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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

February 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 - 23rd February 2005
Mostly Under $20 Wines and some Stunning Syrahs
All wines were tasted blind.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Crisp and lemony with an oily texture, a creamy richness, a lightly caramel finish and a melon and fruit salad aftertaste. A nicely balanced easy going style that shows the quality of the vintage.
13.5% alc. $16.95. Screwcap.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2003
Light gold in colour with a fruity aroma and a creamy textured palate with melon, stonefruit, a touch of hokey pokey and caramel in a lightly toasty malo style. Drinkable, friendly and fattening up nicely.
14% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
A pale straw colour introduces this toasty sweaty pungent sauvignon blanc that is full of sensational lime, nectarine, tropical fruit and gooseberry flavours wrapped in spicy citrus peel with a 10 minute aftertaste. Crisp, fresh, classy sauv blanc in the unique Kiwi style. Steve Pyne called this a CPR wine, it would bring anyone back to life.
13.5% alc. $16.95. Screwcap.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2004 – Clare Valley
Delicate tropical fruit and citrussy flavours, seemingly quite light when tasted straight after a pungent savvy but it builds on the palate with its fleshy ripe fruit and oily texture. Quite dry with lots of mouth suckering acidity and a floral finish, it has terrific cellaring potential but in a situation where you serve food with a wedge of lemon, this is the wine to have even now.
13% alc. $25.95. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Gewurztraminer 2004 – Hawkes Bay
Pungently aromatic with clove dominated spices and Turkish Delight, the palate is just as intense with its musky rose petal flavours. Ripe with low acid and a touch of sweetness, it is lifted and clean with a smooth texture, a floral spicy citrussy aftertaste and a terrifically long palate pleasing finish. It’s an absolute bargain to boot.
13% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Trentham Estate Petit Verdot 2003 – Trentham Cliffs, New South Wales
Crimson red, dense in its appearance, it tantalises with chocolate, smoky oak and luscious berries aromas and smooth, tasty, bright red fruits, spice and creamy oak. Soft, juicy, spicy and smoky with plenty of voluptuous body and a touch of savouriness on the finish, this is a delicious, rounded, crowd pleasing style.
13.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.

Deen de Bortoli Vat 4 Petit Verdot 2003 – Riverina, New South Wales
The inky red-black colour and the menthol on the nose together with chocolate and smoke immediately whisks one to Australia. Quite savoury and tarry in the palate with wonderfully juicy plum and berry fruit on a spicy oak backbone with smooth tannins and a smoky savouriness, this beautifully ripe and balanced drop is far more sophisticated than the bargain price would suggest. Number One in Cuisine's Under $20 tasting.
14% alc. $13.95.

Hardy's Oomoo McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003
Blackberry red with lots of smoky nuances on the nose and soft, juicy savoury flavours balancing the copious amounts of succulent blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with chocolate, spice and sweet vanillin oak. A densely textured, appealing juicy style that tastes much more expensive than it is.
14% alc. $15.95.

Mills Reef Reserve Syrah 2003 – Hawkes Bay
Deep inky red with characteristic peppery spice that covers the whole range of multi-coloured gourmet peppercorns with hints of rose petal, a touch of leather, velvety tannins, chocolate and red fruits. Nicely structured with smoky savoury oak, good acidity, a mouthfilling ripe-fruited finish and a creamy aftertaste, this wine has it all. It is young now but has a bright future and shows what Syrah can do in a vintage that was considered difficult for the Bordeaux variety reds.
13% alc. $18.95. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Elspeth Syrah 2002 – Hawkes Bay
A fine textured blackberry hue introduces this outstanding New Zealand syrah that has wonderfully pristine aromatics of black pepper, red berries and vanillin oak. Immediately spicy and peppery in the palate with firm robust tannins equilibrated by voluptuous red fruits that soften the tannins' grippiness and a savoury connotation amongst the liquorice, rose pepper and creamy chocolatey oak that adds a delicious intrigue to the excellent mouthfilling, lingering finish. 14% alc. $40.95.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2002 – Hawkes Bay
Wonderfully seductive aromas of creamy oak, rose pepper and blackberries lead into this dense black-red coloured thick, rich, mouthfilling, velvety textured wine. Deliciously ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit with wild herb influences to the gamey tarry savouriness and a liqueur-like factor in its delivery across the palate. Beautifully balanced and seamless with an incredible finish and a wonderful chocolate mocha aftertaste. 14% alc. $84.95.

