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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

July 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 Jul 2007
France, Italy and Spain
Wines were tasted blind.

Marotti Campi Salmariano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2003 - Italy
Clear light yellow gold. Flinty and slightly woody on the nose. Crisp and fresh yet ripe and rounded with fleshy stonefruit and a creamy caramel backbone that imparts a rich texture. A tasty white made from Verdicchio grapes, but similar to a crisp, fruity chardonnay and - like you sometimes get with Viognier - a savoury, saltiness and a hint of apricot lingering on the full-bodied finish. Classico Reserva.
13.5% alc. $30.99.

Champagne de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut NV - France
Clear golden yellow with a fine bead. Toasty, yeasty aromas and crisp, creamy, bubbly flavours with a burnt butter and citrus beurre blanc flavour and a floral lift to the full, creamy palate. Very dry with taut acidity underpinning the wine and spiced baked apple and toasted lemon bread characters on the lingering finish. A classic blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and a gold medal winner at the NZ International Wine Show.
12% alc. $59.99.

Cecchi Bonizio Toscana 2005 - Tuscany Italy
Medium weight dark red. Earthy, fragrant, slightly stewed red fruits aroma with little influence of oak and soft, rounded flavours with smooth tannins, raspberry, bitter cherry and blackberry fruit and a hint of peppery spice. Medium-bodied and uncomplicated, it's made from 100% Sangiovese.
12.5% alc. $15.99.

Pozuelo Crianza 2003 - Yecla, Spain
Dark red, reasonably deep with an orange tinge. Savoury on the nose with hints of spiced plum. Medium to full-bodied with reasonably firm tannins, a juicy mid palate, ripe berry fruit, hints of liquorice and spice and a musky smoke on the savoury finish. With lots of flavour, weight, concentration and length, it's drinking well now. A blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah made by Castano.
13.5% alc. $18.99.

Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone 2004 - Rhône Valley, France
Dark pinky red, quite deep. Smoky, savoury aromas with a fragrant red fruit perfume. Soft, smooth, juicy red fruit flavours with spice, a hint of cigar box, dried herbs and red liquorice on the savoury finish. On the fuller side of medium-bodied, the meaty tannins are balanced by the sweetness of fruit and zesty spice emerges on the lingering aftertaste. A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.
13.5% alc. $20.99.

Domaine de L’Ameillaud Vin de Pays de la Principaute d’Orange 2005
Bright pinky-edged deep purple red. Musky, floral, cherry perfume with a hint of spicy oak. Big, rich and smoky with grippy, velvet-edged tannins, cherry fruit and the musk of the aroma adding a floral lift. Full-bodied with mid-palate richness, it's trying to be New World but there’s still a French rusticity to the wine and a spicy, peppery flourish to the long savoury finish. A blend of 50%, Grenache, 25% Syrah and 25%, Carignan from the south of France.
13.5% alc. $16.99.

Chateau Fongaban 2005 - Cotes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France.
Deep dark red, reasonably youthful with a complex, ripe-fruited, smoky, savoury, earthy aroma with a hint of vanilla and cassis. Savoury to the taste with a richness to the palate, cigar box and subtle chocolate, concentrated brambly fruit and fine-textured teeth-coating tannins. A robust wine that seems reasonably tight with its underlying acidity but with its juicy, lingering, full-bodied aftertaste it shows excellent potential. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and at the price it's a very good introduction to Bordeaux.
13.5% alc. $22.99.

Vina Vilano Roble 2005 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Deep dark crimson-edged, purple red, youthful and bright with a smoky, sweet berry fruit aroma and a spicy palate which has soft ripe tannins, juicy red and black fruit, a touch of tobacco and tar, and a gutsy, full-bodied finish. Clean, well made and tasty, this is 100% Tempranillo with little influence from the 6 months in American oak.
13.5% alc. $18.99.

Condado de Haza 2004 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Deep black red with blackberry hues. Fragrant, full-on aromas of spice, cassis, biscuity oak and subtle coconut. Full-bodied, powerful, block-buster flavours crammed with blueberries and bright red fruits, spice, liquorice, tar, nutmeg, dried herbs, sweet vanillin oak, a touch of graphite, smoky charcoal and grippy velvety tannins. Juicy and delicious, a step up on all the previous wines both in taste and price - but its brilliant! 100% Tempranillo with 15 months in American oak.
14% alc. $34.99.

