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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2007 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2007
[ 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 April 2007
Anzac Day Challenge - Australia versus New Zealand.
Wines were tasted blind.

Haselgrove MVS Chardonnay 2004 - McLaren Vale, Australia
Big, bold, golden and fleshy with toasty charred oak, sweet fruit, citrus and grapefruit peel on the nose and bright tropical fruit flavours with a savoury backbone, a touch of coconut, tons of spicy oak and a butter-caramel finish. 8 months in French oak. 13.5% alc. $12.99.

That was the pretaster, and not included in the challenge.

Seifried Winemakers Collection Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2004 - Nelson
Rich, ripe toasty flavoursome with grilled stonefruit aromas and juicy tropical fruit and stonefruit flavours, it's well-balanced, well-structured, creamy and long. Mendoza clone matured in French and American oak. 14% alc. $23.99.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2005 - Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Light gold coloured with perfumed sweet oak on the nose, it's quite oaky in the palate but well-balanced to the citrus and juicy tropical fruit with a beautifully rounded creamy texture, a touch of malo taming the lemon peel, a nougat-like complexity and a perfumed finish. Matured in new and older French oak. Gold Medal. 14% alc. $18.99.

A very close vote but after three recounts, the Seifried had a two vote majority. NZ 1-0.

Taylors St Andrews Clare Valley Riesling 2001
Deep yellow gold with green glints, this is a powerfully aromatic wine, oily with concentrated lime and hints of kero and even more so in the palate, like paraffin oil. "Just put a wick in it", said someone. Rich, powerful and tasty, with fruit sweetness, piercing acid and a dry finish with an aftertaste that goes on and on - a classic example of Australian dry Riesling yet a wine style that you either love or hate. A brilliant wine. I love it. 13% alc. $41.99.

Fromm Marlborough Riesling Spatlese 2006
Water pale, sweet, light, floral and fruity with a delicate scent of honeysuckle, this is a slightly spritzy textured wine, a low alcohol, Germanic style, floral and zesty with an earthy undercurrent and a delicate touch of kero too. When you come across perfectly balanced medium sweet wines, like this one, it's very hard not to like. 7.5% alc. $27.99.

The Fromm won by a country mile. NZ 2-0

Grant Burge Barossa Vines Cabernet Merlot 2004 Australia - Dark plummy red with appealing sweet oak, mint, chocolate and spice aromas leading into a ripe, juicy and lightly smoky palate with strawberry and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of liquorice and not too much oak. A soft, smooth approachable medium-bodied style, dangerously quaffable. The masses will love it. 14% alc. $13.99.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2004
Deep, dark, blackberry red with delicious aromas of rich creamy oak, chocolate, cherry and spice, it's a young wine with ripe plum and cassis fruit, chocolatey oak, slightly grippy tannins and a tarry undercurrent. Powerful, full-bodied and long, the main course wine, it will continue developing for some years yet. Gorgeous and a bargain at the price. I rate it 5 stars. 14% alc. $18.99.

A resounding vote for New Zealand - but were the odds stacked in its favour? NZ 3-0.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005 - Gimblett Gravels
Dark red with medium depth of colour, it's distinctly New Zealand with white pepper and rose petal coming through the creamy oak on the nose followed up by cherry and blackboy peach in the palate. A spicy, savoury, medium-bodied style with hints of dried herbs, a purple fruit finish and liquorice on the aftertaste. Matured in French oak. 13.5% alc. $18.99.

Gemtree Bloodstone Shiraz 2006 - McLaren Vale
Deep black red with charry oak, spices, chocolate and cherry on the nose and red fruits quite dominant in the palate. It's juicy and fresh, rich and grunty with big tannins, some underlying acidity and a seductively spicy finish. Matured in French & American oak, it has the hallmarks of deliciously drinkable Shiraz, just needs to come together a bit more right now. 14.5% alc. $18.99.

Australia took this pairing resoundingly. It's Shiraz. It's what they do best. NZ 3-1.

