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 October 2005
Cuisine Magazine's Top Bubblies (plus a Chardonnay)
Wines were tasted blind
Seaview Blanc de Blancs 2001
Crisp, fresh, bready flavours with a creamy, yeasty backbone, well-balanced fruit, hints of stonefruit and citrus and a rich, nutty full bodied finish with good effervescence throughout. The No.1 bubbly sold at First Glass. 4 stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $18.95/$14.95.
Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut NV
Light gold coloured with rich, toasty leesy aromas and mouthfilling foaming mousse. A full, rounded, leesy, nutty style typical of Champagne with a floral tint, stonefruit, and a ripe, rich bready finish with nicely balanced acidity and a touch of marmite as it lingers while the tickle of the bubbles excites the mouth long after the wine has been swallowed. Excellent value. 4-1/2 stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $59.95/$49.95.
Terrace Road Classic Brut NV - Marlborough
Pale straw gold with a shy nutty, citrus rind aroma and very dry, steely flavours that become quite creamy as the well-integrated flavours develop - there's lemon bread, apples, citrus, hints of stonefruit and a dry nutty leesy finish with tingling acidity.
4 stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $20.95/$17.95.
Champagne Lanvin Brut NV
Light gold with a toasty aroma that has a slightly oxidative note that hints of bottle age, and rounded, full-bodied, bready, yeasty flavours with persistent bubbles that give nice mouthfeel. A delicately textured wine with a decent influence of chardonnay and a long full-bodied finish. 2 Gold Medals, 4 stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $49.95/$39.95.
Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 1999
A creamy, toasty wine with a grapey, baking bread aroma and rich, yeasty flavours that could convince you it is good Champagne but it is actually from Marlborough. It's very dry with hints of stonefruit and good acidity that introduces a lemon bread character to the finish and the pandoro aftertaste is rich and lasting. Made from 100% Chardonnay. Excellent!.
12% alc. $34.95/$30.95.
Quartz Reef Chauvet NV - Central Otago
There's a bottle age character on the nose but swirling allows a floral, honeysuckle and herb flower fragrance to emerge. A slightly sweeter bubbles with good acidity to balance it and yeasty-influenced creamed nut flavours that give a lovely roundness to the crisp spritzy finish.
4 stars Cuisine.
12.5% alc. $30.95/$26.95
Champagne de Venoge Brut Rose NV
Delicate salmon pink in colour with a fragrant, crushed strawberry aroma that has a yeasty, black peach overtone. A sweeter wine with the brandy liqueur used for the dosage adding an extra dimension of richness to the full-bodied flavour that is full of strawberries, lemon bread and yeasty flavours with a dry twist to the long, leesy finish and hints of rose petals as it lingers. Long and seductive. Beautifully packaged in a painted, hinged, tin case. 5 stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $88.95/$79.95.
Kim Crawford Tietjen-Briant Gisborne Chardonnay 2004
Light gold in colour with a ripe appealing aroma of pink bubble gum, tropical fruit and fresh toasty oak. Young, fresh and juicy but rich and powerful at the same time with lovely tropical and melon fruit and a nicely balanced mealy backbone. Gold Medal Royal Easter Show.
14% alc. $30.95/$26.95. Screwcap.
Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle 2001 - Martinborough
A savoury smelling bubbles with earthy, oily, nutty influences and nice mouthfeel with good mouse effect. Dry and sophisticated with stonefruit, citrus, honeyed oak and a floral note to the lifted, leesy, savoury finish. 4-1/2 stars Cuisine.
13% alc. $38.95/$34.95.
Ayala Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1998
Light gold with a gorgeous, bready, fresh apple aroma, hints of toffee and flowers, and rich leesy, bready flavours with a lovely light effervescent texture that dances across the tongue. A distinctive Champagne with lots of nutty, yeast aging influences, beautifully balanced acidity and an intensely long, dry finish. Fabulous stuff. 5 stars Cuisine.
xx % alc. $95.95/$85.95.
Pol Roger Vintage Champagne Brut 1996
Light gold, citrine coloured with a bready, honeyed, white flower perfume and a complex, mouthfilling, yeasty flavour with a ripe, creamy richness and a dry, full-bodied finish with lively acidity that tingles all the way home. 5 stars Cuisine
xx % alc. $108.95/$97.95.