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2005 - Rhône Valley, France
Deep black cherry red. Savoury aroma, quite closed and subdued at first, then scents of violets emerge. Dry and savoury to the taste with fine textured, mouth puckering, strong tea tannins, leather, tar, spiced cherry fruit, smoky seasoned oak and violet and rose petal musk on the long savoury finish. A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre and 2% Cinsault aged in older oak for 12 months, this age-worthy wine really needs decanting for best drinking right now.
14.5% alc. $47.99.

Papa Luna 2005 - Calatayud, Spain
Deep black cherry red. Fragrant aromas of cassis, savoury oak, earth and menthol-like herbs. Bright, young and vibrant to the taste with a youthful exuberance, lifted red and black jube-like fruits, peppery spice, musk, liquorice and tar and tobacco. Tannins are reasonably firm but the wine is juicy and the finish is smoky and savoury and long. A blend of 70% Garnacha, 25% Shiraz 25% and 5% Mazuela and Monastrell with five months in oak.
14.5% alc. $24.99.

Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2001 - Piedmont, Italy
Deep translucent orange red. Fragrant, complex old fruit cake, worn leather and spiced orange zest aromas, Very dry in the mouth, so much so that on the first taste it seems a little thin but it develops a lovely vinous richness and full-bodied intensity. Once the mouth adjusts to the powerful tannins, there's old fruit cake flavours with a savoury saltiness, nutty oak, a rich spiciness and bright acidity with an evolving winey sweetness to the ever-increasing succulent finish. They say Barolo smells like tar and roses and this definitely has a floral fragrance and a tarry depth. Because it is so different to the wines we had leading up to this one it came as a shock to some of the tasters, possibly because of its see-through appearance and huge tannins. But it is a wine that will only get better with age so drink in a big glass now to let those aromas and flavours evolve and really appreciate what is going on in this classic wine. 100% Nebbiolo.
14% alc. $99.00.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18th Jul 2007
Regional Challenge - Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

Crossroads Destination Series Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Ripe, toasty and creamy - it smells typically NZ with its peachy aroma and tastes even more so with its tropical fruit, peaches and cream flavour with a nice taste of oak on the rounded finish and hints of grapefruit lingering. Tasty and approachable.
14% alc. $15.99 special. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2005
Light yellow gold. Spicy and oily textured with hints of pineapple, toasty oak and a citrussy backbone. Reasonably full-bodied, long and spicy with fleshy apricot and hints of butterscotch on the hot, high acid, creamy finish.
13.5% alc. $40.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waikahu Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light gold. Creamy, caramel-coated popcorn scents and lavish, expressive flavours of caramel, hokey pokey and stonefruit with a floral, germinating wheat nuance and a spicy savouriness to the long, warming finish. Smooth and seamless in its flow with beautifully integrated fruit and oak, it fills the palate and coats the mouth with its deliciousness.
14% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Crossroads Destination Series Gewurztraminer 2005
Pale lemon. Flinty with smoky, smoker lollies then violets and lychee on the nose. It seems quite dry and spicy at first but there's an underlying luscious sweetness with orange peel, musk and lychee flavours while hints of ginger add heat to the finish. Quite silky in texture and mouthfillingly tasty in length. Excellent drinking now.
5 Stars – Cuisine Magazine. Hawke's Bay.
12% alc. $15.99 special. Screwcap.

Montana Patutahi Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2004
Light gold in colour, it shows thick legs in the glass after swirling which correlates to the viscosity of this soft, sweet, slightly flabby style. Soapy, floral, honey and lavender scents and sweet orange and mandarin citrus infuse the honeyed flavours with hints of allspice and burnt toffee on the warm finish. It's oily textured and bottle aging has introduced a “Euro” nuance to the flavour.
13.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2005
Deep blueberry jam red. Fragrant with rich, sweet, jammy, black pepper and dried herb aromas and quite dry in the sweet-fruited, medium-bodied palate with raspberry, cherry, toasty vanillin oak and tar, firm tannins and a bitter rosehip-like finish which becomes quite peppery as it lingers. Young, succulent and juicy - it's a little reminiscent of a modern Spanish Garnacha - but it ain't.
13.5% alc. $30.99. Diam.

