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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

February 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 - 28th February
Regional Challenge - Four German Whites, Four Italian Reds, Four Western Australian Reds
Wines were were tasted blind.

Kerpen Graacher Himmelreich Halbtrocken Riesling 2002 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Light yellow gold with a lightly honeyed, hay and citrus peel aromas and a crisp, dryish palate filled with tropical fruit, pineapple, tart yet juicy citrus. A weighty wine with a delicious honeyed overlay balancing and a long, flavoursome finish. 9.5% alc. $29.99.

Dr Loosen Riesling 2005 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Pale lemon drop colour with a delicate floral aroma, this is a much sweeter wine, quite juicy, a little grainy with hints of flower musk, stewed apple and a tantalising infusion of lime. Seems quite delicate but has a surge of power to the fresh finish that lingers sweetly. 8.5% alc. $19.99 special.

Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling 2005 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Pale lemon coloured with lime, mandarin, honeysuckle and hints of flower musk on the nose, there's an earthiness to the grainy texture palate with crisp green apple and zesty spice, a dusty honey sweetness and a touch of pith. Just the slightest suggestion of a fusel character and a long sweet finish with apricot, honey and well-balanced acidity. 2005 has been touted as 'the vintage of the century'. 8% alc. $52.99.

Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Auslese Riesling 2003 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Light lemon gold, lightly honeyed on the nose with a hint of kero, quite floral too, this is a stronger flavoured, fuller bodied style with a slightly viscous texture, a richer apricot and toffee apple flavour, and once again, perfectly balanced acidity. Overall, rather glorious. From a very good, hot dry vintage too, 'the vintage of the century' until 2005 came along. 8% alc. $58.99.

Renzo Masi Chianti 2005 - Tuscany, Italy
Concentrated deep dark, blackcurrant-red with spicy and savoury aromas infused with ripe plum and cherry fruit, it's medium bodied in style, juicy and savoury, earthy and rustic with nice firm tannins, modern clean oak and a succulent spicy finish with hints of liquorice, spice and blueberry. With lots of immediate appeal, this is Chianti, but not as we used to know it. 12.5% alc. $17.99.

Prunotto Barbera d'Asti 2005 - Piedmont, Italy
Deep red with earthy, savoury aromas that hint of anise and creamy oak, it's spicy, herbal, tarry and rustic with a marmite savouriness, salty liquorice, cherry fruits, soft juicy ripe tannins and acidity lifting the finish. Despite a momentary, stinky tar character that hinted of low level cork taint, it's a flavoursome wine with an Old World stamp. 13.5% alc. $20.99.

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 - Abruzzi, Italy
Deep red with a rich, concentrated, spicy aroma with hints of cherry and a medium to full bodied palate with fruit and oak sweetness, liquorice, savoury and lightly salty herbs and soft ripe tannins. Very dry, with a long finish, it's a wine of complexity with peppery Syrah-like spice and a musky perfume that lingers on the finish. 12.5% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Rocca delle Macie 'Roccato' 2000 - Tuscany, Italy
Deep dark red with a bricking edge, it smells of mellow cedar and baked rosemary-like herbs and the mellow character carries through to the soft, smooth palate where there's no fruit to distinguish, just a mature complexity and concentration with tar, leather, hints of barnyard and meaty tannins. A mouthfilling wine with a smooth cedar finish and a very satisfying vinous sweetness. A Super Tuscan, made from a blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and matured in French oak barriques. 13.5% alc. $69.50.

Xabregas Shiraz 2005 - Mt Barker, WA
Dense, concentrated, blueberry jam-red in colour, it's spicy, savoury and just a little spiritous on the nose with rich, spicy raisin and mocha flavours succulent tannins, warm vanillin oak and lots of cherry and concentrated purple fruits emerging together with chocolate and cocoa. There's an earthy, tarry, liquorice undercurrent and zesty acidity that adds lift and flare to the long, savoury, finish. Very long, very smart, very exciting. 14.2% alc. $19.99 special.