Sileni EV Pourriture Noble Semillon 2004 – Hawkes Bay
A clear light gold colour with honeysuckle, citrus and jasmine tea on the nose and spicy citrus peel, honey and tropical fruit in the palate. A medium bodied sweet wine, not overly viscous in its honeyed texture, with a delicate botrytis influence, soft acidity and a fresh pineapple fruit salad finish. A fresh, clean palate cleanser with a bright fruity aftertaste.
10% alc. $29.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 16th February 2005
Classic Australian Wine Styles
All wines were tasted blind.

Kirrihill Companions Chardonnay 2003
Light gold in colour but quite rich and fat in the palate with a toastiness to the tangy, citrussy, smoky, savoury flavours that flow on a creamy buttery texture. A kick of acid on the spicy finish adds lift and life to the smooth, juicy and mouthfilling wine. A slightly different blend to the previous cuvee and a steal at the price.
13.9% alc. $16.95/13.95. Screwcap.

McWilliams Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon 2000
Bright clear gold with a honeyed aroma and a creamy, silky texture. Warm, rich and mouthfilling with good acidity and slightly peachy flavours with lemongrass, lanolin, a little cut grass, pea pods and a floral note to the finish. Buttery with crisp acid and still developing, though it already has layers of flavour and though it has seen no oak it has a mouthfilling toastiness as it lingers.
11.5% alc. $21.95/18.95.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chard 2003
Light gold in colour, creamy nutty oak and tantalising tropical fruit on nose then rich toasty oak, melon and ripe peach in the palate. An upfront punchy style, full of flavour with terrific balance, great length and a long flavoursome aftertaste that lingers with an amalgam of ripe juicy fruit and spicy oak.
14% alc. $38.95/34.95.

Petaluma Piccadilly Chardonnay 2002 – Adelaide Hills
Bright gold with a smoky biscuity nose and full-on rich, toasty flavours with fantastic fruit weight, a fat creamy texture and a rich mealy flavour building to a super long finish. Seemingly elegant with its seamless flow, toasty oak and malo come into play with a touch of melon and a savoury aftertaste to the long, powerful finish. If you were once a Petaluma fan but have been disappointed by some of the chardonnays of late, this is totally back to form.
13.8% alc. $38.95/34.95.

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2004 – Clare Valley
Medium straw gold, quite intense in colour for such a youthful wine. Aromas of freshly squeezed lime juice with a hint of pineapple adding a tropical nuance and juicy flavours with granny smith apple and lime dominating the primary fruit and a citrussy earthiness coming through the zestiness. Fresh & youthful with searing acidity but so beautifully balanced with phenomenal length, wonderful purity & persistence. The ultimate of dry Rieslings, amazingly approachable already but a wine that will easily cellar for 20 years.
13% alc. $49.95/43.95. Screwcap.

Rosemount Show Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Dense and inky red black with purple rims and appealing red wine aromas of cherries, black plums, cassis, spice and subtle leather with a Christmas cake overtone. Rich jammy fruit in the palate with huge velvety tannins, a touch of chocolate, spicy oak and good acidity that carries the lingering sweet plum & cassis fruit. Richly textured, long & full, a lovely cool climate Coonawarra Cab.
14% alc. $24.95/19.95.

Gramps Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2002
Bright black red with ruby rims, chocolate and mocha on the nose and rich bright fruit in the palate with classically varietal blackcurrant and plum. A big wine with big tannins and rich, powerful fruit melding together beautifully with the chocolate and mocha oak coming through to linger on the creamy influenced finish. A huge wine that is ready to drink now.
14.5% alc. $20.95/17.95.

