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

March 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 www.first-glass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 28th March 2007
An Evening with Jane Skilton MW
All of the wines except the Muscat were tasted blind.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Riesling 2004
Pale lemon with limey aromas that make you think the wine is going to be quite dry but this well chilled wine is, in fact, off dry to the taste. It's full of red and green apples flavours with a spicy backbone and a rich finish. It's starting to develop some complexity with age. 12.5% alc. $17.99. Screwcap.

Daniel Barraud Pouilly-Fuisse Alliance 2004 - Burgundy, France
Light gold with an oily appearance, it smells creamy and nutty with hints of smoky oak, lemon and grapefruit. It's spicy in the palate and richly textured with apricots, honeysuckle and creamy oak, a firm acid backbone and a touch of savouriness to the long, dry, creamy finish. This is Chardonnay. "The French would say you don’t need to know what it’s made out of to enhance your enjoyment of it," says our guest presenter, Jane Skilton. 13% alc. $44.99.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Light gold in colour with sweet oak, stonefruit and citrus on the nose, that first impression is New Zealand chardonnay but the taste has you scratching your head as you veer off towards Burgundy. It's savoury, rich and creamy with nutty oak, figs and a spicy, mealy yeast lees influence to the bright citrussy backbone. It's gorgeously smooth in texture and the long, long finish is dry. 14% alc. $32.99.

Waimea Nelson Gewurztraminer 2006
Pale light gold with an exotic and tantalising perfume of Turkish delight, smoker lollies and rose oil, it’s soft textured, mouthfilling and intensely concentrated with flavours of exotic, cumin and cardamon-like spices, apricots and rosa moschata in a beautifully balanced and slightly sweetish, luscious package. 13% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 - Central Otago
Ruby garnet in colour, deeply translucent, not opaque. Lifted aromas of black cherry, chocolate, smoky sweet vanillin oak and salty herbs. It's spicy, savoury and quite dry to the taste with tart and sweet cherry fruit, dried rosemary and thyme, soft silky tannins and well-integrated slightly meaty savoury oak. 13.5% alc. $45.99. Screwcap.

Chateau Duhart-Milon 2003 - Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Deep black red with a touch of development to the fading edges. Smoky oak, mocha, vanilla, chicory, hints of orange peel and musk on the nose and rich, dark, savoury flavours of earth, leather and barnyard with a concentrated welling-up of plums and black fruit to fill out the mid palate beautifully together with sweet oak, and a long lingering nuggetty finish. Mouth-filling and rich with fine grained grunty tannins, hints of dried herbs and excellent length. A 4th growth claret made from Cabernet Sauvignon (69%), Merlot (28%), and Cabernet Franc (3%) with maturation in French oak, 50% new. 13% alc. $79.99.

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2004 - California, USA
Medium weight garnet red, translucent, not opaque. Perfumed aromas of boiled raspberry and cherry lollies, hint of cough lollies too, and jammy, sweet red fruit flavours (cherry and strawberry) with a spicy, peppery backbone, creamy American oak, hints of smoke and hints of liquorice. The tannins are fine and soft and an underlying savouriness balances the initial sweetness. A tasty wine and an interesting alternative to what we normally drink. 13.5% alc. $19.99. Twin top cork.

Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Inky, boysenberry red, purple-black in the core and almost right to the dazzling brilliant crimson edges. Syrah's hallmark pepper emanates out of the glass together with dark purple fruits and hints of liquorice and there are lashings of black pepper flavours together with leather, red and purple berries, rose spice and tar. It's a savoury wine with drying tannins balanced by an overall juiciness and an array of flavours on the finish - liquorice, smoke, tobacco, berries and floral spices. A fascinating wine with freshness and vitality. From the Gimblett Gravels sub region with 16 months in French oak. 13% alc. $37.99.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2005 - Clare Valley
Inky deep black-red with crimson rims, this is a big juicy wine with sweet smoky oak, chocolate, mocha, spice, mint and berry aromas and jammy plum and blackberry flavours with pepper on the tip of the tongue, fruit cake spices, rich ripe tannins and a mint chocolate finish. When tasted with cheese, a liquorice flavour emerges too. Voluptuous wine with the alcohol to match. 15% alc. $17.99.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Langhorne Creek
Inky bright red black with an elevated aroma of mint, cassis and smoky cedar giving clues to its varietal make-up. A powerful wine with quite dry tannins, sweet red berry and plum fruit, abundant mint, berry pie pastry, a touch of peppery spice, hints of tobacco and rich, powerful, fine grained tannins. Exuberant and youthful, complex and multi-dimensional with beautifully integrated cedar and loads of flavour. Matured in French and American oak for 18 months. 14.5% alc. $43.99.