Sandalford Margaret Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - WA
Dark red black, concentrated and shiny, this has a beautifully pure Cabernet Sauvignon nose of blackcurrant and cedar with hints of mint. It's rich, tight and dry with a firm tannin structure, juicy red fruits, mint, cedary oak and a succulent undercurrent that gives the wine a smooth, seamless flow. A powerful wine, a concentrated meaty wine, a little earthy and funky too, a stellar example of Western Australian Cab. 12 months in new French oak. 14.5% alc. $35.99.

Xabregas Show Reserve Shiraz 2004 - Mt Barker, WA
Purple red, youthful with baked Shrewsbury biscuit fruit on the nose, it's a softer wine, soft, smooth and creamy with liquorice and aromatic spices, lush cherry and juicy mulberry fruit, vanillin oak and an earthy backbone with a hint of tobacco adding savouriness to the mellowing finish. Long, creamy, concentrated, soft and juicy. Gold and Trophy. Mount Barker. 14% alc. $34.99.

Cape Mentelle Zinfandel 2004 - WA,
Intense deep purple red, impenetrable to the core. Opulently scented with creamy vanillin oak, spice and nutmeg, the powerful, tantalising aroma leads into a seductively powerful taste sensation of deliciously ripe fruit, spice, chocolate and cedary with fine textured silky tannins and wonderful vinosity that provides a smooth, seamless flow. But with its scarily high alcohol, it is definitely not for wimps. 16% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21st February
Regional Challenge - Four Alsace Whites, Four Spanish Reds, Four Mclaren Vale Shiraz
Wines were were tasted blind.

Torres Sangre de Toro 2004 - Catalunya, Spain
A blend of Garnacha and Carinena grapes, this medium-red coloured, medium-bodied wine is warm, spicy and rustic with vanillin oak scents, concentrated fruit, liquorice, tar, warm earth , herbaceous tones, soft tannins and a bright, tasty finish. Once the most recognisable red wine from Spain in this country, it no longer has a plastic bull hanging from its neck - but it does have a screwcap. 13.5% alc. $17.99 special

Schoffit Pinot Gris Colmar Tradition 2004 - Alsace, France
Bright golden yellow with thick tears, it smells of lemon poached pear and tastes rich, full-bodied, spicy and delicately musky with tangelo, sweet pears, hints of apples and a touch of honey. It's a low acid, full-bodied style and despite the fruit sweetness it is quite dry on the slightly savoury, spritzy textured, zesty finish. 13.8% alc. $37.99.

Schoffit Cuvee Cuvée Alexandre Gewurztraminer 2004 - Lieu-Dit Harth, Alsace, France
Bright yellow gold with an oily, pungent, apricot and rose musk aroma, this powerful, rich and spicy wine with its oily, viscous texture is distinctly varietal. It's slightly smoky with hints of tangelo peel behind creamed wildflower honey, a spritzy brightness to the sweetish finish and a savouriness to the long, refined aftertaste. 13.5% alc. $44.99.

Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Gewurztraminer 2004 - Alsace, France
Light lemon gold, slightly oily in appearance, it's a little more restrained in its aroma with delicate hints of citrus and musk and tastes lemony and citric, full-bodied and dry. It's soft and oily in texture with a rose petal muskiness emerging and a touch of anise too. Lovely balance and mouthfeel. Gold Medal NZIWS. 13.5% alc. $35.99.

Albert Mann Grand Cru Steingrubler Gewurztraminer 2004 - Alsace, France
Lemon gold with slow running tears after it's been swirled, it's perfumed and floral with sweet citrus, spun sugar and honey scents. Takes a while to open up but becomes resplendent as it slowly reveals honeysuckle, apricot, apple, mandarin, pawpaw, delicate spice and musk with an underlying earthiness and a slightly sweetish, spritzy finish. It seduces the senses with it power and weight. 13.5% alc. $58.00.

Castillo de Monseran Old Vine Garnacha 2004 - Carinena, Spain
Youthful, medium dense, pinky red, with aromas of sweet cherry fruit and vanillin oak, it's an 'old world/new world' style with the sweet American oak and ripe juicy fruit a contrast to the earthy, herbal rusticity, firm tannins and long, mellow finish. 100% Grenache from old vines, ready now. 13% alc. $16.99 special.

Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2005 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Youthful, medium dense, purple-red, almost gemmy in appearance, it's savoury, smoky and herbal on the nose with big but fine textured tannins, juicy blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, hints of liquorice, smoky oak and rosemary-like herbs. It's long and savoury with creamy oak softening the reasonably firm acid and a spicy juiciness to the concentrated finish. Made from old vines, over 100 years old, with twelve months in new oak. 13.5% alc. $27.99.

Remelluri Rioja 2001 - Rioja, Spain
Dense black red in colour, the initial medicinal aromas give way to sun-baked, herb covered, hot earth. Sweet nutty oak and horse saddle build in palate with dry tannins to be swamped with powerful, heady, dark juicy fruits, liquorice and spice with a recurrence of the salty, rosemary, earthy savouriness. It doesn’t look old or taste six years old but there's a complexity that comes with age and the horse trots off to leave a fascinating, rich, vinous aftertaste. 100% Tempranillo grapes matured in new French oak for 3 years. 13.5% alc. $43.99.

Coriole Toa McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
Dense blueberry red coloured, its spicy, savoury and earthy, tarry and leathery with primary berry fruits, an earthy backbone, big grainy tannins, peppery spice and a hint of mint on the sweet oak finish. Not immediately what you would think of as opulent McLaren Vale, with its earthy savouriness it's more akin with the Spanish wines just tasted. 14% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Penny's Hill Red Dot Fleurieu Shiraz Viognier 2005
A blend of grapes from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, this is a big, bold black coloured wine crammed with chocolate, spice and sweet jammy flavours with soft, smooth tannins, a fruit cake richness, a hint of lavender, a suggestion of earth and lots of spice and mocha. Made by (Mr) Ben Riggs and matured for 12 months in French and American oak, it is ready to drink now. 14.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Foundation Shiraz 2001
Deep red black with slightly fading edges, this smells and tastes like classic Australian Shiraz with a little age. Beautifully refined, balanced and classy with sweet French and American oak, rich plum and cherry fruit, liquorice, peppery spices, deliciously suave velvety tannins and a long, smooth finish with hints of chocolate, it’s starting to mellow yet is still vibrant with excellent underlying acidity that will keep it going for a while. But why wait when it already has bottle age and is so delicious now? 14% alc. $52.99.

Mr Riggs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
Finely textured, dense, purple-edged, blackberry coloured, it smells opulent and ripe with savoury, smoky, vanillin oak and concentrated berries. Sweet oak on a platter of velvety smooth tannins floods the palate of this seemingly fruit forward style but the concentrated, luscious blackberry fruit is balanced by an underlying, spicy savouriness complete with leather and tar. Belgian chocolate and liquorice lingers on the hot, spicy finish. Sourced from three vineyards with 15 months in new and one year French oak, this is a wine that will reward cellaring. It's one of the new cults, so despite its price, it's a relative bargain too. 15% alc. $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14th February
Regional Challenge - Four Hawke's Bay Chardonnays, Four Rieslings and Four Central Otago Pinot Noirs
Wines were were tasted blind.

Esk Valley Black Label Chardonnay 2005
A bold and brassy style with a rich gold colour, lots of oak, grapefruit, nectarine and a toasty curacao-infused citrussy finish. Quite tight but has mouthfeel and richness with mealy characters emerging to fatten up the palate. 13% alc. $16.99 special. Screwcap.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
Pale gold in colour with a creamy, mealy, citrussy aroma and full-bodied, crisp, fresh flavours of nuts, figs and orange peel with bright spicy oak, grilled peaches and cream, seems quite tight at first but finishes full, rich and toasty. It was delicious back in October, seems even more so now. 14% alc. $18.99 special. Diam.

