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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

August 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 - 24th August 2005
Trivia Evening
Wines were tasted blind and in a loose Wine Options style, there were questions on wine, sport, pop music and other non-vinous topics. A fun night.

Te Awa Longlands Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Citrus on the nose with nutty oak, peachy fruit and more citrus coming through the mealy, nutty backbone overlain with warm butter and a long toasty finish.
13% alc. $15.95 special. Screwcap.

Lurton Les Salices Viogner - Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Fragrantly scented with citrus, tropical fruit and passionfruit carrying through to the palate to be joined by apricot, vanilla, nutmeg and musk. It's fresh and clean with mellow acidity, lovely flow and a long, fragrant, lifted finish. Quite New World in style, I rate this very highly.
13% alc. $21.95.

Howard Park Chardonnay 2003 - Western Australia
Oak-infused, citrus aromas, warm and viscous, toasty and hot in the palate, the oak initially masks the shy melon and grilled pineapple fruit, there's plenty of mouthfilling mid-palate richness with a touch of lanolin and the long full-bodied finish is dry and flinty. Serve in a big glass at this stage of its life to let the wine open up.
13.5% alc. $43.95. Screwcap.

Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Bright gold coloured with stonefruits and integrated honeyed oak on the nose and a luscious flavour full of concentrated fruit and toasty oak with a reasonable whack of alcohol that gives a rich, glycerolic mouthfeel, and a long, mouthfilling, creamy finish. Superb.
14.5% alc. $20.95. Screwcap.

Millton Opou Vineyard Riesling 2004 - Gisborne
Light straw coloured, fragrant and floral smelling with honeysuckle and lime blossom paving the way for the luscious, sweetish palate laden with limes, lemon honey, marmalade, ginger and apples. Beautiful balanced with a juicy, refreshing finish. Evidently the back label says honey and butterscotch. I found the honey but I'm not so sure about the butterscotch. 30.6 grams per litre residual sugar.
9.5% alc. $22.95. Screwcap.

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2002 - Nelson
Showing a little age in its fading guava-red colour, this smells quite sumptuous with its rich, earthy, woody, forest floor aromas and mouthfilling flavours full of earthy cedar notes with hints of chocolate, black cherries, winter herbs and the peacock's tail flare on the finish. Dry with silky tannins and a lingering vinous sweetness that lasts for ages, it deserves every rap it gets.
14% alc. $64.95/$57.95. Screwcap.

Gramps Grenache 2002 - Barossa Valley, S.A. Deep red-black. Porty with rich berry fruit aromas, liquorice, black cherries and raspberries, soft juicy tannins, mocha then blackcurrant and boysenberries - a touch of spice on the finish and slightly tarry, vanillin oak lingering. A bit of a fruit bomb but lusciously so.
14.5% alc. $17.95.

Yering Station Shiraz / Viognier 2003 - Yarra Valley, Vic
Inky shiny blackberry in colour. Chocolate, plums, leathery tannins, spice and red fruits make it a little reminiscent of fruit cake with a touch of vanilla and tobacco on the finish - simply stated this is big, black, plummy and juicy with mouthfilling fruit and a savoury oak aftertaste. A savoury departure from the typical Aussie Shiraz style.
14% alc. $24.95. Screwcap.

Tim Gramp Shiraz 2002 - McLaren Vale, S.A.
Deep red-black with a forest of coconut oak and berry fruit on the nose leading into a lusciously flavoured mouthfilling palate. There's lots of oak - grainy oak, biscuity oak with shrewsbury biscuits, plums, currants, chocolate and liquorice with beautifully integrated fine tannins, warming alcohol and a spicy, nutmeg-infused, dark, savoury oak finish.
14.5% alc. $30.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17th August 2005
Cuisine Magazine Top 10 Reds and Others
Wines were tasted blind.

Mitchelton Preece Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Goulburn & King Valley, Victoria
Plummy red with vanilla-laced berry aromas and mocha-laced red berry flavours, and although it seems a little jammy and simple at first - especially as it is the first tipple of the evening - it becomes more complex with a savoury chocolate richness to the spicy oak finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $13.95 special.

