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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

January 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 - 25th January 2006
The Summer Series
Wines were tasted blind.

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2002
Light gold in colour with oily, nutty aromas and a spicy, mealy palate accented with grapefruit, stonefruit and toasty oak building to a creamy medium-bodied finish. Some bottle variation, but super value at the price.
13.5% alc. $13.95 special.

TW Gisborne Chardonnay 2004
Hints of apricot on the bright, tropical fruit scented nose leads into a rich, toasty, creamy, full-bodied palate with terrific fruit focus, a ripe mealy influence and a spicy oak finish. Rounded and seamless with juicy fruit and savoury oak lingering. Gold - Liquorland Top 100.
13.8% alc. $26.95. Screwcap.

Forrest Dry Riesling 2002 - Marlborough
Juicy lime and tropical fruit aromas with a hint of freshly cut pineapple and a smattering of spice. Dry to the taste with an oily, aloe vera-like note, beautiful fruit focus and a toastiness to the long, lemony finish. Gold – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13% alc. 6.5g/l rs. $18.95. Screwcap.

Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2002 - Eden Valley, South Australia
There's a subtle vanilla nuance to the delicate apricot scents and a richness to the delicately toasty palate with a gorgeous seam of apricot, honey and spice, then a touch of lemongrass and an elusive smokiness to the off-dry finish. Full-bodied and silky textured with a persistence to the length.
14.5% alc. $49.95. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2004
Pungent, floral aromas and powerful, medium sweet flavours of musk, lychee juices and freshly crushed cumin and caraway spices, a powerful finish with a touch of orange water and a zingy, vibrant aftertaste. Beautifully balanced and focussed throughout.
14.5% alc. 12 g/l residual sugar. $20.95. Screwcap.

Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray 2002 - Loire Valley, France
Deep gold with an oily appearance. Aromas of date and honey-stuffed baked green apples make this seem rich, sweet and luscious smelling. It's not so sweet in the palate as the nose would suggest, the apples flavours are tart and there's an overpowering oily, lanolin note. A full-bodied white that is best with food. It was good with the cheese on the night. Made from Chenin Blanc grapes.
12.5% alc. $26.95.

Lake Hayes Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
The translucent, dark cherry red colour introduces a soft, fruity, easy drinking, medium-bodied Pinot Noir with strawberry and cherry fruit, a savoury gamey backbone, a silky texture, just enough smokiness and a juiciness to the ripe fruit finish. These medium styles are very versatile with food.
14% alc. $29.95. Screwcap.

Akarua Pinot Noir 2003 - Central Otago
Dark cherry red, almost opaque in the centre with translucent ruby rims. A richer, meaty, more savoury, gamey wine with spicy oak and a silky, velvet-edged texture. It has a mouthfilling complexity with black cherry and plum fruit, a hint of liquorice, savoury herbs and a long creamy finish. 2 gold medals.
14% alc. $38.95. Screwcap.

Mission Reserve Syrah 2004 -Hawkes Bay
Inky blackberry red, youthful and bright. Fragrant cedary oak, vanilla and pepper aromas with plenty more twists from the pepper mill in the palate. Fragrant and juicy to the taste with plum, raspberry and blueberry fruit, a hint of chocolate and a long, dry finish with a hint of violet as it lingers.
14.5% alc. $18.95.

Jacobs Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Inky black-red with blood red rims. Full-bodied and powerful with aromas of chocolate, cedar, mint and berries and mouthfilling flavours of berries and cassis, creamy oak, mint and spice with beautifully integrated soft juicy tannins and just a hint of leather. A multi-region blend of South Australian fruit. 2 gold medals.
14.5% alc. $18.95.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2001 - Margaret River
A serious, complex, rich, brooding wine with an inky black red colour, cedary, tobacco-like aromas and an earthy savoury backbone awash with fine grainy tannins supporting spicy plum, redcurrant and cassis fruit, mint and smoky rosemary herbs and a lifted finish with perfumed, slightly musky, red berries on the lingering aftertaste. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot. Winestate Wine of the Year.
14.2% alc. $61.95.

Brothers in Arms No. 6 Shiraz Cabernet 2003 - Langhorne Creek
Deep and dense in colour, almost black. Smoky and savoury, rich and powerful, with subtle fruit sweetness, a touch of vanilla and a slightly salty nuance to the spicy, liquorice-rich flavours. Very much in the earthy savoury mould, there's no overpowering sweet oak and vanilla lingers with hints of chocolate and mint on the long, pepper-spice finish.
15% alc. $17.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18th January 2006
The Summer Series
Wines were tasted blind.