Noon Eclipse Grenache Shiraz 2003
Inky red black with bright crimson rims, creamy oak and bright red berry fruit aromas and rich concentrated, sweetish flavours. A not-for-the-faint-hearted high alcohol wine laced with exotic anise-like spices and raspberry liquorice over raisins and stewed Black Doris plums with a creamy brie-like backbone, dense lush tannins and a juicy mouthfilling finish, with more liquorice and just a touch of menthol as it lingers. An amazingly concentrated red from incredibly low yielding 60-70 old vines that produced 50% less than normal in the 2003 vintage due to drought. A true collectors wine.
15.5% alc. $59.95/52.95.

Leasingham Bin 61 Shiraz 2002
A big inky black red wine reeking of smoky oak infused with dark roasted mocha, distance bush fires, leather and tar. A wine of the earth, the French would say 'terroir', savoury rather than sweet fruit dominant with wonderful cool climate characters alongside the pepper, blackberry and mint then the classic South Australian Shiraz sweetness comes through on the finish with mouthfilling deliciousness on the lingering aftertaste. Very impressive.
13.5% alc. $25.95/19.95.

Tim Gramp McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
Deep inky red with sumptuous aromas and wonderfully balanced, delicious mouthfilling flavours of liquid chocolate and vanillin oak with just a hint of coconut. Smooth, voluptuous, flowing wine with lovely richness and balance and beautifully integrated plum and berry fruit with exotic spices and rose pepper adding intrigue. Delicious. A wine to savour and remember. 26 months in oak.
14.5% alc. $34.95/29.95.

De Bortoli Noble One Semillon 2002
Rich and golden bright in its gemmy appearance with intense orange honey aromas and luscious, nectar-like, sweet fruit flavours balanced by wonderful citrussy acidity with beeswax and floral nuances, a slightly kero influence on the back palate and a toastiness to the beautifully balanced intense lingering finish.
11.5% alc. $32.95/28.95.

Campbells Liqueur Muscat
Amber orange gold coloured, with rich Muscat grape and spicy mellow oak aromas and salty Muscat raisin flavours that become like melted down Christmas Cake in a glass. A wonderful mellow wine with a warm spiritous intensity that flows across the palate so beautifully with incredible flavour and richness, leaving on the aftertaste a savouring warmth just a touch of orange peel and clove as its lingers.
17.5% alc. $25.95/21.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 9th February 2005
Mostly Riesling . . . . but not totally
All wines were tasted blind.

Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2004
Quite racy and fresh with lime peel on the nose, citrus, lime and a hint of pineapple in the palate, an oily texture, good weight and a slightly talcy dryish finish. There's a touch of ginger as it lingers and good length.
13% alc. $20.95. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
Smoky oak aromas with creamy nuances and a hint of hokey pokey lead into a smooth, silky palate with toasty tropical fruit, beautifully integrated smoky oak and a fresh, tangy, fruity finish. There's a warmth to the wine and lingering citrus and apricot.
13.5% alc. $17.95 special. Screwcap.

Seifried Nelson Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2002
There's some development and complexity to the fragrant, toasty oak aromas of this bright, citrine-hued wine with lots of mouthfilling, rich, creamy buttery oak flavours good citrus acidity, toasty stonefruit, hints of grapefruit on the long full finish and cinnamon on the spicy aftertaste. A big oaky Kingsley style, for sure.
14.5% alc. $26.95. Screwcap.

Grosset Watervale Riesling 2004 – Clare Valley, South Australia
Delicate floral aromas and delicate on entry to the palate, this dry, pale coloured wine builds in power to a fabulously long finish. Even though ultra dry it is beautifully balanced by juicy ripe fruit with flowers, limes, lemon honey, gingery spice, some citrus infused apple and a pleasing tartness to the finish. Refreshing and clean with a fantastically long aftertaste.
13% alc. $47.95. Screwcap.