Katnook Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - Coonawarra
Dark red with a lightly herbal, slightly minty aroma leading into dark, brooding, earthy, savoury flavours with black plum-like fruit on a leathery backbone with sweeter vanillin oak and a hint of mint on the dry tannic finish. Tight at first, it opens up well in the glass and delivers value for the price.
13.5% alc. $17.95 special. Screwcap.

Red Knot Shiraz 2002 - McLaren Vale
A soft, juicy, youthful purple-black coloured wine with vanilla and black cherry aromas and jammy fruit-driven flavours with a creamy chocolate, liquorice and pepper on the finish. An easy drinker with lots of flavour. Gold New World Wine Awards.
14% alc. $12.95 special. Zork closure.

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Clare Valley / Coonawarra
Bright red-black, this is immediately appealing to Australian red wine lovers with its flamboyant aromas of coconut-like American oak mingling with mint and chocolate and mouthfilling spicy, peppery, sweet oaked, red liquorice and juicy red berry flavours, smooth ripe tannins and a long flavoursome finish. Very impressive. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
15% alc. $18.95 special.

Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2003 - Barossa Valley
Mint, dark chocolate, black plums, liquorice and vanillin oak on the nose lead into a brooding but succulent mouthful with rich grainy tannins on a huge creamy backbone with spicy red fruits coming through on the finish and a rose petal-like fragrance to the finish. Youthful with lots of tannins, it is starting to head into that grunter category. Very good. 4-1/2 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. $22.95.

Pepperjack Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Barossa Valley
A savoury, slightly earthy, leathery aroma tries to take over the sweeter vanillin oak and berry scents and it's the same in the mouth - tight, leathery and youthful. But eventually, with lots of swirling, liquorice, red and black fruits, currants, mocha and tar-like flavours emerge with a touch of mint on the spicy oak finish. A powerful wine with good length. 4-1/2 Stars Cuisine Magazine. Gold - New World Wine Awards.
14% alc. $18.95 special.

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2003 - Barossa Valley
Creamy, ripe and quite lifted in its aromas with toasty coconut oak, cherries and chocolate leading into a rich, succulently flavoured mouthful with classic Barossa flavours of 'Cherry Ripe' chocolate bars and spiced blackberries balanced by savoury, smoky oak with smooth rich tannins and a spicy, biscuity finish. A big black wine with the fruit to match - exactly what you want from Barossa shiraz. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
15% alc. $18.95 special.

Tyrell's Rufus Stone Shiraz 2003 - McLaren Vale
A little volatile on the nose at first with a smoky salami aroma and a slightly salty bite to the flavour. There's chocolate, tar and bitumen - where the rubber meets the road - a spicy mid-palate, beefy tannins, a savoury creamy finish and a cherry aftertaste. An interesting wine - not a classic up-and-down Aussie shiraz - but a little more Rhonish in some respects. 4-1/2 Stars Cuisine Magazine
14.5% alc. $24.95. Screwcap.

Sandalford Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Margaret River
The rich, fragrant aroma of mint, leather, cedar and violets in this deeply coloured wine prepares the palate for the concentrated blackcurrant and sweet oak flavours. Smooth on entry, with rich, powerful, slightly grippy tannins the wine has a fantastically long finish with lifted bright fruits, spicy cedar and violets lingering on the aftertaste. Delicious, but a hard one for wine options players as it seems so South Australian-like. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $35.95.

Orlando Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 - Coonawarra
Dense black in the centre of the glass but showing development to the colour with its fading blood-red rims. Aromatic, cedary, a little earthy and minty with tobacco, menthol, currants, grainy tannins and mocha coming through on the tarry, succulent aftertaste, it shows good development with a powerful, long finish. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $59.95.

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Immediately opulent, classy American oak on the nose - rich, concentrated and sumptuous, with mint, chocolate, plums, blackcurrants, cedar, tar and fine succulent tannins. Very tight and youthful at first but as it opens up in the glass it becomes quite creamy with Cabernet's classic violet nuances and cedar coming through to linger with mint, mocha and chocolate on the long, long finish.  Smooth, seamless and beautifully proportioned - a great Australian wine. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $157.00.

Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002
Inky black with youthful crimson hues. Mocha, tarry oak and ripe Shiraz fruit seduce the nose to prepare for the rich, opulent, almost liquerish flavours. Chocolate, cherries, juicy purple fruits, liquorice, tar and cedary French oak combine beautifully with rich, meaty tannins and lots of pepper-like spices to deliver a gorgeously long creamy finish with a nuance of rose-spice and violets. A powerful wine that is deceptive, because it really needs more time. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $157.00.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10th August 2005
All Brand New
Wines were tasted blind.

