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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

February 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.
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 - 22nd February 2006
Big, Bold, Brash and Beautiful
Wines were tasted blind.

Longbush Gisborne Chardonnay 2004
Bright, clear, light green gold with sweet oak aromas and ripe nectarine and tropical fruit on a mealy backbone with a long, juicy finish. Easy-going style, delicious at the price.
13% alc. $9.95. Screwcap

Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2003 - Marlborough
Straw gold coloured with wild yeast aromas and a rich creamy palate chock full of pineapple and grapefruit, while Sauvignon's fresh, crisp herbaceousness and spicy mellow oak teases the tongue. There's a caramel richness to the weighty, almost luscious finish and the aftertaste is long and mouthfilling. Very vibrant for it's age.
13.5% alc. $37.95.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waldron Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Bright straw gold with citrus and vanilla bean aromas that impart a toasty, mealy, richness, then in the palate there's wild yeast and a touch - or more than a touch - of caramel. Full-bodied and creamy with lovely citrussy notes, a beautifully balanced mealy backbone and a hokey pokey character emerging on the long mouth-filling finish. This is a wine with all the bells and whistles, layers of flavour and lots of oak without it being over-dominant. Gold Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. $36.95. Screwcap

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Light gold coloured. Subtle stonefruit aromas with a more aromatic grapefruit component and upfront citrussy flavours that become more tropical as the wine moves through the mouth. It's creamy in texture with nutty, mealy, malolactic notes, lots of alcohol and a citrus spiciness to the toasty oak finish.
14% alc. $16.95. Screwcap

Forrest Estate Marlborough Riesling 2004 Concentrated perfumed lime blossom and lime peel aromas and powerful, floral-influenced, lime and green-apple flavours with a talc-mineral backbone and a bright citrussy finish. Although there is 14 grams per litre of residual sugar, the wine has refreshing acidity that makes it seem drier.
12.5% alc. $14.95. Screwcap

Lawson's Dry Hill Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2005
Lemon gold coloured with perfumed, floral, rose Turkish Delight aromas and mouthfilling lychee-rich flavours infused with orange-rind and exotic spices on a slightly grainy, silky texture with a lusciousness evolving on the rich finish where ginger and white pepper linger on the aftertaste. It's quintessential Marlborough Gewurztraminer that will be absolutely stunning in a year or so's time.
14% alc. $22.95. Screwcap

Tatachilla Keystone Cabernet Sangiovese 2003 - McLaren Vale
Dense, brightly-hued boysenberry red with a richly fragrant aroma of earth, concentrated fruit, smoke and mint, and a rich, full-bodied palate with a spicy, peppery backbone, grainy tannins, succulent brambly fruit, and a creaminess to the long savoury, purple fruit finish. Drinking beautifully now with life ahead of it. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $15.95. Screwcap

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Clare Valley/Coonawarra
Dense blackberry red in colour, beautifully fragrant aromas of varietal Cabernet Sauvignon fruit infused with eucalypt and rich, concentrated flavours of delicious cassis and blackberry fruit, smoky vanillin oak with grunty fine-grained tannins and a touch of mint chocolate and cigar lingering on the succulent finish. A powerful, beautifully structured wine.
15% alc. $19.95.

Red Knot McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004
Dense blackberry red with pink-red rims. Toasty, smoky oak aromas and ripe, jammy, purple-black plum flavours with cherry chocolate, white pepper, creamy oak and soft, juicy tannins. There's a touch of tarry cigar that adds savouriness to the sweet oak finish. A commercial style made to drink now. Gold NZ International Wine Show
14%, $13.95. Zork closure.

Tapestry McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002
Red black with fading crimson red rims. Biscuity oak and juicy red fruits on the nose, blackberries and spice in the palate with creamy oak, mocha, chocolate and lovely big, rounded tannins. A rich concentrated wine with a long, succulent aftertaste - easy to sum up as 'delicious'. With its bottle age, it is drinking beautifully now.
14% alc. $21.95.

