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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

May 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 - 25th May 2005
The Marlborough Challenge
Six wines from Marlborough were matched to six similar wines in price and style and although no vote was taken, Marlborough very comfortably won on the night.
All wines were tasted blind.

West Brook Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Straw coloured. Fresh, crisp and slightly sweaty smelling with a hint of green bean. Bracing flavours with gooseberry, lime and apple building to a rich, pungent finish where bright tropical fruit emerges and lingers with a hint of fennel. Exuberant and tasty.
13% alc. $18.95/$15.95. Screwcap.

Mount Difficulty Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 2004
Water pale. Lightly lemony on the nose with gooseberry and grassy flavours and a long citrussy finish. Dry with good palate weight and juicy apples lingering on the slightly pungent aftertaste.
13% alc. $21.95/18.95. Screwcap.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Light gold in colour with smoky, leesy aromas that have a buttery nuance. A big, mouthfilling wine with full malo treatment that gives a rich, creamy backbone with toasty oak, pineapple, grapefruit, caramel and a savoury richness to the spicy finish. 14% alc. $31.95/$27.95.

Rosemount Roxburgh Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2002
A well-integrated, biscuity wine with a smooth, creamy texture and layers of butterscotch, honey and wheat. Exotic tropical fruit comes in waves building to a nutty finish with sweet oak lingering. Smooth, seamless.
14% alc. $49.95/$29.95.

Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2004
Fruity, floral aromas, peaches and cream in the palate with excellent fruit weight and a touch of spicy oak in the background. Not overly intense but clean and soft with a spiciness to the well-balanced finish and lingering flavours of limes and baked apples. Dry.
12% alc. $19.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Clement Klur Tokay Pinot Gris 2003 - Alsace
Quite earthy and steely on the nose with a hint of wet wool but the palate is rich and full and the texture is lightly viscous - or oily if you like. A big wine with flavours of baked pear and spices leading into a slightly sweetish, earthy finish with excellent length.
13% alc. $25.95/$22.95.

Yering Station Mr Frog Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2003
A youthful, translucent cranberry colour. Smoked cherries and hints of bacon on the nose and cherry fruit in the earthy palate with a touch of liquorice coming through on the spicy finish. Beautifully balanced with a smooth, silky texture and well-integrated savoury oak - a clean wine and exceptional value for the price.
13.5% alc. $19.95/$17.95.

Isabel Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002
A translucent deep coloured garnet red. Smoky aromas and a deep, earthy, savoury, gamey flavour. Quite herbal but with chocolate, strawberry, spice and just a touch of menthol emerging on the finish. Quite chunky in texture for pinot, but tasty, regardless.
13.5% alc. $39.95/$35.95.

Olssens Slapjack Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
Deep, youthful, densely coloured purple-red with crimson edges. Smoky aromas with nuances of ripe black cherries and red guava. Rich, voluptuous flavours, warm alcohol, sweet smoky oak, a touch of herbs and liquorice, and a rich, spicy, savoury finish. A big wine with structure and power.
14.5% alc. $59.95/$52.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
Dense black-red with crimson rims, very fine in appearance. Savoury smelling with ripe cherry fruit and smoke, smooth, silky and seamless in the palate with concentrated cherry and plum fruit, savoury oak, a touch of winter herbs and an aromatic spiciness to the rich, almost chocolatey finish. Beautifully textured with a long, lingering savoury aftertaste - a wine of incredible finesse. 14.5% alc. $52.95/$47.95. Screwcap.

Sileni Pourriture Noble Semillon 2004
Light gold coloured with a slightly waxy appearance. Botrytis, varnish, orange peel, dried apricot - and that's just the nose. Rich and viscous with a powerful toffee influence first but becoming light and fresh on the finish with lingering flavours of apples and raisins..
10% alc. $29.95. NA.

Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2001
Deep gold and waxy in appearance. Gorgeously aromatic with botrytis, honey, beeswax and marmalade on the nose. Richly flavoured with honey, macerated raisins, orange peel , spices and cardamon. Intensely concentrated throughout with a deliciously balanced finish and a long, honeyed, nectar-like aftertaste.
11% alc. $34.95. NA.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18th May 2005
The Class of 2002
All wines were tasted blind.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Served chilled, this light gold wine has a smoky, slightly peachy, buttery aroma and a crisp steely palate but as it warms up it becomes rich and fleshy with a mellow toastiness and a savoury, mealy aftertaste with stonefruit and just a hint of orange blossom as it lingers. A big wine, drinking well now.
14% alc. $20.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Bright gold coloured with smoky, sweet oak aromas and rich, mealy, mouthfilling flavours then in the mouth it is full-bodied, fat and warm with a hint of spicy pineapple, tropical fruit and a bright lifted aftertaste driven by the quite dominant acidity. It has a long finish with a savoury nuance and a touch of butterscotch as it lingers. I liked it but some found the acid too dominant. A more restrained style than the previous two vintages,
14% alc. $30.95/$26.95.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold in colour with tropical fruit and savoury oak on the nose and well-rounded, smooth flavours with spicy oak and a mealy, malo, nutty influence. Creamy textured with rich, ripe melon and stonefruit, there's a brightness from the well-balanced acidity that gives it a punchy finish, and butterscotch as it lingers. It is right at its optimum for drinking and at this time of the year doesn't need to be chilled.
14% alc. $31.95/$26.95.