Kingston Estate Shiraz 2006
Dark black red, opaque right to the edges. Ripe, succulent, blackberry aromas and succulent creamy vanillin oak and juicy jammy fruit flavours with a seam of ribena running through it. A riper, bigger, full, denser style than the Trinity Hill with chewy tannins, blackberry and black cherry fruit. It's more what First Glass drinkers are used to and, although young, it is drinking well already. Value plus.
14.5% alc. $13.99 special. Cork

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2005
Dark, shiny black red, fully opaque to the dark red rims. Even bigger than the previous two wines, the fragrant, sweet oaked spicy aroma has hints of orange peel and mint and the rich, complex, full-bodied flavour is full of bright red berry and blackberry fruit with a creamy, vanilla chocolate backbone, a touch of leather and tar and succulent juicy tannins with a grainy edge. Classy wine. 5 Stars – Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Shiraz 2004
Shiny deep purple red with an inky depth. Pungent peppermint on the nose with crushed chocolate biscuits wafting through the scent, the peppermint carries through to the palate in abundance. This is a bright, youthful, grunty, voluptuous monster with chocolate, cherries, liquorice, allspice and a mouthfilling powerful, peppery finish. If you like minty Shiraz, you've gotta try this! 10% Hunter Valley fruit. Double Gold Medal winner.
15% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Vidal Soler Syrah 2004 - Hawkes Bay
Reddish black, opaque - reasonably developed from its original impenetrable purple red colour. A full-bodied, rich, dry chocolatey wine - peppery and spicy with dried herbs, bitter chocolate, red and black cherry fruit with some underlying acidity, spicy oak and grainy tannins. Like the colour, it is showing some development to the smoky finish which is long and lingering. Multiple Golds and Trophy.
14.5% alc. $43.99. Screwcap.

Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2005
Deep purple black. Big vanillin oak on the nose with chocolate, cherries, jam and a grind of black pepper. Sweet-fruited, rich, ripe, robust flavours with underlying tobacco and dried herbs, meaty tannins, hints of chocolate, plum and blackberry fruit and that distinctive - but not overpowering - mintiness that adds a lifted, clean, brightness to the finish. Another grunter of a wine and a new vintage of a First Glass favourite. 4 Stars – Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $20.99 special. Screwcap.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2004
Deep gold coloured with a transparent gem-like brilliance. Aromatic, rich, waxy, honey-comb scents. There’s a slightly salty nuance to the flavour which is rich and powerful with a ton of botrytis, apricots and orange honey. A delicious nectar with viscosity to the texture and hints of oak adding additional complexity. The Southern Hemisphere's greatest sweet wine from Riverina in New South Wales. 375ml bottle.
10.5% alc. $32.99. Cork.

Mission Estate Noble Semillon 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Light golden coloured, clear and bright. Almonds / marzipan and orange blossom on the nose and honeyed, thick-textured flavours with hints of spicy oak emerging, the nectar is full of honey and fruit salad lingers on the aftertaste. Not as complex as the de Bortoli, but a satisfying end to an evening, nevertheless. 375ml bottle.
13% alc. $25.99. Diam.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11th Jul 2007
Varietal Challenge - Four Rieslings, Four Pinot Noirs and Four Cabernet Sauvignons
Wines were tasted blind.

Forrest Estate Dry Riesling 2004 - Marlborough
Light lemon gold. Dry, talcy, lime aromas. Crisp, lightly oily flavours, medium-bodied with the merest hint of sweetness making it almost off dry, it's spicy and tingly with lime, a touch of apple and a warm, creamy, earthy finish. A well-made wine and quite classic for its style.
12% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2004 - South Australia
Lemon gold with a lime glint. Dry, talcy aroma with subtle tropical fruit, lime and a delicately floral perfume. A little more flavour impact than the previous wine, it's very dry but rich and harmonious with a weighty palate and an oily texture. There's a touch of spicy salinity, the powerful acidity is well-balanced and the finish is lifted and warm with a lightly creamy honeysuckle aftertaste. Great structure with fabulous aging potential.
13% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Riesling 2004
With a leesy, phenolic and citrus peel character to the aroma and an oily textured palate which is mellow with some oxidised apple characters, it is very disappointing after the previous two wines. It seems reasonably dry and limey fruit tries to take over the lightly spicy finish, but doesn't really succeed. It showed much better when we tasted in last March, but then the weather was warm and the wine was served chilled.
12.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Bischofliche Trittenheimer Apotheke Mosel Riesling Spatlese 2005 - Germany
Pale straw with honeyed, floral aromas that have a sweet, citrussy overlay to the scent, the tropical fruit, apples, nectarine and sweetish honeyed flavours are pulled into balance by the crisp, fresh citrus-like acidity. It has lots and lots of flavour with lovely Riesling purity and an earthiness to the finish - a very appealing user-friendly style.
8.5% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Prophet's Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Deep red with a ruby glow. Spiced black cherry and plum aromas with savoury smoky oak and hints of mushroom and initial savoury flavours with a concentrated red and black fruit depth, hints of tar, fruit cake spice, and a smidgen of liquorice adding complexity. A well-structured, full-bodied pinot noir with smooth velvety tannins and a sweet succulence to the lasting finish. 15 months in French oak.
14% alc. $38.99. Screwcap.

