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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2005 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2005
[ 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 - 27th April 2005
Aromatic Wines.
All wines were tasted blind.

Mansion House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Pale straw. Pungent grassy, gooseberry scents with an overlying toastiness and rich, toasty, mouthfilling, herbaceous flavours. Crisp and fresh, almost bracing, with an oily creaminess to the backbone and a rich, luscious tropical fruit finish. What New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is all about. Gold medal Royal Easter Wine Show.
13% alc. $18.95/$16.95.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Gris 2004
Straw gold. Citrus, apple and nashi pear aromas overlain with lime peel. Oily textured, soft, not too bracing, the citrus balances the sweetness, though it is not overly sweet. Spicy stewed pear and apple come through to linger strongly on the lightly honeyed, herbaceous, aftertaste. A non-confrontational wine that is quite quaffable without food.
13.5% alc. $23.95/$19.95. Screwcap

Wairau River Marlborough Pinot Gris 2004
Pale coloured with an oily, viscous appearance. Rich and oily textured with mouthfilling sweet toasty flavours reminiscent of spiced poached pears and baked apples stuffed with figs, and a gorgeously long, spicy aftertaste. Definitely drinkable at mid-autumn room temperature. Heading toward Alsace in style, this wine is gorgeous on its own but could go with a whole gambit of food courses.
14% alc. 25g/l residual sugar. $22.95/$19.95. Screwcap

S.A. Prum QBA Riesling 2001 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
A true aromatic with its lime zest and apple blossom scents. Crisp and fresh to the taste with apple and citrus acidity beautifully balanced by a honeyed sweetness. There's an earthiness (like citrus pith) to the fruity finish where an ever so slightly toasty/kero character comes through, and clean, sweet, citrussy flavours linger deliciously. Very nice when served at an autumn room temperature.
10% alc. $19.95/$17.95. Screwcap

Canterbury House "The Good Times" Riesling 2004
Earthy-smelling with a hint of kero, just a little pongy at first, this off-dry, grainy-textured wine has crisp, bright pineapple-like acidity, zesty spices with a touch of ginger and nicely balanced lingering lime and apple flavours.
14% alc. $14.95/$12.95.

Mt. Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2004
Pale straw. Lemon peel, orange blossom and honey on the nose lead into bright crisp flavours with lots of Riesling purity and well-balanced acidity, lime, mandarin, lemon zest, fizzy fruit sherbet lollies and a long, long finish. Drier than normal for Target Gully, the different style reflects the vintage.
10.5% alc. $21.95/$18.95. Screwcap

S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2001 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Light gold. Some development to the aromas with a toasty lemon oil nuance and hints of marmalade. A full, weighty, rich, sweet, mouthful with a nectar-like texture, a spicy mid-palate and a tingly, lightly toasty, apple-like finish. Low alcohol and very moreish. Even the driver can have a big glassful of this.
8% alc. $38.95/$34.95.

Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Gewurztraminer 2003 - Alsace, France
Bright citrine gold. Richly aromatic, smelling of lemon Turkish Delight and attar of rose with a sweet honey backing. Quite thick and unctuous in texture with a spicy, peppermint oil nuance and a warm, spun sugar, biscuity finish. Mellow and toasty, seamless and long. A big, full-flavoured, spicy wine, for studying or accompanying to food.
13% alc. $36.95/$32.95.

Framingham Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2004
Light gold. Turkish Delight, lychees, smoker lollies on the nose, rich and powerful in the palate, sweetish with nicely balanced apple and citrus acidity, a lightly oily texture, warming alcohol and a powerful finish with a cheek-tickling, spicy aftertaste. Fresh, ready and easy going.
14.5% alc. $25.95/$22.95. Screwcap.

Coto de Hayas Reserva 2000 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Deep red-black, almost opaque. Slightly leathery, jammy aromas with nuances of plums, cherries and wild berries and sweet coconutty oak. Fruit driven but with an earthy, Euro provenance. Slightly porty with currants, hints of liquorice and lots of wild berry fruit on the smoky finish. Ripe and juicy without being too big and chunky. A crowd pleaser of a wine made from 100% Grenache. Very good.
13.5% alc. $20.95/$17.95.