Georges Duboeuf Viognier Vin de Pay de l'Ardèche 2002 - Rhone Valley, France
Pale coloured with a brightly fragrant, floral aroma and a mealy, slightly nutty flavour with a hint of honey that adds an earthy savoury nuance to the juicy stonefruit while delicate apricot linger on the mouthfilling, fragrant, floral aftertaste that is long, clean and pure. An unoaked wine with many layers of flavour, the French would drink this as an aperitif and match to mini puff pastries topped with anchovy paste or onion marmalade.
12% alc. 19.95/$16.95.

Egon Muller Scharzhof Riesling 2002 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Straw coloured. Lime and honey on the nose and sweet citrus in the spritzy palate with sherbet and ginger-like spice adding a liveliness throughout. It is fresh, clean and tasty with crisp acidity balancing the sweetness. A classic medium Germanic style.
10.5% alc. $30.95/$22.95.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2002 - Waipara
Rich black-garnet red. Smoky, savoury aromas and quite savoury in the palate with soft silky tannins, cherry and tamarillo fruit, sweet vanillin oak, smoky bacon, warming alcohol and lingering earthy nuances as it builds to a big full spicy finish. A powerful wine with firm velvety tannins and muscular legs that carry the spicy, creamy, savoury, oaky aftertaste for miles. Drinking well now and for the next year.
14% alc. $44.95/$39.95.

Three Steps Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - Victoria
Red-black with blood-red rims. Savoury, tarry, farmyard aromas with a hint of aniseed over creamy oak. Sweet cherry fruit flavours with currants and Christmas cake spices, a hint of tobacco and seemingly little oak influence, there's a touch of acidity on the finish that balances the fruit sweetness. A very quaffable party wine.
12.5% alc. $15.95/$13.95.

Andrew Harris Harvest Road Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - NSW
Red-black with fading rims. Sweet vanillin oak aromas with a savoury overtone. Ripe, spicy flavours with juicy red berry fruit, liquorice and vanilla all nicely melded together with a firm structure. It builds to a lingering sweet/savoury aftertaste with just a nuance of mint. Even more quaffable. A crowd pleaser.
13.5% alc. $14.95/$12.95.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Reddish black with good intensity. Savoury, a little tarry on the nose and savoury in the palate with jammy fruit, sweet oak, grainy tannins, a spicy aftertaste and a lifted finish. A more serious, food style with great palate weight and a long drawn-out finish.
14.5% alc. $24.95/$21.95.

Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz 2002 - Heathcote, Victoria
Inky coloured purple-red, bright and youthful. Voluptuous aromas, spicy and aromatic with sweet cedary oak lead into an even more voluptuous, curvaceous, mouthful of wine. It's super-ripe with juicy mulberries, currants, mint, chocolate, a ton of pepper and liquorice spices, creamy oak, smooth velvety tannins and a long, meaty, savoury, succulent finish. Easy to describe as 'delicious'.
"This is the best Brown Brothers Shiraz I have ever tasted," declared Kingsley.
Gold Medal - Melbourne Wine Show
14.5% alc. $48.95/$43.95.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
Behind the inky crimson colour is a dark, brooding, savoury wine which has lost its youthful edge. Packed with flavours of blackberry, chocolate-coated currants, spice and tar, it's a mouthfilling, well-balanced wine with a long, creamy, toasty oak finish.
Gold Medals in Melbourne and Sydney.
14.5% alc. $24.95/$21.95.

St. Hallett Blackwell Barossa Shiraz 2002
Inky black with crimson rims, the sweet vanillin oak aromas with hints of mocha and chocolate are so easy to associate with classic Australian Shiraz. Ripe and rounded with sweet oak, fine-grained tannins, juicy blackberry fruit, lashings of spice, smoky, savoury, slightly earthy nuances and a gradually fading finish, this is very smart indeed.
14.5% alc. $35.95/$31.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11th May 2005
Double the Trouble - wines tasted in pairs to experience the difference
All wines were tasted blind.

Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Toasty, brash, in-your-face fleshy wine with a light gold colour, an oily texture and butterscotch on the spicy pineapple finish. Not overly complex, easy to enjoy.
13% alc. $15.95/$11.95. Screwcap.

First Pair
Mount Riley Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Light bright gold. Creamy textured, a little earthy and mealy smelling with fig and nectarines on the nose then later grapefruit. Fruit driven and clean with tingly, citrussy, spicy oak and mandarin lingering on the buttery toasty finish.
14% alc. $30.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Chardonnay 2004
Pale gold. Powdery smelling, fragrant, figs and stonefruits with a smooth, buttery, creamy oak backbone. Fresh and lively with terrific fruit throughout, and a grainy finish. Very classy.
14% alc. $26.95/$23.95.

Second Pair
Kerpen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2001 - Mosel
Gold. Citrussy aromas with a fusel complexity and bright, zesty, citrus and apple flavours. Lovely, low-alcohol Germanic style - clean and long with a sweet apple strudel finish and a spicy aftertaste.
8% alc. $33.95/$29.95. Screwcap.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2004
Grapefruit! A racy riesling tasting likes it has been laced with freshly squeezed winter grapefruit. Crisp and fresh throughout with zippy flavours, a spritzy mouthfeel and a slightly sweetish finish.
11% alc. $24.95/$21.95. Screwcap.

Third Pair
Two Paddocks First Paddock Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
Dark garnet in colour, quite dense. Earthy, smoky aromas with a hint of strawberry and well-balanced savoury flavours with an earthy complexity, spicy oak, firm tannins and a long deep finish with a touch of chocolate and cherry coming through. More savoury than I usually expect from Otago, the sweet fruit and the chocolate is the clue.
13.5% alc. $38.95/$34.95.

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2002 - Martinborough
Ruby-violet, not overly opaque. Smoky, savoury, dried-herb, slightly gamey aromas merge into the creamy oak, tamarillo and guava fruit in the palate. It's silky textured with a rich, warm, powerful finish and an earthy complexity as it lingers with excellent length.
14% alc. $66.95/$59.95. Screwcap.

Fourth Pair
Borsao Seleccion Joven 2003 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Redcurrant red. Creamy American oak aromas with a sweet, cherry jam fragrance and soft, juicy flavours with strawberry and stewed cherry fruit, supple tannins and a warm, spicy finish. Quite a rich wine with a medium to full body made from a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo & Cab Sauv.
13.5% alc. $16.95/$14.95.

Rocca delle Macie Vernailolo Chianti 2003 - Tuscany, Italy
Black-red, quite opaque with leather and smoky herb aromas that have a definite farmyard overtone. Earthy, savoury flavours, with dry grippy tannins, tobacco and cedar with sweet currant-like fruit, rosemary and spices on the dark, earthy, finish.
12.5% alc. $17.95/$15.95.

Fifth Pair
Craggy Range Gimblett Gavels Merlot 2003
Black! Sweet vanillin oak, cherry, chocolate and leather on the nose. Big, rich and chocolatey in the palate with bright red fruits, Christmas cake spices, a touch of mint, firm grippy tannins and a long dry finish. A powerful meaty wine, it really needs to evolve in the cellar for a couple of years.
13% alc. $26.95/$23.95.

Beresford Highwood Shiraz 2002
Inky red black colour. Mocha, chocolate, hot spices, sweet fruit and savoury oak with a bready influence. A fascinating, interesting wine, heading towards rustic, with juicy tannins and succulent blackberry fruit. Lots going on and value-packed for the price.
14.5% alc. $16.95/$14.95.

Sixth Pair
Serafino McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Bright lifted aromas with the richness of blackcurrant-like Cabernet fruit coming through the sweet-scented oak. It's a big minty number in the palate with redcurrant and cherry fruit, sweet grainy oak, biscuity tannins, plenty of body and flavour.
14% alc. $24.95/$19.95.

Tapestry 'The Vincent' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001
Black red. Fine, cedary, vanillin aromas - you can smell the quality. Rich, chocolatey flavours, spice, mocha, plums, blackberries, dark creamy oak and just a hint of mint. A big wine that is mouthfilling and succulent with everything you want in Shiraz. Easily the 'Wine of the Night'.
14% alc. $40.95/$35.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4th May 2005
Our Favourite Wines - Chardonnay and Shiraz
All wines were tasted blind.

