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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

March 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 - 30th March 2005
Touring Europe for $15.
All wines were tasted blind.

Kerpen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2002 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Quite steely and fresh with a nutty lemon cake nuance and faint cardamon spice to the nose and a rich weighty palate with lemon and spicy stewed apple flavours, a bittersweet finish and a long, spicy aftertaste.
9.5% alc. $29.95/$23.95.

William Fevre Petit Chablis 2002 - Burgundy, France
The full fat aroma is lightly buttery and creamy, like 5-day old full cream that is about to, but hasn't yet gone sour. Flinty and steely at first in the palate with a smoky savouriness then a butterscotch fullness coming from the full malolactic. Not overly fruity with grapey flavours, a warm full-bodied finish and a spicy nutty aftertaste. This is a good example of a lower priced (unoaked) Chablis made from 100% Chardonnay from a good vintage.
13% alc. $30.95/$24.75.

William Fevre Chablis 'Les Clos' Grand Cru 2002 - Burgundy, France
Made from 100% Chardonnay this is pale in colour with subtle creamy toasty aromas and delicate flavours of sweet creamed cashew nuts with lemon and lime on a creamy backbone. With spicy savoury oak and a caramel butterscotch influence from the full malolactic and a mealiness from the barrel ferment, it builds in the palate to a warm, full-bodied wine with fantastic length and a long, nutty, creamy aftertaste. Seamless in its delivery throughout, this wine is made to go with food and an orgasmic combination is St Tropez Restaurant's ravioli of prawn mousseline swimming in a bowl of butter cream sauce that is infused with garlic, saffron and parmesan. It takes the wine and food experience to another level. St Tropez in Parnell is BYO. Take this wine and try the combo.
13% alc. $112.00/$89.50.

Kerpen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2001 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
This wine has developed well in the bottle since last tasted two years ago when a sulphury aroma assaulted the nose. Now the aromas are of wonderfully pure flinty Riesling with a scent of honeysuckle and citrus blossom. It is steely at first in the palate with crisp lime and apple flavours until a honeysuckle sweetness emerges to balance the acidity. There's wonderful purity on the finish with an earthy nuance (like lemon pith), tingly spice and a lingering honeyed sweetness.
Sam explained that the part of the Mosel where these grapes are grown are a stretch of the river that looks like corner 9 (Pinheinho) and corner 10 (Bico de Pato) of the F1 circuit at Sao Paulo, Brazil.
8.0% alc. $33.95/$27.15.

Michel Leon Gewurztraminer 2002 - Alsace, France
Light gold in colour, perfumed aromas and a dryish palate. Spicy, floral, smoky and nutty with a rose petal muskiness and sweet fruit reminiscent of spicy baked apples stuffed with dates. Though not as fruity as a New Zealand Gewurztraminer, the palate is rich and powerful and the finish is dry.
12.5% alc. $28.95/$23.15.

Olivier Leflaive Auxey-Duresses 1999 - Burgundy, France
A fading bricky garnet colour of medium depth; savoury, earthy aromas and lightly smoky, savoury earthy flavours with hints of musk and orange pomander (an orange stuck with cloves and spices), and a pleasing vinosity to the finish. Medium bodied with soft tannins, but not really any 'wow' factor - even less so at the price. 100% Pinot Noir.
13% alc. $44.95/$35.95

Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2003 - Molise, Italy
Deeply coloured red black with garnet rims. Savoury smoky, oaky aromas and smoky, savoury, tarry, rustic flavours with spiced cherry and plum fruit and hints of tomato leaf. A gutsy medium-bodied with good acidity, chunky tannins and a long full finish. Popular on the night. A good pasta wine to accompany pasta.
13% alc. $19.95/$15.95

Legado Munoz Merlot 2003 - Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Dense black red with crimson rims, bright, youthful and viscous in appearance. Sweet smelling with smoke and tar and a sweet, spicy savouriness to the smoky flavour with little fruit definition at first then wild blackberries and cherries come through to linger on the finish. A little porty with soft, easy going tannins.
14% alc. $14.95/$11.95