Taylors Jaraman Clare/Eden Valley Riesling 2002
A straw gold hue lights up the clear clean colour and the dry, limey, floral aromatics have a light fusel character too. Rich and ripe in the palate with some development, lovely palate weight, a hint of toastiness, a squeeze of lemon and lovely honeyed florals to the finish, this is dry, but ripe, with excellent length.
12.5% alc. $35.95. Screwcap.

Corbans Private Bin Amberley Riesling 2002
A ripe, juicy style with mandarin rather than lemon on the lovely citrus backbone and just a touch of honey. There's a little development with some toastiness creeping in, softer acids and riper tropical fruit with honeysuckle and apples lingering beautifully on the finish. With its off dry flavours this will have universal appeal.
11.5% alc. $19.95.

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2003 - MSR
Watery pale and alluringly aromatic with flowers and honeyed citrus peel. Tart and spritzy in the palate with racy citrus and delicate flavours of citrus peel, honeysuckle, fizzy fruit lollies, lime, tropical fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice. Just a hint of a fusel character on the finish too. Wonderful acidity with balanced perfection of sugar, it seems dry but you know deep down that it isn’t.
8% alc. $30.95.

Muddy Water Unplugged Riesling 2004 - Waipara
A big, ripe, powerful style. Earthy, a little funky and laced with botrytis that gives a sweet finish, yet tart and bracing at the same time. Lots of citrus, hints of apricot and a long, lingering aftertaste. Utterly interesting but not what you would think of as classical Riesling.
50g/L rs. 13% alc. $24.95. Screwcap.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2002
Bright, deep garnet red. Chocolate and cherries on the nose and chocolate and cherries in the palate together with cherry guavas. Smooth and creamy in texture with smoky spicy oak, lovely savoury complexities, a hint of tar and a herb infusion. Deliciously drinkable with a great finish and lingering aftertaste . Everything I like in Pinot Noir. Winestate Pinot Noir of the Year.
14.5% alc. $38.95.

Carrick Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2002
A big gutsy style of pinot noir with massive colour and structure, deeply scented earthy, herb and floral aromatics and rich, ripe flavours. Savoury and feral with earthy traits, silky tannins, good acidity, peppery spice, strawberry and cherry fruit and a liquoricy, vanilla bean finish. A grunter of a pinot with an underlying delicacy that makes it so delicious.
14% alc. $38.95.

Brokenwood Cricket Pitch 2002
A multi-region blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz from Beechworth, McLaren Vale and Padthaway. Deep red colour with slightly tawny edges. Smoke, leather and subtle strawberry on the nose and crammed with spice in the palate with sweet jellied fruit, fragrant oak, gutsy tannins and cigar smoke on the finish. A big, rich, smooth, juicy, drink now style with lots of fruit sweetness, it is good on its own or simply with a creamy cheddar.
14% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Shiraz 2003 - South Australia
So youthful in appearance with its inky black red colour that is laced with crimson. Beautifully fragrant with violets and rose petals amongst the spicy oak aromas, then in the palate with its super fine tannin structure it is gorgeous from the outset. Plums, cherries, spice box, pepper, liquorice, smoke and cedar. So much going on. Amazing value for the price.
13.5% alc. $15.95 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2nd February 2005
Fresh and Fruity Vs Aging Gracefully
All wines were tasted blind.

Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Vivacious straw coloured Sauvignon Blanc with pungent gooseberry and citrus aromas and a toasty palate with mouthfilling grass, gooseberry, apples and tropical fruit. Beautifully fresh, long and tasty.
13% alc. $15.95  special. Screwcap.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Creamy textured, wild yeast influenced with nice development though not at all peasy with toasty oak and caramel adding a softness to the pear, stone and tropical fruit. Well made and nicely balanced with good fruit and good acidity coming through on finish. One of the better oak-aged styles of Sauvignon Blanc and possibly the best Te Koko to date.
13.5% alc. $33.95.

Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
This is a cruisy little fresh and fruity pale gold number with ripe peach, melon and tropical fruit on a lovely creamy texture with integrated but subtle toasty oak and a spicy pineapple aftertaste. Lovely balance, good length and great drinking at the price.
13.5% alc. $12.95 special.