Mt. Difficulty Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 2004
A pale coloured wine with rich, pungent aromas of grass, citrus and herbs, it's even more pungent and bracing in the palate with crisp apple and lime underpinned by fleshy capsicum and a touch of asparagus with green apple on the lasting finish.
13% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2004
Rich bright golden yellow. Oaky, buttery and nutty with a rich spicy, mealy influence, an oily creamy texture, figs, golden queen peaches, a touch of apricot and a long savoury finish. Full-bodied, smooth and long.
13.5% alc. $16.95 special. Screwcap.

Westbrook Blue Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
Light yellow gold. Creamy, slightly citrussy aromas and rich, mealy, barrel-fermented flavours with spicy oak fill the palate with melon, apricot and tangelo fruit. The yeast is savoury and spicy builds on the long mouth-filling finish. Gold - NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $24.95 special. Screwcap.

Corbans Private Bin Hawke's Bay Gewurztraminer 2004
Light yellow gold in colour, sweetly fragrant with rose garden, musk and pink 'smoker lolly' aromas and a beautiful texture, on the edge of viscous. It's a drier style with flavours of exotic spices, orange honey and lychee juice and a long, warm, spicy finish with excellent varietal character throughout. Gold - Air NZ Wine Awards.
13% alc. $18.95 special.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2005
Pale coloured and delicately pungent with lemon oil, crushed coriander seed and rose Turkish Delight aromas. A much sweeter style with a silky, oily texture, a musky rose petal flavour, exotic spices with ginger and white pepper adding heat and a long fine finish. Good now, it has the potential to become rather luscious with time.
14% alc. $29.95.

Castello di Cacchino Toscana 2002
A muddy garnet colour with a brown-black core. Smoky, Throatie lolly aromas with an undercurrent of juicy berries with sweet cherry fruit more obvious in the palate. A medium-bodied savoury style with leather, tarry oak, soft grainy tannins and a touch of acid on the finish. Easy going but best with food.
14% alc. $23.95.

Mt. Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Bright, purple-edged garnet red coloured with wood smoke and slightly minty herb aromas. Quite a chunky, grainy textured pinot with bitter cherry and earthy mushroom flavours, and quite strong acidity which adds a spicy zestiness to the finish where at last the fruit sweetness comes through.
14% alc. $41.95. Screwcap.

Moss Wood Amy's Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Margaret River

Inky, shining black red. Rich and powerful smelling with blackcurrants and minty oak, it's quite varietal in the palate with distinctive cabernet notes of blackcurrant and plum coming through with liquorice and a touch of tar. Full-bodied with rich meaty tannins and a mint cedar finish with a hint of iodine adding complexity and savouriness. A very good wine from a legendary winery.
14% alc. $31.95. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Rd Merlot 2002
Deep, dense purple red in colour, not revealing too much on the nose other than a vinous sweetness of plums and cedar. Thick, grainy textured tannins support the black plum and blueberry fruit with black liquorice, a touch of tobacco and a full-bodied cedary finish, and a juicy succulence to the plum and dark chocolate aftertaste. 5 Stars - Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $30.95.

Richmond Grove Barossa Shiraz 2001
Opaque red black with black cherry rims. Immediately identifiable as Shiraz with its vanillin-backed spicy, aromatic, peppery aromas and dark chocolatey oak flavours, plum and mulberry fruit, a touch of cherry and coconut, peppery spices and a rich juicy finish with mint chocolate lingering. Easy to drink and affordable too. Gold Medal, Trophy.
14% alc. $17.95.

Pauletts Polish Hill River Shiraz 2002 - Clare Valley
Shining red black with fine cedar aromas with lashings of eucalypt and just a hint of chocolate. Fine-grained tannins give a gorgeous texture to support the juicy blackcurrant and cherry fruit, peppery spices and liquorice that build to a tarry, slightly musky finish. So much going on - very complex and flavoursome. 5 Stars - Cuisine Magazine 14.5% alc. $19.95 special. Screwcap.

Mitolo Reiver Shiraz 2004 - Barossa Valley
Inky, purple/black. Powerful aromas of nut chocolate, berry biscuits and leather lead into a rich, powerful beast packed with everything Parker likes to rave about. I find a wine of mouthfilling intensity with currants, earth, black pepper, spice box, chocolate, concentrated plum and berry fruit, liquorice, huge nuggetty tannins and uninterrupted length.
15% alc. $61.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11th January 2006
The Summer Series
All wines except the last two were tasted blind.