Rongopai Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2003
Light gold. Toasty oak and melons on the nose. Big, rich and toasty in the palate, with butterscotch, orange flesh peaches, a warming richness and spicy aftertaste. Mouthfilling and long. Easy drinking. Great for 5 o'clock drinks.
12.5% alc. $16.95/$10.95. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Chardonnay 2003
Light gold. Tropical fruit and fig on the nose. Juicy and fruity in the palate with a mealy backbone, hints of citrus and spicy oak lingering on toasty finish with lemon zest and pineapple on the powerful aftertaste.
14% alc. $24.95/$21.95

Rosemount Show Reserve Chardonnay 2002
Light gold. Stonefruits and smoky oak on the nose. Citrussy in the palate with a bready richness, smoky oak, butterscotch and nectarines. Full and rounded with a smooth, creamy texture and a toasty aftertaste with nicely integrated acid. Will take chilling.
14% alc. $24.95/$16.95

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Light yellow gold. Ripe, round and toasty, very well made with a mealy, creamy, spicy vibrancy, lovely fruit weight and concentration,. Lightly toasty with caramel on the finish and rich stonefruit and citrus flavours lingering. Very smooth with good length.
13.5% alc. $20.95/$16.95. Screwcap.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
A light gold, fruit-driven, creamy wine with fruit salad, nectarines and a hint of passionfruit - passionfruit crème brulee. Not a big toasty style, the spicy oak is delicate and well-integrated, emitting a smoky nuance as it lingers. Not a big toasty style, more of an aperitif style with a citrussy finish. Very clean. Aperitif style.
12.5% alc. $22.95/$19.95. Gold medal Easter Show 2005

Kumeu River Kumeu Chardonnay 2004
Straw gold. Rich and toasty on the nose with smoky oak, figs and nectarines. Mealy and spicy in the palate with stonefruits, melon, fresh tropical fruits, toasty oak and a creamy texture. Very polished, rather delectable with butterscotch lingering on the citrussy finish. One of New Zealand's finest. Delicious already but with terrific cellaring potential.
13.5% alc. $37.95/$31.95. Screwcap.

Hardy's Oomoo Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003
Deep boysenberry red. Jammy aromas with smoky oak and just a hint of mint. Juicy plums and dusty wild berry fruit, soft tannins and a smoky finish with a spicy aftertaste and a peppery savouriness. A big juicy wine that is easy to drink.
14% alc. $17.95/$15.95

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2003
Blackberry colour. Berry biscuits and bitter chocolate on the nose with voluptuous smelling vanillin oak. Massively concentrated fruit in the black cherry, plum and blackberry spectrum with sweet oak, pepper, liquorice, anise, mocha and chocolate, and a savoury, spicy aftertaste. Rich and juicy with beautifully textured tannins and a long, mouthfilling finish.
15% alc. $25.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2003
Blackberry coloured, shiny. Rich, meaty, savoury aromas with a hint of mint chocolate coming through. Spiced plums and blackberry fruit, sweet smoky oak, hazelnut chocolate, hints of dried herbs and pepper. Although youthful, with slightly grippy tannins, it has a great finish loaded with chocolate and a bright spicy aftertaste. A great food wine this winter.
14.5% alc. $20.95/$16.95

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2003
Blackberry red. Opulent sweet oak aromas with a hint of mint. Creamy textured with chocolatey flavours, jammy redcurrant, boysenberry and mulberry fruit, pepper, tar, dried herbs, cigar and a juicy, smoky finish with mint chocolate taking over on the spicy aftertaste. A deep, brooding wine with incredible potential - and with all that mint, this is the shiraz to match to lamb.
15.5% alc. $22.95/$17.95

Richmond Grove Barossa Shiraz 2001
Slightly developed black garnet, mulberry colour. Voluptuous, sweet, spicy cedary oak and some development to the taste with juicy, succulent sweet fruit flavours, shrewsberry biscuits, plum tart, black forest chocolate and cherry ripe chocolate bars, grainy tannins and very good length with flavours that go on and on. Easy to appreciate and ready now.
14% alc. $20.95/$14.95

Step Rd Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2002
Inky, boysenberry colour. Lots of pepper, liquorice, mocha, chocolate and sweet coconut oak, fine tannins with good grip, and excellent fruit concentration. Deep and intense with smoky cigar, tar and liquorice on the finish and lots of pepper as it lingers. Juicy with structure. A very smart wine.
14.5% alc. $25.95/$19.95. Screwcap.

Fox Creek Short Row Shiraz 2003
Blacker than blackberry. A grunter of a wine in colour and a grunter of a wine in flavour. Berry jam, spice and tarry oak on the nose, leather, tar, tobacco and savoury oak in the palate. Massive tannins and concentrated blackberry, cherry and plum fruit with liquorice and pepper lingering on the sweet oak aftertaste. Just a baby with a great future ahead of it.
14.5% alc. $36.95/$32.95. Screwcap.

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.
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June 2005 tasting notes.
July 2005 tasting notes.
August 2005 tasting notes.
September 2005 tasting notes.
October 2005 tasting notes.
November 2005 tasting notes.
December 2005 tasting notes.

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