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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

July 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 - 26th July 2006
Pegasus Bay with Matthew and Lynnette.
Wines were not tasted blind.

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon 2005 - Waipara Valley
Bright light gold, slightly oi1y, funky, nutty and herbal smelling, an unusual aroma that makes you think "what is this?", but it's clearer once you taste it. Full-bodied and a little honeyed with a fat leesy backbone, ripe stonefruit and a toasty finish, this is a Sauvignon/Semillon blend in the style of a white Graves. 14% alc. $25.95.

Main Divide Riesling 2005 - Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury
Bright light gold with lime glints; fresh, crisp citrus aromas with a hint of powdered sherbet and a sweetish flavour with a lightly honeyed texture, a ton of crisp marmalade and apple, and a mandarin peel zestiness to the fresh, clean finish. With excellent acidity balancing the 46 grams of residual sugar, the aftertaste is reminiscent of freshly squeezed, juicy sweet oranges. 10% alc. $16.95.

Main Divide Chardonnay 2004
Bright yellow gold with toasted nut aromas and mouthfilling, reasonably rich, ripe stonefruit flavours with an earthy, leesy complexity, a touch of butterscotch, a lightly grainy texture and a touch of grapefruit on the long, toasty finish. Lovely drinking now. 13% alc. $17.95.

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2005 - Waipara Valley
Mid yellow gold with a nutty, leesy grapefruit-tinged aroma, this is a beautifully polished wine with a refined silky texture and full-bodied flavours full of sweet fruit highlighted with fine citrus acidity and a dry, bready, cedar finish. It seems to be a departure from the typical bold, outgoing, Pegasus Bay style, but wait, it does have that wheaty oatmeal character that we know and love and butter toffee emerges to linger on the finish. A little tight at this stage, it will mature for about 6 months more in the bottle before release. 14% alc. N/A.

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2004 - Waipara Valley
Bright yellow gold, gunsmoke and grapefruit on the nose, big, bold and spicy in the rich, creamy palate with cedary oak, buttered popcorn, ripe stonefruit, a touch of citrus, lots of leesy oatmeal characters and a warm spicy, savoury finish. A huge, mouthfilling wine, not for the faint-hearted, it is almost a meal on its own. 14.5% alc. $29.95.

Main Divide Selection Pinot Noir 2004 - Waipara Valley
Dark tamarillo red with smoky, slightly funky aromas and savoury spicy flavours with underlying complexity, bright cherry and plum fruit, good acidity, velvety tannins and more tangy red guava and tamarillo fruit emerging on the lingering, slightly herb-influenced finish. 13.5% alc. $26.95.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2004 - Waipara Valley
Deep ruby red, almost opaque - fantastic colour saturation. Ripe and succulent aromas with a faint hint of musk and an underpinning of oak lead into a concentrated pure pinot palate with gorgeous ripe black cherry and plum fruit, smoky oak, lots of savoury earthy connotations and a spicy kick. The tannins are succulent and velvety and the finish is powerful and just a little funky. Delicious already, but this is a wine with a long life ahead of it and is definitely worth cellaring. 14.5% alc. $45.95.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2003 - Waipara Valley
Dark ruby red with lighter pinky-red edges, this is a wine of pure finesse with an alluring pinot perfume and fine silky tannins that envelop the mouth and excite the senses. A savoury wine with a gamey, meaty, earthy complexity, mellow integrated fruit and oak and a long silky finish. A beautifully balanced wine to sip and savour. 13.5% alc. N/A.

Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir 2003 - Waipara Valley
Intense, vibrant, inky black red with ruby rims, it has an intriguing, smoky, savoury aromas, like spit roasted lamb studded with rosemary and Asian spices. Over the course of the tasting the aroma changes, but it is always savoury and just a little funky. Powerful and concentrated in the palate with black plum, dark cherry and boysenberry fruit, tight-grained silky tannins, smoky spices and a long, savoury meaty finish with fruit sweetness titivating the aftertaste. A complex wine that needs time to reveal all its fascinating intricacies. 14.5% alc. N/A.

Pegasus Bay Encore Noble Riesling 2004 - Waipara Valley
Light gold coloured with a beautifully expressive, captivating honeysuckle-like aroma that smells sweet and delicious and prepares the palate for the intensely sweet and luscious flavours that are balanced by beautifully poised acidity. Think orange toffee, grapefruit marmalade, dried apricots and honey with a nectar-like texture and a clean, refreshing, tropical fruit aftertaste. A perfect end to an evening, all on its own. 9% alc. $36.95 / 375ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19th July 2006
Matariki Wines with Simon Nash MW.
Wines were not tasted blind.

Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 2003
Lime gold. Floral, citrus blossom and hand cream on the nose, fresh and racy in the palate with warm honey, lemon zest, a toasty richness and an almost bone dry flinty finish with good weight and length. 12% alc. $17.95. Screwcap.

Peregrine Pinot Gris 2005 - Central Otago
Pale straw, aromatic and floral with hints of pineapple on the nose, it appears to be very lightly oaked with a buttery leesy influence that adds to the smooth, creamy texture with a warm spicy finish and lots of citrus, apple and tropical fruit as it lingers. 14.5% alc. $25.95. Screwcap.

Matariki Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2004 - Gimblett Gravels
Light yellow gold, rich and oily smelling with a funky yeast lees influence and hints of asparagus while grilled butterscotch-coated stonefruit flavours fill the full-bodied palate with a spicy undercurrent and a citrussy note to the steely finish. Oak and lees-aging make this quite a different style to the NZ norm. 13.5% alc. $24.95. Screwcap.

Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Bright yellow gold, spicy and mealy with a touch of custard over peachy fruit and a caramel note to the finish, this is a tasty, mouthfilling chardonnay with citrus emerging right on the end and lots of well-integrated lightly toasted oak. 13.5% alc. $18.95. Screwcap.

Matariki Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Bright yellow gold with abundant toasty oak on the nose and sweet toasty oak and rich, ripe stonefruit in the palate - a big fat wine with a slightly oily character and a powerful finish with lots of mellow spice and a touch of caramel as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $26.95.

Matariki Reserve Chardonnay 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Bright lemon gold with lemon sherbet and buttered popcorn on the nose and lots of barrel-ferment and savoury yeast lees, wheaty characters to the fore in the palate with figs, stonefruit, a touch of pineapple and oak spice. Tight and perhaps a little restrained, itís a brand new wine with plenty of life ahead of it. 13% alc. $39.95.

Matariki Pinot Noir 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Faded, light tamarillo red with an earthy, slightly jammy, sweet-fruited aroma and savoury flavours with mellow fruit, silky smooth tannins, a touch of mulled wine spices infused with citrus and a salami meat / leathery nuance to the long, savoury, rounded finish. The aftertaste is long and shows the subtleties of pinot with a little age - perhaps comparable to a Cote de Beaune style. 12.5% alc. $28.95.

Matariki Aspire Syrah 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Despite its big, rich, cherry red colour this is a lighter style of Syrah with soft tannins over a chocolatey backbone, cherry and plum fruit, fruit cake spice, a salty, slightly herbal (mint / rosemary) nuance and a slightly grippy finish that morphs into fleshy, full aftertaste. Very drinkable at the price and lots of characters that will make it a terrific match to all cuts of lamb. 13% alc. $18.95. Screwcap.

Matariki Syrah 2001 - Hawkes Bay
Deep black red, flushed with colour and looking quite young, it reveals some age on the nose with mellow oak and subtle fruit but then it contradicts itself again with lots of grunt and power, pepper, allspice, sweet vibrant fruit and a touch of liquorice in the palate. Smooth and long with integrated oak and velvety smooth fine grained tannins imparting a pleasing, rounded, vinous finesse; dried, orange-scented herbs emerge on the finish and cherry and fruit cake spices linger gracefully. 13.5% alc. $28.95.

Matariki Quintology 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Deep red-black with violet hues, this is a deep brooding wine with mint, leather French oak and spice box on the nose and smoky cedary oak and cassis and plum fruit in the palate with a touch of chocolate, grainy tannins and a long, drawn-out, sultry, savoury, slightly peppery finish. The blend is 42% merlot, 23.5% cabernet sauvignon, 21% malbec, 8.5% cabernet franc and 5% syrah - it's still quite tight at the moment, but something that decanting and a big glass will easily fix. 13.5% alc. $39.95.

Williams & Humbert Canasta Cream Sherry
Deep golden amber with olive green tinges, it smells a little salty with nuances of muscatels and dried orange peel. Super smooth with a fine silky texture, the slightly lanolin, oxidised (rancio) character adds tang, the high alcohol adds warmth and caramel/toffee sweetness while flavours of orange peel, cardamon and honey add an interesting contrast to the heady finish. 19.5% alc. $35.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12th July 2006
The John Forrest Collection and others.
Rarely does Kingsley Wood invite winemakers to present their wines at his tastings, but tonight he broke that rule when Dr John Forrest came to present his new wines. Dr Forrest has taken what he thinks is the best grape variety from the best block of land to clearly reflect their sense of place. Wines were not tasted blind.