Kathy Lynskey 15 Rows Reserve Marlborough Merlot 2004
Dark red with fading edges, on the nose there's perfumed sweet sappy oak, berries and tobacco. Cherry and red plum fruit fill the grainy textured palate supported by vanillin oak, nugget and tar. Matured in American and French oak for 15 months, it's ripe, round and very approachable despite the tannins. 14% alc. $47.99.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2005 - Barossa Valley
Deep, shining black red, sweet, ripe, juicy and powerful with voluptuous, creamy chocolatey oak, rose petal, violets and ripe purple fruit. There's a Rhonish edge to this distinctly Australian wine that's made from a blend of 50% Shiraz, 34% Grenache and 16% Mourvedre with 15 months maturation in mostly older French oak. Full-bodied, with seductively fine tannins, the words beautiful and classy immediately spring to mind. 14.5% alc. $36.99.

Another easy win for Australia. NZ 3-2.

Margan Botrytis Semillon 2006 - Hunter Valley
Deep, bright lemon gold, fragrant and honeyed, sweet and luscious with candied orange peel, toffee and hints of kero. Beautifully balanced acidity cuts through the waxy sweetness and leaves a clean, fresh finish. Made from 40 year old grape vines, this is an oak free wine with 174 grams per litre of residual sugar. 10% alc. $25.99 375 mls.

Waimea Bolitho Noble Riesling 2003 - Nelson
Deep greeny gold, this is rich, powerful, concentrated and mellow, sweet and powerful with an earthy, slightly cedary undercurrent to the decadent beeswax, muscatel raisin and marzipan flavours. A big wine - mouthfilling and mouthcoating - with exceptional length. A Christmas cake wine. Fermented in French oak, it has 181 grams per litre of residual sugar. 11% alc. $43.99.

Most people preferred the bigger, richer, Waimea on the night. Thus the final result NZ 4-2.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18th April 2007
Aromatics including Cuisine Magazine's top picks.
Wines were tasted blind.

Stoneleigh Marlborough Riesling 2005
Bright light gold, bright, some oiliness to the appearance, perfumed, floral, fruity, honeyed and lightly sweetish with some viscosity to the texture, hints of apricot and flower musk emerge on the crisp, well-balanced lingering finish. Very appealing for everyday drinking. 13% alc. $11.99. Screwcap.