Morris Old Premium Rutherglen Liqueur Muscat NV
Sweet and sumptuous with a warm treacle texture, this is so dark in colour it looks like black coffee with a gold-green hue to the rim, and it tastes like candied orange peel-glazed sticky date and raisin pudding with a hot, spicy, spiritous backbone and an amazingly clean finish. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show.
17.5% alc. $69.95/$59.95. 500ml bottle.
Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19th October 2005
Cuisine Magazine's Top Reds
Wines were tasted blind
Mount Riley Marlborough Merlot Malbec 2004
Deep plummy red with a black hued core. Rich and fruity smelling with smoky oak and a vibrantly spicy palate with a hint of chocolate raisin on the strongly flavoured, savoury earthy finish. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.
Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
A youthful ruby-hued pinot with a dense core, Earthy, savoury and herbal with spiced plums, smoky oak, a crushed velvet texture and an almost chocolate finish, but a little let down by the acidity that emerges to linger sharply. 4½ stars Cuisine.
14% alc. $27.95.
Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
A dense ruddy red with fading rims. Ripe and round with a savoury, slightly salty, rosemary influence to the stewed fruit flavour, and a lingering, slightly minty finish. Showing a little development and ready now. 5 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. $32.95.
Villa Maria Rutherford Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2003
Deep ruby purple in colour with fragrant smelling, rich savoury aromas and mouthfilling spicy flavours with ripe black cherry and juicy plum fruit, firm velvety tannins and a tarry, earthy influence to the long savoury finish. Rich, full-bodied and rather opulent as well as succulent and although very young, it is already drinkable. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. $57.95.
Ngatarawa Silks Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004
Inky in colour, almost black with crimson/purple rims. Aromatic, slightly minty smelling with concentrated blackberry and plum fruit, creamy oak, smooth tannins and a spicy succulent finish with sweet fruit lingering. 4½ stars Cuisine.
13% alc. $17.95.
Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah Viognier 2003
A deep, purple black colour with fragrant, slightly musky, peppery aromas and a richly spicy palate with a nice seam of black pepper, firm, tight, youthful tannins, concentrated plum and berry fruit and a long, earthy, savoury oak finish with leather and liquorice lingering on the smoky aftertaste. A musky, stonefruit character emerges to linger, too. Very impressive. 5 stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. $33.95.
Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2003
Deep, inky blackberry hues, sweet and savoury oak aromas and rich, creamy textured full-bodied flavours crammed full of plum and blackberry fruit, vanillin oak, chocolate and spices with succulent juicy tannins and a long peppery finish.
14.5% alc. $18.95.
Sacred Hill Basket Press Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2004
A deep dense red with lighter red rims. Smoky herbal aromas and savoury flavours with dry tannins that have an underlying succulence, fleshy plum and berry fruit and an earthiness to the long savoury aftertaste that builds in power and lingers with a spicy fruity richness. 5 stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. $17.95.
Hatton Estate Gimblett Road Reserve Cabernet Merlot Franc 2003
Inky black in colour with youthful purple rims. Concentrated fruit, leather and creamy oak aromas and powerful vanillin oak flavours. Rich and succulent with fine rich tannins, ripe plum and berry fruit, leather, tar, a touch of mint and fruitcake on the lingering, full-boded, spicy finish. A big oaky wine with a long life ahead of it. 4½ stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. $28.95.
Squawking Magpie Gimblett Gravels The Cabernets 2003
Dark, dense and earthy with an oily texture and cow pats in the herb garden. Grainy tannins, currant-like fruit and a juicy succulence emerging as the wine opens up. Smoky, cigar box characters linger on the finish. 5 stars Cuisine.
13% alc. $37.95.
Unison Selection 2002 - Hawkes Bay
An inky, youthful colour introduces this powerful wine with a spicy backbone, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, mint, chocolate, creamy vanillin oak and firm juicy tannins. A delicious, concentrated blend of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet that seduces with its power and succulence. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. $44.95.
Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Merlot 2002
It smells quite developed and savoury with sweet fruit, a hint of mint, spicy oak, cigar box, chocolate, smooth tannins and a smoky savoury finish. A big wine but nicely integrated and very approachable now. 5 stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. $29.95.