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Barossa Shiraz 2001
Red black garnet coloured with cedary, mellow, slightly gamey aromas and a ripe berry fruit juiciness together with anise, chocolate and spice. With the bottle age the fruit and tannins are integrating beautifully and secondary characters are starting to evolve. There's a depth to the savouriness and the finish is long and juicy.
14% alc. $44.95.

Saltram No. 1 Barossa Shiraz 2001
Deeply coloured, purple-black. Opulent, creamy-oak aromas, and powerful flavours of blackberry and cherry fruit with huge grainy tannins, sweet vanillin oak, peppery spices, vanilla and chocolate. Opulent and powerful, still on its uphill climb with a great deal of life ahead of it. Gold and Trophy NZ International Wine Show
14.5% alc. $71.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15th February 2006
Not So Common
Wines were tasted blind.

d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2004 - McLaren Vale, South Australia
Bright light gold. Smoky apricot and citrus aromas and toasty, mealy, melon and honeyed oak flavours with a bright, tasty full-bodied finish with a grassy nuance and lemon peel as it lingers. Dried tropical fruit too. Has the richness and weight of chardonnay but of course it is not.
14.5% alc. $17.95. Screwcap.

Brown Brothers Moscato 2005 - Victoria, Australia.
Clear, bright straw gold. Rich, clean apricot and green grape aroma and clean, fresh spritzy flavours full of Muscat grapes and iced lemon crush with a ginger beer-like finish. Light, sweet and refreshing, a little like a wine cooler of years gone past but far more focussed. Serve very cold as a thirst quencher or with dessert.
5.5% alc. 122 g/l residual sugar. $14.95.

Castello del Poggio Moscato d'Asti 2005 - Piedmont, Italy
Straw gold. Fresh, floral, home-made ginger beer aromas and sweet, musky, grapey flavours with a sugary sweetness and a frothy mouthfeel. There's a vanilla peach nuance on the finish, like peach ripple ice cream. Another thirst quencher or dessert wine. Great for a sorbet between courses too.
5.5% alc. 120-130 g/l residual sugar. $25.95.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve Pinot Gris 2004 - Alsace, France
Bright clear gold. Tropical fruit aromas with a mealy undercurrent and a full-bodied palate packed with clean, fresh apricot fruit and cherimoya (custard apple) with a toasty sweetness, a touch of honey and a sprinkle of orange zest on the rich, mealy, nutty finish. A wild deviation from the NZ styles.
13% alc. $25.95.

Torres Vina Esmeralda 2003 - Penedes, Spain
Clear, bright straw lemon, richly aromatic with a lemon meringue and Muscat aroma. At first it tastes like Roses Lime Juice with a honeyed, vinous texture and a spicy white pepper, salt and ginger undercurrent. Musky, rose petal characters linger on the soft, earthy finish. Refreshing when well chilled on hot summer's days. Made from 85% Muscat and 15% Gewurztraminer.
11% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2003 - Loire Valley, France

Slightly oily in its clear, light gold appearance, it smells of overripe citrus and baked apple and the texture is creamy and oily, almost overpoweringly so. It seems to lack upfront acidity, there's melon fruit with some green capsicum and herbal notes coming through and an astringency to the steely aftertaste. When tasted in August 2005, the notes were much more positive.
13% alc. $35.95.

Faustino V Rioja Reserve 1999 - Rioja, Spain
Orange-red with a dark core. Barnyard and hints of liquorice on the nose and more liquorice in the spicy flavoured palate with mocha, leather, plums, a hint of strawberry and a touch of jaffa as it lingers. It has good tannin structure, the oak is smooth and integrated and the finish is long and savoury. A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Mazuelo. A good example of a traditionally styled Rioja.
13% alc. $33.95.

