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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

September 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 - 27th September 2006
Trophies from the 2006 NZ International Wine Show
Wines were not tasted blind.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 6 Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - Marlborough
Gorgeously pungent and fruity with hints of 'sweat', it's smooth textured, slippery in its flow and crammed with Marlborough's famous greens - lime, cat's pee on a gooseberry bush, bean, a touch of citrus and fragrant summer herbs. Vibrant and tasty, full of flavour and panache, it culminates in a mouthfilling explosion of pineapple and tropical fruit. Very hard not to like.
Eurowine Trophy - Champion Sauvignon Blanc
13% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Montana Terroir Series Stuart Block Chardonnay 2004 - Gisborne
Light yellow-gold with alluring nutty French oak aromas flushed with oatmeal and ripe, creamy flavours of stone and tropical fruit with a mealy undercurrent and a hint of citrus, it's full-bodied with a touch of spice and beautifully balanced throughout. A gorgeous, seamless wine and a stunning example of the Gisborne style. Trophy - Champion Chardonnay
14% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Riesling 2006 - Marlborough
Fresh vibrant apple, lemon and lime fruit with a blossomy aroma, a steely mid palate, an earthy undercurrent and citrus blossoms and honey suckle on the long, crisp finish. Medium in style with zesty acidity to balance the sweetness and just so deliciously juicy.
hooplabel Trophy - Champion Riesling
11.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Waipara Hills Pinot Gris 2006 - Waipara
With a fresh, fruity pear and apple aroma and lots of juicy, sweet-fruited flavours from the start to the finish, this is full-bodied and rich with an oiliness to the texture, a fruity backbone, a hint of musk and apple strudel spices. It's long in flavour and beautifully balanced with a minerally undercurrent to give it edge.
Matua Valley Trophy - Champion Pinot Gris
14.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Viognier 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Fairly neutral on the nose with a hint of pear and a nuance of musk, it smells a little like Pinot Gris but there is no comparison to that varietal when it comes to the taste. It's creamy textured with delicate oak and hints of apricot and builds in richness to a warm, powerful, spicy finish with talc and rose petals emerging on the long dry aftertaste which is underpinned with a gorgeous stonefruit sweetness.
bizambrands Trophy - Champion Viognier
14.5% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Lawson's Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2005 - Marlborough
Floral and spicy, perfumed and pungent, it's rounded and smooth, almost oily with sweet fruit, ginger and other exotic spices, lemon Turkish Delight and orange water. Rich, full, pungent and dry, there's even something that makes me think 'Alsace', but of course it 's Marlborough. Trophy - Champion Gewurztraminer
14% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Frescobaldi Castaglioni Chianti 2004 - Tuscany, Italy
Deep dark red coloured. Dry, rustic, savoury and earthy with dry tannins, sweet leather, cherry and prune fruit, it has an underlying berry sweetness and a touch of pepper. The fruit sweetness balances the initial dryness and the finish is long. The taste of this wine grows on you with every mouthful.
Riedel Trophy - Champion International Red Wine
13% alc. $19.99.

Delta Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 - Marlborough
Deep pinky red with a cerise glow. Savoury and a little smoky with a gorgeous silky texture, ripe plum, berry and cherry guava fruit, an intriguing underlying earthiness, woody herbs, an underpinning of anise-like spices and a dry, gamey, savoury finish. Seductive and succulent with a delicious lingering aftertaste, this is utterly tremendous value.
Negociants NZ Trophy - Champion Pinot Noir
14% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2003 - South Australia
It smells spicy and inviting and it tastes spicy and delicious with creamy vanillin oak, juicy berry and plum fruit, chocolate, pepper, liquorice, mocha and soft, juicy tannins with a savouriness to the finish to keep all the succulent sweet fruit in check.
Federal Geo Trophy - Champion Commercial Red Wine
14.5% alc. $13.99.

