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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

March / April 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 April 2006
Return of the Grunters - Episode 3
All Wines were tasted blind.

Kemblefield Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2004
Yellow gold with buttery oak aromas and rich oaky flavours joining stonefruit, melon and a hint of citrus with a bright spicy backbone and a rich toasty finish. It's full of flavour with plenty of fruit and plenty of oak and drinking well now.
14.5% alc. $19.95.

Kingston Echelon Chardonnay 2002
Deep yellow gold with melons and nutty barrel characters on the nose and full-bodied, almost over-the-top, flavours in the mouth. A big, ballsy, style with lots of citrus and grilled pineapple, a yeasty backbone and a flare of alcoholic warmth on the big toasty finish. An extreme style, not for the faint-hearted.
14% alc. $21.95.

Beresford Highwood Shiraz 2004
Deep red in colour with a black/violet core and plummy red transparent edges. Alluring with its spicy, smoky, plummy aromas and fruit-forward flavours of blackberry and plum with liquorice, a hint of mint, an earthy, slightly nuggetty, backbone, soft tannins and a bright, spicy, creamy finish. Not really a grunter but certainly a winner with the wallet.
14.5% alc. $14.95. Screwcap.

Two Hands Brave Faces Shiraz/Grenache 2004
Deep plummy red with bright crimson red rims, smoky, spicy, biscuity aromas and bright, spicy flavours with juicy, clean, crisp cherry and raspberry fruit, liquorice spices, a chocolatey undercurrent and a smoky, cigar box note to the toasty finish. A medium to full-bodied style with excellent length.
15% alc. $28.95. Screwcap.

Richmond Grove Limited Release Barossa Shiraz 2001
Deep dark red is the colour of this succulent wine packed with juicy black plums and blackberries, dark toasty oak and liquorice with soft acids, gentle tannins and a long spicy, peppery finish. The first of the real big grunters tonight, this is a rich, full-bodied wine with a few years of age and drinking deliciously now.
14% alc. $17.95.

Wirra Wirra Dead Ringers Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - McLaren Vale
Deep dark red colours come out of the centre of the glass but it shows signs of fading and development on the edges. There's no worry about over-development in the flavour though, with minted blackcurrant jam on the nose and juicy blackcurrant pie flavours in the palate supported by quite firm, dry, grippy tannins, toasty oak, a reasonable amount of acidity and a long, succulent, savoury finish. A super Cabernet Sauvignon that shows it varietal character well, this is called 'The Angelus' in Australia, but 'Dead Ringer' in other markets.
14.5% alc. $52.95.

Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2003 - Langhorne Creek
Deep dark red in colour with a vivid youthful brightness. Freshly ground black pepper on the nose and dry, spicy, violet and peppery flavours in the mouth with juicy cherry plums, chocolate, biscuity oak, gutsy tannins and a rose petal floral character to the finish. A cool-climate imitator with a juicy succulence and one of the favourite wines of the night.
15% alc. $19.95.

Gemtree Uncut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004
Bright blackberry coloured with chocolatey oak aromas and flavours packed with brambles, plums, blackcurrants, chocolate, meaty tannins and toasty oak that build to a long, dry, savoury, pepper-flushed finish with very, very good length. It's quite tight and youthful, seemingly more 'elegant', but with its super concentration, it will evolve well. Screwcap.
14.5% alc. $19.95.

Pauletts Clare Valley Shiraz 2002
Dark red, starting to fade on the edges with toasty oak aromas infused with mint, typical of the Clare, and tarry, slightly oily, earthy flavours with well-integrated, cassis-like fruit. It's dry and savoury and with silky textured tannins and a mellowness that comes with age. Ready now. Screwcap.
14.5% alc. $19.95.

Jip Jip Rocks Limestone Coast Shiraz 2004
Big, bold red coloured with jammy fruit aromas and juicy flavours of plums, cherry and raspberry with dark toasty creamy oak, a touch of mint, big rounded tannins and a good hit of chocolate to balance the dry, spicy finish. A huge wine and very exciting at this price.
15% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1999
Good colour with a deep red core and quite youthful red rims for its age. Smells a little developed with mellow cedar and a touch of mint, while in the palate it is smooth and mellow with lovely silky tannins, a touch of tar, peppery spice and beautifully integrated fruit that has lost its lovely youthful exuberance. A wine with fabulous vinosity, richness and power, and a long, mouth filling finish.
14% alc. $69.95.