Villa Maria Reserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
A densely coloured dark red with cedar aromas and succulent flavours of brambly fruit with a hint of mint, chocolate, cigar box and mellow spices with smooth tannins that are beautifully harmonious and make the wine seem deceptively youthful for its age. 5 stars Cuisine.
13% alc. $42.95.
Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12th October 2005
More Gold Medals, New Releases and Super Buys
Wines were tasted blind
Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Crisp, fresh and vibrant with sweaty, grassy aromas leading into a rich, toasty palate with grass, gooseberry, passionfruit, citrus and riper stonefruit on a slightly oily texture and a full, rich, pungent finish. Gold Medal.
13% alc. $17.95. Screwcap.
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Quite muted pear-like aromas and warm-textured spicy flavours with fleshy pear, citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit and a slightly, sweaty herbaceous pungency to the juicy finish. After a restrained start, it finishes quite powerfully - this is a wine that always shows better six months after release.
13.5% alc. $28.95. Screwcap.
Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Gris 2005
Earthy smelling, neutral grapey aromas and oily-textured flavours with bright, fresh, apple, apricot and mandarin fruit, a hint of musk and a warm, racy, citrussy finish.
13% alc. $23.95. Screwcap.
Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2004
Creamy textured with concentrated stonefruit on a rich, mealy backbone with toasty, nutty oak and long, seamless flavours. A wine with all the bells and whistles and although seemingly restrained to start with in the XL5 tasting glass, it opens up beautifully with a spicy mealiness to the mouthfilling, biscuity finish.
13% alc. $56.95.
Fossil Ridge Nelson Chardonnay 2003
Burgundian-like barrel-ferment, leesy, nutty aromas and nutty, malolactic-influenced flavours with nougat, apricot and tropical fruit, and a dry, leesy, spicy finish with underlying acidity and hints of butterscotch as it lingers. Gold Medal.
14% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.
Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling 2004 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Floral, honeysuckle aromas and fresh, fruity flavours with juicy tangelo and tropical fruit and just a touch of honey. With perfect balance of sweetness to acidity and a zesty, tartness to the finish that dries the palate and makes you want more, this is a lovely summery style that will take serious chilling.
8.5% alc. $17.95. Screwcap.
Mt Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2005 - Central Otago
Smelling of tart green apples, the flavours are much sweeter than the nose suggests. Honeysuckle, apples, limes, tropical fruit and zesty spice with an oily, slightly viscous, delicate texture, this is a yummy wine that you can indulge in now or confidently cellar for several years. Gold Medal.
11% alc. 30g/l rs. $25.95. Screwcap.
La Vieille Ferme Costières de Nîmes 2003 - Languedoc-Rousillon, France
Deeply coloured with sweet-fruited, cherry aromas and savoury, tarry flavours with slightly grippy tannins, sweet spices, juicy plum-like fruit, a touch of citrus and honeyed bacon on the finish. Made from a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache without any oak, this is extremely approachable right now.
13% alc. $11.95. Screwcap.
Umani Ronchi Jorio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2002 - Montepulciano, Italy
Tar and vanillin oak aromas and nicely balanced flavours with well-structured tannins, plum and berry fruit, savoury oak, cigar box, herbs and a hint of chocolate raisins on the long, dry, savoury finish. An Old World wine made in a succulent new world style.
13% alc. $15.95.
Henry Lawson Shiraz 2002 - Mudgee, New South Wales
Smells big and rich, like its colour, with mouthfilling flavours of vanilla, plum and cherry fruit, cigar box, spices and chocolate, big, rich, voluptuous tannins and just a hint of mint. Fantastic drinking at a bargain price.
14% alc. $14.95.
Step Rd Shiraz 2002 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Opulent smelling with spicy, coconut oak and mint on the nose and powerful flavours of creamy American oak, bright peppery spice, delicious plum and blackberry fruit and chocolate. Yum! It is amazing what Australia can produce for so little $$$$$.
14.5% alc. $18.95.
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Shiraz 2002 - Western Australia
Mint, cassis and cedar on the nose and concentrated, full-bodied, red fruit flavours with a tarry undercurrent, a hint of anise, beautifully smooth tannins and a cedary finish with mint-dominant herbs coming forth to linger on the aftertaste.