Orlando Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Massive colour, purple black and inky right to the rims where it is developing just a hint of brick - it is hard to believe this wine is seven years old. Voluptuous aromas of cedary oak with hints of mint and chocolate, lovely sweet fruit with currants and plums, leather and olives, mint and mocha, big juicy monster tannins and a ripe fruit, cedary aftertaste. A true testament to the quality of the vintage.
14% alc. $49.95.

Buller Fine Old Muscat NV - Rutherglen, Victoria
A clear coffee colour with golden hues and a slightly green rim. Rich and spiritous with heady alcohol fumes, macerated raisins and muscatels. Thick and unctuous in the mouth, like liquid toffee, it immediately warms the cockles of the heart and gives you a radiant glow. A mid-winter wine to warm you up quickly when you come in from the freezing cold.
18% alc. $29.95/$26.95 750ml.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20th April 2005
A trip to the Margaret River.
All wines were tasted blind.

Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Straw gold, clean and bright. Quite neutral on the nose with no discernible sauvignon blanc pungency. Rich and textural in the mouth with a warm, bready mealiness and fruit flavours of clove-studded baked apples that were squeezed with lemon prior to baking to stop them browning. While it's lost the bright tang of youth, there's still a whisper of a grassy brightness on the finish.
13.5% alc. $22.95/$16.95.

Palandri Great Southern Chardonnay 2003
Light gold. Smoky, leesy and mealy with sweet, toasty, lemon-tinged oak and rich, complex full-bodied flavours reminiscent of tropical fruit and apricots over custard. Well-balanced with a slightly grainy texture and lots of spicy acidity that lifts the mouthfilling savoury finish.
14% alc. $21.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

Voyager Chardonnay 2003
Light gold with polished oak aromas and rich, mealy, creamy flavours. There's obvious malolactic (lemon-milk) upfront that gets overtaken by toasty oak mid-palate with a touch of grapefruit and grilled stonefruits that linger with a pleasing butterscotch aftertaste. Overall it's a complex, full-bodied, mealy, savoury wine with mouth-filling waves of flavour.
13.5% alc. $35.95/$29.95. Screwcap.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2000
Medium gold, smelling of toasty savoury oak and lots of delicious spicy, mouthfilling, spiced raisin bready flavours with citrus and pineapple lingering on the long, mealy, fine-textured finish that has obvious alcoholic warmth. A good wine, but not a value wine at this price.
14% alc. $91.95/$81.95.

Moss Wood Chardonnay 2003
One of the great names in Australian wine. Light yellow gold, it entices with its rich, complex, barrel-fermented aromas however it is tight and lean in the palate with little fruit definition and somewhat reminiscent of a Chablis Grand Cru. Good acidity, a strong malo (milky acid) influence, polished French oak and lingering lemon-tinged yeast lees flavours, it becomes quite weighty as it lingers. A good cellaring proposition.
14% alc. $50.95/$44.95. Screwcap.

Cullen Mangan 2003
Made from a blend of 47% Malbec, 47% Petit Verdot and 6% Merlot, this deep purple-red, crimson-tinged drop smells ripe and fruity, the fruitiness continuing into the palate. It's a soft tannin, juicy wine with well-integrated wine-soaked oak, cherry and plum fruit, chocolate and spices, a touch of tomato acidity and lingering liquorice on the slightly peppery finish. A quaffable, easy-going style, quite more-ish, which makes you wish it was much, much cheaper. Especially when you find out only 20% saw oak.
13% alc. $49.95/$43.95.

Palandri Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Red-black (deep garnet) with bright red rims. "This smells nice" said Sharon and it does with its deep, fulfilling, mint and vanillin oak aromas. Sweet oak carries through to the palate that has a deep earthy undercurrent to the concentrated blackcurrant fruit, cedar and a long savoury, smoky, meaty, slightly gamey, dry finish with a berry/mint aftertaste. Pretty firm tannins as well, though overall quite juicy. And it's affordable!
14% alc. $24.95/$16.95.

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2001
Showing a little development to the garnet red colour, it smells seamless, smooth and integrated with an overlay of chocolate. Velvety textured with spicy oak, plum, raspberry and red currant fruit, good acidity and some grip to the finish, there's a slightly herbal nuance with a minty note coming through to linger with tobacco-like oak.
14.5% alc. $24.95/$21.95.

