints, the toasty aromas lead into a big, oily, fat and buttery wine with ripe peaches and melons and a long, rounded, spicy, creamy oak finish. Drinking beautifully now with much approval from the crowd and it can be chilled.
Gold medal.
13.5%. $18.95 special.

Canterbury House Good Times Riesling 2004 - Waipara
A sweeter style with honey, limes, citrus blossom and ginger spice, it is fresh and slightly spritzy on the tongue when the tartness of the acidity comes through on finish to balance the sweetness. Juicy lime and mandarin flavours linger on the honeyed finish. Value summer drinking and it can be chilled to the bones.
12.5% alc. $12.95 special.

Charles Wiffen Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
A more steely austere Riesling filled with lemons and limes with just a smidgen of honeyed fruit to balance the sharpness and a fresh, long, spicy finish. Once again the tingling acidity gives a spritzy effect on the tongue. A drier style that just about everyone loved.
13.5%. $17.95. Screwcap.

Turkey Flat Rosé 2004 – Barossa Valley
Deep watermelon pink with lush strawberry aromas leading into a fuller style of Rosé with some malo, some grip and plenty of fruit flavours from the multi-blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Dolcetto grapes. There's power on the creamy spicy finish and good fruit lift. A lively, fresh light red for hot summer days. Serve well chilled. Made by Peter Schulz of Willows fame. Try it with oysters and/or smoked salmon.
11.5% alc. $22.95. Screwcap.

Blackridge Pinot Noir 2002 - Alexandra
Pinky purple red in colour with good depth, its primary aromas are earthy and savoury before sweeter, marinated black cherry scents push through. There's some funk in the palate that gives it a slightly feral (gamey), savouriness with velvety tannins, polished oak and spicy cherry fruit. It finishes well and there are characteristic Central Otago herb flavours lingering on the good length finish.  Silver medal.
13.5%. $37.95.

Olssens Jackson Barry Pinot Noir 2002 – Bannockburn
Another well coloured deep purple red pinot, this is immediately cleaner and fruitier to the smell and taste with perfumed plum and black cherry fruit, fruit cake spices and wild herbs. Smooth, rounded and polished with silky tannins and creamy oak, there's a tasty savouriness throughout with a slightly meaty character emerging on the warm spicy finish. Excellent length.
Gold medal Liquorland Top 100
14.5%. $38.95.

Black Barn Reserve Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Dense, deep and shiny blackberry in colour, this powerful wine reeks of chocolate with nuances of spice. Rich, full, intense and creamy with firm tannins and concentrated plummy fruit overlain with fruit cake spice and a tarry oaky savouriness to the ripe fruited finish, it is a big wine but the chocolate-like sweetness and the delicious fruit make it oh, so drinkable. A blend of 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc matured in French oak for 18 months.
14.5%. $39.95.

Hollick Shiraz Cabernet 2001 – Coonawarra/Wrattonbully
Garnet red with good depth of colour, this is an older smelling wine with secondary characters of spice, leather and mellow oak coming through the fading fruit. Creamy, savoury, a little leathery with allspice on the finish, just a touch of mint and a long aftertaste it is good value if you want something with a little more development and a little more savouriness than the irresistible, fruit driven 2002's.
13.5%. $22.95.

Cline 'Ancient Vines' Sonoma Zinfandel 2000 - California
Deep, dense and inky with deep red hues tempting the eye and sweet creamy vanillin oak, plums and cherry biscuit-like aromas tempting the nose. Hot, warm and spicy in the palate with pepper, concentrated mulberry/blackberry fruit, a touch of mocha and more spice on the finish, this is powerful heady juicy stuff with a ripe tannin structure, a touch of rose musk, lots of fruit sweetness and a long, delicious, full-bodied finish. Showing youthfulness for a 4-year old, it is an excellent example of American Zinfandel made from 80-100 year old vines. Matured in French oak.
15.5% alc. $46.95.   N/A.

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 - South Australia
Inky black in colour with blackberry red rims, copious amounts of toasty vanillin oak and berry fruit on the nose lead into a powerful flavour-filled palate with wonderfully fine but firm ripe tannins. Deep dark dusky blackcurrant and purple plummy/berry fruits are joined by more savoury-like flavours of olive and marmite with the lift of spicy oak on the ultra-long finish. A wonderful example of Aussie Cab Sauv, but is it overpriced and overhyped these days when you can find other wines that deliver exceptional quality for a sixth of the price?
13.5% alc. $155.00.

Forrest Estate Botrytis Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
Fragrantly floral with passion-orange fruit tea-like aromatics, clean and fresh in the palate with tangelo, apricot, citrus blossom, ginger and runny honey. Lovely purity, lovely viscosity, not too overpowering in its botrytis intensity, just perfect in its balance with a lusciously sweet, but not oversweet, aftertaste.
Gold medal and Champion Sweet Wine, Air NZ Wine Awards 2004.
10% alc. $34.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17th November 2004
Gold Medal and Trophy Winners from the Air NZ Wine Awards.
All wines were tasted blind.