Chivite Gran Fuedo Reserve 2001 - Navarra, Spain
Deep garnet red. Raspberry and plum on the nose with smoky, slightly herbal note and juicy, sweet-fruited flavours in the palate with good acidity from the strawberry and cherry fruit, dry tea tannins and a rustic, savoury finish with excellent length and a touch of liquorice as it lingers. A blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made in a New World style with 18 months in French and American oak.
12.5% alc. $18.95.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2003 - Southern Rhone, France
Dense garnet red with a deep red-black core. Savoury, tight and reasonably complex for a medium-bodied red with ripe red berry fruit, smoky cedary oak, smooth dry tannins and a peppery finish. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre made to go with food.
13% alc. $21.95.

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2004 - Italy
Inky, bright, blackberry red - very youthful in appearance. Smoky, iodine-like, barnyard aromas with a smoky bacon overtone and big, dark, juicy flavours with huge grunty tannins, wild red berry fruit, pepper, tar, graphite, spicy mellow oak and a long, savoury finish with a resurgence of flavour that lasts in the mouth for ages.
13.5% alc. $18.95.

Kirrihill Shiraz/Mourvedre/Grenache 2002 - Clare Valley
Deep garnet red, starting to fade on the edges. Sweet vanillin oak and cherry aromas. Soft, mellow spicy flavours with mint and chocolate, firm velvety tannins and a full-boded finish where characters that come with a little age are being introduced into the mix, adding complexity to the juicy berry and cherry fruit. Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100 2004.
14.5% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Two Hands Braves Faces Shiraz/Grenache 2004 - Barossa Valley
Inky blackberry red, bright and youthful. Temptingly aromatic with mint, cedar and liquorice aromas and blackberry fruit dominant in the palate. It's creamy, soft and juicy with a beautifully refined tannin structure, vanillin oak, lashings of pepper and liquorice and a smidgen of Herbs de Provence that adds savouriness to the backbone. Opulent and classy with a long creamy finish and a touch of chocolate too.
15% alc. $28.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 8th February 2006
New Zealand versus the Rest of the World
Wines were tasted blind.

Drylands Marlborough Dry Riesling 2003
Honeyed, floral, citrus aromas lead into a spicy mouthful of crisp lemon, lime and honeysuckle with a weighty, slightly oily backbone and a dry earthy finish with apples coming into play on the finish. Pleasant drinking. Nice starter wine.
13% alc. $13.95.

Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock Riesling 2002 - Heathcote, Victoria
Light green gold with an oily appearance and a fragrant, dry, limey, talc aroma with a hint of kero, perhaps. A weighty perfumed style with some development obvious in the palate with rich, well-balanced citrus, raisins and a touch of musk. There's a lime Madeira cake nuance as it lingers and just a smidgen of sweetness. A very good wine.
13.5% alc. $38.95.

Australia won the Riesling battle.

Villa Maria Keltern Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Light lemon gold with an oily appearance. Very appealing and fragrant with sweet honeyed oak and butterscotch aromas and deliciously mouthfilling with a smooth creamy textured, loads of peach and tropical fruit and a spicy, smoky oak finish with caramel/butterscotch lingering on the creamy mealy aftertaste. It can only be summed up as 'absolutely gorgeous'.
14.5% alc. $36.95. Screwcap

Domaine Laroche Chablis 'Saint Martin' 2003 - Burgundy, France
Lemon-gold, bright and clear. Tropical fruit aromas with pineapple and hints of apricot, and very juicy, fruit salad flavours. Clean, very fresh, slightly salty and just a little earthy with a slightly chalky texture, the juiciness of the fruit takes over the finish with the weightiness of Chardonnay now apparent and hints of vanilla coming through as it lingers.
12.5% alc. $37.95. Screwcap

Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2002 - South Australia
Light gold in colour, mellow, oily and oaky smelling, this bottle seems like an older wine than it is with the fruit seemingly faded and oak, oak and more oak dominating. Then mouthfilling poached peach fruit takes over with a strong spicy, mealy, bready finish that goes on and on. Big, rich and full-bodied.
13.8% alc. $38.95.