Torres Coronas 2002 - Catalonia, Spain
Savoury smelling with sweet plum and berry flavours giving a juiciness to the palate. Nicely balanced, with smoke, a hint of mint and musk, velvety tannins add grip while the long savoury finish has a smokiness to the aftertaste. Rounded with lots of flavour. Good value. A blend of Tempranillo (86%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (14%).
13% alc. $19.95/$15.95

Marques de Murrieta Ygay Rioja Reserva 1999 - Rioja, Spain Fading red-black hues with a bricky tinge. Slightly porty, sweet oak and spiced orange aromas and soft juicy flavours with coconutty American oak, firm tannins, a long savoury finish and a sweet, oaky, slightly tarry aftertaste. Not really any fruit definition in the palate, just classic old-fashioned Rioja. A blend of Tempranillo (85%), Mazuelo (8%) and Garnacha (7%).
13% alc. $38.95/$31.15

Feudo Principi di Butera Nero d'Avola 2001 - Sicily, Italy.
A dense black-red core of colour with fading red rims. Smoky, savoury and barnyard on the nose with a floral nuance. Nice vinosity and palate weight with fine smooth tannins and spicy oak, juicy, sweet ripe fruit, a rich fruit cake finish and a savoury spicy smoky aftertaste. Classy wine.
When tasted 14 months ago after it was awarded 5 stars by Cuisine, there was a roughness to the edge and an acidic bite to the finish. Now it is drinking beautifully.
13% alc. $37.95/$30.25

Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape 2001 - Rhone Valley, France.
Densely coloured, almost black in the centre but with fading orange red rims, this full-bodied, mouthfilling blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah is chock with sweet fruit overlain by a meaty, bretty character. Well structured with firm, ripe, grippy tannins, wild strawberry and juicy plum fruit , tar, spice, pepper and musk with a rich savoury finish and lingering smoke and liquorice, it is mouthfilling and robust.
13.5% alc. $78.95/$63.15

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 23rd March 2005
More Gold Medals from the Royal Easter Wine Show.
All wines were tasted blind.

McWilliams Hanwood Chardonnay 2003 - S.E. Australia
It's back! Ripe, creamy and buttery with spicy oak, sweet fruit, a mealy, rich mid-palate and a spicy finish. With its luscious tropical fruit and citrus flavours you could be fooled into thinking it is from Marlborough. This is Chardonnay as we like it for everyday drinking at an everyday price.
13.5% alc. $13.95/$11.95.

Wither Hills Chardonnay 2003 - Marlborough
Mealy smelling with smoky oak and lifted flavours from the nicely balanced acidity in the form of juicy exotic tropical fruits and citrus. Creamy textured with plenty of oak spice, it builds to a mouthfilling rich buttery finish with hints of caramel as it lingers. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $30.95/$26.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Waldron Chardonnay 2003 - Marlborough
Full of delicious mealy savoury winemaking flavours with smoky oak, fat peachy fruit and a ripe, rounded, toasty finish. A powerful wine with lots of spice and malolactic influence, made for the long term. Very classy. The wine for Saturday night dinner. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $36.95/$32.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Riesling 2003 - Marlborough
Dry and lemony smelling with honeysuckle overtones then fresh, crisp, sweet juicy fruit in the palate balanced by searing acidity that makes it seem dry. Very tight right now with a grainy texture, the pure waters of a stony mountain stream come to mind. A wine that will develop beautifully in the bottle. Gold Medal.
12.5% alc. $21.95/$18.95. Screwcap.

Omaka Springs Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
A rich, ripe smelling, oily Riesling with mid-palate richness, the off dry flavours balanced beautiful by the citrus acidity that is reminiscent of freshly squeezed lime juice with lots of underlying juiciness. A wine that will age and develop really well. Match to white fish. Gold Medal.
12% alc. $17.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2004 - Marlborough
A rich, oily Pinot Gris with a nutty aroma joined by spiced pear and apple scents with just a hint of musk and violet. A Pinot Gris heading towards the Gewurztraminer end of the spectrum, full-bodied, rich and just a little cloying without food, with a dry ripe finish. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $25.95/$22.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gewürztraminer 2004 - Gisborne/Hawkes Bay
Strongly perfumed with Turkish Delight, lychees and ginger flowers and rich luscious full flavours. Beautifully balanced with ripe fruit, an excellent example of a drier style of Gewurz. Gold Medal at the Royal Easter Wine Show and Champion Gewurztraminer from the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. $25.95/$22.95. Screwcap.

