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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2006 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

December 2006
[ 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.
Some of the prices may be 'specials'. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 27th December 2006
Games Night
Wines were were tasted blind.

Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Light gold with citrussy scents and zesty, spicy and warming flavours where grapefruit, butterscotch and savoury oak build to a rich, rounded, peaches and cream finish.
14% alc. $32.99.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light medium gold with mealy scents and nougat, apricot and zesty citrus flavours. It's quite zesty but the underlying acidity is beautifully balanced to the rich, sweet fruit and toasty oak, and the finish is full-bodied and long with the apricot becoming quite luscious. Drinking now but even better in 6 months.
14.5% alc. $42.99. Screwcap.

Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2006 - Kumeu
Pale coloured with subtle stewed pear aromas and a touch of sweetness to the nutty, spicy flavours that hint of apple and zesty citrus with just a hint of musk. It fattens out nicely to a rounded finish and lingers well. As good as the 2004 vintage of this wine.
7.5g/l rs. 13% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006
A sweeter wine with expressive honeysuckle and pear drop aromas, it tastes quite steely with lots of acidity at first, but becomes quite warm, oily and concentrated with spiced stewed pears and musky flowers building to a tasty, powerful finish. 10.5g/l rs.
13.5 alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2005 - Clare Valley/Eden Valley
It smells quite crisp, dry and steely with its abundant 'Roses Lime Juice' aroma but tastes quite rounded and balanced with the richness and weight of the fruit balancing the inherent acidity. There's talc, river stones and apples seed with honeysuckle on the lingering finish, which of course is dry.
12% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Waipara Springs Premo Riesling 2005 - Waipara
Light, fresh and clean with flavours of juicy apples and hints of lemon that fill out in the palate to a fatter, lemon cheese finish with just a touch of honey and some fusel notes emerging. A sweetish, lower alcohol, Germanic-style that can take serious chilling and very appealing for summer.
25g/l rs. 10.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 - Abruzzi, Italy
Dense ruby garnet, medium bodied in style with savoury, earthy aromas and juicy raspberry and cherry fruit over a dark, nuggety backbone with soft furry tannins and a long savoury finish. Perfect for pizza.
13% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Fairmont Estate Admirals Hill Pinot Noir 2005 - Wairarapa
Dense coloured with ruby hues, the savoury aromas hint of smoky bacon and stewed tamarillo and lead into a silky smooth palate full of savoury, earthy notes and powerful rich berry and cherry fruit underpinned by firm acidity. Funky with flair.
13.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Olssens Slapjack Creek Pinot Noir 2005 - Central Otago
Bright youthful ruby purple hues, not particularly dense, with rose petal and herb flower aromas becoming more savoury as time permits. It's medium-bodied, spicy and savoury to the taste with smooth silky tannins, cherry and stewed red fruit and a zesty finish. One to evolve in the cellar.
14% alc. $63.99. Screwcap.

Tatachilla Keystone Shiraz Viognier 2004 - McLaren Vale
This cosy little palate pleaser is dense pinky red in colour with chocolate, berry and subtle mint aromas and spicy blackberry, cherry and chocolate flavours with hints of liquorice , savoury oak and a long, soft finish. I can imagine this with something as decadent as Christmas cake while it's absolutely perfect with creamy havarti cheese and French bread.
14.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Rosemount Show Reserve Shiraz 2002 - McLaren Vale
Showing some brick to the red black hues, it's smoky on the nose and full of sweet oak, spice and chocolate with hints of raisins and plums coming from the mellow depth. It's a powerful wine with grainy tannins and hints of liquorice but tastes surprisingly developed and more herbal than one would expect from the stunning 2002 vintage. It's a wine that may not cellar for too many more years.
14% alc. $21.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20th December 2006
No Particular Theme
Wines were were tasted blind.