Tapestry McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003
Dense black red coloured with smoky leather, spicy pepper, chocolate and red berry aromas and powerfully spicy flavours with voluptuous cherry and plum fruit, a rich, creamy, chocolatey texture, well-rounded gutsy tannins and fabulous length. A huge wine in every sense.
14.5% alc. $23.95.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tastings - 5, 12 & 19 April 2006
No tasting notes - the writer took a holiday.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 29th March 2006
Almost All Gold
All Wines were tasted blind.

Obsidian Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (sc)
Straw gold, perfumed tropical fruit and summer herb aromas and a crisp, bracing oily-textured palate with an exuberance of gooseberry fruit supported by grapefruit acidity, and a long, pungent finish with a musky sweetness as it lingers. Gold Medal Easter Show.
13% alc. $18.95 special.

Wairau River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (sc)
Straw gold. Fennel infused citrus aromas and zesty apple and juicy citrus fruit flavours with a pungent grassy, gooseberry, capsicum backbone, a dry, crisp, grippy finish and a nice touch of passionfruit as it lingers.
3 Gold Medals - LL Top 100, NZ International Wine Show, Easter Show.
13% alc. $17.95 special.

Fairhall Downs Marlborough Chardonnay 2004 (sc)
Light yellow gold. Honeyed oak and butterscotch on the nose and ripe citrussy flavours in the palate with custard, peaches and cream. Ripe and balanced with a long toasty finish. One that chardonnay fans will like. Silver Medal.
13.5% alc. $15.95 special.

Mud House White Swan Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2004 (sc)
Light yellow gold coloured with apricot and nutty muesli aromas and oat-meal in the palate. This is a beautifully poised, smooth, savoury style with a slightly oily texture, lots of yeast-lees influence and an apricot-rich, stonefruit influence to the biscuity finish. Rich but not overpowering. 3 Gold Medals and a Trophy.
13.97% alc. $25.95.

West Brook Blue Ridge Marlborough Chardonnay 2003 (sc)
Yellow gold with a lime glint. Savoury oak on the nose, oily textured, mealy and spicy in the palate with a touch of pineapple, lots of grapefruit and savoury biscuity oak. It's rich and full with spicy buttery oak lingering on the finish. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $24.95 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waikahu Vineyard Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2004 (sc)
Light yellow gold. Quite a creamy, full-bodied style with oatmeal, citrus and honeyed oak on the nose and sweet vanillin oak in the palate with ultra-ripe peach and melon fruit, honeyed butter and a long, mellow mealy, nutty finish with spicy oak lingering. Gold.
14.5% alc. $36.95.

Forrest Marlborough Dry Riesling 2002 (sc)
Light yellow gold with a glint of green. Toasty lime (kero) on the nose with a lovely floral overtone and juicy Riesling fruit in the palate. It’s fattening up since last tasted, with peach nectar joining the apples and limes and there's a bottle-aged toastiness to finish. Multiple Golds.
13% alc. $17.95 special.

Framingham Marlborough Pinot Gris 2005 (sc)
Light straw gold. Floral, slightly oily smelling - like hand cream - with a touch of pear and passionfruit. It has nicely balanced sweetness that makes the wine off-dry and excellent fruit focus with poached pears, hints of passionfruit, a touch of honey and a vinous richness. A touch of savoury herb adds structure to the mouthfilling finish. Gold Medal.
14% alc. 11 g/l RS. $26.95 special.

Coopers Creek Hawke's Bay Merlot 2005 (sc)
Deep dark purple-hued ruby, the colour is quite appealing. It smells tarry and lightly oaked and tastes extracted and leathery with plum jam and cherry fruit, smoke, dry grippy tannins and a slightly peppery finish. Quite pleasant but fairly ordinary. I thought it was a new-wave European wine. Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $14.95 special.

Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004 (sc)
Dark cherry-plum red with a perfumed chicory-like aroma and savoury, spicy flavours with juicy dark fruits, cherries, liquorice, chocolatey oak, smooth tannins and a long spicy finish. A gutsy, medium-bodied style. Gold Medal.
13.5% alc. $19.95 special.

Beresford Highwood Shiraz 2004 (sc)
Black red. Crushed raspberries and blueberries join smoky vanillin oak on the nose and the flavours are soft and juicy, dark and savoury, smoky and spicy with spiced red fruits, raisins and a touch of liquorice as it lingers.
14.5% alc. $14.95 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2004 (c)
Inky black-black-red. Smoky, spicy oak aromas lead into a rich, full palate that is very tightly structured at this stage with powerful tannins, warming alcohol, rich plum and currant fruit, a touch of chocolate and a smoky, cedary finish. It's a huge wine concentrated wine that definitely should be cellared at this stage.
14% alc. $23.95 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 22 March 2006
Gold & Trophy Winners from the Royal Easter Wine Show
Only the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah/Shiraz were tasted blind.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Lots of typical Marlborough herb and sweaty notes on the nose, and crisp, vivacious, grass, apple and tropical fruit flavours in the palate with a crisp, dry tangy finish that lasts for ages. Gold Medal.
13% alc. $16.95. Screwcap.

Alpha Domus Hawke’s Bay Viognier 2005
A delicate floral fragrance infused with scents of tree-ripened peach, and toasty, spicy, mouthfilling, creamy textured, barrel-fermented flavours with good acidity and a surge of tropical fruit on the finish. It's a little reminiscent of a youthful Gisborne chardonnay with its juicy fruit and estery characters. Gold and Trophy.
13% alc. $22.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waldron Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Smoky oak, cashew nut, peaches and cream on the nose and lovely, rich, creamy, caramel flavours with beautifully integrated spicy oak, beautifully poised citrus and a long savoury, mouthfilling finish. A very classy, very powerful wine that is simply delicious to drink. Gold & Trophy.
14.5% alc. $36.95. Screwcap.

C J Pask Declaration Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
A fragrant, smoky wine with a nuance of incense then in the palate bright tropical fruit with a touch of pineapple and buckets of spicy oak that almost hides the rich stonefruit and melons emerging from behind it. A huge polished Chardonnay with a hint of coconut and a touch of cornmeal on the long, savoury finish. 3 Gold Medals.
14% alc. $38.95. Screwcap.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Riesling 2005
Sweet scented with lime blossoms and violets on the nose and a sherbet zestiness to the citrus and red apple fruit with a smooth, talcy, slippery texture, floral nuances to the apple and tropical fruit finish and a clean crisp and fresh aftertaste. Beautifully focussed with excellent balance of acidity to sweetness. Gold & Trophy.
12.5% alc. 11.6 g/l RS. $27.95. Screwcap.

Thornbury Marlborough Pinot Gris 2005
Fairly neutral, grapey aromas with an underlying spicy leesy complexity that imparts a nutty savouriness to the succulent pipfruit flavours. A full-bodied Pinot Gris style, off-dry to the taste with a floral nuance as it lingers.
Gold & Trophy 13.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Hawke's Bay Rose 2005
Light ruby with fragrant, strawberry aromas and spicy, zesty flavours from the touch of citrus over crushed red berry fruit with a nuance of herb and a hint of pepper. Good weight for a Rosé and the lingering aftertaste is reminiscent of a strawberry milkshake. A blend of Merlot/Syrah/Pinot Noir/Malbec. Gold & Trophy.
14% alc. $13.95. Screwcap.

Northrow Marlborough Pinot Noir 2004
An inviting pinot noir, fragrant smelling with bright cherry fruit over creamy smoky oak and an intrinsic earthy, savoury, smoky depth to the beautifully rounded, seamless palate. There's a touch of herb, juicy cherries, polished savoury oak, smoky bacon and a hint of chocolate as it lingers. Finely focussed with silky tannins and excellent length. Multiple Golds.
14% alc. $33.95. Screwcap.