Black Barn Barrel Fermented Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
A big, bold, toasty wine with a golden colour, creamy oak, stonefruit, a touch of grapefruit and lots of barrel-ferment and yeast lees flavours. Quite different to the trophy winning 2004 but full, rich, smooth and tasty with butterscotch emerging in a big way on the moreish, spicy, full-bodied finish. 13.7% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005
Straw gold in colour, a little restrained on nose with a hint of grilled nectarine, it's tight, mealy, nutty, sophisticated and totally endowed with lemony, leesy, lactic flavours in the style of some the great white Burgundies. The texture is silky, the palate is creamy and despite the acidity there's a softness to the toasty wheaty finish where nectarine lingers with citrus. A glorious wine, just needs a little more time. 14% alc. $48.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Marlborough Riesling 2006
Light gold in colour, it's quite floral with apple candy on nose and plenty of juicy apple flavours, a medium style with a slightly tart lime finish and a touch of honey to bring back the sweetness to the long, toasty aftertaste. 13% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Framingham Classic Marlborough Riesling 2006
Pale with light green glints, it's perfumed and floral with hints of honeysuckle and tastes pure, light and delicate with apple and lime, well balanced sweetness and a long, dry finish. There's a touch of salinity and a little earthiness as it lingers with great length. Totally classic for this producer, it will be even better with time in the bottle. 11.5% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Pegasus Bay Aria Waipara Riesling 2006
Straw gold coloured, it smells so enticing with its flower nectar and exotic tropical fruit fragrance and tastes delicious with it tangy-edged, sweet flavours of passionfruit, juicy citrus, lime sherbet, orange honey, flower nectar and rose musk. The texture is ever so slightly spritzy while botrytis adds a honeyed richness and succulence. Stunning. 7.5% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Medium weight ruby garnet in colour with an earthy, slightly meaty, spiced plum aroma and sweet fruited savoury flavours with polished French oak, cherry and spice. A soft, juicy, medium bodied style with a silky texture and a touch of acidity on earthy finish. A nuance of chocolate emerges too. 14.5% alc. $24.99 special. Screwcap.

Rippon Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
A medium weight garnet colour, showing a little development, it smells quite complex, earthy and savoury with a hint of anise, and it tastes medium-bodied with strawberry, rhubarb, earth, smoke and slightly grippy tannins. Then the vinous richness of the wine takes over bringing a silkiness to the texture, hints of vanilla from the integrated French oak and a cherry sweetness to the lingering finish. Refined and layered. 13% alc. $53.99. Diam.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Dense, red black and full of primary black cherry and plum fruit, this full-bodied wine impresses from the outset with its boldness, lushness and extraction. But beneath the polished oak, the big tannins, the nugget and the leather, there is good structure and acidity and the intrinsic earthy, spicy hallmarks of good Pinot Noir with a lovely anise spiciness lingering on the finish. 13.8% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Quartz Reef Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Dense and dark with a black core and boysenberry-red edges, you don’t immediately think 'Pinot Noir' from the colour. It's a massive wine with wild berries and pie pastry on the nose and creamy oak, sweet plums, juicy brambles and liqueur cherries in the palate with allspice, subtle anise, fine grained dusty tannins and a long, full-bodied finish. Even bigger than the Akarua.14% alc. $43.99. Screwcap.

Framingham Noble Selection Marlborough Riesling 2006
Light yellow gold with a hint of kero to the nectar-like scents, it's sweet and luscious to the taste with citrus, honeysuckle, lime candy and passionfruit, there's more of that kero and an orange peel zestiness that brings the opulence sweetness into check. Beautifully balanced with a lasting finish. 143g/l residual sugar. 8.5% alc. $29.99 / 375 ml bottle. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7th February
Sam's Choice
Wines were were tasted blind.

Tasman Bay Vintage Selection Pinot Gris 2006
A blend of Marlborough and Nelson fruit, served chilled the aroma is slightly dull but the taste is bright and spicy, crisp and crunchy, a little honeyed, with fruit salad and a ton of zesty citrus on the medium bodied lingering aftertaste. It is off dry and has just a hint of oak. 13% alc. $16.99. Diam closure.

Marotti Campi Salmariano Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2003
Medium gold in colour, there's a whiff of candy floss (spun sugar) then profuse scents of butterscotch. It's a bold style, nutty and buttery with ripe stonefruit adding weight to the mid palate and citrus rind adding crispness to the finish with a touch of salinity and a hint of smoke. A modern style of Italian wine, with reasonable fruit, weight and texture, vanillin oak and plenty of full-bodied richness - a lot like Chardonnay in many ways and quite exciting. 13.5% alc. $30.99.

