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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

October 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 - 25th October 2006
Not So Common
All wines - except the Champagne and the Sauternes - were tasted blind.

Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV
With some bottle development in the sample tasted, as evidenced by the golden colour and slightly oxidative aroma, which is common in Champagne anyway, this has become a rich, weighty, complex mouthful with of creamy mousse, toasted lemon bread, grilled peach and honeysuckle. The fruit is ripe, the acids are fresh and the finish is dry - and deliciously moreish. Gold Medal NZIWS. 12% alc. $64.99.

Valminor Albarino 2004 - Rias Baixas, Spain
Soft, subtle citrus and smoky buttered nut aromas lead into a nutty buttery palate with hints of apricot. It's extremely dry and just a little earthy and spicy with tantalising limes on the finish. I can imagine that if serve chilled, it would be a totally refreshing drink. 12.5% alc. $29.99.

Land of Fire Pinot Gris 2006 - Argentina
Delicately aromatic and slightly bready with floral notes, after the Albarino it seems sweeter but it is still quite dry, just with softer acidity, delicate apricot-like flavours and a hint of musk. Smooth-textured, nutty and just a little spicy, there's warmth to the lingering finish. With plenty of flavour and freshness in this beaut little pinot gris, it will deliver lovely drinking all summer. 12.5% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Omahu Gravels Viognier 2005 - Hawkes Bay
With sweet caramel oak on the nose together with honeydew melon and spice, it smells a little like Chardonnay but the taste is so different. It's spicy, vibrant and lifted in the palate with a smooth texture, apricots, lemon bread and dry clove, cinnamon, cardamon-like spices that linger on the long, dry nutty finish. French oak plays a serious role in this seriously interesting wine. 14.5% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2005 - Central Otago
Fairly dense dark red with cherry red edges, it's not particularly expressive on the nose but it's full of flavour. Spicy, dry and savoury with sweet and sour cherry surging across the silky tannin backbone, it has richness and depth with balanced acidity and oak, a spicy pure pinot finish and a deliciously long aftertaste. Right now it's quite tight and really needs a big glass to let those intrinsic flavours open up. 14% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Montepulciano 2004 (white label)
This looks like a young Pinot with its medium opacity and purple edges and it smells savoury, earthy, tarry and just a little musky. The tar comes through in abundance in the palate to join juicy bramble-like fruit with underlying strawberry acidity and Italian herbs like Oregano build on the savoury, earthy finish. Fresh and juicy, it depicts the Italian grape variety well. 13.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Rich deep dark red. Savoury, leathery aromas with a touch of paint box and rich, gutsy flavours of sweet fruit, musk, leather, spices, lots of oak and warming alcohol. It has the structure of cabernet and hints of a cassis character too, and there's a pinot noir-like earthiness to the finish. Needs a big glass and food. 14% alc. $30.99.

Castano Monastrell 2005 - Yecla, Spain
Inky purple red, dense, bright. Fragrant savoury oak and concentrated berry fruit on nose, creamy oak and juicy berry fruit in the palate which is soft and succulent with a fine tannin structure, musky spices and a smoky, earthy finish that becomes quite floral as it lingers. A modern style with a modern label and excellent value. 14% alc. $15.99.

Coto de Hayas Reserva 2002 - Campo de Borga, Spain
It looks a little like young dense pinot noir with its ruby garnet colour but that's where the similarity ends because it smells and taste completely unique. Intense chocolatey aromas underpinned by juicy succulent blueberry fruit tempt the nose and follow through with sweet jammy flavours supported by loads of bitter chocolate with juicy berries, hints of thyme, a gamey undercurrent, meaty tannins and a creamy finish with a savoury earthiness as it lingers. Seductive, sexy and seriously good, I can just imagine this with backstrap of venison served with a chocolate berry sauce. 13.5% alc. $21.99.