Cape Campbell Limited Edition Reserve Pinot Noir 2003 - Marlborough
Deeply coloured with purple red hues, luscious aromas of ripe spiced cherries and a full, intense flavour with lovely palate richness, sweet cherry fruit, musk, rose petal, smoky bacon and a spicy kick to the savoury finish. Ripe, round and deliciously drinkable. Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $34.95/$30.95.

Stratford Pinot Noir 2003 - Martinborough
Deep red black hues, smoky, savoury, earthy aromas and cherry, plum and charry oak flavours with an earthy backbone and firm, ripe savoury tannins. A big, rich, mouthfilling wine with good depth, beautiful balance, a spicy finish and that essential pinot intrigue. Very good. Gold Medal. 13.5% alc. $42.95/$37.95.

Olssens Slapjack Creek Pinot Noir 2003 - Felton Road, Central Otago
Big colour, big fruit and big flavour, ripe, almost jammy and slightly tarry with a ton of cherry, plum and spice that builds to a rich fullness. Clean, ripe and juicy with a creamy texture, beautifully structured tannins and a lovely elegance to the finish. Very stylish with lots of appeal.
Gold Medal, Champion Pinot Noir and Champion Wine of the Show.
14.5% alc. $59.95/$50.95.

Babich Winemakers Reserve Syrah 2002 - Hawke's Bay
Inky purple black colour, peppery aromas, hints of tar and liquorice underlying the creamy berry fruit and deliciously concentrated berry fruit flavours with pepper, liquorice and creamy vanillin oak. A generous wine with a good tannin structure while hints of barnyard and leather give a savoury nuance to the dry finish. Gold Medal
13% alc. $22.95/$19.95.

Fox Creek Shadows Run Shiraz Cabernet 2003 - McLaren Vale
Very appealing black red colour and sweet oak influenced minty aromas. Delicious Aussie Shiraz with chocolate, spice, sweet fruit, sweet oak and soft juicy tannins. Easy to like and ready to drink now.
14.5% alc. $19.95/$17.95. Screwcap.

Glaetzer 'The Bishop' Shiraz 2001 - Barossa Valley
Big ripe and rich smelling with an abundance of creamy, cedary smoky oak then in the palate sweet ripe fruit with a delicate mintiness, beautifully fine tannins, mocha, chocolate, tobacco and spice. Very smooth, generous, delicious and intense, the age working in its favour right now and showing why the Barossa is so suited to top flight Shiraz.
14% alc.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 16th March 2005
Gold Medal and Trophies from the Royal Easter Wine Show.
All wines were tasted blind.

Terrace Heights Estate Murray's Barn Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Pale straw in colour with grassy, green melon aromas and mouth watering crisp, fresh, vibrant, grassy flavours together with juicy gooseberry, limes and tropical fruit leading into a long pungent finish with green melon joining in on the aftertaste. A little grainy in texture but very easy to like. Gold medal.
13% alc. $12.95/$11.45. Screwcap.

Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Crisp and citrussy with lime over passionfruit, green apples and exotic fruit like kiwanos in the mid-palate and a juicy tropical fruit / mango / passionfruit finish. A dry, steely, high-acid style with just a touch of 'sweat'.
Champion White Wine at the Sydney Top 100.
13% alc. $16.95/$14.95. Screwcap.

Shingle Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Marlborough
Soft and full-bodied with some depth and complexity and a rich, smooth, silky texture. Slightly peasy, sweet pea flavours at first with cape gooseberry tending towards stonefruit, then Marlborough's full-throttle characteristic herbaceous zinginess with the pungency and vibrancy of grassy, gooseberry flavours on the finish.
Gold Medal. Trophy for Champion Export Wine.
13% alc. $17.95/$14.95. Screwcap.

