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

January 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 www.first-glass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 26th January 2005
The Summer Series
All wines were tasted blind. The white wines were seved chilled.

Morton Estate Blanc de Blanc 1999 - Marlborough
Pale straw with bready aromas and a dry, fresh palate with good acidity. Marmite on bread and hints of stonefruit come through the slightly oxidative, strong yeast lees characters, which are simply fine for a wine of this style, and the finish is long, creamy and toasty with a dry yeast savoury finish. An excellent New Zealand sparking wine that makes an affordable Champagne substitute.
12% alc. $32.95/28.95.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Chardonnay 2002 Hawkes Bay
Toasty, mealy, rich and ripe with good fruit definition in the stonefruit, apricot, pineapple spectrum, obvious but well balanced acidity, a suede-like slightly grainy texture and a leesy, malolactic influence throughout. The rich toasty flavours lead into a sweet fruit finish and a long savoury aftertaste. A very stylish wine.
14% alc. $30.95/26.95.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Seddon Vineyard Riesling 2002 - Marlborough
The delicate floral, talc and citrus zest aromas don't really prepare you for the powerful flavours that are crammed with lime, grapefruit zest and fleshy stonefruit with a touch of honey, a smooth flowing texture, a lovely acidic backbone and a sherbet spritziness coming through on the finish. Dry and refreshing with excellent varietal expression and some nice bottle age character. Champion Riesling, Air NZ Wine Awards 2004.
12.5% alc. $21.95/18.95. Screwcap.

Wairau River Pinot Gris 2004 - Marlborough
Floral with a light musky scent over ripe fleshy pears, the low acidity and powerful fruit makes it seem quite sweet, almost heading to dessert wine category. Oily textured with abundant flavours of pear, spice and a floral muskiness on the mouthfilling finish, it is heading towards the Gewurztraminer end of the Pinot Gris spectrum. A well-liked wine. And for the record Kingsley said "This is pretty good Pinot Gris".
23 grams residual sugar. 14% alc. $19.95/16.95. Screwcap.

Brown Brothers Spatlese Lexia 2004 Victoria, Australia
Forthcoming aromatics of orange blossom with a delicate exotic spiciness. Mellow and sweet to the taste with a ton of fresh muscat grape flavour embellished with pineapple, marmalade and honey. Beautifully balanced with mouthfilling length and a luscious aftertaste, very reminiscent of gewurz with its aromas and musky spiciness. Made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes, this wine is best when thoroughly chilled and drunk on a very hot summer's day.
11% alc. $16.95/13.95.

Astrolabe Young Vines Pinot Noir 2003 - Marlborough
Medium weight purple crimson hues. Light, dry and fruity with a creamy oak influence, macerated strawberry and cherry fruit, a subtle suggestion of herb and lots of spicy oak on the slightly peppery finish. A nicely balanced, fruity style that is very approachable right now. Silver Medal.
13.5% alc. $27.95/24.95.

Casa de la Ermita Crianza 2001 Jumilia, Spain
A savoury 'Euro' smelling wine with some development to the garnet red colour and tasty flavours. Medium weight with fine grained tannins, leather, tar, liquorice, spice and subtle but ripe fruit, a dark smokiness to the savoury finish, just a touch of orange zest and vanillin oak lingering. A typically traditional Spanish style made from Tempranillo, Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
13.5% alc. $25.95/22.95.

Pikes Clare Valley Cabernet 2002 South Australia
Deep red-black. Powerful blackcurrant aromas with hints of eucalypt-menthol and leather, and a big opulent flavours chock-full of chocolate and blackcurrants, spicy sweet vanillin oak, tobacco and cigarbox. Slightly grainy in texture with chunky tannins, good balanced acidity and just a hint of menthol again on the lingering finish. A big wine, true to its variety, but bigger is to come.
14.5% alc. $29.95/25.95.

Hay Shed Hill Margaret River Shiraz 2001 Western Australia
Deep garnet red. Smoky mocha, coffee beans and ribena on the nose. Savoury at first with an earthy, tarry, vegemite undercurrent to the charry oak, then a burst of rich opulent blackcurrant and blackberry fruit that tries to tame the thick, mouthfilling tannins, and a fantastically long finish. Not overly spicy. Such a different style of Shiraz to what we are used to from the Barossa. Top 100 and Blue-gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition in the 'medium bodied' category
14.5% alc. $33.95/29.95.