Forrest Estate Dry Riesling 2002
Light yellow gold in colour, with four years of age this has developed lovely toasty aromas but still tastes youthful with crisp, fresh, zingy acidity, citrus and tropical fruit and a rich, full finish with a remarkably long aftertaste. This is world class Riesling made in New Zealand, with multiple gold medals to its name. Screwcap.13% alc. 6.5g/l rs. $17.95.

Chandon Z*D Vintage Brut 2002 - Victoria
Straw gold with delicate apple bread aromas, it's very crisp, very dry and very fizzy to the taste with a slightly buttery (lactic) influence and while its seems quite neutral in flavour, there's a fruit sweetness that's makes its mark on the elegant, long and slightly toasty finish. Crowncap seal. 12.5% alc. $33.95.

John Forrest Collection The White 2005
A multi-regional blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chenin Blanc, this pale straw coloured wine is aromatic and floral with nuances of musky, spicy Gewurztraminer and apricot-like Viognier, but it is apple blossom that dominates this fragrant drop. It's zingy and fresh to the taste with a grainy texture and concentrated fruit, with perhaps the citrus steeliness of Riesling making its mark at first but every time you taste it, the different varietals have their turn in teasing your tastebuds. Tonight, however, it was the passionfruit of Sauvignon Blanc that was contributing to the pungent finish and ultra-long aftertaste. There is little influence of oak and you can't detect the Chardonnay at all but John says, "Put it with smoked meats and you will swear it is Chardonnay in the glass". A wine that will be interesting to watch as it evolves. Screwcap. 14% alc. 5.8 g/l rs. $49.95.

John Forrest Collection Riesling 2005 - Wairau Valley, Marlborough
Pale straw in colour, it looks and smells youthful with honeysuckle blossom, pears and citrus on the nose - in fact it is very tight and closed for the style. Young and fresh to the taste with granny smith apples, almost-ripe mandarin and limes to the fore, sherbet (or ginger) that zizzes the mouth and sweeter stonefruit on the lingering finish. The sweet and sour gives an interesting effect and there's a touch of oiliness that contributes to the palate weight. A wine that should be cellared at this stage of its life. Is it worth $50? Well, cellar it and open it in 10 years time and you will probably wish you had bought more. Screwcap. 12% alc. 12 g/l rs. $49.95.

John Forrest Collection Pinot Noir 2004 -Waitaki Valley
Slightly orange-tinged garnet in colour, it's pungently aromatic with smoky bacon, deli meats and spices emanating from the glass and a sweet-fruited palate that is actually sweet and savoury with mulled wine spices and dried orange peel. A concentrated, powerful wine with silky tannins and a seductive finish, it has an earthy undercurrent with a smoky veneer of oak, bright acidity and a gamey aftertaste. Screwcap. 14.2% alc. $49.95.

John Forrest Collection Syrah 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Deep crimson red with a purple-black core. Concentrated bright red fruit and new leather with a whiff of charcoal on the nose and an amalgam of pepper, liquorice and allspice in the palate with cherry, plum and blackberry fruit swimming in chocolate liqueur and a musky rose petal character to the finish. An extravagant wine with powerful yet smooth tannins and beautifully integrated cedary oak. Screwcap. 14% alc. $49.95.

John Forrest Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Deep black red with a purple red rim. Spicy French oak and concentrated cassis-like fruit on the nose, beautifully integrated succulent fine-grained tannins, concentrated black fruits, a lovely undercurrent of dried rosemary and mint, and a smoky meaty finish with lingering ripe Cabernet fruit. Deep, dark and thought-provoking. Screwcap. 14.3% alc. $49.95.

John Forrest Collection Noble Riesling 2005 - Brancott Valley, Marlborough
Light gold with a citrine glow. Beautifully fragrant and complex aromas of citrus zest, passionfruit, honeysuckle and honey. The texture is thick, nectar-like but the flavour is fresh, clean and sublime. Orange marmalade, mango and passionfruit come together with the acidity bringing the climax to a refreshing end. It will become toffee-ish in time but right now, fruit is the winner. Screwcap. $49.95.

Fonseca Vintage Port 1997
Impenetrable black red, I got the bottom of the bottle and the sediment too. A powerful, spiritous aroma of wine-soaked raisins and an expressive palate full of mocha, chocolate, liquorice, roses and orange liqueur with velvety tannins and alcohol adding a delicious warming sweetness. A wine to savour but really far too young to drink yet. An excellent cellaring proposition from an excellent vintage. $159.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5th July 2006
All Brand New - Wines never tasted at First Glass on a Wednesday before
All wines were tasted blind.