13.5% alc. $61.95.
Elderton Ashmead Single Vineyard Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Chocolate box, cassis and cedar on the nose and gorgeously succulent full-bodied flavours with velvety tannins, mint, blackberries, cassis and chocolate and a long creamy finish. A big, buxom wine with years of life ahead of it. Gold Medal and trophy for Champion Cabernet at NZIWS.
14.5% alc. $78.95.
Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5th October 2005
Gold Medals and New Releases
Wines were tasted blind
Vavasour Redwood Pass Sauvignon Blanc 2005 - Awatere Valley, Marlborough
Grassy herbaceous aromas and crisp gooseberry and herb flavours with lots of fresh acidity softening on the grainy textured finish with apple and tropical fruit on the long, pungent aftertaste.
13% alc. $14.95. Screwcap.
Mission Jewelstone Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Pale coloured with buttery, toasty oak aromas and rich stonefruit flavours with firm citrus acidity and a nuttiness on the full-ripe, mouthfilling finish - a very stylish barrel-fermented wine.
14% alc. $27.95.
Kathy Lynskey Godfrey Reserve Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Burgundian-influenced, leesy, malo flavours at first with tropical fruit, nutty oak and a tight savoury finish, after two or three mouthfuls it becomes rich, round and delicious with a touch of caramel as it lingers - this really needs a big glass right from the outset to do it justice.
14.5% alc. $32.95.
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2003 - Western Australia
Rich, creamy and mouthfilling with fragrant citrus and toasted pineapple on the smoky, savoury nose and oaky toastiness to the mealy-influenced tropical-fruited palate with well-balanced acidity and a long, rich, toasty finish with hints of grapefruit as it lingers.
14% alc. $37.95.
Kemblefield Distinction Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Soft and round, spicy and nutty with lots of toasty oak, a ton of ripe stonefruit, a mealy backbone and a rich, spicy, smooth creamy finish with butterscotch lingering on the long toasty aftertaste - a big chardonnay that can be well chilled.
14.5% alc. $19.95.
Pegasus Bay Riesling 2005 - Waipara
Fragrant and fresh with lime blossom aromas and a fresh, light, spritzy palate with apples, citrus, honey and lime marmalade on the finish - quite sweet but lots of crisp acidity to balance it.
11% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.
Saddleback Pinot Noir 2004
Garnet red with good depth, herb and cherry aromas and juicy cherry and plum fruit with savoury oak, an earthy backbone and a velvety-textured finish. Mostly Central Otago with a little bit of Marlborough fruit to make up the shortfall, this is not overly complex but terrific drinking never the less.
14% alc. $22.95. Screwcap.
Tenuta Albrizzi 2002 - Salento, Italy
An inky, blood-red coloured, thick textured, rustic smelling wine with wild berry fruit and chocolate raisins bursting out of the savoury, earthy, spicy oak wrapping and a long, juicy finish. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Primitivo (Zinfandel).
13.5% alc. $14.95.
Elderton Barossa Merlot 2002 - South Australia
Sweet vanillin oak and mellow spice aromas and rich, velvety-textured full-bodied flavours full of chocolate, spice and berry fruit with a juicy succulence, a hint of mint and a smidgen of coconut on the berry chocolate finish. An older looking wine with tawny-red edges on the browning, black-red core but the taste is youthful and powerful.
14.5% alc. $28.95.
Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 - South Australia
Inky black-red, perfumed, spicy and peppery with firmly structured tannins, cherry, blackberry, vanilla, mocha and a ton of chocolate on the biscuity oak finish with good acidity coming through as it lingers.
14 alc. $19.95.
Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2003 - South Australia
Inky purple-black coloured and opulent smelling with pepper, herbs de Provence, tar and chocolate leading into a rich, full, creamy oaked palate with cherries, blackberries, juicy tannins and a rich, spicy aftertaste - lots and lots of rich, mouthfilling flavours that go on and on and on. 15% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.
Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2003 - South Australia
Inky black-red with a rose petal influence to the perfumed aroma and juicy cherry, plum and blackberry fruit flavours with chocolatey oak, a hint of mint and beautifully fine, silky textured tannins with a lot more chocolate with vanillin on the succulent, smoky finish.
14.5% alc. $25.95.
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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