Shelmerdine Heathcote Shiraz 2002 Victoria, Australia
Impressively black in colour, the 3% Viognier in the blend no doubt contributes to the brightness and intensity. This is a hugely tannic wine with ultra-ripe jammy fruit emitting port-like aromas that lead into concentrated black cherry fruit, plum and mulberry fruit with liquorice, tobacco, menthol, herbs, spices, leather and a toasty oak finish. The tannins seem to dissolve to leave a fineness on the smoky finish. The room was stunned with this fascinating flavour combination of super ripe fruit and cool climate Shiraz characters.
13.5% alc. $25.95/22.95.

Turkey Flat Barossa Shiraz 2002 South Australia
Inky black colour with bright red rims. Smoke and cigar box mingle with jammy blackberry fruit on the nose while the flavours in the mouth show incredible intensity, ripeness and balance with huge tannins, lots of peppery spice, hints of mocha, excellent fruit definition in the cherry, fruitcake plum spectrum, a powerful finish and wonderful length. But it is a crime of vinfanticide to drink this monumental wine at this stage of its life. 23 months in new and seasoned French and American oak. 97 points Halliday. 94 points Parker.
14.5% alc. $46.95/41.95.

Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
Bright lemon yellow. Sweet, clean and refreshing with jasmine tea, candied orange peel and pohutukawa honey on the nose, lovely clean citrus flavours, scintillating acidity that perfectly balances the sweetness and a smooth, honeyed texture. A great palate cleanser and red wine tannin remover. Suitable for a mid course sorbet, a sweet starter with a creamy pate, or to finish off a meal with fresh fruit or cheese. Champion Sweet Wine at the Air NZ Wine Awards 2004.
10% alc. $34.95/29.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19th January 2005
The Summer Series
All wines except one were tasted blind and the white wines were seved chilled.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
A big, golden, toasty smelling Chardonnay that tastes like hokey pokey ice cream on the first, second and third sips then fills the mouth with masses of ripe stonefruit, citrus and bold, spicy oak. A delicious starter wine and just the stuff for 5 o'clock drinks as well as later in the evening.
14% alc. $19.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

White Rock Wild Ferment Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
A light gold coloured, citrussy, wheaty smelling Chardonnay that is quite spicy with a lightly oily texture, savoury oak, plenty of acid and then caramel coming through on the long full, creamy, mealy finish. It has complexity and interest but it is desperately young and will benefit from a little more development in the bottle. Others smelt flowers and apricots and quite a few thought it Viognier when Kingsley played the options game.
13.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.

Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2004 - Auckland
A floral, fruity wine, light gold in colour with hints of honeysuckle on the nose and delectable stonefruit flavours reminiscent of nectarine, apricot and peach tinged with bright citrus that radiates a youthful freshness while a touch of residual sugar (7.5gms/L) gives a lusciousness to the spicy finish. A beautifully crafted wine and one of the most universally liked PG's ever at a First Glass tasting.
12.5% alc. $27.95/$24.95. Screwcap.

Chanson Mersault 2001 Pere et Fils Burgundy, France
Bright yellow gold, gemmy in appearance. Mealy, slightly honeyed lactic characters dominate the nose and the taste at first is savoury, steely, spicy; flinty rather than fruity, then white raisin and grapey flavours emerge and the palate becomes quite rich and rounded, delicious and moreish with a butterscotch flavour lingering. A totally different style to what we are used to. (Not tasted blind).
13% alc. $57.95/$49.95.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2003
Pale gold with citrussy aromas of lemon and lime prepping for the dry concentrated limey flavours with just a hint of kero to make you think Australia. A wine with good weight and complexity, gingery spices and terrific length held up by the fine acidity that will see this wine developing on for a few more years to come. Dry Rieslings often lack fruit but this is not one of them.
14% alc. $22.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Chard Farm Finla Mor Pinot Noir 2002 Central Otago
Good colour but not as dense as some of the 02 Pinots from Otago. Slightly earthy, wild mushroom, fruit of the forest scents and good depth of flavour with savoury gamey flavours over slightly smoky cherry and tart berry fruit, smooth tannins, the merest suggestion of chocolate and a long savoury liquorice tinged finish. The fruit lingers nicely and the aftertaste is warm and spicy. A dry wine that would be best accompanied with food.
13.5% alc. $39.95/$34.95. Screwcap.