Forrest Estate Dry Marlborough Riesling 2004
Light yellow gold, aromatic, citrussy and lightly toasty with a scent reminiscent of Rose's Lime Juice. Crisp and dry to the taste with underlying flintiness, bracing acidity, some bottle age adding complexity to the full-bodied palate but there is still with plenty of zesty, mouthfilling freshness. Given the track record of the label, it can only get better. 12% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Viognier 2006
Light gold with juicy stewed apple aromas that have a sweetish, floral, lightly honeyed overtone, it's soft and oily textured in the lightly toffeed palate with dried banana slices the dominant flavour at first then later subtle apricot. It's low in acid with alcoholic warmth and a nutty mealy toastiness with a touch of lemongrass and nuances of oak spice emerging on the lingering finish. Full-bodied and long. 4 g/l residual sugar (rs). 14.5% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006
Very light gold with lime glints, it's perfumed and floral with delicate spice, and tastes sweetish, floral, spicy and spritzy with apple and pear fruit and violet overtones. A bright, tasty style with low acidity, and oily texture and a long, powerful, spicy, almost-gewurztraminer-like finish. Very appealing and flavoursome. 10 g/l rs. 14% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Gris 2006
Light gold with vinous, grapey, nutty aromas and the sweet scent of pineapple sage flower nectar. A little more neutral in the fruit department at first, it's rich and textural, oily and nutty, with soft acidity, a concentrated richness and a lightly creamy texture then juicy apples and stonefruit emerge to flourish on the gently sweet finish. A beautiful wine with richness, balance, power and length. Cuisine's top Pinot Gris. 12 g/l rs. 14.5% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Kaimira Brightwater Nelson Riesling 2006
Straw gold with honeysuckle, citrus and Bartlett pear aromas, it's crisp, juicy and lightly honeyed with upfront sweetness and incisive lemon and bitter orange flavours with tangy acidity that attacks the sweetness and makes it seem drier than it really is. A fresh, exciting, medium-styled Riesling. 11g/l rs. 11.5% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Main Divide Canterbury Riesling 2006
Light yellow gold with earthy, lemon oil aromas, there's some retained CO2 in the wine which imparts a spritziness in the form of tiny tiny bubbles that you can see in the glass and that you feel as they dance on the tongue. Low alcohol, sweetish, honeyed and floral with crisp lime/lemon acidity beautifully balanced to the light nectar sweetness and a lingering citrus and honeysuckle aftertaste. 10.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Forrest Estate Brancott Vineyard Riesling 2004
Straw gold coloured with sweet citrus and hints of potter's clay on the nose, there's a fascinating sweet, citrussy, savoury and almost salty flavour, like lemon cream-filled biscuits, in the palate. It's rich, sweet and slightly earthy with piercing acidity that shows the purity of the fruit and a lightly toffeed finish with excellent length. Beautiful now but a great cellaring proposition too. Cuisine's No. 1 Riesling. 30 g/l rs. 13% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Melness Canterbury Riesling 2005
Light lemon gold, aromatic and spicy with pungent citrus scents and crisp spritzy acidity in the palate with spiced oranges, fragrant oil and a generous sweetish, honeyed palate. Totally flavoursome, it was gorgeous six months ago when it won a gold medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show but it seems even more gorgeous now. 23g/l rs. 11.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Deutschenherren-hof Trierer Deutschenherrenberg Riesling Auslese 2004
Very pale lemon in colour, lightly oily in appearance. Delicate aromatics of citrus blossom and honeyed spice. It tastes so Germanic after all the New Zealand wines, low alcohol and honeyed, with sweet citrus acidity, a lightly syruppy texture and an earthy (clay) undercurrent, the acidity adds a delicate tingle and the floral nectar-like finish is vibrant and long. Simply beautiful as it flows across the palate with perfectly balanced sweetness to the crisp underlying acidity. Outstanding. My Wine of the Night. 7.5% alc. $36.99/$32.99. Cork closure.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection East Coast Gewurztraminer 2005
Light lemon gold with floral, soap-perfume aromatics and pink smoker lolly musk, it's a dryish wine with an oily texture. Flavours of five spice powder, tangelo peel and violets abound, grape phenolics add structure, warm alcohol adds lusciousness and the finish is flamboyant and powerful. 14% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2006
Light yellow gold with delicate florals and ripe fruit aromas, it tastes spicy and sweetish, warm and juicy with violets, rose petals and poached spice stonefruit. Weighty, oily and rich without going over the top in its pungency, simply a beautifully poised drop. 13% alc. $29.99. Diam closure.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11th April 2007
Champagne, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Port
The Champagnes were not tasted blind but the other wines were.

Mount Riley Riesling 2006
Light gold coloured, quite restrained on the nose with delicate scents of pear drops and honeysuckle and crisp, steely flavours padded out with green apples and lemons. A blend of Marlborough and Nelson grapes in an off-dry, medium-bodied package - the acidity stimulates the salivary glands and the finish is long.
12% alc. $14.99. Screwcap.

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne NV - France
Light gold with a richness to the hue, this gorgeous bubbles has toasty, lightly floral, honeyed aromas and rounded, harmonious, full-bodied flavours with classic 'yeast autolysis' characters. Delicately foamy and creamy with a honeyed richness, it's fairly dry, perfectly balanced and totally moreish. The perfect aperitif.
12% alc. $84.50.

Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge NV - France
Light gold with straw gold highlights, a delicately yeasty aroma and a full foamy texture with lemon and nougat flavours and more obvious pinot characters that hint of strawberry and herbs. Dry and crisp with a classy finesse, this blend of 30% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier is more of a first course bubbles.
12% alc. $62.99.

Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV - France
Light gold with straw gold highlights, the aroma is rich and bready with strong 'yeast autolysis' characters. A mouthfilling style with an upfront attack of bubbles and firm acidity underlying the rich creamy, almost caramel-like flavours with hints of stonefruit and a marmite yeastiness on the crisp, dry, lasting finish. Made from equal proportions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with the latter adding a floral, rose petal-like richness, this full-bodied Champagne could stand up to an appropriate main. Simply delicious.
12% alc. $66.99.

J Moreau & Fils Chablis 2005 - France
Made from 100% Chardonnay, this bright, medium gold coloured wine is what you would call a subtle, restrained style with such delicate nutty aromas, you can hardly detect them. It's very Burgundian in taste, almost bone dry with melon and exotic, feijoa-like fruit and malolactic winemaking characters providing a creaminess to tame the underlying crisp acidity. Mellow, crisp, creamy, delicate and subtle. Classic for the region.
12.5% alc. $27.99.

Vidal Natural Ferment Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004
Bright yellow gold with creamy, toasty oak aromas and bold, toasty, mouthfilling flavours, such a contrast to the Chablis and although showing a little bottle development with mellow buttery cedar, spice and pineapple cream it is so obviously a 'down under' wine with its abundant oak and fruit. Ready now.
14.5% alc. $13.99. Screwcap.

Moss Wood Margaret River Chardonnay 2005 - Western Australia
Medium gold, bright and clear. Powerful, mealy, sweet vanillin oak on the nose with hints of lanolin, in fact so much new oak it smells almost resinous. The oak dominates the palate too, almost to the extreme but is slowly tamed by the stonefruit, melon, tropical fruit and powerful winemaking influences. A wine that shows great potential as well as longevity but right now needs more time to let the oak soften and integrate.
14% alc. $61.00.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2005 - Limestone Coast, South Australia
Opaque deep dark red with mint-infused blackberry aromas, it tastes sweet and jammy with well-integrated chocolatey oak, a touch of spice, a savoury undercurrent, meaty tannins and a warm finish. Very much an all round crowd pleaser.
15% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

Tapestry The Vincent McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Deep black red, dense and opaque - an amazing colour with no fading, it appears much younger than it really is. It smells and tastes quite primary too with spicy, creamy oaked, dark berry aromas and rich, spicy, powerful flavours, fine grained tannins, creamy vanillin oak, ripe berry and plum fruit, chocolate and liquorice with a savoury undercurrent, hints of dried herbs and a cedary finish. A totally delicious wine, still developing, it has been matured in 100% new American oak for 18 months then older French oak for a further 6 months.
14% alc. $42.99.

Gem Tree Uncut McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - South Australia
Deep black red, dense and opaque with sweet oak aromas and smooth creamy flavours with vanillin oak, pepper, plums and purple fruit. A soft, smooth, seductive style that has been matured in French & American oak for 16 months.
14.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2005 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Deep purple black, opaque to the crimson edges, the aroma is savoury and peppery with hints of rose spice and the taste is dry and peppery, tarry and nuggetty with beautifully fine grained tannins, wood smoke and savoury dried herbs balancing the dark plummy fruit. A very smart wine with opulence, concentration and power, it's been matured in French oak for 16 months and is very much in the mould of a northern Rhone style.
13.5% alc. $60.99. Screwcap.

Grant Burge 10 year Old Port - Barossa Valley, South Australia Deep orange amber, transparent in appearance with salty, raisiny aromas and salty, raisiny flavours with a touch of that rancio character and a hint of orange curacao. Warm, mellow and comforting with a hot sting of alcohol on the long lasting finish.
19.5% alc. $36.99.

Fonseca Bin 27 Vintage Character Port - Portugal Deep black red, dense and opaque, this is a rich, heady wine with rich, fruity aromas like fruit-cake fruits macerating in brandy and full-bodied, creamy and spicy flavours with the intense liquorice hallmark of vintage port and ripe cassis and currant-like fruit. Very smooth in its flow across the palate, luscious and seductive, ready to drink now.
20% alc. $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4th April 2007
8th Birthday Party
Eight full years of First Glass tastings, about 430 in total. And I've been to most of them. As usual, all of the wines were tasted blind.