Riverby Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Citrus paves the way for this oily textured chardonnay with a surge of peaches and cream mid palate and a long, fresh fruity finish layered with mouth-coating caramel oak. It's medium bodied in style with warming alcohol.
14.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2005 - Adelaide Hills
A gorgeous, soft, rounded chardonnay with aromas of creamy oak, citrus and toffee and a fat, fleshy palate that oozes toasty, spicy, barrel flavours that meld beautifully with the peach, melon and citrus fruit. Subtle in its power with excellent length.
14% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Fairmont Block One Chardonnay 2004 - Wairarapa
Showing a little restraint on the nose, this tastes tight and ctirussy at first (perhaps because it is tasted immediately after the Wolf Blass) but the palate quickly fills out with a ripe fruit richness of stewed stonefruit, figs, honey and nougat that combine with toasty oak. The fruit is sweet but the wine is dry and the aftertaste is long and complex.
14% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Full-on aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and sweat lead into a ripe, juicy and very fruity palate full of sweet tropical fruit and tarter citrus underpinned by grass, capsicum and bean and a whole array of liquoricey herbs like fennel, chervil and dill that linger with citrus. As to be expected, the finish is long and pungent.
13% alc. $19.99 or $18.99p.b. on case buys. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 6 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Even more pungently expressive, the aromas of vibrant tropical fruit, citrus and fresh cut grass are simply summer in a glass. It's full-bodied, ripe, rich and balanced with a gorgeous oily texture and delicious tasty fruit full of passionfruit and pineapple with a touch of lime and summer herbs that build to a powerfully long finish.
13.5% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Montana Riverpoint Matawhero Gewurztraminer 2005
A delicately fragrant style with sweet spice and citrus aromas and honeysuckle flavours infused with lemon-flavoured Turkish Delight, sugar and cinnamon-coated violets, musk and candied orange peel with botrytis characters on the long, clean finish. Medium sweet, it is best served chilled.
13.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2006
With powerful and captivating aromas of rose petals and spice, there is no doubt that this is Gewurztraminer. There's depth to the concentrated flavours that are reminiscent of rose-flavoured Turkish Delight, lychee juice and aromatic Indian spices and the texture is honeyed and rich with beautiful balance and flow. It's little sweeter than the previous wine, and must be served chilled.
13% alc. $29.99. Diam closure.

Preece Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Central Victoria
A deep youthful red, with savoury aromas of cherry and tar and rather delicious sweet berry fruit flavours - like ripe plump juicy Christmas cherries. It just oozes ripe fruit over a backbone of creamy oak and soft smooth tannins with a touch of smoke and spice that leaves an aftertaste that you want to savour. Sweet, juicy, approachable and liked by just about everyone in the room, it's ready now.
14.5% alc. $13.99. Screwcap.

Taltarni Three Monks Cabernet Merlot 2004
This deep crimson red wine has a perfume of violets and wild brambles that carry through to the palate, which is tarry and savoury with smoky cedar and slightly grippy tannins joining the juicy berry fruit. There's a hint of mint and vanillin oak sweetness, perhaps even a hint of chocolate, on the long, dry finish.
Gold Medal - NZIWS. 13.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
Dense purple red in colour, the first impression is of burnt rubber(!) with stewed red fruits, peppery spice, violets, herbs and dry tannins. It takes a while to open up but it's worth the wait when bitter chocolate and cigar-like oak pave the way for a surge of sweet cherry fruit and a ripe juicy finish. With power and concentration, it really needs more time, so decant for best results.
14.5% alc. $22.99/$18.99. Screwcap.

Hewitson Ned & Henry Barossa Shiraz 2005
Dense black red with crimson edges, deep dark aromas of concentrated black-fruited Shiraz are infused with nutmeg, pepper, berries and smoky oak. Robust and powerful with big juicy tannins and succulent raspberry jellies and black cherry fruit over a tarry, savoury backbone, it's ripe, rich and luscious with fabulous, longer term potential.
15% alc. $30.99. Screwcap.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004
After two powerful Aussie Shirazes, this Kiwi wine easily stands its ground because it's rich, ripe and robust and packed with juicy black cherry fruit, loganberry, liquorice, smoke and vanilla on a velvety tannined backbone that builds to a luscious, lingering and fulfilling finish. But give it time and the rose petals and tar, which seem to be a star feature of the best NZ Syrah's, come through with an underlying savouriness and nuances of Herbs de Provence to keep the sweet fruit in check. Beautifully balanced with a finish that is long and sensuous, this is stunning NZ Syrah.
14.5% alc. $58.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13th December 2006
No Particular Theme
Wines were were tasted blind.

Kaituna Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Made from Awatere fruit, it doesn't leap out of the glass like some others but boy, it packs a punch in the palate. Crisp, fresh and fruity with well-defined acidity, lots of pungent grassy flavours and a flourish of apple, lime, melon, kiwi and tropical fruit make this a quenching, mouth awakening starter to the evening.
13% alc. $15.99.

Goldwater Zell Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2005
Bright, clear gold with smoky, nutty oak aromas and creamy, toasty, nutty, spicy oak flavours with melon, stonefruit and citrus. Lean and focused with a well-rounded lingering finish. Classy stuff.
14% alc. $30.99. Screwcap.