Voyager Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001
Rich red black with purple-red rims. Mint and chocolate on the nose. Lovely spicy oak and concentrated brambly fruit with black cherry and blackberry. A wine with power and depth, massive velvety-textured tannins and a dark, mysterious, savoury/sweet oak finish. Terrific wine.
14.5% alc. $38.95/$31.95.

Hay Shed Hill Shiraz 2001
Deep garnet-red black. Sweet oak, mocha, chocolate and tarry oak, immediately soft and rounded in the palate but meaty at the same time with wine-soaked bread, velvety tannins, spices, plum and purple berry fruits and a long, long finish. Quite delicious.
14.5% alc. $33.95/$29.95.

Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Red-black, dense, with fine purple-red edges. Dark smoky oak and lovely fruit weight. Blackcurrants, hints of mint, silky tannins, tobacco and brylcream on the finish. A powerful wine that is long, dry and mouthfilling.
14.5% alc. $39.95/$29.95. Screwcap.

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Deep and dense in its colour with creamy vanillin oak and cassis aromas, it smells like a big, grunty, South Australian wine. Totally mouthfilling with silky tannins and beautifully concentrated, juicy blackcurrant and plum fruit, it is sweet yet savoury with terrific use of oak and massive tannins that get squashed by the weight of the fruit. Sweet yet savoury, rich and powerful yet smooth and supple with a dry finish. A sweet mintiness comes through to linger.
14.5% alc. $79.95/$70.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13th April 2005
Boutique Wines or Labels - mostly.
All wines were tasted blind.

Triplebank Pinot Gris 2004 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough
A slightly sweetish style, a little grassy and zesty with crisp green apples and soft tropical fruit, an oily texture and a lightly pungent finish that enriches with time. Technically off dry with 8 grams per litre of residual sugar.
13%, $22.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Odyssey Reserve Iliad Chardonnay 2004 - Gisborne
A chardonnay lover's wine with toasty oak, stonefruit, figs and butterscotch. Juicy, rounded and deliciously tasty with a smoky finish and creamy caramel lingering on the aftertaste. Wonderful fruit weight. Seamless throughout.
13.5% alc. $33.95/$29.95.

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2004
Bright zesty fruit, lots of acid, quite dry and wheaty in the palate. A fruit-driven style with lemon dominating the flavour at first then softer, fleshier flavours of melons filling it out. Beautifully integrated creamy oak and a spicy, lively finish with an earthy undercurrent. Altogether there's a definite aura of class..
14% alc. $28.95/$25.95.

Mills Reef Elspeth Chardonnay 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
A full-bodied, mealy, toasty, barrel-fermented style with fantastic fruit weight that tantalises with its fig, melon, citrus and stonefruit flavours. Beautifully concentrated with sweet oak and malo in balance, and caramel lingering on the dry finish. Excellent. A classy wine.
14% alc. $29.95/$25.95. Screwcap.

Schoffit Tokay Pinot Gris Colmar Tradition 2003 - Alsace, France
Delicate floral scents lead into a rich, ripe, lushly textured wine that is more about texture than flavour. A little earthy at first with a touch of aniseed before spiced pear and melon flavours emerge while sweet, musky, spiced orange flavours linger on the long, salivating, finish. An off-dry to medium sweet style.
13% alc. $36.95/$32.95.

Triplebank Pinot Noir 2004 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough
Although the medium-weight Burgundy colour appears to be fading, this new vintage wine has appealing cherry chocolate aromas, soft, lightly smoky, sweet fruit flavours, a slightly acidic, herbal undercurrent and a smoky savoury aftertaste. With plenty of vinosity and a soft tannin structure, this quaffable wine will have wide commercial appeal.
13.5% alc. $22.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
Youthful garnet red. Appealing, slightly earthy, pinot aromas and savoury, complex flavours. A multi-layered wine with smoky oak, fruits of the forest, cherry jam, mushrooms, anise spices, sage-like herbs, silky tannins, a long succulent finish and a brightness to the aftertaste. Very smart and deliciously drinkable.
13.9% alc. $43.95/$38.95. Screwcap.