Fairmont Estate Admirals Hill Pinot Noir 2006 - Wairarapa
Deep dark cherry/purple red. Smoky, savoury and earthy on the nose with a lifted, citrussy nuance and rich and flavoursome to the taste - it's earthy, savoury and gamey with juicy plum and red berry fruit, spicy savoury oak, silky tannins and a powerful finish. Smooth and harmonious throughout with a hint of pepper as it lingers.
14% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
Deep ruby garnet. Perfumed soapy aromas give way to fruit cake cherries and spice scent while the lifted, spicy flavours and cherry and plum fruit have a deep earthy, savoury, smoky and slightly tarry undercurrent. It's quite a gutsy wine with firm tannins, a hint of stewed tamarillo loitering in the background and another bright flourish of spice on the concentrated, long, savoury, full-bodied finish. Fruit sourced from four subregions.
14.5% alc. $32.99. Screwcap.

Bannockbrae Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Deep dark red with purple tints and a blackish core. Savoury, gamey, tarry and smoky spicy oak aromas. There's a slightly floral nuance too. It's concentrated and spicy in the rich, creamy textured palate with smooth silky tannins, juicy plums and purple fruit, hints of liquorice, fragrant spices and a bright, clean, full-bodied finish. Very classy with gold medals to prove it. Barrel selection.
14% alc. $34.99. Screwcap.

Preece Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Central Victoria, Australia
Deep dark red, dark to the core. Concentrated aroma of sweet sappy oak, plum, tar and cedar with hints of mint and medium to full-boded red fruit flavours with smoky oak, a savoury complexity and a ripe, creamy and slightly tarry finish with a flash of mint as it lingers. Sweet and fulfilling with firm tannins (especially after the pinots) although moderate tannins for Cab Sauv. 15 months in oak. Amazing value.
14.5% alc. $13.99. Screwcap.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Deep dark purple red with sweet oak and hints of mint on the nose, it's spicy with a grainy tannin structure, juicy cherry, plum and red currant fruit, tar and smoky cedar. Mouthfilling, concentrated and powerful - the spiciness is quite likely coming from the 5% Shiraz in the blend.
14.5% alc. $65.99. Cork.

Trinity Hill Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Deep black red with a fine textured appearance. It's showing some bottle developed characters on the nose with a biscuity, savoury, tar, dried herb and salty leather aroma. Black fruited and chocolatey to the taste thick grainy tannins, leather and tar, it is still very tightly structured although a lovely floral, cherry sweetness comes through on the lingering smoky finish. It really needs a big glass and a decanter. Look and tastes younger than it is. 18 months in French oak.
14% alc. $31.99. Cork.

The Willows Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Deep red black with a little bricking on the edges, eucalypt abounds on the nose - inhale deeply and it is distinctly peppermint, a character that carries through to the palate. Ripe, succulent and creamy with spicy oak, cameo creams and mint chocolate, hints of cherry and floral nuances, there's a tarry undercurrent and a long, succulent and very powerful finish. This is a very distinctive wine and although delicious now, it has fantastic cellaring potential too. Just stunning.
14.5% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4th Jul 2007
Gemtree from McLaren Vale and others
Andrew Buttery from Gemtree Wines in the McLaren Vale was present at the tasting to present some of his delicious shirazes. These and the wines that followed were not tasted blind. The lead-in wines were, however.

Domaine Georges Michel Golden Mile Chardonnay 2004 - Marlborough
Golden coloured with a spicy, oily oak aroma and a mellow, tropical fruit flavour, I find the texture a little hard and the alcohol a little unbalanced at first but it fills out with a barrel fermented richness, a creamy stonefruit sweetness and a long buttery finish with a lemon biscuit overlay. Silver – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $15.99 special. Diam.

