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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

January 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 - 31st January 2007
Let's Celebrate Summer
Wines were were tasted blind.

Bilancia Pinot Grigio 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Crisp, fresh, juicy and fruity, like biting into a crunchy fruit salad of red apples and crisp pears with a whisper of pineapple, a hint of passionfruit and a herbaceous twist to the spicy finish, it's off dry with an apple blossom perfume, a soft oily texture and excellent length. Serve lightly chilled. 14% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Light yellow gold with a toasty, fleshy, grilled yellow peach aroma and a big, ripe, mouthfilling flavour. It's rich and creamy with lots of oak, a spicy wheaty biscuity backbone, peach and citrus fruit, and butterscotch on the full-bodied, mealy finish. Powerful, long and rather opulent at this stage of its life. Kingsley says, "the best Cloudy Bay chardonnay ever". 14% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Millton Clos de Ste Anne Chardonnay 2004 - Gisborne
Rich lemon gold with nutty oak, citrus and nougat aromas, it has a slightly lemony buttermilk character and interesting subtle stonefruit flavours of apricot and nectarine with a touch of hokey pokey. It's very dry with a wheaty backbone and a ton of savoury oak on the juicy finish where that nougat character emerges again to linger. Warm textured and mouth coating. 14% alc. $51.99. Cork.

Seresin Estate Dry Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
A fresh bright Riesling with crisp lime and lemon zest aromas, searingly dry, like sucking on a granny smith apple, with good body weight, a spritzy grainy texture and a hint of 'kero'. So easy to think it is Australian, as it is very much in that mould. One of the driest Rieslings made in NZ and great with seafood that you would serve a wedge of lemon with. 12% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr 2005 - Mosel Saar Ruwer
Pale in colour, it smells juicy, fresh, fragrant and lightly floral, it's a soft sweetish style with a touch of viscosity adding a nectar-like character to the texture and flavours of apples, lemons, pears, honey, sherbert lollies and fruit tea. Low in alcohol but has palate weight from the sweetness. 8% alc. $35.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylor's Pass Riesling 2005 - Marlborough
A limey style of Riesling, juicy with lots of fruit salad - pineapple - kiwi -peach - passionfruit with a citrus juice and honey dressing, beautiful weight and length. Someone said mouthwatering, and it is. There's a hint of musk lollies too. Cool and refreshing with the fruit providing a scintillating finish. It seems quite dry, but in fact it has 43 grams per litre of residual sugar, which makes it medium sweet. The high acid balances the sweetness beautifully and makes it seem drier than it really is. A gorgeous summer drink. 8.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Vinoptima Ormond Gewurztraminer 2004 - Gisborne
Deep yellow gold in colour with a soft, delicately floral and honeyed nut scent and a rich, luscious, oily texture, it doesn't have the flamboyant aroma that is often associated with New Zealand gewurz, it seems so Alsace in style. It is ripe and lush with power and richness, sweet grapey fruit, hints of lychee, hints of stonefruit and a very, very long finish where the spicy nature of the variety makes its presence felt. Smooth and sensuous in its flow. Yum. 14.5% alc. $48.99. Cork.

Coto de Hayas Crianza 2003 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Plummy red in colour with a cherry tea infusion to the earthy, savoury, leathery aroma and a dry, savoury flavour with dusty tannins, morello cherry and sweeter raspberry fruit. A medium-bodied, food friendly style with a warm, rounded, spicy finish. A blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo. 13.5% alc. $12.99. Cork.

Frescobaldi Chianti 2005 - Tuscany, Italy
Deep and inky coloured, like blueberry jam, it smells smoky and leathery with a deep vinosity and tastes quite thick and jammy, dark and smoky, leathery and savoury, sweet and juicy with firm grained tannins and a fleshy finish. Reminds me of blackberry bushes on the side of the road where the tar seal is melting in the sun. Good acidity on finish. 12.5% alc. $19.99. Cork.