White Box Shiraz Viognier 2004 - Heathcote, Victoria
Deep dense red with a black core, this is packed with sweet berry and cherry fruit and serious oak. It is almost porty in its richness with concentrated blueberry and damson plums, mocha, chocolate, herbs, spices and cedar. A full-bodied and totally succulent drop with a gorgeous slippery texture and concentrated fruit that has a liquorice intensity on the lingering sweet oak finish. 15% alc. $19.99.

Cape Mentelle Zinfandel 2004 - Margaret River, WA
Deep shiny black red. American oak, cedar and 'Connolly leather' abounds on the slightly spiritous nose and the massive palate is full of mint, sweet oak, leather, tar and spices with loads of juicy red fruits. Despite its big tannins that impart a slightly coarse texture, it is rich and mouthfilling and packs a whammy punch on the gutsy, oaky finish. 16% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Chateau Suidurat 2003 - Sauternes
Light gold with toffee, honeyed blossoms and toasted apricot bread aromas, this nectar is delectably sweet but the perfect acid balance makes it seem drier than it really is. There's a distinctive Euro, waxy, lanolin nuance and fruit cheese flavours with a touch of butterscotch toffee as the delicious floral and apricot flavours go on and on. Beautifully fine, never cloying, this is made from predominantly Semillon with a little Sauvignon Blanc and will last 15 to 20 years if you want to put it away for cellaring. 14% alc. $125.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18th October 2006
All Brand New
All wines were tasted blind.

Lou Lou Chardonnay 2005 – Australia
Pleasant, easy drinking, attractively packaged and well priced, this fun fruity chardonnay is lemon gold in colour and medium bodied in style with very little oak influence, in fact it could even be unoaked! It's spicy and lightly creamy with abundant apricots, tropical fruit and pineapple and a juicy finish. 13.5% alc. $13.99 special. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Ihumatao Reserve Chardonnay 2005 – Auckland
Light yellow gold with spicy mellow oak aromas, it is full-bodied and creamy, warm and spicy with a smooth flowing texture, peach and tropical fruit, well-balanced acidity to lift the finish and a long, fulfilling aftertaste. You will drive past these grapes when you visit the new Villa Maria winery in Mangere. 13.5% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – Marlborough
Water pale and delicately aromatic with gooseberry, sweetish capsicum and the merest suggestion of sweat, it's packed with flavours that become more and more powerful and continue to haunt long after the wine is swallowed. Think limes and passionfruit, apricot and gooseberry and that delicately musky note as it lingers. One of the best from this label but must be served chilled to accentuate the refreshing acidity. 13.5% alc. $28.99. Screwcap.

Dr L Loosen Riesling 2005 – Mosel
A fragrance of lemon drop, flower nectar and stewed apples leads into a sweetish, oily textured palate that's full of lemon honey and custard apple with fusel notes in the background and juicy red apples on the finish that leaves a feeling like sucking on a rounded greywacke river stone. It's low in alcohol and can take serious chilling thus perfect for hot, summery afternoons. 8.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Mt Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2006 - Central Otago
Lime blossom aromas and juicy lime and honeysuckle flavours with a touch of ginger set the scene for this sweetish wine that is quite rich and weighty in style. The sweetness is kept in check by gorgeous refreshing apple-like acidity and there are hints of marmalade and a spicy musk-like nuance to the finish. For followers of Target Gully, this is not as low in alcohol as previous vintages but it still just as delicious and therefore more dangerously drinkable. 12% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Felton Road Pinot Noir 2005 - Central Otago
Deep plummy red with crimson edges, this shows great extraction of colour. It smells savoury with a floral (herb flower/rose) nuance and forest floor and it tastes full-bodied with a fine, silky tannin structure, plush black cherry and pinot fruit, polished oak, wild thyme, liquorice and anise-like spices. With lots of flavour and considerable length, it is reasonably big for pinot but not a fruit bomb, just class, class, class. 13.5% alc. $47.99. Screwcap.