Lake Chalice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Pungent, racy, leap-out-of-the-glass aromas and vibrantly fresh flavours of juicy gooseberries with limes, melon and passionfruit lingering on the ripe fruited finish. An impressive new vintage savvie that immediately captures your attention.
13% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Sweaty characters on the nose characterise this dry, fresh, racy, herbaceous style with green bean and capsicum over gooseberry with plenty of limey citrus on the rich, pungent finish.
13% alc. $18.95. Screwcap.

Bilancia Pinot Grigio 2005 - Hawkes Bay
The fairly neutral, slightly yeasty aromas belie the mouth-filling, creamy textured flavours of peaches and melon with a hint of passionfruit and pears on the spicy, slightly nutty finish. Reminiscent of a fruity unoaked chardonnay at this early stage of its life - given time the aromatics will evolve.
14% alc. $25.95. Screwcap.

Vavasour Pinot Gris 2004 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough
Pale coloured, quite neutral on the nose and neutral in the palate too with an oily textured nutty backbone, pear and apple fruit, lemony citrus mid-palate, and a warm, spicy but fairly short finish. Clean, but neutral - made to go with food.
13.5% alc. $25.95. Screwcap.

Vidal Hawke's Bay Viognier 2004
Fragrant, lightly floral, with a nuance of herb and the slightest suggestion of toastiness, this soft wine is fresh and ripe with a slightly oily texture, a hint of black jelly bean (anise), delicate apricot-like fruit, hints of oak and a mealy richness to the long, creamy finish. Beautifully balanced with lovely mouthfeel.
13.5% alc. $36.95. Screwcap.

Coopers Creek Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2004
Light gold in colour with creamy, toasty oak aromas and the vibrancy of youthful, fruit-driven chardonnay in the palate. There's good definition of peachy fruit and buttery vanillin oak with a lingering creamy finish and a savoury, spicy aftertaste.
14% alc. $16.95. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Chardonnay 2004
Yeasty, mealy, barrel-derived aromas. Citrus initially dominates the leesy, mealy, creamy, biscuity flavour with polished French oak, a warm creamy texture, lots of savoury spice coming through on the finish and mouthfilling stonefruit on the aftertaste. This wine needs a big glass to let it open up because the potential is there - it just needs a little more time. One for the cellar.
14% alc. $29.95. Screwcap.

Sleeping Dogs Pinot Noir 2004
Dense ruby red, youthful. Richly flavoured with succulent cherries and black fruits overlain with anise and chocolate with smoky herbal oak providing a savoury backbone with grainy tannins and an earthiness coming through on the spicy finish. Very alluring and immediately appealing.
Central Otago, 13.5% alc. $27.95. Screwcap.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
Deep in colour and rich in flavour, this earthy smelling wine has red cherries pushing through the dirt. Soft and silky textured with strawberry fruit, creamy oak and a warm ripe finish, savoury herbs emerge to linger on the finish, reminding you this ripe, lush, gutsy wine is really Pinot.
14.5% alc. $38.95.

Te Awa Longlands Cabernet Merlot 2002
Dense black-red in colour with an earthy, tarry, smoky savoury aroma, grippy biscuity tannins, jammy red fruits, lots and lots of tar, bitumen, leather and smoke and a dry finish. Very European in style.
Hawke's Bay, 13% alc. $14.95.

Petaluma Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2002
There's a lifted perfume hovering above the sweetly scented vanillin oak in this beautifully crafted, impeccably balanced wine with sweet oak, spicy red fruits, chocolate, liquorice, mocha, red fruits, well-structured silky tannins and a fragrance to the long, lifted finish with a creamy chocolatey aftertaste. A serious wine with terrific density of warm red colour, but deceptively easy to drink. Co-fermented with 5% Viogner. Twenty months in French oak.
14% alc. $37.95.