Mount Riley Riesling 2005 - Nelson/Marlborough
With fresh tangy aromas and bright, crisp, zesty flavours with lime sherbet to the fore, it's off-dry and juicy with a tropical fruit finish. Served chilled, at this time of the year itís a refreshing start to the evening. Screwcap. 12.5% alc. $13.95.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2004 - Clare Valley
A drier style with oily apple aromas and rich, oily, full-bodied flavours with lots of racy lime and lemon citrus that zing every nook and cranny of the mouth. A powerful style with a lengthy finish. Drink it now if you want to - fish and chips will go well - but it is also an exceptional cellaring proposition. Screwcap. 13% alc. $24.95.

Chard Farm Closeburn Chardonnay 2004 - Central Otago
Straw gold with neutral, grapey aromas that hint of milky yoghurt, it's creamy textured with melon and stonefruit over a spicy, slightly nutty backbone with caramel notes on the finish. A nicely balanced unoaked style. Screwcap. 13% alc. $22.95.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Light gold in colour with peach and vanilla on the nose, this is a big, rounded, glycerolic, oily textured wine with spicy oak, juicy grilled peach fruit, lots of creamy butterscotch and a smidgen of grapefruit to balance the richness and natural fruit sweetness of the long, toasty, mouthfilling finish. Starting to open up nicely - a delicious main course wine. Screwcap. 14% alc. $34.95.

Montana Riverpoint Matawhero Gewurztraminer 2005 - Gisborne
Pale gold in colour with plenty of 'legs', the enticing aromas are reminiscent of spiced, semi-dried pears with a hint of musk and it tastes clean, balanced and focussed. The texture is perfectly oily while the flavours are delicately spicy with sweet stonefruit and ginger on the lingering luscious finish. A beautifully poised wine that Gewurztraminer addicts should not pass by. 13% alc. $22.95.

Umani Ronchi Serrano Rosso Conero 2004 - Marches, Italy
Youthful purple garnet in colour, it looks like pinot but certainly doesnít taste like it. With savoury, leathery aromas and smoky, savoury, earthy flavours with stewed berries, tomato stalk, dry tannins and a touch of barnyard, this is a rough, simple, slightly dirty, medium-bodied style that is best consumed with traditional Italian-style meaty, tomato pastas. A blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. 12.5% alc. $16.95.

Four Sisters Shiraz 2003 - Australia
Dark red with spicy, peppery, vibrant berry fruit aromas and medium to full-bodied juicy blackberry flavours with hints of liquorice and mocha, chunky tannins and a chocolatey finish. Easy drinking and very appealing at the price. Screwcap. 14% alc. $12.95.

Dal Broi Shiraz 2001 - Barossa
Deep, dark red, youthful for its age, it smells enticing with cherry, hints of eucalypt and lots of fine-grained vanillin oak on the nose. It's sweet yet savoury, with lovely fruit weight, fine tannins, chocolate, cherries, creamy oak, tobacco and a peppery kick to the long, succulent, meaty finish. Very impressive for a 5-year old wine, with plenty of life still ahead of it. 14% alc. $16.95.

Coriole Contour 7 Shiraz 2003 - McLaren Vale
Dense, black-red coloured with savoury nuances of tar and leather amongst the thick chocolate and slight minty aroma, it's firm and robust with pepper, nutmeg and allspice, blackcurrant and blackberry fruit and a long, powerful, grunty finish with a barnyard nuance as it lingers. Screwcap. 14% alc. $18.95.

Craggy Range Sophia 2004 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Purple-red, dense and bright, there's a nuance of freshly poured bitumen amongst the sweet vanillin oak on the nose that leads into a palate that is pure concentration and class. With rich powerful flavours of succulent dark plum and cherry fruit, cigar box, violets, hints of chocolate and beautifully polished cedar oak, this is wine that will easily cellar for 10 years, but with its powerful meaty tannins it should be decanted now for utmost enjoyment. Made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. 14% alc. $44.95.

Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2004 - Barossa Valley
A deep, lustrous hued, boysenberry coloured wine with alluring sweet oak, cherry and allspice on the nose and concentrated cherry and plum fruit in the palate with chocolate and beautifully defined spices. This is big, juicy, gorgeous Aussie Shiraz with fine tannins that support without intruding, hints of tobacco amongst the smoky savoury oak and the spicy signature of Shiraz flourishing on the mouthfilling finish. 14.5% alc. $30.95.

Two Hands Brilliant Disguise Moscato 2006 - Barossa
Water pale, sparkling and fizzy, this fresh, light, fruity wine is a liquid sorbet, a gorgeous palate-cleanser after the big reds and perfect as an inter-course diversion. It's packed with succulent ripe peach, nectarine, grape and citrus fruit and with just enough sparkle to give it zizz - itís like sucking fizzy fruit sherbet lollies, but much much nicer. Made from White Frontignac grapes, it smells astonishingly like Muscat. 6.5% alc. $20.95 / 500ml bottle.

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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