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2004
Deep coloured with smoky, savoury meat aromas morph to sweet plummy fruit in the palate with an earthy, tarry backbone, velvety-rich tannins with a little bit of grip and a long, savoury spicy finish. A powerful, muscular wine with a savoury aftertaste that goes on and on. Gold & Trophy.
14.5% alc. $40.95. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot Hawkes Bay Cabernet 2004
Deep dark red. On the nose blackberries infuse into smoky oak then in the palate it is full of chocolate and juicy plums with vanillin oak, smooth succulent tannins, and a long dry finish with a touch of musk as it lingers. Gold & Trophy.
14% alc. $23.95. Screwcap.

Jip Jip Rocks Limestone Coast Shiraz 2004 - South Australia
An opulent, fragrant, berry-filled, chocolate aroma leads into a soft, smooth, sweet-fruited palate crammed with tarry vanillin oak, juicy purple berries and loads of pepper and fruit cake spices. 3 Gold Medals and great buying at the price.
15% alc. $15.95. Screwcap.

Vidal Soler Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004
Deep, dark and savoury with an impenetrable purple-red colour, rose pepper and chocolate on the nose and beautifully integrated polished oak in the palate with fine-grained succulent tannins, chocolate, juicy berries, exotic peppery spices and rose petals lingering on the gorgeously long, dry finish. Beautifully concentrated. A benchmark. Gold Medal and Trophies for Champion Syrah and Champion Wine of the Show.
14.5% alc. $43.95. Screwcap.

Saints Gisborne Noble Semillon 2004
Golden yellow in colour with honeyed orange curd aromas and orange curd and apricot jam filling the palate together with mandarin-like acidity to balance the honeyed sweetness and a spicy touch to the mouthfilling finish. Beautifully balanced, not overly sweet, with a touch of oak adding complexity. Gold & Trophy.
13.5% alc. $17.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15 March 2006
The Class of 2002
All wines, except the bubbles, were tasted blind.

Chandon ZD Vintage Brut 2002 - Yarra Valley, Australia
Straw gold bubbles with yeasty aromas and mouthfilling ripe grape flavours. It's very dry, crisp, fresh and flavoursome with a little spice and natural fruit sweetness balancing the long, persistent finish. ZD means Zero Dosage i.e. no added sugar to the blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
12.5% alc. $33.95. Crown cap

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2002 - Marlborough
Yellow gold with powerful aromas of toasty oak and yeast lees with a hint of citrus and ripe, toasty flavours in the fig, nut, roasted stonefruit spectrum. It rounded and creamy but showing a little too much development for long term cellaring, so best to drink this winter. Gold - New Zealand Home & Entertaining.
14% alc. $26.95 special.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2002 - Marlborough
Yellow gold. Quite complex smelling with a savoury, yeast lees influence to the bright grapefruit-like aromas and oily citrus flavours in the palate with nectarine and tropical fruit building to a steely finish with a fresh edge. The finish is long and savoury with lovely balance and length and nutty oak as it lingers. It is starting to garner some bottle aged characters but still shows its youth and has life ahead of it.
14% alc. $34.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold with an appealingly complex, savoury aroma and full-bodied, ripe fruited, savoury flavours of stonefruit and nectarine with a citrussy overtone and a nutty, yeast lees-influenced richness. Very dry, Burgundian-like in the palate and a toastiness to the creamy finish. 3 Gold Medals.
14.5% alc. $34.95. Screwcap

Egon Muller Scharzhof Riesling 2002 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Straw gold with honeysuckle and lemon blossom on the nose and lemon curd in the grainy-textured palate with lime and mandarin zest emerging on the finish and a touch of apple strudel as it lingers. Very fresh. It's a sweetish style, but not overly sweet, with good acidity to balance it.
10.5% alc. $32.95.

Coto de Hayas Crianza 2002 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Deep red in colour with aromas of jam on slightly burnt toast with hints of strawberry, cherry, leather and herbs, it’s a medium-weight, soft, juicy wine with lots of fruit, a savoury, tarry backbone and a chocolatey note to the peppered strawberry finish. Made from 60% Garnacha and 40% Tempranillo 40%, this well-priced quaffer is ideal to match to tapas.
13.5% alc. $12.95 special.