Morton Estate Black Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2000
A big golden wine with toasty, mealy aromas of nuts, figs and polished spicy oak. Rich and rounded with good weight and depth, lots of toasty oak, good acidity, ripe melon and oven poached stonefruit and a delicious savouriness to the finish. Mouth filling and long with all the bells and whistles.
14% alc. $35.95.

Akarua 'The Gullies' Pinot Noir 2003 - Bannockburn, Central Otago
Bright, clean, translucent garnet red with a pinkiness to the hue. Earthy, slightly oily aroma with hints of cherry and musk. Silky textured in the palate with smoky oak and sweet fruit, good acidity and a warm finish with herbs and spices lingering. A medium weight pinot with sweet fruit nicely balancing the savouriness, delicious to 'drink now'.
Cuisine Top 10. 14% alc. $33.95. Screwcap.

Kaituna Valley Canterbury Pinot Noir 2000
More developed in colour with fading reds to the more opaque black garnet colour. Slightly porty on the nose like cherries steeped in liqueur or port and developed characters in the palate with strawberry jam, sweet cherries, currants, leather, some old Christmas cake and spicy French oak that is well integrated into the fruit. Then on the finish that intrinsic pinot savouriness emerges to linger nicely.
Double gold medal winner.
13.7% alc. $48.95.

Torres Coronas 2001 - Penedes, Spain
An intriguing combo of sweet redcurrant fruit and smoky savoury oak with good lifted acidity, firm fruit tannins and an underlying earthiness that makes me think Europe. Cherry red colour, juicy fruit, good structure, smoky oak and a herbal tinge to the finish. Nice development and very palatable.  A blend of 86% Tempranillo and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon.
13% alc. $19.95.

Armantes Old Bush Vine Garnacha 2003 - Calatayud, Spain
Dense bright red black with youthful pinky red rims. It smells youthful with its aromatic, floral, fruity slightly peppery aromas and backs that suggestion up with noticeable acidity in the primary berry and cherry fruit that is nicely balanced to the mocha and vanillin oak and big meaty tannins. Warm and juicy with a long, pepper spice, smoky oak finish, once you know it is grenache, it makes sense. A great wine for a BBQ this summer.
14.5% alc. $17.95.

Orlando St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Silky looking inky blackish red with some development to the fading red rims. Undoubtably Aussie with its sweet oak, ripe berry and mint chocolate aromas, there is some development to the taste though the colour belies this. Rich and spicy, with succulent blackberry fruit, grainy tannins, vanillin oak and violets, then more savoury plum and currant fruit, leather, tar and a meaty richness to the finish. A full-bodied, rich, concentrated red with plenty of life still ahead of it.
13.5% alc. $41.95.

Serafino McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Dark black red with pinky black red rims. More youthful primary fruit and creamy vanillin oak on the nose and all over much cleaner and fresher with juicy blackcurrant and blackberry, spicy sweet oak, tar, a hint of bitter chocolate and just a hint of mint on the finish. A delicious beautifully structured wine but the youthful biscuity tannins could really evolve to make it even more delicious. Winestate Cabernet of the Year.
14% alc. $19.95 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2003
Purple black with crimson rims. Jammy smelling with sweet fruit and cracked rose pepper, creamy textured and jammed pack full of juicy berry fruit with beautiful spicy characters, savoury oak and young grippy tannins. Long and succulent with a mintiness to the lifted finish and lots of pepper as it lingers. A huge big dark juicy fruit bomb.
14.5% alc. $18.95 special.

Robertson's Well Coonawarra Shiraz 1998
Deep black garnet with faded watery red rims and smoky, distant bush fire aromas. Well-rounded, mellow and integrated with soft smooth tannins, sweet currant fruit, spearmint, spice, a little leather and a savouriness coming through on the finish but the sweetness and succulence of the delicious, ripe, spicy plum fruit together with sweet vanillin oak is what takes over the terrific lingering finish.
14% alc. $N/A

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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