Hope Estate Merlot 2005 - Hunter Valley
Deep and inky with fabulous colour saturation that is black in the core and crimson on the rims, this is chock full of sweet plummy fruit with cedary oak, dry tannins and a herbal backbone that is well in balance, and a chocolate character to the finish, which becomes fleshy and full. Intense and varietal with a pleasing gradation of flavours across the palate, this is a remarkable full-bodied Merlot from a region we now see little of in NZ.
Nobilo Wine Group Trophy - Champion Merlot
14.5% alc. $23.99.

St John's Rd Blood & Courage Shiraz 2005 - Barossa Valley
An inky black-red coloured concentrated wine, full of ripe fruit, cedary oak, pepper and fruit cake spices. Despite its gutsy tannins, it’s creamy in texture with blackberry and blueberry fruit and a gorgeous peppery lift to the finish. Sweet oak prevails and balances the earthy backbone with mocha and liquorice and the finish is long and savoury. Delicious wine.
Nissan Trophy - Champion Wine of the Show
Vino Fino Trophy - Champion Shiraz

14.5% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - McLaren Vale
A blockbuster of a wine, impenetrable in its depth, perhaps a little old fashioned in style with Ribena, leather, big grunty sappy tannins, dark sultry savoury oak and a rich, earthy backbone, the meaty structure of the wine masks the boysenberry and blackcurrant fruit at this early stage of its life, but it has it succulent moments. A wine with a long life ahead of it.
Vintage Wines & Spirits Trophy - Champion Cabernet Sauvignon
14.5% alc. $66.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20th September 2006
Gold Medals from the 2006 NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Vibrant and fresh with a zesty, citrus aroma and juicy flavours of tropical fruit, citrus and stonefruit, an underpinning of gooseberry, grass, herbs and capsicum and a long tasty finish that lasts for ages.
13% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Squawking Magpie Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Clear light gold in colour with smoky scents that hints of grapefruit and a spicy, full-bodied flavour full of ripe fruit and soft spicy oak with a mealy undercurrent and a long, creamy, citrus-infused melon and tropical fruit finish.
14% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Sleeping Giant Hill Block Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Nutmeg permeates the creamy oak on the nose of this light yellow gold wine and the flavours build up beautifully in the fine, focused palate to a full, rounded finish with toasty oak, stonefruit, tropical fruit and a hint of caramel-topped crème brulee.
14.3% alc. $42.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2004
Light yellow gold with buttery, vanillin oak scents and mouthfilling flavours of tropical fruit with a touch of melon and mellow cedary oak, it's tight and focused with a creamy, vanilla custard and apricot overtone to the long, dry, spicy finish.
14.5% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Amante Central Otago Riesling 2006
A off-dry / medium style, very typically in the Central Otago mould, pale in colour with lime sherbet and honeysuckle on the nose. It's very fine, very linear, with gorgeous underlying lime and stonefruit, a talcy minerally backbone and a fleshy, long finish.
12% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2006
Pale in colour, slightly oily in its flow, it has captivating spicy, musky, floral scents interweaved with lychee and five-spice powder and a luscious, medium sweet flavour full of spice, lychee and Turkish Delight, with an infusion of orange liqueur (the flavour not the alcohol) on the finish. Very intense, very long, oily and concentrated with great mouthfeel but because of its sweetness it is best serve slightly chilled.
13% alc. $29.99. Diam.

Odyssey Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Vivid purple crimson, dense in the core. Fragrant, full of berry fruit and savoury oak scents, it is fruity to the taste with raspberries and blackberries balanced by aromatic spices and smoky oak with dry silky tannins, a herbal savouriness and a tingling of fruit cake spice on the finish.
13.5% alc. $29.99. Diam.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Youthful purple red with ruby edges, aromatic, smoky and savoury with a generous palate of ripe cherry fruit and plum fruit, a touch of chocolate, a fine silky texture, a spicy backbone and a suggestion of fennel-like herbs. With plenty of structure and oomph, there's lots going on. Exciting.
14% alc. $49.99. Screwcap.