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2005 - Martinborough
Light yellow gold with refined spicy oak, tropical fruit and hints of crème brulee on the nose, it's spicy and creamy in the palate with a bright fruit concentration, nutty Burgundian oak, hints of figs and underlying acidity in the form of citrus and apple. With a tight grainy palate at this stage of its life, it's full-bodied and rich with good fruit weight, the oak is a little dominant on the finish and the aftertaste fills out with a ripe fruit sweetness.
13.5% alc. $43.99. Screwcap.

The Crater Rim Riesling 2005 - South Island
Pale lemon gold with an earthy, apple skin and talcum powder aroma and apple and pink jelly bean flavours with flower musk, limes, tangerines and an exotic fruit intrigue. It is slightly spritzy in texture, with a pithy, earthy depth, nuances of honey and a clean and crisp finish. Most people thought this a Mosel Riesling but it is a blend of Marlborough and Akaroa fruit from the South Island. There was some botrytis in the Akaroa fruit, which has added the honey and nicely balanced the zesty flavours. A low alcohol, off dry style and very appealing.
8% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Felton Road Pinot Noir 2006 - Central Otago
Deep, ruby garnet with an almost opaque core, it is immediately mesmeric on the nose with aromas of chocolate, cherries and a nuance of musky florals. This is a thick textured, full-bodied, sweet flavoured pinot with a smoky, savoury undercurrent, velvety tannins, an earthy depth, a touch of anise like spices and a brightness to the lifted finish that goes on and on. Very smart. Moreish.
14.5% alc. $51.99. Screwcap.

Gemtree Tatty Road 2005 - McLaren Vale
Inky, dark purple red with leather and fragrant sweet oak on the deep earthy nose and lifted, bright, red berry flavours with soft smooth tannins, creamy oak, tobacco, a hint of dried herbs and a long succulent, spicy finish with excellent length. Named for Tatachilla Road, this likeable blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30%, Petit Verdot, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc matured in older oak, is beautifully balanced and totally drinkable.
14% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Gemtree Bloodstone Shiraz 2006 - McLaren Vale
Deep dark red (not as purple as the Tatty Road), with smoky, savoury, bitter chocolate, cherry and earth aromas and tarry, savoury, spicy flavours with blackberries plums and meaty tannins. A departure from the typical flamboyant McLaren Vale style, this meaty tannined wine is more earthy and brooding and seems to lack some punch. Matured in French and American oak for 12 months. With only a 10 to 15-year projected cellaring potential, they say it's made in a 'less serious' style. Gold Medal San Francisco 2007.
14.5% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale
Deep dark red with a black core and crimson edges. This is more like you expect from McLaren Vale with fragrant sweet oak, violet and Shiraz spice aromas and rich, powerful, succulent creamy oak and ripe cherry and blackberry fruit flavours with chocolate, spice, earth, dried herbs, pepper and liquorice. It's deep and concentrated with smooth ripe, fine-grained tannins and a long creamy flavour-filled mouthfilling finish. Made from 40year old vines and matured in 80% French and 20% American oak, this outstanding wine has a projected cellaring potential of 15 to 20 years. Double Gold – Sydney Top 100.
14.5% alc. $23.99 special. Screwcap.

Gemtree Obsidian Shiraz 2004 - McLaren Vale
Inky deep with a shiny black core and crimson edges, this is fragrantly aromatic with a cedary tone to the vanilla, spice, violets and wild berry scents. Bright fruited with sweet cedary oak, aromatic spices, chocolate, vanilla, cherry, earth and liquorice, it is full-bodied and mouthfilling with an opulent flare. The tannins are tight but they have a succulence to them and the spicy, peppery finish is deliciously long with flavours of cedar and liquid chocolate lingering for ages. This is Gemtree's Icon Shiraz, with three years maturation in 100% new French oak and although only in the bottle for a week before tasting, the brilliance and longevity of this wine is clearly apparent. Project cellaring potential - 20 years plus.
14.5% alc. $54.99. Screwcap.

Serafino Fortified Vintage Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale
Deep inky black red with aromatic spicy and spiritous cherry liqueur-like aromas and luscious, smooth, spicy, full-bodied, sweet, raisined Shiraz grape flavours. Incredibly powerful and heady, with a tarry, fine grained undercurrent, a hot, dryish finish and a lasting aftertaste of cherries, chocolate and nutty fruitcake. A dangerous wine in that it slips down so easily but so enjoyable for these winter nights. 12 months maturation in French oak.
20% alc. $24.99.

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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