Nobilo Station Road Chardonnay 2004
A peaches and cream Chardonnay, soft and easy drinking with a hint of caramel and a spicy bite to the savoury finish. Largely unoaked, it delivers fruit and flavour for summertime drinking. Gold Medal.
13% alc. $10.95 special.

Amor-Bendall Gisborne Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Wildly pungent nose of sweat, sweat and more sweat. Spicy to the taste with a mid-palate citrus skin and herb bitterness redeemed by a long sweetish, juicy passionfruit filled finish. Already a winner of five gold medals but once again (it was tasted 6 weeks ago) it gets a mixed reception from the First Glass tasters.
Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc.
12.5% alc. $26.95/$23.95. Screwcap.

Matua Valley Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
The other end of the spectrum, this is the epitome of the Marlborough style. With grassy aromatics, crisp gooseberry and limes and a sophisticated grainy texture, it is dry and fleshy with a touch of stonefruit joining in on the lingering, summer herb-filled and exotic fruit-filled finish.
Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $27.95/$24.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2003 - Hawkes Bay
Full of winemaking wizardry, the creamy malo and barrel fermented oaky characters seduce the nose. Lovely roundness and ripeness in the palate with lots of spicy oak and wheaty, wild yeast flavours joining the rich citrus and melon fruit with a hint of butterscotch on the finish and terrific length. Still quite tight with good acidity, this is a wine for the long haul. Trophy for Champion Chardonnay and Runner-Up to Champion Wine of the Show.
14% alc. $36.95/$32.95. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Gimblett Gravels Viognier 2004
A nutty floral bouquet leads into a full-bodied, sightly oily textured mouthful that is chock full of tropical fruit with lemon and apple carrying the acidity. Quite hot with a spicy lifted finish, musky apricot and stonefruit come though on the aftertaste. Very long, very aromatic, it opens up just beautifully in the glass and you wish there was more.
Trophy for Champion Other White Varieties
14.5% alc. $28.95/$25.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Seddon Riesling 2002 - Marlborough
Lime, floral and talc-like aromas lead into a dryish wine with some development in the palate but not enough to hide the lovely fruit purity and flavours reminiscent of apples, grapefruit and lemon, lime and ginger marmalade. Off dry with steely acidity and excellent length, it is seemingly delicate but with underlying power.
Trophy for Champion Riesling
12.5% alc. $21.95/$19.75. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Gewurztraminer 2004
Rose petal, Turkish Delight and Muscat grape-like flavours characterise this oily-textured Alsace look-alike made from a blend of Gisborne and Marlborough fruit. Very very spicy with luscious ripe fruit and a long pungent, musky finish.
Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer
14.5% alc. $25.95/$22.95. Screwcap.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
A medium-hued pinot. Smoky aromas with smoky bacon, damp earth and cherries, savoury and fruity in the palate, quite sweetish in some respects. Lovely texture and balance and a long delicious aftertaste, we all thought the judges got this right. Very popular in the blind tasting and even more popular when the price was revealed.
Trophy for Champion Open Red Wine (1000 case availability)
14% alc. $24.95 or $23.95 on case buys. Screwcap.

Fairmont Block One Pinot Noir 2003 - Wairarapa
A denser, more savoury wine with smoky oak, nutmeg and musk aromas and savoury earthy flavours. Deep and intense with just a hint of chocolate and a fine velvety texture, a complex wine in many respects it is difficult to define the fruit at first until plum fruit sweetness and a balancing tamarillo-like tartness emerges on the lingering, full-bodied finish.
Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $34.95/$30.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
A brilliant deep ruby hue and very appealing lightly floral, slightly herbal, savoury pinot aromatics lead into a fine silky textured savoury wine with smoky spicy oak, a hint of anise, earthy mushroom flavours, black cherries and a hint of chocolate. There is so much going on in this beautifully balanced wine and with good mouthfeel and lovely acidity to match the ripe fruit, it takes New Zealand Pinot Noir to another level. It has a good tannin structure and is built to last.
Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and Champion Wine of the Show
14% alc. $52.95/$47.65. Screwcap.

Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - Barossa Valley
Dense, inky, red black colour, creamy, sweet toasty American oak aromas and ripe juicy flavours. Blackberries, blackcurrants and mint chocolate melt into the sweet oak, it is only the huge tannins that stop you swigging it too quickly. A fantastic wine, almost legendary, a wine that First Glass customers will absolutely love. Smart new packaging too. The ring-in.
Two successive gold medals and the Stoddart Trophy winner at the Royal Queensland Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $24.95/$21.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002
Lovely rich shining crimson red hues with creamy berry aromatics leading into a hugely structured wine still masked somewhat by its firm tannins and cigar-like oak but with masses and masses of fruit behind it. Plums, spice, smoke and even a touch of chocolate with a suggestion of cherry as the wine lingers, it builds to a long powerful, sweet-fruited finish. A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 5% Cabernet with 18 months in 80% new French barriques.
Trophy for Champion Merlot. Nobody does it better.
14.5% alc. $41.95/$37.75. Screwcap.

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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