Hentley Farm Barossa Shiraz 2004
Vivid deep purple. Rich and concentrated, bright and spicy, robust and flavoursome, this deliciously concentrated Barossa shiraz is full of chocolate and wine-soaked juicy black plums with cedary oak, grunty tannins, cinnamon, liquorice, chocolate and a long, juicy finish. Great find.
14.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz 2004
This inky red black, full-bodied, succulent, concentrated, rich, mouth-filling shiraz is full of savoury oak and juicy red fruits with sweet spices, a touch of mint and a long vanilla and chocolate finish.
13.5% alc. $21.99.

Kilikanoon South Australia Shiraz 2004
This big, oaky, deep black-red coloured wine with bright crimson edges seems like a cooler climate style with peppery spices to the fore. Intense in its juicy, long flavour with cedar, liquorice, concentrated red and black fruits and chocolate-coated currants, it really needs a big glass, but even in a small glass, you are seduced by its deliciousness.
15% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

St. John’s Road Julia Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004
A deep black-red coloured wine, rich and ripe, almost porty, with robust creamy tannins, sweet oak, liquorice, fruit cake spices, crushed berry fruits, lots of vanilla oak and a touch of eucalypt on the finish. A complex mouthful with layers of flavour and a long, dry finish, it will be superb with food.
14.5% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13th September 2006
Bragato Gold Medal Winners & Aussie Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

Omaka Springs Falveys Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - Marlborough
With a fantastically vibrant aroma of passionfruit, limes and grassy herbs and deliciously juicy flavours, this bright straw gold-coloured wine is full of everything that makes NZ Sauvignon Blanc so exciting. It's fresh and zesty with the aromas coming through to the palate in abundance to leave an exciting flavour of limes, passionfruit, gooseberries, grass and lots of juicy sweetness to the crisp, dry finish. Gold, Champion Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Champion Wine of the Bragato Wine Awards 2006. Gold at the International Aromatic Wine Competition.
12.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - Marlborough
There’s NZ's unique sweaty sauvignon blanc character on the nose and a crisp, fresh zingy flavour full of citrus, lemon grass, capsicum and gooseberry with an explosion of pineapple and passionfruit. It's tangy with a touch of spice, a long dry minerally undercurrent and a hint of toastiness which all comes together gorgeously but it is the flavour and texture that sets this wine apart. A winner of 3 gold medals already, this is another fantastic Reserve Wairau from Saint Clair, who, with their track record, is now indisputably NZ's leading Sauvignon Blanc producer.
13% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Seifried Nelson Riesling 2005
Perfumed and aromatic with apples, citrus and honeysuckle on the nose and just a touch of petrol too, it seems a little dry at first with talcy notes to the fore but it's actually off-dry. There's a soft backbone to the zingy lime and mandarin fruit while a touch of pineapple adds tropical fruit sweetness. Fresh, lively and full of tasty flavours. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Karikari Estate Chardonnay 2005 - Northland
Light gold coloured, full of buttery oak on the nose and rich buttery toasty oak in the palate, this soft, rounded, creamy chardonnay is brimming with stonefruit that morphs to juicy tropical fruit on the long, creamy, nutty finish that has excellent length. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards.
13% alc. $27.99 special. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Block 4 Chardonnay 2005 - Marlborough
Bursting with nutty, wheaty, barrel-ferment scents on the nose, the smooth creamy palate is crammed with caramel on a creamy, nutty, yeast lees-influenced backbone with melon and citrus coming into play too. A beautifully crafted, light golden wine that is rich, weighty and balanced with lots of delicious supporting oak and a long, mouthfilling finish. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards. Gold - NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Alpha Domus The Navigator 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Well here's an excellent example of the character in wine known as 'Brett'. With an aromas that one taster described as 'blown up electronics' and another as 'burning bakerlite' this faded browny-red wine is old-fashioned in style. It's savoury rather fruity with barnyard, damp earth and medicine aromas and a mature flavour with herbal and leather notes to the fore. The tannins are fine in structure, plum-like fruit is lurking in the background and there's a touch of blackberry on the finish. Made from a blend of 43% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec, it's ready to drink now. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. $21.99.