Neudorf Nelson Moutere Chardonnay 2005
Bright, light gold. Creamy/milky/malo aromas layered with grilled stonefruits and caramel carry through to palate to be joined with toasty oak, tobacco and spice with hints of apricot pushing through the tight citrussy backbone and a butterscotch richness to finish. It's very dry and very focussed and although quite tight at the moment, it will become a beautiful big rich wine with a little more time. The long term potential shows on the finish, which is very, very moreish when the glass is emptied. Oh what the heck, commit vinfanticide if you have to this Xmas because it's pretty hard to resist.
14.5% alc. $69.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria SV Keltern HB Chardonnay 2004
Clear, bright, light gold with lemon glints. Tight, mealy, barrel-ferment scents reek of high quality winemaking. It's very dry with delicious grilled stonefruit adding a balancing fruit sweetness, together with toasted marshmallows and loads of spice. Quite smoky still with hints of oatmeal, it's beautifully harmonious and mellowing out nicely.
14.5% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006
Light straw gold. Delicate floral and pear drop aromas belie the sweetish, powerful flavours that are full of spice-infused apple, pear and stonefruit with lemongrass in the background - there's a hint of musk and lychee juice on the finish that have you wondering if there is a smidgen of gewurztraminer in there too. It has weight and lots of flavour, so if you are one of those people who think Pinot Gris is innocuous, then this will change your mind.
13.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Vidal Hawkes Bay Viognier 2004
Very pale straw coloured, it looks like a new vintage wine. On the nose it's ever so slightly reductive, which is shown by the smoky, flinty and slightly cheesy (soft cheese) aroma. The smoky character carries through to the soft, full-bodied, rounded palate, which is floral, and clean with apricot, honeysuckle and delicate spices that persist on the weighty, full, dry finish. The acids are soft and nutty notes linger with floral overtones.
13.5% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Kaituna Valley Canterbury Pinot Noir 2004
Intensely coloured, almost black, with vivid purple edges, it smells ripe and inviting with strawberry over vanillin oak, characters that are even more obvious when you taste it. It's reasonably full-bodied with soft acidity, smooth tannins, fruit cake spices and sweet juicy fruit - in fact it seems a little Grenache-like at first but Pinot's savoury, earthy characters finally emerge to get you back on track, and dark, spicy, mushroom characters loiter on the finish.
14.5% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhone 2005
Showing good extract of red black, crimson-edged colour, this gutsy young wine has smoky, savoury, distinctly 'old world' aromas and firm, teeth-coating tannins with charcoal, leather, tar and savoury notes over a spicy backbone with hints of liquorice and juicy purple and redcurrant fruit to keep everything in balance. A very expressive young wine with a powerful lingering finish, it's drinking beautifully now but will evolve over the next couple of years. If you want French, this is highly recommended. It's excellent value for your next BBQ'ed rack of lamb.
13.5% alc. $19.99.

Castano Hecula Monastrelle 2004 - Spain
Deep in colour with ruby purple hues, it fills the nose with aromas of juicy plums and blackberries and pleases the palate with its soft, juicy flavours. It seems very ripe and fruity but there's structure behind it with herbs, savoury spices, smoky oak and liquorice emerging from the background. A real crowd pleaser with or without food.
14.5% alc. $19.99.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red 2005
If you love big flavoured, soft fruity reds, then it's hard to ignore this fruit bomb. It's deep in colour, red black almost to the core with subtle smoky aromas and savoury, slightly earthy flavours, but creamy oak and ripe, mouthfilling, juicy blueberry and red jelly baby fruits are the dominating feature. It's soft, smooth, seductive, perfectly balanced and very, very drinkable.
15% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2004
Inky purple red - opaque right to the edges, with such youthful colour extract, I thought it was a 2005 but I was wrong. Aromas and mouthfilling flavours shout class all the way through, it's thick and rich with lashings of oak, mint, spice, cherries, rich ripe tannins and chocolate - and a thread of cool climate cracked pepper character to stop it being over the top.
15% alc. $25.99.

Ben Schild Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2004
Another intensely coloured, inky wine with opulent shiraz aromas of creamy oak, spice and wine soaked biscuits and mouthfilling, blockbuster flavours of juicy cherry and blackberry fruit supported by toasty charry oak, thick textured chewy tannins, liquorice, spice and chocolate with a warm, powerful, alcoholic finish. A hedonist's wine but it really needs a bit more time.
15% alc. $35.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6th December 2006
No Particular Theme
Wines were were tasted blind.