Olssen's Slapjack Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2002
A more rounded pinot in every respect. Fabulously dense purple red colour, deep aromas and lovely savoury flavours overlain with wild Central Otago herbs, wine poached stonefruit, liquorice, anise, cherry and chocolate. Exceptional quality. The previous one needed food. This one is so smooth and beautifully balanced you can easily drink and enjoy it without, if you want to. Gold medal Liquorland Top 100
14% alc. $58.95/$51.95.

Beresford Highwood Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Inky red black colour, bitter chocolate and mocha on the nose, chocolate, cream and intense blackberry flavours in palate with mint, perhaps even some basil. Soft and juicy, easy to quaff, perfect for BBQ's, pizza and pasta and terrific quality with two gold medals to prove it.
14.5% alc. $16.95/$13.95. Screwcap.

Fox Creek Shadow's Run Shiraz/Cabernet 2002
Inky black red of bright intensity. Mint, vanilla and spicy oak aromas, bitter chocolate, plum and cherry flavours. Big, soft and jammy with fine tannins, lots of Shiraz spice and a long, ripe juicy finish. A very appealing wine with the outstanding quality expected from this producer but at such an affordable price.
14% alc. $18.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Peter Lehmann The Mentor 2000 - Barossa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon 79%, Malbec 10%, Merlot 6%
Menthol, cigar and 'throaties' lollies on the nose make for an intriguing aroma while the flavour is developing some lovely secondary, leathery characters with hints of barnyard alongside toasty French oak and blackcurrant jam. Silky tannins, beautifully integrated oak and a long fine finish with menthol and cigar lingering on the aftertaste, this is drinking beautifully now but still has life ahead of it. The top Cabernet from the Lehmann stable.
13% alc. $52.95/$39.95.

Willows Barossa Shiraz 2002
Here's a big, juicy wine that will make you weak at the knees and make you say words like 'Oh, yum' after you taste, savour, lick your lips and let this succulent wine take over your senses. Wonderful creamy oak aromas with an infusion of mocha, cherry and mint chocolate carry through to the beautifully structured meaty palate where sensational berry fruit combines with tobacco and cigar and builds to a fantastically long, spicy, savoury, toasty finish. Then that hallmark minty character of the Willows wines, lingers on and on. A new vintage of a legendary wine at First Glass.
14.5% alc. $31.95/$27.95.

Tim Gramp McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
Another inky black red coloured wine but a totally different style, more savoury and refined to start but suddenly there is a surge of mint with liquorice, caramel, currants, sticky dates, mocha and spices. Beautifully structured with fine tannins, bready nuances and a mint chocolate finish, this powerful wine combines the savoury oak and the sweet fruit flavours to perfection. It is a hard act for any wine to follow the Willows, but this does so admirably. Champion Wine of Show - Australian Small Winemakers Awards
14.5% alc. $34.95/$29.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12th January 2005
The Summer Series
All wines were tasted blind and the white wines were seved chilled.

Mudhouse Marlborough Riesling 2003
Aromas of limes and lemons with a hint of honeysuckle lead into a fresh, fruity, tangy drink with creamy honey, a lightly viscous texture, good palate weight and a crisp, clean, fruity finish with lingering apricot and tropical fruit.
12.5% alc. $18.95/$14.95. Screwcap.

Palandri Great Southern Chardonnay 2003 Western Australia
An oak lovers wine with aromas of stonefruit and nectarines on buttery smoky oak and charry new French oak in the palate. The oak overpowers ripe stonefruit flavours at first but they burst through on the finish together with creamy citrus. Youthful with lots of fresh acidity and life. Gold medal Liquorland Top 100.
14% alc. $21.95/$16.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold colour, savoury nutty oak and smoky stonefruit aromas, ripe, round flavours with excellent fruit weight to balance the acidity. A yeast lees mealiness adds an interesting complexity, the finish is long and seamless and the aftertaste is toasty and savoury. Gold medal and trophy, Liquorland Top 100.
14.5% alc. $34.95/$30.95. Screwcap.

Felton Road Riesling 2004 Central Otago
Pale coloured, fruity smelling, lightly floral, quite tangy in the palate and a little spritzy on the tongue, like sucking fizzy fruit lifesavers. Juicy, bright and spicy with a myriad of tangy, fresh citrus flavours and a delectable infusion of honey, a wonderfully pure Riesling, a classic example of the style and a treat to try.
9.5% alc. $27.95/24.95. Screwcap.