Mudbrick Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Waiheke Island
Pinky-red of medium density with subtle cherry and vanilla oak scents, there's a touch of liquorice amongst the sweet bramble and plum fruit with soft dry tannins, polished oak, a hint of Black Forest chocolate, a nuance of mint and a smoky finish. Juicy and powerful with a firmly structured backbone, it's ready to drink but will also benefit from time in the cellar. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards.
13.9% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Mudbrick Reserve Merlot Cabernets 2005 - Waiheke Island
Deep dark red with soft berry fruit and spicy vanillin oak aromas, it is dry and tight to the taste but let the fruit emerge from behind its chunky tannin cloak and you’ll find it sweet and rich with chocolate, cherry, vanilla and meaty savoury oak. A wine of stellar breeding, it needs more time at this stage of its life. Gold - Bragato Wine Awards.
13.8% alc. $44.99. Screwcap.

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Malbec 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Deep purple red, intense and vibrant, so youthful looking for its age. With rich, deep fruited, cedary scents, it's tarry in the palate, perhaps heading towards porty, with rich, sweet fruit full of chocolate and cherries with liquorice intensity, fruit cake spices, mocha, cedar, grunty tannins and an incredibly long, mouth-coating, succulent, flavoursome finish. Kingsley says this is one of the greatest Bordeaux blend reds ever made in New Zealand. It has so many golds, so many trophies and is still performing like the champion it is. Champion 'Classical Red Wine' at the Bragato Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Ingoldby Shiraz 2004 - McLaren Vale
Purple black with tight, rich, fruity aromas and sweet fruit and oak flavours with hints of mint, cedar, chocolate, jammy cherry and blueberry fruit, biscuity spices and meaty tannins. Drinking beautifully now.
14% alc. $18.95. Screwcap.

Coriole Toa Shiraz 2004 - McLaren Vale
From the bright, inky, purple red depths of this wine a powerful fragrance of bath salts, rose petals and spice box gathers momentum. It's rounded, warm and juicy to the taste with dark tarry leathery notes emerging from behind the jammy fruit sweetness, the spice and peppery savouriness keeping it well in balance. Fine tannins hint of its pedigree and liquorice and dark chocolate linger with vanillin oak.
14% alc. $NA

Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2002 - Barossa Valley
Deep, inky red black in colour, this voluptuous smelling wine is crammed with spice, toasted oak and mint. It is concentrated, powerful, rich and creamy with succulent blackberry and cherry fruit, opulent savoury oak, super fine tannins and a ton of nutmeg and pepper. A dinner party wine, it can only be described as gorgeous.
14.5% alc. $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6th September 2006
Cuisine Top 10 NZ Reds
Wines were not tasted blind.

Kahurangi Estate Mt. Arthur Chardonnay 2005 - Moutere
Light gold in colour with ripe fruit and smoky oak aromas and rich, ripe, creamy flavours with toasty oak and delicious stonefruit and citrus characters. Bright and fresh, not overly complex, a lovely start to the evening.
14% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Obsidian Weeping Sands Merlot 2004 - Waiheke Island
Deep ruby-edged, plummy red. Smoky cedar on the nose and juicy flavours of plum that sit well with the sweet leather, supple tannins and smoky vanillin oak. Well-balanced acidity carries the finish with a touch of cigar box and a fruity aftertaste. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap

Thornbury Merlot 2004 - Hawke's Bay
Deep plummy red with a blackish core and ruby rims. Full of plush sweet oak, it smells of polished cedar and cigar box and tastes creamy and spicy with juicy, concentrated plum and berry fruit, smooth tannins and a spiciness to the lingering finish. Robust and tasty, full of flavour, fruit is the winner on the day. 5 Stars and No. 1 Merlot in Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $19.99.