Fontodi Flaccianello 2001 - Chianti Classico, IGT, Sangiovese
A big ripe jammy wine with an earthy, tarry, marmite scent and sweet vanillin, smoky oak. Quite heady, full-bodied, sweet fruited, meaty and savoury with a grippy finish and voluptuous oaky liquorice, mocha and cherry as it lingers. Made from 100% Sangiovese fruit, the black garnet colour is impenetrable and though marred by volatile acidity when first poured, this soon dissipates to reveal its true drinking pleasure.
14% alc. $106.00/$94.00

Mills Reef Elspeth Block 4 Merlot 2002 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Very deep black-red, almost blackberry in colour, though not as bright. A deep, savoury scented wine with leather and barnyard sweetened up by chocolate oak. Dense in its flavour too with thick chewy tannins, a biscuity sweetness, tar, roses, plums, blackberries and spicy oak. Quite monumental, in fact. Right now it needs more time.
14% alc. $39.95/$34.95.

Kingsley Estate Syrah 2002 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
86% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec.
The colour of a shiny blackberry with purple tinges to the rims. Perfumed with spicy oak that is layered with pepper and chocolate while sweet musky purple fruit flavours swallow the rich grape tannins. Beautifully integrated with smoky oak, an underlying succulent juiciness, a mouthfilling, long dry finish and a spicy aftertaste. Very good.
14% alc. $36.95/$32.95. Screwcap.

Possums McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003
Big and black in colour, sweet oak aromas with a whiff of mint chocolate and juicy, rich, thick flavours kept in check by the wonderfully fine tannins. There's chocolatey oak, tar and spices over juicy, sweet, confectionary-like fruit with a balancing savouriness and a touch of mint on the long, juicy finish. A big mouth-filling wine, reminiscent of a d'Arenberg style - the grapes used to go to d'Arenberg before Possums went out on their own.
15% alc. $36.95/$32.95.

Jacob's Creek Barossa Valley Reserve Shiraz 2002
Quintessential Aussie shiraz! Lots of inky red-black colour and bold, 'in your face' aromas and flavours with sweet oak, mint and cigar smoke. Deliciously juicy fruit, not too sweet, an abundance of spices, beautifully structured meaty tannins and a mouthfilling, long, long, long finish. If you like big, grunty Aussie shiraz, you will fall in love with this.
15% alc. $22.95/$16.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6th April 2005
Classical Varieties from the World's Great Wine Regions.
All wines were tasted blind.

Brokenwood Semillon 2004 - Hunter Valley, Australia
Pale straw with hints of grass, pineapple bread and tropical fruit on the nose and steely, somewhat sauv blanc-like flavours in the palate - though not as intense as any kiwi savvie. A quite confusing wine as after another couple of mouthfuls it seems quite creamy and a little chardonnay-like with toasty, leesy nuances and fatter stonefruit flavours however the finish is grassy with a dry, steely, green fruit aftertaste. It is, in fact, a Hunter Semillon packed with high-acid fruit and without a skerrick of oak. Terrific example of a youthful style.
11% alc. $19.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
With its vibrant straw gold colour and full, pungent, zingy, gooseberry-filled aromas it couldn't be anything other than young Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on this 'classic regions' evening. A powerful, rounded wine packed with ripe juicy passionfruit, yellow guavas and dried banana with a slightly oily texture, a rich, pungent grassy finish and just a waft of sweat. Lots of character and punch, very easy to enjoy.
14% alc. $18.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2003 - Burgundy, France
Medium straw gold. Quite shy on the clean, neutral nose, not showing any fruit, just a savoury mealiness. Soft and dry in the palate with low acid, some malolactic influence, hints of white peach, a savoury mealy finish and a slightly milky aftertaste. Sam says it is "minerally", whatever that means, though I do pick up a faint salinity. A very clean wine with terrific mouthfeel and texture but not showing any obvious European character to pinpoint the region.
12.5% alc. $37.95/$33.95. Screwcap.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2004 - Nelson
Straw gold with vibrant hues, abundant aromas of toasty oak and grilled peaches, and profuse flavours of spicy oak, vanilla, peach and apricot with an underlying mealy savouriness and a warm, dry, toasty finish. Smooth and seamless, drinking beautifully already.
14% alc. $19.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