Zilzie Viognier 2005 - Victoria, Australia
Aromatic with hints of honey, this light gold wine is a soft acid style with warm spicy oak, stonefruit, melon and hints of pineapple but there's a herbaceous note and something reminiscent of cucumber that makes you think "what on earth is this?" A summer quaffer but probably not up to the brilliant standard of earlier vintages.
14% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Cape Campbell Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006
Water pale with pear aromas, this is fresh, clean and technically dry with just enough sweetness to appeal to most palates. It's a warm, vibrant, mouthfilling, spicy style that's full of pear and stonefruit with hints of apple and a touch of ginger.
13.5% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Full of fruity aromatics, this is a strong, punchy, mouthfilling savvy with just the merest hint of sweat together with cut grass, lime, gooseberry and passionfruit. The upfront crisp acidity is well balanced, there's good weight in the mid-palate and the lasting finish is rounded and smooth. Very, very good wine.
13% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
There's a slightly floral character to the nose which doesn’t 'leap out of the glass' like many savvies do. Gooseberry, citrus and apple fruit fill the soft palate which has a seam of sweetness running through it, there's no sweat at all and while classically Marlborough, it's not overly complex.
13.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Felton Road Elms Central Otago Chardonnay 2006
Lightly smoky with a mealy scent emerging, there’s a honeyed richness to the palate with stonefruit, spice, toffee and a yeast lees complexity. Even though it is unoaked, it is full-bodied in style and the finish is spicy, lifted and long.
14% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
A full-bodied, mealy, partially barrel fermented wine with expressive aromas of toasty oak and mouthfilling flavours of grilled stonefruit, nectarine, toasty oak and oatmeal with hints of caramel. With excellent weight and length and a vibrant citrussy aftertaste, it's a definite winner.
14% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2000
Deep gold with green glints, it smells Burgundian with its lanolin scents and slightly oxidative notes. It's very dry with hints of apricot fruit, a spicy, buttery backbone and a hot finish with lingering citrus. Still alive but should be drunk without too much delay. This was opened to see just how this wine was holding up. There was bottle variation.
14% alc. $N/A.

Chateau Bel Air 2003 - Fronsac, Bordeaux
Dark red, starting to develop brick hues, this well-structured medium-bodied red smells dark and leathery. Cherry fruit fills the palate, which has dry tannins and a leathery backbone with a sweeter mid palate and a dry finish. The fruit is concentrated and lingers persistently on the creamy textured finish. A well priced, clean, tasty introduction to Bordeaux.
13% alc. $19.99.

Delta Vineyards Hatters Hill Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Dense, deep ruby red, reasonably dense, it exudes juicy ripe pinot noir scents. It's a gutsy style of pinot with crisp, juicy cranberry black cherry and blackberry fruit, a smooth velvety structure, creamy oak, spices and a long juicy finish that has a rather seductive savoury allure.
14.5% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Dense red with purple-tinged edges, aromas of Ribena and mint carry through to the creamy, thick textured, silky textured palate to be joined with hints of nugget and chocolate. It's full-bodied with fruit sweetness and excellent varietal definition. A nice approachable wine, but not as intense as some of the wines previously produced under this legendary label.
13.5% alc. $25.99.

Zontes Footsteps Shiraz Viognier 2004 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia
The densely coloured fruit wine smells initially like a kind of cough syrup and while it seems tight and grippy at first, the tannins become more and more approachable with every sip. It recalls memories of wine soaked chocolate biscuits, red and purple fruits and spicy sweet oak with hints of liquorice and a lingering aftertaste of vanilla and cherry. 7% Viognier in blend.
14.5% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Two Hands Angels Share Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale, South Australia
Impenetrable dense blackberry red, this exudes a sweet oak and spice-filled aroma of gorgeous, classic Aussie Shiraz and the vibrant palate is packed with peppery spices and cherry fruit with liquorice and hints of tar. It's smoky, toasty, seductive and delicious and wraps around you like a tight cocoon.
15% alc. $30.99. Screwcap.

Glaetzer Bishops Shiraz 2005 - Barossa Valley
Inky deep, boysenberry red with powerful aromas of chocolate, berry and toasty oak aromas and a smooth, creamy palate full of cherry and mulberry fruit with a myriad of spices and creamy oak underpinned by a savoury nuance of leather and tar. It's thick and chewy with a soft, creamy finish and a powerfully long aftertaste. Stunning stuff.
14.5% alc. $44.99.

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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