Mudbrick Shepherds Point Vineyard Merlot 2004 - Waiheke Island
Deep plummy red. Smoky cedary oak with hints of vanilla , liquorice, spice, stewed berry fruit and a nuance of herb and a toasty influence throughout the palate, firm tannins add robustness while blackberry and plums add fruity sweetness to the lingering, smoky finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
13% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Kathy Lynskey 15 Rows Reserve Merlot 2004 - Marlborough
Vibrant, violet tinged plummy red. Concentrated in colour and powerful in its attack with cigar box and violets on the nose and sweet spicy oak and concentrated fruit in the palate with smooth meaty tannins and well-balanced oak. It's rich and weighty with cherry, plum and a floral nuance on the long smoky finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine. Gold medal West Coast Wine Competition (US).
14% alc. $47.99.

Esk Valley Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec 2004 - Hawke's Bay
Deep, dense purple-red. Cedar, nutmeg and blackberry aromas and a concentrated, rich, plush-textured palate with delicious juicy plum and blackberry fruit, biscuity oak, liquorice, spice box, vanilla, toast, an earthy depth and a floral nuance. Silky and seamless with tannins you can wrap your tongue around, this stunning wine is already a pleasure to drink, but will bring extra rewards with cellaring. 52% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Malbec. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $53.99. Screwcap.

Obsidian Weeping Sands Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2004
Medium plummy red with aromas of brambles infused into creamy oak and concentrated berry fruit flavours supported by liquorice, cedar, cigar box and a touch of cherry on the juicy finish. The tannins are smooth, acidity carries the wine along and there's a touch of leather strap too. 4 Stars and Best Buy Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Malbec 2004
Deep plummy red with ruby edges. Alluringly aromatic with cedar, leather, concentrated berry fruit and a hint of violet while sweet biscuity oak and super ripe velvety textured tannins seduce the palate along with cherry and plum fruit, liquorice, allspice and a savoury meaty nuance. There's a touch of musk on the finish which is long, rich and creamy and lasts for ages. Super delicious stuff. 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc. 4-1/2 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Te Awa Syrah 2004 - Hawke's Bay
Deep plummy black-red with a potpourri of spice on the nose and spicy cedar in the palate. There's an initial peppery undercurrent to the dark berry fruit flavours then chocolate raisins add voluptuousness to the mid palate while spiced orange peel adds life and vibrancy and enhances the floral notes on the finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. $32.99.

Bridge Pa Louis Syrah 2004 - Hawke's Bay
Deep purple red with intriguing, perfumed, spicy aromas of cedar, cinnamon and allspice, this rich, voluptuous, creamy wine has firmly structured but succulent meaty tannins, smoky toasty oak, a touch of chocolate, ripe plum and cherry fruit and hints of violets and rose hips on the dark, long, finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine. Gold & Trophy Decanter Magazine. Gold & Trophy Bragato Wine Awards.
14% alc. 42.99.

Passage Rock Syrah 2005 - Waiheke Island
Vivid, inky purple red with a smoky, cedary aroma, a gorgeous tannin structure, depth of flavour and length, this is huge wine loaded with spices, blueberry and black cherry fruit, liquorice, anise and toasted sweet oak. With plenty of warmth and richness and fantastic cellaring potential, it's a steal at the price. 5 Stars and No. 1 Syrah Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2005 - Waiheke Island
Vivid inky purple red with a spice-infused smoky, cedar aroma and masses of spice in the palate - pepper, allspice, cinnamon, anise and liquorice - laced with sweet vanillin oak, concentrated plum and blueberry fruit and violets, it's robust and powerful with firm but succulent meaty tannins and a biscuity backbone. It's got more richness, more tannins, more length and more $$$ on the label (than the other Passage Rock Syrah) - but it's worth it. A wine to seduce you now and for a long time into the future. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine. Gold Royal Easter Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $52.99. Screwcap.

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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