Kim Crawford SP Comely Bank Pinot Noir 2005 - Marlborough
Ruby garnet in colour with purple-flushed edges. Cherry, berry and elusive pinot spice on the nose and juicy cherry fruit with chocolate and spice in the palate. With its silky tannins it increases in complexity to become savoury and earthy with some herbal notes coming through and a balanced seam of spicy orange-zest acidity to keep the long, succulent finish clean and focussed. Double gold and Trophy winner. 13.5% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Coto de Hayas Crianza 2002 - Campo de Borja, Spain.
Pale red, medium bodied in appearance, this wine is earthy and savoury with macerated plums and raisin-like fruit with underlying acidity that rises in the cheeks. Made from a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo, it's distinctly European with dry dusty tannins, a touch of liquorice and a soft spicy finish. 13.5% alc. $12.99. Cork.

Kirrihill Companions Cabernet Merlot 2004 - Clare Valley
Deep in colour with a crimson edge, this smells like a gorgeous, big, full-bodied South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is but is enhanced with Merlot. With mint, cassis, plums, chocolatey oak and juicy tannins, this delicious wine is one of the great bargains at the price. 13.5% alc. $14.99. Screwcap.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2005 - Hawkes Bay
You can smell and taste the pepper in this fabulous deep plummy red, crimson edged wine. It's fresh and vibrant with creamy oak, black fleshed peach, wild blackberries, a little bit of grip to the tannins on the finish and just a nuance of musk with very good length and fruit sweetness as it lingers. Medium-bodied in style, it is made from a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier, although the latter is no longer mentioned on the label. 13.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Dense crimson red with bright edges, it's tantalisingly fragrant with creamy oak, subtle pepper and spice box on the nose. Full-boded in style, it's spicy, long and savoury with chocolate, damson plums and rose spice (which you get on your fingers after cutting a rose from a bush). Still a baby with its tight, complex structure, firm acidity underpins the wine and dried herbs and that rose spice character linger deliciously on the succulent creamy finish. Intense, fine, lively and very very good. 13.5% alc. $43.99. Cork.

Hentley Farm 'The Beauty' Shiraz 2005 - Greenock Creek, Barossa Valley
This wine looks big and it is. Dense boysenberry red in colour, blackberries and creamy oak on nose, spicy, succulent flavours of jammy purple fruit, black pepper, anise, dried herbs and a fleshy stonefruit sweetness coming through on cedary, smoky finish. Big it may be but the tannins are juicy, the vanillin oak is creamy, the fruit is fleshy and everything is beautifully in proportion. There's 4% Viogner in the blend which adds a floral musky nuance to the lingering finish. This wine has terrific presentation with its black tissue wrapping and engraved silver neck tag, so if you are looking for a special gift - this is it. 13.5% alc. $49.99. Cork.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11th October 2006
Gold Medals from the Liquorland Top 100 - and more
All wines were tasted blind.