Kingston Estate Shiraz 2005 - Australia
Deep in colour, intense to the edges, this smells and tastes so distinctly Australian with mint, chocolate, sweet vanillin oak, loads of ripe berry fruit, black pepper, spice and mouthfilling thick, chunky tannins. Unbelievable value. 14.5% alc. $12.99. Cork.

Unison Hawkes Bay Syrah 2005
Deep purple violet red with a lustrous glow, this intense, deep, complex, meaty wine smells aromatic and spicy, even a little citrussy! It's dry to the taste, dry and savoury with silky, fine-grained, dusty tannins, abundant cedary oak, a hint of citrus, cocoa, leather, tar and chicory with concentrated spiced plum and cherry fruit sweetness on the full-bodied lingering, smoky finish. A fascinating wine with many waves of flavours. 14% alc. $36.99. Diam closure.

Yalumba Hand Picked Late Harvest Viognier 2005 - Wrattonbully, South Australia
Sweet, but not overly sweet - or so it seems, it's deep lemon in colour and has a hint of smoky oak with a honeyed overlay, spice, nectarine, apricot, and a hint of lime with a long, nectar-like finish. 12% alc. $25.99. 375ml bottle. Cork.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 24th January 2007
Summer Wines and More Games
Wines were were tasted blind.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
A mouth warming, fruity style crammed with melon and nectarine with a touch of tropical fruit, a spicy, yeast lees richness and creamy oak. It's a well-made well-balanced wine with a long pleasing finish. A very nice starter.
13% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Bright lemon gold with rich, oily toasted pineapple aromas, this is a bold, toasty, flamboyant, in-your-face style, an oak fest. There are subtle nuances of coconut from the American oak and layers of lemon scented furniture polish with surges of ripe stonefruit and a creamy, spicy and powerfully long finish. An oak-lovers delight - perhaps too oaky for some, but previous vintages of this wine show that it will age better than many chardonnays on the market and the oak will integrate perfectly. Fabulous now if you like this style, fabulous potential for the future.
14.5% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

TW Black Label Gisborne Chardonnay 2004
Deep straw gold, it smells soft and creamy and tastes soft and round with rich stonefruit and tropical fruit flavours on a smooth polished creamy oak backbone. The label says white peach, cream and hazelnut and it is so right. A delicious wine, drinking beautifully now. Love it.
13.8% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Seifried Nelson Riesling 2005
Honeyed apple aromas with a hint of lime become much more expressive and floral as the lightly chilled wine warms up. It's a toasty style of riesling, concentrated in its sweet citrus and honey flavours with a touch of marmalade starting to emerge, an edge of viscosity and sweetness on the lingering finish kept in check by the high acidity (9.35 grams per litre). I would call it 'off dry' in style. Well balanced. Nice wine.
13.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Ata Rangi Summer Rose 2006 - Martinborough
A bright, clear, deep watermelon pink colour, it smells of juicy red berry fruits and tastes of strawberry, cherry and spice with a touch of tannin giving structure to the creamy texture and a very pleasant, floral, lingering finish. A refreshing dry wine made from a blend of Merlot, Pinot Meunier and Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a serious statement of a style that is much more appreciated in Europe than in New Zealand.
13% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico 2004
A burnished, red-black colour (darker than pinot, lighter than Shiraz), with its savoury aromas it smells distinctly European - and it is. But fruit is the focus in the palate with sweet strawberry and cherries supported by a dry tannin structure with an underpinning of herbs, a milky malo character and a savoury, tarry finish. The flavours linger well. A medium-bodied style that needs food for utmost enjoyment.
13% alc. $27.99. Cork.