Millton Opou Riesling 2004 Gisborne
Straw gold with more intensity to the floral aroma and toasty lime scents that convert to toasty lime flavours in the palate. Slightly oily with apple and juicy citrus laced with honeysuckle and apricot. super fruit acid balance and a rich, voluptuous finish with terrific length. It reminded me of the richness of a clean Alsace Riesling combined with the low alcohol of a rich dryish Spatlese. 30 grams per litre residual sugar. Bio-dynamically grown grapes.
9.5% alc. $22.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Frescobaldi Remole Sangiovese Cabernet 2002 Tuscany, Italy
Youthful garnet red emitting, savoury pruney scents with a tarry backing, slightly fruitcake smelling in some respects but the nose is marred by a slight mustiness. Dry and savoury in the plate with a muddy earthy richness, smoky bacon-like oak and leather. Acidity lifts the finish to let sweet fruit emerge. Usually a very reliable wine, this one from a very wet vintage, is far more rustic than usual.
12.5% alc. $17.95/15.95.

Brokenwood Harlequin 2001 Australia
A more developed garnet red. Mint and chocolatey oak on the nose, cream and spice in the palate with lifted acidity, strawberry and blackberry fruit and a slightly bretty nuance that in this wine does not detract. Plenty of spice, liquorice and mocha with more developed leathery characters coming through on the lifted finish, soft juicy tannins and a mouthfilling aftertaste makes this multi-regional blend of Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc the perfect BBQ red at the price.
13.5% alc. $13.95/$11/95 or $10.95 per bottle on case buys. Screwcap.

Ring Bolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Youthful black red with an inky intensity, vibrant scents of mint, vanilla and berries and wonderfully balanced flavours that burst with sweet juicy berry fruit, vibrant spices, creamy oak and a leathery backbone. A nicely structured all round pleasing style of dry Aussie red with a slightly peppery, minty finish. Made by Vasse Felix.
13% alc. $19.95/$17.95.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2003 Clare Valley, Australia
Rich black red in colour, savoury oak, plum and blackberry aromas, and rich intense robust flavours with a minty, cigar box undercurrent to the succulent fruit. A juicy, flavoursome wine with a fine tannin structure, pepper, mocha, a hint of toffee, a sweet-fruited powerful finish and a milk chocolate and berry aftertaste. The intensity and richness of the fruit initially masks the powerful alcohol content.
15.5% alc. $22.95/19.95.

Frescobaldi Montesodi Chianti Rufina 1999
Garnet red with black hues coming from the depth of the bowl. Savoury, slightly salty aromas, a little reminiscent of marmite on hot buttered toast. Seemingly soft in the palate with a chocolate creaminess, spicy, tarry, leathery nuances come through with thyme, fennel and a hint of mint, and the powerful, succulent finish is driven by juicy tannins and earthy oak flavours while some anise emerges to linger on the finish. An intriguing wine from an excellent vintage.
13.5% alc. $97.00/85.95.

Le Corte RE 2001 Puglia, Italy
Start to develop some orange tinges to the reddish hue, the intriguing aromas are tarry, a little oily, then biscuity , floral and musky. Very savoury yet sweet in the palate with a spicy meatiness, a very different flavour profile to what we are used to, the sweetness of currants mixing in with the oily saltiness and savoury herbs lingering. Soft, slightly drying tannins and an intensely long finish. A fascinating wine made from a blend of Primitivo and Negromaro. Kiwi-born Chris Ringland of Three Rivers fame, consulted.
14.5% alc. $58.95/51.95.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2002
Inky red black with purple-hued rims, very youthful and intense in appearance. Characteristic enticing South Australian shiraz aromas of mint, savoury oak and blackberry jam lead into a fruit driven palate with currants and fruitcake cherries joining the blackberry with sweet spices and chocolatey, anise-like oak. Very powerful, strong and spicy with a lovely fine tannin structure, a smooth chocolatey texture and a juicy finish. A dangerously drinkable wine of star quality.
14% alc,. $23.95/19.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5th January 2005
The Summer Series
All wines were tasted blind.

Lindauer Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV
Light gold, slightly sweetish creamy tasting fizz with ripe peachy fruit and golden bready flavours leading into a fresh dry finish. Stylish and definitely drinkable.
12% alc. $17.95/15.95.