New Zealand won the Chardonnay battle.

Pipers Brook Pinot Noir 2002 - Tasmania
Deep red-black garnet coloured. Earthy aromas with strawberry and cherry fruit and hints of bitter chocolate. Silky textured with a herbal note to the backbone, quite prominent acidity, a touch of chocolate and a mushroom savouriness to the mellow smoky finish, which is very long, indeed.
Tasmania, 13.5% $36.95.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
This is deep in colour, with youthful purple hues reminiscent of the flesh of ripe Black Doris plums, the plummy theme carrying on into the sweet fruit aroma that is permeated with chocolaty oak. It's rich and earthy to the taste with a velvety, creamy texture, firm ripe meaty tannins, black cherry and plum fruit, mossy forest floor and a hint of orange citrus marmalade as it lingers. An interesting wine with plenty of layers.
13.5% alc. $47.95. Screwcap

New Zealand won the Pinot Noir battle.

Fond de Cave Malbec Riserva 2001 - Mendoza, Argentina
Richly coloured, dense blackberry red. Lifted aromas of strong oily oak, cherry and redcurrant fruit, and juicy flavours of ripe plummy fruit with creamy, savoury oak, tar, a touch of earth, leather and tobacco. This jammy finish is long and succulent although the savoury aftertaste is dry.
13.5% alc. $18.95.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Malbec 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Dense shiny, inky black with vibrant purple rims. Opulent aromas of chocolate covered coffee beans and spicy creamy flavours with loads of mocha, a touch of mint, liquorice and peppery spices, leather, big grunty tannins, sweet succulent oak and a lifted cedary note to the dry finish with a violet-like fragrance coming through as it lingers. As the aftertaste fills the mouth, there's bitter chocolate, bitter chocolate and more bitter chocolate. An amazing wine that is now starting to soften and integrate. Gold & Trophy Winner.
14% alc. $57.95.

New Zealand won the Malbec battle.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2003 - Clare Valley
Deep and inky, like a shiny black cherry in colour. Creamy, spicy, lifted red fruit aromas and rich, mouthfilling flavours crammed with blackberry fruit and sweet creamy oak with a touch of anise, red liquorice, tar, pepper, a smidgen of mint and loads of creamy chocolate. It's a powerful wine with smooth, beautifully integrated tannins and terrific length. Amazingly the massive alcohol doesn't overpower it.
15.5% alc. $20.95/$17.95.

Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004
Deep, youthful red-black in colour with a spicy, creamy aroma, a lovely fine tannin structure and a chocolatey backbone. It's rather reminiscent of Aussie Shiraz with its coconut, cherry jam and vanillin oak but a touch of cigar box makes the wine seem far more savoury on the long, juicy finish.
13.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Barossa Shiraz 2004 - South Australia
Deep shiny inky black with purple edged rims, this is a huge wine that makes you go 'Wow'. Succulent yet powerful with chocolate - chocolate - chocolate, so much chocolate is it almost liquerish, richly concentrated plum and blackberry fruit, big but beautifully integrated tannins, hints of tar and leather and an opulent creamy oak finish. Rave, rave, rave … and fantastic buying at the price.
15% alc. $28.95.

Australia easily won the Shiraz battle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 1st February 2006
Gold Medal and 5 Star Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
Bright straw gold, savoury poached stonefruit and nutty smelling aromas and fresh young flavours of spicy oak, fruit salad and citrus on a mealy backbone with a long, creamy, toasty finish. 5 stars Cuisine Magazine.
12.5% alc. $19.95.

Selaks Founders Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Bright, light yellow gold. Rich and toasty smelling with lots of aromatic mealy notes. Rich and toasty in the palate too with bold spicy oak, a ton of stonefruit and a touch of grapefruit coming through on the long, mealy, butterscotch-rich finish. A deliciously creamy and flavoursome wine with purity, length and enough acidity to make it last. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. $25.95. Screwcap

Janaz Vintage 2000 Methode Champenoise - Tasmania
Light yellow gold in colour with good froth and lots of tiny bubbles in the glass when poured. Appealing aromas of toasty brioche and lemon meringue with ripe peachy fruit in the palate tinged with citrus and a touch of honey. Delicate in texture with a crisp dry finish and a long, toasty aftertaste that indicates it has a little age. Gold and 5 stars.
13% alc. $39.95.