Red Metal Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Franc 2005
Dense dark red with crimson hues, this fragrant red is a dark brooding beast with firm acidity, fine tannins, creamy oak, juicy black fruit, hints of chocolate and a nuggetty undercurrent. Well balanced and very tempting to drink. Red Metal have finally got it right.
13% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Mudbrick Waiheke Island Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Dense pinky red, with cigar box and berry aromas, the raspberry and plum-like fruit is sweet and juicy and supported by creamy oak with a tarry, herbaceous undercurrent and firm, dry tannins. Best enjoyed with food to cut through the tannins that seem more apparent than last time we tasted it.
13.9% alc. $35.99. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2003
Deep inky red with crimson edges, it looks and tastes younger than its three years. It smells spicy and chocolatey and tastes of chocolate, pepper, spice, redcurrant and sweet oak with supple tannins and a tarriness to the thick chocolatey finish. There's a slight herbaceousness and a reasonable amount of acidity, more like you would expect from Cabernet Sauvignon, a reflection of the cooler Coonawarra climate and moderate season.
14% alc. $26.99. Cork.

Dal Broi 'High Altitude' Private Collection Heathcote Shiraz 2005
Bright vibrant deep youthful purple red, dense and lustrous, almost iridescent in appearance with inviting aromas of mint-tinged sweet oak and juicy black fruit. It tastes of liquorice, black jelly beans, black pepper and juicy black fruits with toasty oak, a touch of mint, a gorgeously smooth fine tannin structure, a slippery texture and a totally moreish finish. A wine of balance, concentration and power.
14% alc. $21.99. Cork.

Two Hands Sophie's Garden Padthaway Shiraz 2005
Deep blackberry red with a sweetish nose of mint biscuits, plums and chocolate, it smells so yum and the taste lives up to every expectation. It's silky smooth in texture with fine grained tannins, sweet spices and succulent, intensely flavoured, perfectly ripened plum and blackberry fruit and chocolatey oak that melt on the tongue and send orgasmic messages to every single taste bud. A wine of power and seduction, in two words, 'totally sensational'. 16 months in French oak, 23% new.
15.2% alc. $55.99. Cork.

Wolf Blass Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
Even blacker in colour with a deep dark blue-black core and vibrant crimson edges, this is a totally stunning and gorgeous wine as well, but just a little anti climatic after the Two Hands. Nevertheless it is rich, powerful, opulent, savoury and full of delicious Shiraz spices with chocolate and coconut cream-tinged oak, succulent black berry fruit, firm acids, tar, pepper and a deliciously long finish. A big beast in every way, showing off its youth and rippling muscles right now. A fabulous cellaring prospect. 18 months in American and French oak.
14.5% alc. $43.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17th January 2007
Games Night
Wines were were tasted blind.

Three wines were served for the Wednesday Challenge first. They were the quite Riesling-like Renato Nelson Pinot Gris 2005 followed by Gem Gisborne Chardonnay 2005 and Waipara Springs Premo Pinot Noir 2005. I did not take notes on these wines.

The following wines were served for the sit-down tasting.

Eradus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Straw gold coloured with vivaciously pungent cut grass and summer herb aromas and rich apple, gooseberry, citrus, pineapple, passionfruit and nectarine flavours, a beautiful slippery texture and a toasty grassy herbaceous finish. Made from Awatere Valley fruit, this bright, vibrant wine is yum, yum, yum. Gold Air NZ Wine Awards. 5 stars Cuisine.
13% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 2004
Light green gold with a powerful aroma of Roses lime juice, it tastes dry, citrussy and zesty, full of lime and concentrated tropical fruit with a weighty mid palate and a soft, talcy, floral character lingering with citrus on the powerful finish. A benchmark, dry, Clare Valley style and a multiple gold medal winner.
12% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay 2003 - Western Australia
Perfumed with hints of apricots that carry through to palate, it is soft and creamy, warm and toasty with a touch of honey, a savoury mealy richness, apple, apricot and pineapple fruit, a deft stroke of malolactic and a delicate Burgundian finish. Total class.
14% alc. $38.99.