Richardson Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Light straw gold, capsicum and pear on the nose not overly pungent in its aromas but quite pungently flavoured with grass, capsicum, cape gooseberries and tropical fruit on the herb driven finish. Crisp, fresh and subtle in its power. Some wild yeast influence and extended lees contact, a wine that is still evolving.
13.5% alc. $24.95/21.95. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
A powerful strong SB with an intriguingly pungent nose, at first sweaty but later quite grassy and fruit-driven. Mouthfillingly rich with wonderful tropical fruit flavours of canned pineapple and ripe guavas together with peach on a grassy, backbone. Wonderful acidity throughout. Archetypal sauvignon blanc, this wine has gone from a bud to a fantastic bloom in the last few months.
13% alc. $26.95/23.95. Screwcap.

Howard Park Chardonnay 2001 Western Australia
Yellow gold, buttery caramel aromas, brassy pineapple and bold spicy oak flavours, rich and full-bodied with a hokey pokey topping over ripe fruit. Creamy, almost seamless, a wine that has really come together since lasted tasted in May 2004.
13% alc. $43.95/37.95. Screwcap.

Te Whare Ra Marlborough Riesling 2004
Quite pale coloured, this is a seemingly dry style with a medley of apple and citrus with lemon and lime to the fore, some mid palate sweetness and a spicy gingery finish. A little weak in the mid palate for me. 6.5g/L residual sugar.
12.5% alc. $21.95/18.95. Screwcap.

Michel Leon Gewurztraminer 2002 Alsace, France
Light gold, delicately pungent with floral aromas and sweetish apple and juicy stonefruit flavours, a hint of red jelly bean and even some more spicy liquoricy black jelly beans that get stronger as the wine sits in the glass. With its low acidity and delicate spiciness and plentiful though not overpowering flavours, this gewurz should have wide appeal.
12.5% alc. $28.95/25.95.

Alpha Domus House Merlot 2003 Hawkes Bay
Garnet red, earthy smelly, slightly tarry with plenty of dirty barnyard-like aromas, this wine is dry and tannic, even a little musty while slightly unripe plum flavours give a bitey finish. A rough red in the truest sense.
13% alc. $12.95/11.45.

James Love Pinot Noir 2003 Alexandra, Central Otago
Medium depth pinkish red. Smoky vanillin oak aromas and wild boysenberry and blackberry fruits on a soft spicy palate with a sweet earthiness coming through. Good acidity that builds the long tarry finish and the aftertaste is long and creamy. A nicely balanced pinot in the riper fruits spectrum.
14% alc. $39.95.

Finca Munoz Reserva de la Familia 2003 - Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Big bright dense red black colour, fruit driven jammy aromas and sweet concentrated plummy flavours with a chocolate mocha creaminess and a dry tarry, slightly salty finish with an earthy richness. Nicely integrated firm tannins and a touch of fruit sweetness as it lingers, quite a big wine though the oak is not intrusive. An impressive wine for the price.
13.5% alc. $20.95.

Veritas 'Heinrich' Shiraz Mataro Grenache 2002 Barossa Valley
Deep reddish black. Ripe blackberry and smoky vanillin oak give an impression of sweetness but in the mouth the wine is much more savoury than the nose implies. A lovely fine tannin structure forms the backbone of this powerful wine, juicy fruit emerges to linger on the palate with impressive length and there is a touch of tobacco on the aftertaste. The structure and savouriness of this wine makes it a perfect candidate to match to lamb shanks and game meats.
14.5% alc. $30.95/26.95.

Leasingham Bastion Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Poured from a magnum, this is a dense red black wine with savoury vanillin oak aromas and juicy blackcurrant, plum and mulberry fruit, soft, slightly grainy tannins and a smoky finish, drinking very well now. Great for parties and BYO restuarants where corkage is charged by the bottle.
13.5% alc. $29.95. Magnum.

Fox Creek McLaren Vale Reserve Shiraz 2002
Inky red black in colour, sweet berry, mint and vanillin oak aromas and ripe creamy minty flavours with massive tannins but also massive fruit that balances the finely structured tannins so beautifully. There's lovely characteristic peppery Shiraz spice and smoky, tarry oak lingers with the fruit on the lengthy finish. Fox Creek is back to form. Enjoy now in a big glass with rare steak or cheese, or cellar confidently for at least 5 years.
15% alc. $83.95/69.95.

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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