Mount Riley Block 2 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Rampant aromas of cats pee and sweat may raise the hair on your back - or it may seduce your senses like it did the judges. This is a rich, slippery textured wine with fabulous, mouthfilling and concentrated flavours of prickly pear (kiwano), pineapple, apple, gooseberry with a crisp, grassy undercurrent and a zesty spiciness to the powerful finish that goes on and on. Gold NZIWS.
12.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Taylor's St Andrews Clare Valley Riesling 2001
Fragrant aromas of kero, jasmine and Roses lime juice lead into a juicy palate that is crammed with lime and tropical fruit. It's spicy, grainy, and fairly luscious for a dry style but with its five years of age it has garnered a fabulous toasty complexity with hints of toasted lime and coconut, and the finish is long and focussed. This would be outstanding with marinated fish, in fact you could marinate your fish with it. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. $41.99. Screwcap.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
A classy, full-bodied style with toasted nutty oak, stonefruit and figs and a long, seamless palate and loads and loads of flavour and a citrussy creamy finish. It's fattening up beautifully with just a touch of caramel adding to its richness. Totally delicious and ready now. Gold LL Top 100. Silver NZIWS.
14% alc. $18.99. DIAM.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
Creamy, leesy, barrel aromas fill the nose and lead into to a spicy mouthful of grapefruit peel, wheat germ, grilled stonefruit and smoky oak. It's very tight right now with a strong malolactic influence but with its excellent palate weight it becomes richer and richer with every mouthful and will be absolutely glorious in about 12 months time. Gold Medal NZIWS and LL Top 100.
14% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Vavasour Anna's Vineyard Chardonnay 2004
Tempting and tantalising aromas of toasty oak, nutmeg, caramel and stonefruit carry through to the rich, fleshy mouthfilling palate that seduces with its beautifully smooth, creamy texture and seamless flow. A touch of citrus joins white peach on the lingering finish which is warm, long, fulfilling and moreish. Gold and Trophy @ LL Top 100. Gold @ NZIWS.
14.5% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Hunters Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2006
Fragrant aromas packed with Indian spices and rose petals and sweet, candied exotic fruit flavours with soft acidity and a spicy finish. Excels in displaying the best attributes this fragrant, musky grape can offer in a deliciously appealing way. Gold and Trophy @ LL Top 100.
13.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Codice Tempranillo 2004 - Manchuela, Spain
Pinky red in colour, rich in its depth, it smells meaty and sweet like chorizo sausages and plum jam. Full of plum and cherry fruit in the palate, it's juicy and spicy with a touch of liquorice and just a little bit of grip to the silky tannins on the finish where the meatiness promised on the nose adds a savouriness to the perfumed finish. Gold LL Top 100.
13.5% alc. $18.99.

Craggy Range Hawkes Bay Merlot 2004
Deep black red with toasty, sweet vanillin oak on the nose and rich, ripe mouthfilling flavours of plum, Christmas cake fruit, fruit cake spices and toasty oak. It’s a powerful wine with oak playing a dominant role, big grunty tannins, a meaty richness and a lifted 'chicory' character to lingering finish. Miles in Sideways would never believe this was Merlot because it's rich and structured, powerful and long. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. $24.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2004
Deep dark red, finely dense in its appearance. Rich, concentrated aromas of cedar, vanilla, plums and leather and a fruity, spicy flavour with a lick of pepper to tip of tongue, cherry and plum fruit, chocolate, an underpinning of tobacco and mint and supple succulent tannins and creamy oak. A massive wine with a spicy richness to its depth. Gold and Trophy @ LL Top 100.
14% alc. $42.99. Screwcap.

Ballast Stone Shiraz 2004 - South Australia
Inky black red with jammy aromas, sweet oak, succulent berry fruit, mocha, pepper, chocolate and aromatic spices. Its creamy in texture with soft grainy tannins and a long juicy finish with a meaty savouriness coming through to balance the fruit. A blend of Currency Creek and McLaren Vale fruit. Silver NZIWS.
14.5% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2004 - Barossa Valley
Vivid, vibrant, purple black in colour with chocolate-flushed sweet oak, pepper and boysenberry on the nose and a beautifully structured, fine grained palate crammed with beautifully ripe concentrated berry and cherry fruit, liquorice, chocolate, cinnamon, pepper and sumac spices with vanillin oak sweetness on the savoury, slightly meaty finish. Everything one wants in archetypal Barossa Shiraz - and more. Pity it keeps getting more expensive every year but still cheap at the price. Gold LL Top 100.
14.5% alc. $29.99.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Dense, concentrated, deep crimson red. Typically rich Coonawarra nose of chocolate, mint, shoe nugget, ribena and cedar and a concentrated, powerful palate packed with ripe red and black currant fruit, massive but finely textured silky tannins, nuances of tobacco and cigar box, spicy cedar and creamy vanillin oak. An awesome wine; rich, succulent and long; the epitome of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and made to last. Gold and Trophy @ LL Top 100.
14.5% alc. $43.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4th October 2006
More Gold Medals from the 2006 NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind, except for the last one.