Allan Scott Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Lightly oaked peachy aromas with fruity, tropical flavours of pineapple and citrus, a creamy texture, a fresh, tasty finish and spicy oak kicking in as it lingers.
14% alc. $16.95. Screwcap.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Vanilla bean aromas lead into a rich, creamy, malolactic, barrel-fermented style with a mealy backbone, citrus, tropical fruit and nougat. Silky textured, seamless and long, honeyed savoury oak lingers on the spicy, full-bodied finish. Made to last, this is a stunning example of great New Zealand chardonnay.
13.5% alc. $38.95.

Sileni the Sounds Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Concentrated fruity aromas leap out of the glass with typical sauvignon pungency and a hint of sweat and the flavours are packed with tropical fruit, grass, apples, limes, grapefruit and a flourish of summer herbs but the silky texture is what makes this so classy. It flows across the palate with a full-bodied richness and a long, crisp, pungent finish.
13% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Gris 2005
Pale coloured, slightly earthy smelling with fresh, aromatic apple blossom, apple seed and apricot kernel aromas and fruity, warm-textured flavours of oily apple and Nashi pear with a musky nuance, no apparent oak and a spicy, floral finish with just a touch of sweetness.
13.5% alc. $21.95. Screwcap.

Dr Loosen 'L' Riesling 2004 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Very pale, aromatic and slightly oily smelling with citrus, stewed apple and a lime blossom overtone to the scent. Crisp and fresh in the palate with bright acidity, an earthy mid-palate and a rose petal-infused boiled lolly sweetness to the finish. A piercingly pure wine with beautifully balanced sweetness and acidity, and an amazingly long juicy finish for its low alcohol content.
8.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.

Schoffit Cuvée Caroline Gewurztraminer 2004 - Alsace
Light gold coloured. Pungent, floral, spicy Turkish Delight aromas and full-bodied flavours packed with delicious, oily, Gewurztraminer fruit enhanced by exotic spices, with a long, lingering, off-dry, white-pepper finish. A big wine with powerful flavours.
13.5% alc. $36.95.

Vina Alarba Garnacha 2004 -Calatayud, Spain
Dense, mulberry-red coloured with spicy berry aromatics, concentrated ripe plummy fruit, hints of sweeter strawberry, tar, spicy oak and rich, powerful, thick velvety tannins. There's a touch of chocolate on the clean, juicy, vibrant finish and the aftertaste is long and savoury.
14% alc. $19.95.

Papa Luna 2004 - Calatayud, Spain
Very youthful black red with crimson purple rims. Smoky, slightly jammy aromas, succulent plum and blackberry fruit flavours with firm slightly grippy tannins, a hint of chocolate and a touch of pepper. A rather juicy package with plenty of structure and very little oak. 65% Garnacha, 15%, Tempranillo, 15% Syrah and 5% Monastrell.
14% alc. $24.95.

Hardy's Oomoo McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004
Inky black-red, opaque right to the rims, this is immediately appealing with its creamy Black Forest chocolate and spicy oak aromas and rich, spicy, opulent flavours with beautifully proportioned soft, fine-grained tannins, mulberry and stewed tamarillo fruit, peppery spices, liquorice and a toasted cedary oak finish. Juicy and long and absolutely fantastic value.
14% alc. $15.95.

Browns of Padthaway Ernest Shiraz 2003
Dense red-black with red rims that are just starting to fade. Berry biscuit and savoury oak aromas and full-bodied, juicy flavours with savoury French oak, plum and berry fruit, bitter chocolate, a touch of tar, a hint of barnyard, well integrated tannins and a long, savoury, spicy finish with just a nuance of Christmas cake as it lingers.
14.5% alc. $17.95.

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2001 - Barossa Valley
Inky red-black, very dense with no hint of its age in the colour. Cedary oak aromas and concentrated black fruit flavours with firm, grainy tannins and a lingering, rich, spicy finish with just a touch of mint. A powerful, earthy, savoury wine, packed with a creamy American oak opulence and succulent fruits that make it very tempting to drink right now, although it will continue to evolve in the cellar.
13.5% alc. $124.00.

Grant Burge Aged Tawny Port
Clear, orange-garnet coloured. Quite spiritous with muscatels and nutty fruitcake scents then in the palate there's a rancio character coming through the warm, spicy flavours. Packed with raisins though not too sweet, with a touch of orange zest as it lingers.
18.5% alc. $26.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4th January 2006
The Summer Series
All wines were tasted blind.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2003
Golden coloured with oily, peachy aromas, toasty oak, spice, grapefruit-like citrus and a long savoury finish with a buttery aftertaste. With some months in the bottle the oak, fruit and acid are integrating nicely. Good drinking this summer.
14% alc. $14.95 special.