Jacobs Creek Steingarten Riesling 2003 - Barossa Valley
Zesty, fresh, high acid, dry, straw gold Riesling with a lime juice aroma and a crisp, floral, lightly honeyed taste with limes and spiced apples to the fore and a bracingly dry finish. It's medium to full-boded, becoming quite toasty and starting to show a little of that 'kero' character with age. 11.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Vidal Natural Ferment Hawkes Bay. Chardonnay 2005
Light gold in colour, lightly oaky and savoury on the nose, it tastes smooth, soft and creamy with figs, apricots and spicy barrel ferment and lees flavours, and an oily spiciness to the medium to full-bodied finish. Great value, every day drinking with so many bells and whistles it tastes much more expensive. 13.5% alc. $13.99. Screwcap.

Spy Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Medium gold coloured with a creamy, peachy, slightly butterscotch aroma and a rich, almost luscious flavour of figs, hazelnuts and spicy savoury oak with just a hint of grapefruit, a gorgeously smooth texture and lovely integration of the fruit and oak. 13.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Light greenish gold in colour, this smells and tastes so different to the previous two chardonnays because it has been fermented with wild yeasts and aged on those yeasts' lees. It's full of nutty oak and lemony leesy characters with spiced honey and citrus, an oily texture and a long, rounded, cool, juicy finish. Rich in flavour with excellent length, and it takes chilling very well. 14% alc. $32.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Alluring with its dense, vivid, deep, violet-edged plum colour, it smells savoury and earthy with wafts of spiced cherry, and tastes rich and plush with mulled cherry and plum fruit supported by savoury oak and fine tannins. It's a fleshy wine with a reasonable amount of underlying acidity while a hint of anise adds a spicy overlay to the polished finish. Gold NZIWS. 13.5% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005
Deep plummy red, quite tarry with a cherry lolly character to the aroma but dark, tarry, leathery and savoury to taste with meaty tannins, stewed raspberry fruit, all-spice, a hint of musk and underlying acidity which imparts a bright clean finish. It's a bright, modern style with the fruit and savoury characters merging nicely. 13.5% alc. $17.99.

Vini Menhir NoZero Negroamaro 2004 - Salento, Italy
A smooth textured, medium-bodied, juicy wine with a dark cherry red colour and sweetish aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry fruit, made to drink now. It's a low acid style with soft, juicy tannins, luscious sweet fruit, a liquorice savouriness to keep the fruit in balance, some bramble nuances and a cigar box smokiness to finish. Very popular with the troops tonight. 13% alc. $17.99.

Tyrell's Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2004 -Victoria, Australia
Deep blueberry jam colour, starting to redden on edge, it smells spicy with coconut and vanillin oak and tastes lifted and vibrant with concentrated black fruit, a salted liquorice nuance, milk chocolate, smoke and just a touch of herb on the long, full-bodied finish. Very smooth in texture, a big wine but it just flows. 15 months in French and American oak. 15% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Black coloured with blood red rims, it smells deep and concentrated with eucalypt, liquorice and ripe berry fruit that carry through to the rich, smooth, intense and beautifully fine textured palate. A full-bodied, archetypal Australian 'claret', there's mint, creamy vanillin oak, chicory, tar and shrubby herbs with blackcurrant and dark berry fruit, then the eucalypt reawakens to linger with chocolate on finish. The tannins are big, but they are so fine in texture and so in balance to the fruit, that you could drink it now, no problem, or confidently cellar. 22 months American, French & Hungarian oak. Star red wine of the night. 14.5% alc. $41.99.

Seghesio Old Vines Zinfandel 2002 - Sonoma County, California
Dense garnet red, showing a little age, it smells of chocolate at first becoming quite savoury and spicy with a herb flower/ lavender nuance. It's quite thick textured in the mouth with dry 'taffeta' tannins, smoky, herbal flavours, a touch of earth and quite sweet, jammy, currant-like fruit. Rich and concentrated and rather fascinating if you can get past the high alcohol. Aged for 12 months in 75% French and 25% American oak, of which 33% was new. 15.6% alc. $71.00.

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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