Squawking Magpie Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Pale yellow, pungent and oily textured, dry and crisp with fresh grapefruit, lime, gooseberry, capsicum, grassy herbs, bean, passionfruit and a spiciness to the long, pungent aftertaste. 13% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2005 - Adelaide Hills
Yellow gold with a buttery oak aroma and a smooth creamy palate crammed with stewed peach and melon fruit. Buttery vanillin oak makes its presence felt all the way through and a touch of citrus brightens the finish. Very tasty and stylish. 14% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Gewurztraminer 2004 - Alsace
Golden yellow with spicy aromatic scents reminiscent of cold cream and hair oil, it tastes luscious, rich and oily. It's sweet but beautifully balanced by a seam of orange water mingling with musk and spice. It's a soft curvaceous style with a deliciously long pungent finish. 13.5% alc. $35.99.

Seifried Nelson Pinot Gris 2006
Light gold with distant scents of citrus blossoms, the delicate nose belies the richness of the palate. Smooth, almost oily with hints of musk, pear and apricot and gingery spices, a hint of citrus adds a Riesling-like brightness to the sweetish finish. Good length. 13% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Vivid purple-flushed deep red, savoury, smoky, cherry and musk scents and delicious flavours of chocolate, cherry, spiced plum. Reasonably bold but not too big with gorgeous plush tannins and a lingering spicy, smoky finish. Deserving gold medal winner. 13.5% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Vina Vilano Tinto 2004 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Made from 100% Tempranillo, this is inky boysenberry red in colour with vivid crimson rims. With savoury, earthy aromas, gutsy tannins and big, bold, rich, juicy flavours full of crushed berries and peppery spices with a touch of liquorice, a hint of tobacco and a touch of rosemary adding saltiness to the vibrant finish, this will be super for BBQ's. 13.5% alc. $17.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Merlot 2005
Dark red, almost opaque with cherry-red flushed rims, there's plum and vanillin oak on the nose and juicy, savoury, smoky, tarry, spicy, medium to full-bodied flavours with cherry fruit, firm ripe tannins, cigar box and chocolate. There's spicy oak on the finish and hints of tobacco as it lingers. 13.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Taltarni Three Monks Cabernet Merlot 2004 - Victoria
Deep crimson red, almost black with tempting aromas of chocolate, spicy oak and juicy red berries, it's a gutsy wine but it tastes soft and ripe with juicy plum and blackcurrant fruit over a firm leathery backbone, with a touch of mint and vanillin oak sweetness on the long dry finish. 13.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2005
It looks young with its dense dark red, purple-flushed colour, it smells inviting with its spicy vanillin oak and purple fruit aromas and it tastes soft, ripe, juicy and delicious. Crammed full of flavour with chocolate, blackberry, cherry, fruit cake spices, creamy oak and sultry sensuous tannins, the presence of Grenache and Mourvedre add another dimension to the Shiraz. Very hard not to like. 14.5% alc. $19.99.

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale
Inky black-red with a concentrated aroma of mint, smoky cedar, cassis and black fruits, this is a massive wine with a mouthfilling attack of fruit, oak and spice. The voluptuous tannins support the voluptuous plum and blackberry fruit while liquorice allsorts add a sweet-coated spicy undercurrent. Fabulous length. 14.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Mission Noble Hawkes Bay Semillon 2005
Light gold in colour, clear and gem-stone bright, this is beautifully sweet but not over the top with lemon honey and spiced raisin bread while orange zest adds a fine seam of citrus and candied fruits linger on the everlasting finish. 13% alc. $25.99. 375ml bottle. Diam.

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat
Deep amber with gold green amber rims, delicious aromas of toffee and rich, sweet, concentrated, spice-infused Muscat flavours, it's luscious and thick and decadently sweet. Well-seasoned oak and flannel-like tannins add a balancing dryness and candied citrus peel lingers with the spicy muscatels on the amazingly long finish. Utterly sensuous. 18% alc. $34.99.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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