Orlando St Helga Riesling 2004 - Eden Valley, SA
This is immediately fruity for an Australian Riesling with fruit salad wafting out of the glass and lemon blossoms in the distance. But in the palate the classic lime flavours of South Australian Riesling come through. Probably very dry but with terrific balance of fruit to the crisp fresh acidity characterised by zesty lemon, lime and grapefruit, good palate weight and already a hint of toastiness on the aftertaste. We learn that the initial fruitiness is a key to its origin, Eden Valley rather than the Clare Valley.
12.5% alc. $17.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

Kawarau Reserve Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
Medium depth, garnet red. Smoky, damp earth aromas with a hint of bacon, initially tarry and oily textured in the palate with a tart herbal overtone but as it opens up the classic red and black cherry flavours of Central Otago pinot come through. A multi-dimensional wine with lots going on as it builds to a rich, generous, mouth-filling finish with an earthy, savoury aftertaste. A wine to savour in a big glass. Certified organic.
13.5% alc. $37.95/$33.95.

Yalumba 'The Menzies' Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - Coonawarra, SA
A densely coloured wine with a red-black core and fading pink-red rims. Rather spiritous on the nose at first, reminding me of prunes macerated in port together with sweet vanillin oak, a hint of eucalypt and a barnyard nuance. In the palate dry grippy tannins are balanced by rich, currant-like fruit flavours and sweet oak with an earthy, savoury, smokiness to the finish. An early-maturing vintage. Ready now.
14% alc. $39.95/$19.95.

Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 - Puente Alto, Maipo Valley, Chile
Densely coloured with a dense black garnet core and bright brown-red rims. Unfortunately the initial stinky, dungy, oily, tarry aroma was quite off-putting to many and descriptors of "Rotorua", "rotten eggs", "chicken shit" and "burnt rubber" echoed around the room. Hydrogen sulphide is the culprit. Initially this carried through to the palate but H2S eventually dissipates so if you can get past it you will discover a juicy, savoury, meaty, gamey wine with firm velvety tannins, vanillin oak, a chocolatey note to the finish and a long savoury aftertaste. A quite youthful wine (for its age), it just needs time in the glass.
13.5% alc. $46.95/$41.95.

Matariki Reserve Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
A deep, dense red with a youthful appearance. Savoury and tarry on the nose, sweet oak, primary fruit in the plum and cherry spectrum, hints of cassis and a touch of menthol, big grunty tannins that have a silky nature and a slightly savoury, barnyard aftertaste that at this stage of its life overpowers the chocolatey finish. A serious Bordeaux-influenced style with lots of 'new world' appeal but needs time to let the tannins unfold.
13% alc. $41.95/$36.95.

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Shiraz 2002 - Barossa Valley, SA
Dense youthful black-red, with lighter black-red rims. A little jammy smelling on the nose with smoke, mocha and spices, lots of sweet fruit in the palate, chocolate raisins, spice and an oaky, smoky, almost burnt jam character to the finish. Nevertheless it is big, ripe, juicy and power-packed for the price.
15.2% alc. $18.95/$15.95.

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2002 - Sonoma Valley, California
Dark red. Smoky chocolatey oak and spicy, stewed prune aromas, not as porty smelling as some Zins. Ripe and rounded in the palate with good tannins, sweet berry fruit, vanillin oak, spices and a touch of chocolate while fruit cake lingers on the finish. Big, full-bodied and meaty, yet beautifully balanced with the fruit and tannins soaking up the alcohol, thus easy to drink.
15.2% alc. $47.95/$42.95.

Chateau Suduiraut 2001 - Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
Golden yellow. Delicate aromatics, smoky and waxy with hokey-pokey and a fusel (diesel) character that carries through to the palate. Beautifully textured, not overly viscous, with a seemingly dry finish, but this is a sweet wine with delicate spices, white honey, candied orange peel and a spiced, sweet-biscuit aftertaste. A beautifully balanced wine, a treat to taste. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
13.5% alc. $175.00/$155.00.

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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