Killikanoon Covenant Shiraz 2002 - Clare Valley
Inky red black with enticing aromas of eucalypt, mint and menthol over creamy tarry oak leading into a warm, sumptuous mouthful of spicy blackberry fruit, chocolate, liquorice and pepper with succulent silky tannins and dark sultry oak carrying the chocolatey finish. Layers and layers of flavour. A grunter in the nicest possible way. Matured in French and American oak.
14.5% alc. $51.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 3rd August 2005
Kingsley's Choice plus St Hallett
Only the first seven wines were tasted blind. The St Hallett wines were not as they were presented by Stuart Blackwell from St Hallett, the winemaker for whom the sumptuous St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz is named after.

Te Awa Longlands Chardonnay 2004
Light gold coloured with fresh peach flavours in a medium-weight package with a bright mealy finish and a rich, oaky aftertaste.
13% alc. $15.95 special.

Shepherd's Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Bright gold coloured with bright, spicy flavours backed up by creamy oak, melon, stonefruit and tropical fruit acidity to carry the mealy, butterscotch finish. Developing some nice aged characters and drinking well now.
14% alc. $15.95 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
A full-boded savoury, mealy, nutty wine with upfront butterscotch, honeyed oak, peaches and cream - lovely mouthfeel with lots of citrus emerging to linger on the long, spicy finish.
14% alc. $17.95.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Chardonnay 2002
Very appealing with a rich golden colour, a captivating nutty oak aroma and a rich, full-bodied, creamy palate crammed with vanilla, stone fruit, nougat and caramel. Very smooth with a thick luscious texture and spicy oak lingering on the finish that goes on and on. Delicious right now and a favourite on the night.
14% alc. $26.95 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waldron Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
A rich, mealy, barrel-fermented wine with smoky toasty oak, a sweetish mid palate, ripe juicy fruit and a creamy finish. Sophisticated and classy with good acidity, a spicy mealiness and an apricot and cream aftertaste.
14% alc. $36.95.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2000.
An older wine showing its age with a deep golden colour and a developed mealy flavour over spicy oak infused with nutmeg. But there's still some terrific golden peach-like fruit and the combo of rich, fruit, oak and alcohol builds to a full-bodied, creamy, butter-caramel finish. A big wine that is ready to drink now.
14% alc. $35.95.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2003 - Loire Valley, France
Floral smelling with scents of apple and citrus blossom leads toto a seemingly dryish palate with apple, honey and citrus with an earthy, grainy texture but this weighty wine is off-dry and the finish is long, rich, powerful and long-lasting.
100% Chenin Blanc
13% alc. $35.95.

St Hallet Gamekeeper's Reserve 2003 - Barossa Valley
Dark cherry red with smoky, slightly tarry, dry, herbal tobacco aromas leading into a fruit-driven mouthful full of raspberry, plums and blueberries with no influence of oak, a creamy finish and a floral nuance like old roses coming forth on the lifted aftertaste. Made from a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre and Touriga Nacional grapes.
14.5% alc. $14.95

St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2003 - Barossa Valley
Rich bright black-red with crimson edges, appealing chocolate aromas and juicy cherry/berry fruit with lively acidity, grainy tannins, spice, pepper, liquorice and a mouthwatering juicy finish all in a voluptuous, creamy American oak package.
14.5% alc. $24.95.

St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2002- Barossa Valley
Inky, shiny black-red with opulent sweet oak and grated chocolate aromas leading into full-bodied, succulent flavours of black cherry and blackberry fruit, biscuits, chocolate liqueur, pepper, liquorice and smoky oak with a rich, ripe tannin structure and a sweet/spicy savouriness on the long succulent finish. A powerful, brooding wine that should be decanted at this stage of its life to make the most of this delicious taste experience. 60% of the fruit came from old vines.
14.5% alc. $33.95.

St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2001 - Barossa Valley
Dense blackberry red coloured with crimson hues, spicy aromas infused with plums and chocolatey oak, and intense and concentrated flavours of cedary/savoury oak, creamy dark chocolate, cherry and plum fruits and an array of spices like nutmeg, pepper and liquorice. A beautifully crafted wine underpinned by rich, ripe, finely textured tannins - every mouthful introduces new layers of complexity to the long succulent finish.
14.5% alc. $56.95.

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.

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Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

Other 2005 Tastings
January 2005 tasting notes.
February 2005 tasting notes.
March 2005 tasting notes.
April 2005 tasting notes.
May 2005 tasting notes.
June 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
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September 2005 tasting notes.
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