Land of Fire Pinot Gris 2005 - Mendoza Argentina
Straw gold coloured with soft lime blossom and lime zest aromas and pear and red apple flavours with a hint of ginger. It's a dry, low acid style with an oily texture and a riesling-like nuance to the finish and a toastiness lingering on the aftertaste. A good example of tasty Pinot Gris. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. $15.95. Screwcap

Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot 2004
Burgundy plum-red with a youthful crimson rim. Savoury, smoky aroma and savoury, spicy flavours with a juicy richness to the juicy bright plum and red berry fruit, soft velvety tannins, a touch of Black Forest chocolate and a long dry mouthfilling finish. Incredible value. Gold Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. $13.95. Screwcap

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier 2003
Deep, purple flushed, crimson-edged, black red. Creamy oak aromas crammed with vanilla, chocolate and nutmeg and soft, juicy flavours with masses of blackberry and Black Doris plum fruit, a touch of liquorice and a spicy fruit cake richness to the long succulent finish. Easy, drink now, packed with flavour. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. $15.95. Screwcap

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Shiraz 2002- Margaret River/Great Southern
Deep black red in colour with a fruity, blackberry/blackcurrant aroma, overlain with a smoky tarry nuance. Creamy textured with a fine but powerful tannin structure, spiced blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, melted Black Forest chocolate, a touch of liquorice, loads of vanilla and a ton of peppery spice that really carries the finish. A wine with fantastic length and a long, lingering cedary aftertaste. 5 stars Winestate Magazine.
13.5% alc. $61.95.

Kirrihill Clare Valley Shiraz 2002
Deep black red with pinky-red rims. Loads and loads of bitter chocolate with a fine seam of mint running through it, quite thick grainy tannins and an earthy richness though very opulent with savoury oak, ripe plummy fruit, and smoke and spice carrying the finish. Multiple gold medals.
15% alc. $20.95.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003
Inky black with bright crimson rims. Fragrant violet and blackberry aromas overlain with charry oak, mocha, liquorice and spice that carry through to the palate with succulent fruit and hints of mint on the long, creamy, chocolate and spice finish. A huge wine with voluptuous grainy tannins adding grunt and power. A winner every time. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. $19.95.

Yellowtail Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Wrattonbully, South Australia
Deep black red, opaque right to the rims. Cedar, mint and cassis allure the nose and lead into a savoury, silky textured, juicy, succulent mouthful of blackcurrant fruit, cigar box and oak spice with good acidity and lots of vanilla on the smoky finish. Very fine, firm but not aggressive tannins and mint, cedar and vanilla lingering on the opulent aftertaste. A spectacular wine. Winner of the Jimmy Watson Trophy.
13.5% alc. $50.95.

Selaks Founders Reserve Noble Riesling 2001
Deep gold, clear, star bright. Orange pekoe tea aromas with an infusion of orange water adding to the attractive honeyed scent. Oily apricots fill the palate with a honeyed richness and a sweet luscious dried mango, tropical fruit finish with still a touch of acidity to keep it fresh and youthful. Multiple gold medals. Trophy Royal Easter Wine Show 2003.
10% alc. 190g/l RS. $25.95 375ml.

Morris Liqueur Tokay - Rutherglen, Victoria
Clear, dark amber with a green-edged tinge. Warmed toffee aromas and rich, mellow flavours of toffee coated dates and dried up muscatel raisins with a runny honey texture and alcoholic warmth to the spicy finish. Fruit cake in a glass. Multiple golds and 5 star awards.
17.5% alc. $23.95. 500ml.

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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