Orlando Trilogy Cab Sauv/Cab Franc/Merlot 2002 - South Australia
Dark red coloured with blackcurrant and smoky oak on the nose and strong blackcurrant, cherry, herb and chocolate in the palate with a backbone of creamy vanillin oak and grippy tannins on the savoury finish. Showing a little development but drinking well now and with its good acidity, the wine has life ahead of it.
14% alc. $12.95 special. Screwcap

Kirrihill Companions Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Deep red, almost black. Spicy currants on the nose and spicy flavours with succulent cherry and blackberry fruit, chocolatey oak, a hint of tar, a touch of white pepper, a nuance of citrus and a soft juicy finish. A medium-weight wine, drinking superbly now.
14.7% alc. $13.95 special. Screwcap

Henry Lawson Shiraz 2002 - Mudgee, NSW
Dense black red in colour with liquid chocolate on the nose and chocolatey oak in the palate with succulent cherry and blueberry fruit, a fine tannin structure and a long savoury, slightly tarry finish with lots and lots of earthy spices and pepper as it lingers. It's long and tasty with a fruit cake-like richness as it lingers.
14% alc. $14.95 special.

Henry's Drive Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - South Australia
Deep dark red, starting to brown on the rims. Savoury aromas with a backing of cedar and savoury flavours with a touch of liquorice, macerated currants, vanilla and dark chocolate. The flavours open up nicely in the mouth and the finish is long and full. Though showing some development (and some people thought this fully mature), with its acidity and firm tannins it should sit on this plateau for quite a while.
14.5% alc. $44.95.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Inky black red with crimson edges, smoky savoury oak and blackcurrant aromas, and concentrated cassis and plum fruit in the palate with velvety tannins, underlying leather and cedar and a chocolatey opulence to the long, seamless finish. A class act. Multiple Golds & Trophies.
14.5% alc. $42.95. Screwcap.

Tim Gramp McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Deep red black in colour, looking very youthful. Creamy, smoky, cedary oak and spice on the nose and big grippy tannins in the palate with a touch of mint, plum jam, 'Cherry Ripe' (coconut, cherry and chocolate), and a long, creamy, peppery finish. A dense, concentrated wine with lovely use of oak and a delicious winey succulence that lingers for ages. Champion Wine - Australia's Small Winemakers Show.
14.5% alc. $30.95 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 8 March 2006
Wines from Otage, Nelson and Western Australia
Wines were tasted blind, except the Vasse Felix wines.

Neudorf Brightwater Riesling 2005 - Nelson
Straw gold. Perfumed, slightly talcy aroma and crisp, fruity, fresh, racy flavours with stone and tropical fruit and a long, quenching citrussy finish. A dry, exhilarating style. 6.9g/l residual sugar.
12.5% alc. $23.95. Screwcap.

Moutere Hills Nelson Riesling 2005
Watery pale in colour with honeysuckle aromas and tangy, citrussy flavours with a rich, oily backbone and apples and toasty lime to the fore on the finish. The flavour lasts in the mouth for ages and a musky sweetness emerges as it lingers. Gold - NZ International Wine Show.
11.5% alc. $23.95.

St. Urbans-Hof Riesling 2003 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Straw gold in colour with a hint of that distinctive kerosene-like aroma and a rich weighty palate with strong, earthy flavours, lots of oily lime and a touch of nectarine on the lightly honeyed finish. Qualitatswein level of quality and drier than usually expected from Mosel.
11% alc. $26.95.

Wild Earth Central Otago Riesling 2005
Emitting an exotic floral perfume, this medium sweet wine has delicate citrus and rose petal flavours and fantastic acidity to balance the sweetness beautifully. Pure and focussed to start but as the wine travels across the palate, lemon, lime, bee pollen and orange emerge and linger powerfully on the naturally fruity finish. A must for Riesling fanatics that like these sweeter, high acid styles.
27 g/l residual sugar. 9g/l total acidity.
11% alc. $25.95. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix Adams Road Chardonnay 2004 - Margaret River
Light yellow gold. Bold toasty oak on the nose and creamy, leesy flavours with fresh, vibrant, nectarine and pineapple fruit and a long spicy, toasty finish. The 50% oak adds complexity but lets the fruit shine.
14% alc. $21.95.