Montana Brut Reserve Cuvee Methode Traditionelle
Light gold in colour with a good head of mousse when poured, the fizz attacks the mouth with gusto. It's lightly toasty on the nose and creamy and yeasty to the taste with a toasty richness, refreshing citrus and a crisp, dry, steely finish.
12.5% alc. $17.99.

Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV
Light yellow gold with tiny bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass, it smells rich and malty, like malt caramel toffees, and tastes fresh and foamy with nuances of stone fruit amongst the powerful yeasty flavours then the gorgeous malt caramel resurges to linger on the finish with the faintest hint of rose petal. Delicious.
12.5% alc. $44.99.

Summerhouse Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Light gold coloured with toasty sweet oak aromas and big, rich and rounded flavours with creamy oak, ripe stonefruit and butter caramel. Firm acidity underpins the wine and hints to its origin.
13.5% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2002
Yellow gold with a lime glint, the aroma is complex and savoury with creamy vanillin oak, stonefruit and hints of mushroom in the emptied glass. It's a bold style with lots of sunshine, pineapple, grapefruit, spicy oak and a savoury finish. Oily in texture with beautiful flow, this is in fantastic condition.
14.5% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Deep gold with yellow glints, this is a savoury wine with mealy, wheat biscuit aromas and rich, powerful, savoury, mealy flavours with toasty oak and tropical fruit. Plenty of winemaker interaction with firm acidity that makes it seem very tight but it's balanced & focused and the finish brims with grilled peaches. French and American oak. Definitely needs a big glass.
14.5% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Lawsons Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006
Light gold, aromatic, floral, baked apples and pears - plenty going on to amuse the nose. Spicy to the taste, soft and fruity with an oily texture and a pear-like graininess. It has that hint of sweetness, yet it is dry. One of the most flavoursome PG's around and highly recommended.
14.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Camshorn Waipara Valley Classic Riesling 2006
Straw gold, aromatic with citrus and floral scents, it's tastes sweet and honeyed with crisp acidity that makes it finish dry. A juicy style with apple flavours to the fore.
12% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Wild Rock Struggler's Flat Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006
Youthful, vibrant, purple-red with good depth, not quite opaque. On the nose it smells savoury and lush and in the palate it's fruity and spicy with hints of anise, cherry and red guava fruit, savoury oak, velvety tannins, reasonably high acidity and a herbal depth to the earthy finish.
13.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Tenuta Albrizzi Cabernet and Primitivo 2004
Deep red, opaque. Earthy aromas with hints of barnyard and a suggestion of mint, the mint carries through to the sweet fruited palate that is slightly jammy but tamed by the well balanced acidity with soft tannins, leather, tar, dried herbs, rose hips, nugget and cedar. The sweet fruit surges again on the finish. Matured in 100% French oak, this is a wine that packs a bit of punch.
13.5% alc. $16.99.

Red Deer Station Unoaked Shiraz 2004
Dark red with crimson hues, nearly opaque., it smells dry, savoury and just a little medicinal but it's crammed with creamy blackberries, purple plums and jelly baby lollies. Unoaked, easy going, soft and juicy, a little sweetish - a great introductory, fuller-bodied red.
13.5% alc. $11.99. Diam cork.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Cab Sauvignon 2004
Inky blackberry red with mint, chocolate, cedary oak and fruit cake spices on the nose, at first it seems dry and savoury (esp. after the previous wine) but the savoury is secondary to the voluptuous wild berry and purple plum fruit with thick grainy tannins, eucalypt, cedar, herbs and cassis. Lot of texture, lots of flavour, good wine. Matured in French and American oak for 16 months.
14% alc. $18.99.

Two Hand Gnarly Dudes Barossa Shiraz 2005
Deep, dark, shiny black red; spicy with berry-filled mocha creams on the nose, it tastes rich, ripe, creamy and chocolatey with boysenberries, mulberries, currants, peppery spice and savoury oak over an earthy backbone. Full-bodied with muscular tannins and a lengthy finish, this is an opulent, mind blowing wine.
14.5% alc. $30.99. 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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