Hunters Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Rich buttery aromas laced with spicy oak and full, rounded creamy flavours with polished oak, mealy, savoury winemaking influences and peachy fruit. With good acidity, lots of malo, caramel on the finish and a full-bodied ripeness, this is an in-your-face style that is smooth and easy to drink.
Gold medal.
13.5% alc. $21.95/18.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
A beautifully sophisticated chardonnay in a big full mealy, barrel fermented style that is packed with caramel, ripe fruit and lots of toasty oak with plenty of malo influence, a smooth creamy texture and apricot and custard on the sweet yet spicy nutty oak finish and a smoky aftertaste. Good acidity will ensure a long life.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Chardonnay
14% alc. $34.95/$30.95. Screwcap.

Sacred Hill Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
Honeysuckle and citrus aromas and mouthfilling citrus and apple flavours provide a good steely backbone to this rich yet delicate dryish riesling that has its zesty acidity beautifully balanced by just a hint of honey. Toast flavours add complexity and the flinty finish is long and mouthfilling.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Riesling.
12% alc. $19.95/$17.95. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Gewurztraminer 2004 - Marlborough
Super concentration is the hallmark of this outstanding gewurztraminer. It's a medium sweet style with a perfume of roses and Turkish Delight and a mouthfilling flavour that is a fusion of delicacy and power with beautifully clean fruit, a hint of honey, lingering lychee flavours, a sprinkling of spice and just a hint of orange-water. Persistent in its aftertaste but with its sweetness it really needs to be served chilled on summery days.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer.
13.5% alc. $28.95/$25.95.

Terrace Heights Estate Pinot Noir 2003 - Marlborough
Amazing depth of colour with youthful pinkish rims, a little bready on the nose with earthy, mossy forest floor scents behind that and full, rounded flavours of spicy oak and ripe cherry fruit with mushrooms, hints of anise, and woody tannins. Full-bodied and juicy with a savoury complexity to the finish.
Gold medal.
13% alc. $27.95/24.95. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Shepherds Croft Shiraz 2003 - Hawkes Bay
Deep, intense, blueberry red with crimson rims, abundant aromas of wine-infused multi-coloured crushed peppercorns, a good definition of plummy fruit with brambly berries and fruit cake spices, firm tannins and terrific length with sweet fruit, spices and savoury smoky oak lingering on the dry finish. It is more like a medium-bodied Cote-du-Rhone rather than a full-bodied Cote-Rotie and is ready to drink and enjoy now.
Gold medal and trophy for Champion Syrah.
13% alc. $18.95/$15.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Deep and inky with a black-red core. Smoky oak, plum and cassis on the nose, creamy in the palate with spicy oak, grippy tannins, chocolate and juicy fully ripe berries. Beautifully structured with a concentrated meaty richness and a long creamy berry and smoky oak finish. A stunning vintage in Hawkes Bay and this is the result.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Cabernet or Cabernet dominant.
14.5% alc. $42.95/$37.95 . Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Deep purple black, wonderful aromas of creamy oak, cigar smoke and plums and a fantastic depth of unfathomable, bottomless flavour with beautifully integrated tannins, lots of chocolate, delicious plum and cherry fruit and smoky oak on the toasty finish. This is definitely getting better every time we taste it though it was faultless before.
Gold medal and Trophy for Champion Merlot
13% alc. $41.95/$37.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling Botrytis Selection 2004 - Marlborough
Citrine gold in colour with a sensational clean, fresh, delicious smelling aroma that is lightly floral with lemon and orange honey and just a hint of raisin. The nectar-like liquid fills the mouth with honey, dried apricots, sweet citrus and stonefruits with wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity and a delicate lingering finish.
10% alc. $52.95/$46.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2nd March 2005
High Octane Wines including the Penfolds' Bins.
All wines were tasted blind.

Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2004
Lemony, slightly oily, delicate, a little neutral but lightly fruity with distinctive pear and spice then tropical fruit and melon powering up the warm finish with just a touch of lemongrass as it lingers. Friendly, succulent and tasty.
12% alc. $16.95 special.

Grant Burge Thorn Eden Valley Riesling 2002
Straw gold colour. Fragrant aromas of lemon and flowers with a toasty nuance, and lemon, lime and talc-like flavours with a slight toastiness. Nice depth, weight and length and a spicy aftertaste jazzed up by the sprightly acidity.
Gold Liquorland Top 100, 5 stars Cuisine.
12.5% alc. $16.95 special.

Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay 2002 – Upper Hunter
A bright golden hued chardonnay with a creamy buttery aroma and ripe, fat fruity flavours. Mouthfilling, rich and toasty with melons, spicy oak and a warm smoky nutty finish, a beautiful wine with terrific palate weight and a delicious lingering aftertaste. Very smart.
14% alc. $32.95 special..

Trinity Hill Homage Chardonnay 2002
Light gold with a smoky, stonefruit aroma and a rich fruity palate. Creamy textured with hokey pokey and caramel, quite a bit of acidity, a leesy nutty finish and a fantastically long aftertaste. A well-rounded powerful wine with beautiful balance, the acidity will ensure it to be long-lived. John Hancock says this may be the best Chardonnay he has ever made. It certainly has star quality. 14.5% alc. $104.00.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo La Valentina 2003
Purple red colour, medium weight in its depth. Fruity, a little savoury with smoked cherry and plum; easy going, easy drinking, soft and spicy with a tarry earthy finish. A New World style of Old World wine.
13% alc. $11.95 special and $10.95 per bottle by the case.

Penfolds Bin 138 Old Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2003
Inky crimson red. Bright fruity aromas with rich creamy vanillin oak, liquorice, cherry, smoke, mocha and spice. Light bright fruit in the strawberry, plum and wild red berry spectrum with a cigar smoke backbone, lots of spice and juicy tannins. It is fresh, youthful and just a little rustic with some herbs de Provence pushing through and a mint chocolate overtone to the spicy savoury finish. Definitely in the Penfolds style but made from vines that are 50 to 100 years in age.
14.5% alc. $20.95 special.

Brothers in Arms No 6 Shiraz Cabernet 2003 - Langhorne Creek
Deep black-red with crimson rims. Complex aromas of liquorice, blackcurrant and spice and a richly structured palate with fine but powerful tannins, juicy currant and plum fruit and liquorice. Rich and concentrated with a deep intensity throughout, chocolate on the finish and a powerfully spicy aftertaste with the merest hint of menthol.
Winner of the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation Trophy for the top Exported Wine of the Year.
15% alc. $19.95 special..

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2002
Deep crimson colour, inviting toasty oak aromas with mocha and cherries, finely structured tannins with integrated French oak, plums, blueberries, blackberries, pepper and leather, the structure is tight yet the wine is juicy. Sweet oak leads into a dry finish with hints of violet and lots of peppery spice.
14% alc. $20.95 special.

Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
The cooler climate of the 2002 vintage has produced a South Australian Shiraz that has a distinct Rhone-like nuance with lavender-like, floral, peppery aromas. But the sweet oak and thick juicy tannins steer you back to Australia. It's packed with spice, chocolate and delicious plummy fruit with just a hint of leather on the finish as the tannins firm up, the spice and floral characters coming back to linger on the aftertaste.
14.9% alc. $26.95 special.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2002
Deep black with crimson rims. Very refined, cedary, toasty oak aromas with a slightly meaty influence and just a hint of mint. Though the aromas are not in your face, this is immediately generous and rich in the palate with a lovely array of pepper, cinnamon, anise and mocha spices with violets and rose petals on the edge. Chocolatey and creamy with acid, fruit and tannins perfectly in balance and a long sustained finish. 14.5% alc. $20.95 special.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
This year the fruit comes the Barossa and the McLaren Vale and the quality shows, from the rich, deep black-red colour to the wonderful fragrance of cassis over chocolatey oak to the massive fruit, power and flavour in the palate. With its juicy blackcurrant fruit, the hints of violets and mint, the hugely structured but wonderfully fine tannins and the leather and tar savouriness to the finish, this spicy wine is supercharged Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the best 407's yet.
14.5% alc. $23.95 special.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2002
Deeply coloured and intense with huge aromatics of sweet fruit, creamy vanilla bean oak and enticing cedar, almost too much for the tiny glass. In the palate there is wonderful fruit intensity with blueberry, blackberry, cassis and cherry taming the massive tannins while chocolate, pepper, anise and mocha add intensity, complexity and depth. A stylish opulent wine with a hint of mint on the finish and lingering notes of rose spice and nutmeg joining chocolate and anise. This is legendary Australian wine and 389 lovers will not be disappointed.
14.5% alc. $30.95 special.

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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