Morton Estate Black Label Chardonnay 2002 - Hawkes Bay
A deep gold coloured, rich, ripe, oaky style with a little age. There's citrus, stonefruit and perhaps a slightly flinty, struck match character on the nose and a spicy and savoury flavour with a creamy richness, a powerful finish and a long aftertaste. Despite it being almost five years old, there's still plenty of life ahead for this curvaceous beauty queen.
14.5% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Mt Rosa Central Otago Pinot Gris 2006
Pale gold and quite floral with rose petal aromas to the fore, it smells like gewurztraminer but that's where the similarity ends because it tastes of ripe apples with layer upon layer of lemon zest and apple peel. A weighty style with a creamy texture and low acidity despite the lemon peel nuances, the floral characters come back to play on the lingering finish. Silver NZIWS.
14% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Fairmont Block One Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2005
Deep ruby purple with black tints to the core, it emits expressive savoury, earthy, spiced plum aromas and has a mouthfilling, velvety texture with savoury oak and spiced cherry, plum and red guava fruit. A beautifully balanced, very attractive, full-bodied style, just starting to hit its straps. Exceptional value for this complex tasty wine.
13.5% alc. $28.99. Screwcap.

Carchelo Monastrell Syrah 2005 - Jumilla, Spain
Dense crimson black-coloured, it smells of cassis and red jelly babies with hints of mint and in the palate it is soft and juicy with mouthfilling pepper and spiced-infused cherry and chocolate flavours, a lingering cherry and spice finish and plenty of drink me appeal. Once we know it is not southern hemisphere, not McLaren Vale, you have to think Spain but it's so clean, so new world, so Australian in style. It's made from a blend of Monastrell (Mourvedre) and Shiraz, and Bodegas Agapito Rico is the producer. In two words, simply 'fabulous buying'.
14% alc. $15.99.

Mission Reserve Syrah 2005 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
A soft little number with subtle mint, cherry and creamy biscuity oak on the nose - it becomes quite floral with persistent swirling. It's soft and seductive in the palate with smooth tannins, white pepper, rose petals, leather, a hint of tar and very good length. I thought it was Australian at first, but it is not nearly so in your face. In fact it is typical of the style of a medium to full-bodied NZ syrah. Matured in French oak. Gold medal - Sydney Top 100.
13.5% alc. $18.99. Diam.

Bridge Pa 'Louis' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2004
Black red in colour, it smells a little herbal on the nose, rosemary perhaps, and leather but it's sweet and juicy to the taste and such a contrast to the previous wine. It's a big wine, a robust wine, powerful and savoury, tarry and chocolatey with chicory and fruit cake spices, firm tannins, sweet oak and a lingering succulent winey finish. It spent twelve months in French and American oak and has won multiple Golds & Trophies.
14% alc. $42.99. Diam.

Morambro Creek Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Red black in colour with a browning edge, this powerful smelling wine emits an intense chocolate raisin and leather aroma. It tastes ultra powerful and just a little porty with sweet cassis fruit balanced by the savoury oak and leathery tannins. The big brother to Jip Jip Rocks, it's all flavour and flamboyance. Matured in French oak for 12 months. Gold Medal Sydney International.
14% alc. $19.99.

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2003
Deep in colour with purple black hues, this is typically Aussie Shiraz with spicy oak, abundant red fruits and subtle mint on nose. It tastes mellow and initially older than a 2003 but it's a seductive, thick textured wine with minty nuances to the fore and though the alcohol seems high, the nicely developed, slightly jammy, red and black fruit wins on the day. Matured in a combination of American and French oak, it's a wine of balance and power. 4 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10th January 2007
Games Night
Wines were were tasted blind.

Three wines were served for the Wednesday Challenge first. You tasted wines that you poured into your glass from a bottle inside a bag and ticked the option of a piece of paper for the wine you thought it was. I did not take notes. The first wine was the gold medal winning Sacred Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($16.99), so pungent and lively and full of vivacious Marlborough flavours, it couldnít have been a sauvignon blanc from Hawkes Bay or a sauvignon blanc semillon from Waipara.
The second wine was the Fairmont Block One Wairarapa Chardonnay 2004. ($18.99). I thought it quite oaky and a little bit hot on the finish, though it was much appreciated by lovers of the big, golden, buttery style. The third wine was the double gold medal winning Stonehaven Padthaway Viognier 2004 ($17.99) from South Australia.

The following wines were served for the sit-down tasting.

Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Brightly aromatic with sweet pea on nose and light textured dancing zest on the palate with apple, grapefruit, passionfruit and a twist of lime to the finish and a long lingering aftertaste that reminds me of the nectarine I ate this afternoon. Outstanding everyday drinking style. Multiple gold medals. 5 stars Cuisine Magazine.
13% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
A richer, riper, full-bodied and more powerful savvie with a deliciously pungent passionfruit and herb aroma and a rich iced melon flavour with melon, gooseberry, citrus, lime, herbal undercurrent and crunchy passionfruit on the finish, perhaps some tropical guavas too. The powerful flavours linger for ages. Multiple gold medals. 5 stars Cuisine Magazine.
13% alc. $27.99. Screwcap.

Karikari Estate Northland Chardonnay 2005
A creamy, mellow, leesy chardonnay, with nutty sizzled butter characters and savoury nuances. It's a powerful wine and quite oaky with rich stonefruit characters and a citrussy tang to the creme caramel finish. A quality wine. 15% wild yeasts. Gold Medal Bragato Wine Awards. Winemaker Ben Dugdale.
13% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Lemon bread aromas and rich, creamy, beurre blanc and pineapple flavours, it's very very classy with a firm savoury lees-influenced backbone and a sweet stonefruit aftertaste. It's a wine of depth and power. Just beautiful. Winemaker Peter Cowley.
13% alc. $35.99. Diam closure.

Melness Canterbury Riesling 2005
Like sticking your nose into a bowl of old fashioned rose petals, it so floral I'm convinced it's Gewurztraminer, but it is so citrussy toned to the taste, it just canít be. There's Moroccan spice market scents, spiced orange water and lemon honey on an unctuous, oily texture. Sweet but not overly sweet because it has fantastic balance. An unusual Riesling, but just yum. Gold medal NZIWS. Made at Pegasus Bay.
11.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Mount Rosa Black Saxon Central Otago Pinot Noir 2003
Light, fading ruby coloured, this is a medium-bodied style with smoky oak and spiced cherry aromas and bittersweet cherry flavours with spicy oak and silky tannins. It's savoury and lithe with a hint of thyme on the finish and a surge of citrus as it lingers. Winemaker Dean Shaw.
13.8% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2004
Brick red, fading but still glimmers of purple, it's so much fuller in body and so much more satisfying that the previous wine. It's smoky and savoury, ripe and juicy, succulent and spicy and very tasty with its plum-like fruit, a touch of herb and silky tannins that have just a little bit of grip. Delicious drinking right now and for the rest of this year. Trophy Royal Easter Wine Awards. Winemaker Ben Glover.
14.5% alc. $49.99. Screwcap.

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico 2001 - Italy
This deep dark red is a powerful earthy style initially makes me think it is merlot or malbec or some kind of Bordeaux blend, especially with the sheep poo character to the aroma and the taste. It's tarry and leathery with a succulent red fruit undercurrent, a touch of spice, big furry tannins and a long, rich, savoury finish. An utterly serious style of Chianti made from 85% Sangiovese grapes and the remainder a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Colorino, with 32 months in new French oak. It looks much younger than it is and there is a long life ahead of it.
13.5% alc. $49.99. Cork.

Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2004 - Langhorne Creek
Deep crimson red, Sweet smelling and sweetish tasting full of 'cherry ripe', with vanilla, cherry, plums, chocolate and a hint of coconut that give way to mint, cedar and a touch of tobacco on the finish. Despite its slightly firm tannins, it is soft and easy drinking. Such a contrast to the Italian wine.
13% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2004 - Barossa Valley
Dense, inky, blackberry red. It smells cedary, spicy, savoury and rich - hints of rubber indicate hot climate with warming alcohol, black fruits, dark chocolate and succulent blackberry and mulberry fruits that explode with their juiciness on the finish and balance the rich velvety tannins. Chicory root adds a bitter savoury character to the spices and balances the fruit sweetness then mint emerges to linger with chocolate, cherries and savoury oak on the long, powerful finish. Gold Medal Top 100.
14.5% alc. $33.99. Cork.

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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