Peregrine Central Otago Chardonnay 2002
Golden-coloured, quite mature-looking with warm toasty aromas and a wet hay character that is a little atypical for Chardonnay. Mealy and malo-lactic with a creamy texture, corn bread, and apricot-like fruit adding acidity while spicy oak lingers on the full-bodied finish.  Ready now.
14% alc. $23.95.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2004
Clear bright green gold with citrussy aromas and citrus, lemongrass and lime marmalade flavours. It's a nutty style with good palate weight and a creamy texture with butterscotch emerging on the long finish, but showing just a little astringency from the dominant citrus flavours tonight.
Hawke's Bay 13% alc. $17.95 special. Screwcap.

Vase Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2003 - Western Australia
Clear, bright yellow gold with biscuity aromas and dry, nutty, toasty, mealy, savoury French oak flavours laced with citrus, figs, nougat and vanilla bean. Full-bodied and mouth-filling with a long mealy, citrussy finish and a delicious creamy, butterscotch aftertaste. A blend of 65% Margaret River and 35% Great Southern fruit.
14% alc. $37.95.

Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2005 - Kumeu
Pale and clear with fragrant, floral, citrus, apple and pear-drop aromas. A young, slightly spritzy, off-dry style with tropical fruit joining the lemon citrus, a delicate but enriching silky-textured palate and a long, zesty finish with a touch of honey, musk and rose petal. Classy.
12.5% alc. 7.5g/l residual sugar, $28.95. Screwcap.

S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2001 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Bright, clear, yellow gold with strong, apple-oil and citrus aromas and Germanic-like apple strudel flavours. This has an exquisite balance of sweetness and acid with the racy acidity cutting through the honeyed sweetness to linger with a fresh, lemon biscuit complexity and an oily richness.
8% alc. $38.95.

Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage 2003 - Rhone Valley, France
Deep, opaque, bright black cherry coloured with earthy, savoury, plum and red berry aromas leading into a fresh, spicy, warm, full-bodied palate with dry meaty tannins, a touch of chocolate adding creaminess to the texture with savoury oak and fruit succulence on the peppery, slightly musky finish.
13.5% alc. $32.95 special.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Quite deep purple/Burgundy red with good depth of colour. Chocolate and cherry aromas with a touch of spice carry through to the velvety-textured palate with earthy, thyme-like herbs, beautifully integrated savoury French oak and a rounded, balanced, complex creamy finish. Very smart, a double gold medal winner and one of the best Central Otago pinots from the vintage.
14.5% alc. $35.95 special. Screwcap.

Yellowtail Merlot 2004 - Riverina
Black-red with tarry aromas and rich, savoury flavours, blackberry, black cherry and strawberry fruits, liquorice, chocolate and a lovely, tarry, savoury, well-integrated vanillin oak finish. Soft, juicy and very, very appealing at the price.
13.5% alc. $12.95.

Katnook Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - Coonawarra
Deep black-red with some brick to the fading red rims. Earthy, barnyard aromas at first then cedary vanillin oak takes over while in the palate there's spicy blackcurrant and plum fruits, cigar and a touch of mint with firm grainy tannins and a gamey richness to the long finish.
13.5% alc. $17.95 special. Screwcap.

Rosemount Traditional Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Petit Verdot 2002
Deep black red with blood-red rims, vanillin oak, berry and bitter chocolate aromas, smooth silky tannins, integrated oak, blackberry and black cherry fruit, a hint of mint and a touch of tobacco, it's even a little gamey with good acidity keeping a youthful edge to the sultry, tarry finish. A very complex wine made from a blend of McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek fruit. Gold Liquorland Top 100.
14.5% alc. $29.95 special.

Jacob's Creek Limited Release Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Deep black red coloured with watery, plum red rims - looking so youthful for its 8 years of age. Sappy American oak, fragrant exotic spices and a whiff of mint on the nose and wonderful fruit intensity in the palate with finely-textured, slightly grippy tannins, blackcurrant and plum fruit, pepper, a touch of chocolate, lots of mint and a long full-bodied finish with spice, fruit and creamy oak lingering. Outstanding wine with multiple Gold's & Trophies to its name.
13.5% alc. $59.95.

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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