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2004 - Nelson
Tempting, aromatic, barrel-ferment and stonefruit aromas, then toasty oak and vanilla fill the palate with deliciously focussed peach-like fruit and a lovely spiciness to the smooth rounded finish where nut bread-like characters come through to linger. A powerful, seamless wine with a flare of citrus on the finish to let you know that this wine has acidity that will let it mature in the cellar for some time into the future.
14.5% alc. $65.95. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix Adams Road Cabernet Merlot 2003 - Margaret River
Deep red in colour. Sweet cedar infused with eucalypt on the nose, and crisp red berry flavours in the palate with vanillin oak, firm grainy tannins and a cigar box smokiness to the minty finish. Nicely balanced without overpowering oak and drinking nicely now.
14% alc. $21.95.

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 - Margaret River
Dense dark red with a black core. Smoky, savoury oak on the nose with a touch of mint and concentrated blackcurrant and cherry fruit in the palate with firm earthy tannins and a tarriness to the long, lifted finish. "Dusty herbaceousness" is a classic descriptor for this wine, yet it is soft and elegant with the eucalypt notes lingering brightly. You might find a smidgen of chocolate too. A blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot.
13.5% alc. $34.95.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Shiraz 2002 - Margaret River/Great Southern
Dense, bright black red. Smoky, cherry jam aromas and earthy, succulent juicy flavours with bitter chocolate, eucalypt, spices, plums and red berries bursting with juices which balance the more savoury cigar box, leather and tar characters. The tannins are tightly structured and meaty and there's a classic Cabernet Sauvignon herbal note to the finish. A blockbuster of a wine with a long dry finish and just a touch of barnyard as it lingers. A blend of Vasse Felix's best Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Malbec.
13.5% alc. $61.95.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Deep garnet with pinky hues. Rosemary on the nose and earthy forest floor in the palate with hallmark Central Otago herbs quite upfront and cherry fruit filling out the weighty mid palate as it builds to a ripe, rounded, spicy, long, mouthfilling finish. The tannins are dry and grainy and the peacock flares its tail.
13.5% alc. $38.95.

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2004 - Nelson
Fading, guava red in colour. Smoky oak, sweet cherry and red guava-like aromas with a nuance of mint, and a firmly structured rounded palate with good fruit weight, fine-grained tannins, an anise-like spiciness to the finish and the smoky oak coming forth on the long, savoury aftertaste.
14.5% alc. $56.95. Screwcap.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Deep Burgundy red, almost opaque. Chocolatey oak and hints of cherry on the nose and an abundance of juicy cherry fruit toned down by a touch of wild blackberry in the palate with an array of wild Central Otago herbs and supporting grainy tannins that morph into a velvety finish. A spicy, savoury wine with beautiful mouthfeel and lots of substance. Easily the most popular Pinot Noir on the night. Not surprising as it has won multiple gold medals already as well as the trophy for Champion Pinor Noir at the Sydney International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $35.95. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 1 March 2006
Cuisine Top 10 Under $20, and Others
Wines were tasted blind.

Thornbury Marlborough Pinot Gris 2005
Light gold coloured, tropical fruit aromas and crisp, juicy flavours with honey, red apples and mandarin balanced by good acidity and a zestiness to the juicy finish. Gold - Royal Easter Wine Show Awards 2006.
13.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Chardonnay 2004 - Hawkes Bay Green gold coloured. Grapefruit and smoky, yeast lees aromas and bright, fresh flavours packed with spicy oak, melon, juicy tropical fruit and stone fruit coming forth to linger on the toasty finish.. It's rich and mouthfilling with a smooth, creamy texture and a delicious complexity from the barrel-ferment and lees stirring. Gold - Royal Easter Wine Show Awards 2006.
14% alc. $48.95. Screwcap

Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling 2004 Pale lemon coloured, concentrated, floral, lemon and lime aromas and a crisp, weighty, spicy palate with lime marmalade and lime curd. With over a year in the bottle it has built up some complexity and although it seems quite dry, it's actually off-dry with a touch of honey sweetening the lengthy finish. 4 ½ Stars - Cuisine.
12.5% alc. $19.95. Screwcap

Montana Reserve East Coast Gewürztraminer 2005 Lemon gold coloured with delicate musk and floral aromas and rich, oily, textured lychee flavours with a touch of apple and gingery spices. It's quite warm on the finish and the aftertaste is medium sweet. A blend of 55% Gisborne, 37% Marlborough and 8% Hawkes Bay fruit. Gold - Royal Easter Wine Show Awards 2006. 4 ½ Stars -Cuisine.
14% alc. $17.95.

Wild South Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 Translucent garnet ruby, just opaque at the core, Smoky, perfumed , spiced cherry aromas and nicely balanced, earthy, savoury flavours, with bitter cherry and blackberry fruit, a warmth to the finish and a long persistent aftertaste. A light, generous, easy drinking Pinot Noir.
13.5% alc. $16.95. Screwcap

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2004 - Italy Inky, black-red with purple-red rims, smoky, rustic, barnyard aromas and earthy, leathery flavours with a ton of juicy blackberry, blueberry, plum fruit together with tar and spice. It's slightly grubby, which adds to the European character, the tannins are dry and there's a peppery note on the long, savoury finish.
4 ½ stars - Cuisine. 90 points - Robert Parker 13.5% alc. $17.95.

Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti 2003 - Tuscany, Italy Very deep translucency with an opaque black-red core and cherry red rims. Shows some development with its salty, slightly rubbery, rosemary-infused aroma but in the palate the fading, mellow fruit is sweet and juicy. There's a slightly medicinal note, the tea-like tannins are dry and the finish is savoury. A blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot.
12.5% alc. $22.95.

Red Rock Gravel Pit Red Merlot Malbec 2004 - Hawkes Bay Shiny black red with a vibrancy to the lustre and deep crimson/purple rims. Violet, coconut and vanillin oak aromas and succulent juicy flavours with an earthy richness. There's ripe red- and black-currants, sweet oak, grunty tannins and peppery spice building to a rich, savoury, toasty finish with a lovely floral nuance to the aftertaste. A robust, mouthfilling wine. Gold - AirNZ 2005 and Royal Easter Wine Show Awards 2006.
14% alc. $19.95. Screwcap

Hardy's Oomoo McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 Dense, inky shiny black red with bright crimson rims. Powerfully aromatic with mint, spice, mocha, leather and concentrated fruit. It's a big, gutsy, wine in the palate with meaty tannins, juicy black plum and cherry fruit, pepper, tar, liquorice, mint, a savoury richness balancing the sweet fruit and a berry biscuit finish. Almost too powerful to drink, but not quite. It will be fantastic with some cellaring. 5 Stars - Cuisine.
14% alc. $17.95/$14.95.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2003 Black-red, with deep red rims. Sweet oak on the nose and sweet spicy oak in the palate with green and black pepper corns, cinnamon, juicy plum and mulberry fruit, soft grainy tannins and a dry finish. There's a lot of oak which seems to dominate the finish and cherry and chocolate linger. Ready to drink now. 5 Stars - Cuisine.
15% alc. $18.95.

Mitolo G.A.M McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 Inky black-black-red right to the narrow, purple-red rims - it is extremely dark and youthful in appearance. Chocolate infuses the creamy oak on the nose and in the palate the structure is fine and seamless, the blackberry fruit is concentrated and pure and the backbone is full of chocolatey oak, leather and spice. The tannins are deceptive as they hit with a powerful punch and the earthy, savoury, cigar-box finish is smoky and long. 97 points - Robert Parker.
15% alc. $61.95. Screwcap

Deen de Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 2002 Bright gemmy golden yellow with a 24ct gold hue. Full of intense botrytis-influenced apricot and toffee scents and sweet, concentrated apricot and honey flavours with an oily texture and a clean, citrussy finish that balances the sweetness beautifully. 4 ½ Stars - Cuisine.
10.5% alc. $16.95/375 ml.

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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