Campbells Rutherglen Muscat - Rutherglen, Victoria
Bright amber with a deep orange glow, there are 'Christmas' muscatels on the nose together with dried raisins, butter toffee, hints of orange peel and a hint of 'rancio'. The tantalising and seductive perfume leads into a warm and cosy palate with a liquid toffee sweetness and texture, a spiritous spicy kick and an almost everlasting finish. 17.5% alc. $20.99. 375ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21st March 2007
Mostly Gold Medal Wines from the Royal Easter Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Pale straw with a pungent scent and ripe, tangy and juicy flavours with melon, stonefruit, limes, grapefruit, passionfruit and gooseberries fighting for supremacy. Crunchy, classy and totally delicious, a blend of Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley fruit. 13% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Pale lemon, bright, tangy and pungent with passionfruit on the nose, but fairly restrained in the palate at first. A flinty style, quite dry with a slightly talcy texture, lots of lemon, lime and grapefruit, spicy zest, hints of musk and an abundance of fennel and chervil-like herbs joining gooseberries on the much richer finish. Juicy and long. 13.5% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria SV Keltern Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light yellow gold with luscious grilled stonefruit and toasty, smoky, savoury oak on the nose, it's ripe and rounded to the taste with citrus, butterscotch, a touch of lanolin, spicy oak and a savoury, mealy undercurrent. Smooth and creamy, mouthfilling and long, with a honeyed lime overlay. 14.5% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria SV Waldron Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Mid yellow gold. Savoury and mealy with sweet toasty cedar and fresh brioche, it's spicy, toasty, nutty and buttery with more acid, more zest and a little more graininess to the texture. A big, rich wine with citrus and melon fruit and a warm mouthfilling sweetness to the butter caramel finish. 14% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Mid yellow gold. Butterscotch and citrus on the nicely smoked nose and a bright, zesty overlay to the creamy palate with spicy oak, fruit bread, apricot, hints of pineapple and caramel. The oak has integrated beautifully over the last few months and the wine is rich, smooth, seamless and totally refined. 14% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Mt. Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2006
Pale straw yellow. Toasty lime aromas introduce this medium sweet style that's crammed with juicy citrus, tropical fruit and sherbet which imparts a vibrant spritzy acidity to balance the sweetness. There's a slightly pithy character coming through, and toasty lime and freshly squeezed juice lingers on the finish. 30g/l RS. 12% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Askerne Hawke's Bay Gewurztraminer 2005
Light gold in colour, there's Turkish Delight, rose oil and Moroccan spices on the nose and these tantalising aromas carry through to the palate. A rich, complex style with a perfect phenolic structure, the nose infers sweetness but it's actually tastes quite dry, there's something that reminds me of liquorice staples (liquorice torpedoes) and spice infused orange lingers on the finish. A tasty, serious style with a hint of Alsace character. 13.5% alc. $19.99. Diam.

Terrace Heights Estate (THE) Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Deep ruby, opaque in the core with carmine rims, it's savoury and spicy with ripe black cherry and plum fruit, creamy oak and fine tannins with a slightly damp earth undercurrent. Smooth and harmonious with excellent length, it's a juicy wine with good acidity that adds the peacocks tail flare to the finish. Matured in French oak. 13.5% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Waitiri Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
Opaque in its depth of colour, but a little developed and browning with fading edges. On the nose it's savoury with smoky bacon and stewed fruit and the taste is deep, earthy, smoky, cedary, gamey and mushroomy, almost Burgundian. A complex, interesting, full-bodied wine with a smooth, silky texture, fine tannins and more mature flavours, it's drinking beautifully now. 14% alc. $36.99. Screwcap.

Black Barn Hawke's Bay Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Mature red, fading, with quite watery edges. There's barnyard on the stinky nose, it smells faulty and the palate is not much better with barnyard, stewed berry fruits, dry tannins and alcoholic heat on the finish. Unbalanced and hot, green and stalky - and evidently all four bottles opened were the same. 65% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec with two years in mature oak.. 13.5% alc. $25.99. Cork.

Cottage Block Hawke's Bay Syrah 2005
Deep, intense, vibrant purple black with purple edges. Exotic musky spices, white pepper, cherry and tarry oak on the nose and dry, peppery flavours with hints of dried herbs, and plums and violets emerging on the long, spicy, flavoursome finish. 13% alc. $28.99. Cork.

Esk Valley Reserve Hawke's Bay Syrah 2005
Inky, crimson-edged, lustrous purple black colour, fine in its appearance. It exudes exotic spices with liquorice, black pepper, fresh lavender and it's ripe and creamy, soft and seductive, with juicy purple berry fruit, violets, lavender, chocolatey oak, meaty tannins and a long, juicy, lingering finish. It's very dry, very exotic, very smart and very moreish. 20 months in French oak, 50% new. 14.5% alc. $49.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14th March 2007
Cuisine Top 10 and Five Star Chardonnays
Gorgeous Zerrutti Ultimo tasting glasses were used tonight and all but the last wine were tasted blind. There were two ring-ins as well.

Taylor’s Clare Valley Chardonnay 2005
Medium gold, bright. Rich, toasty, mealy aromas with warm toasty oak, nuts, grilled peaches, dried mango and pineapple and a touch of spice, this is smooth, rich and juicy with a zesty attack of citrus on the fresh, clean, tasty finish. Very good and a steal at the special price. 14.5% alc. $13.99 special. Screwcap.

Mud House White Swan Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Bright yellow gold. Aromatic with hints of pineapple bread on the nose, it tastes crisp, creamy and leesy with a strong malolactic influence, hints of toffee and lots of citrus that tend towards grapefruit. Rich and tasty, warm and vibrant, it fills out beautifully to a warm, toasty finish. Gold – NZ International Wine Show, 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 13.5% alc. $19.99 special. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Lemon gold, bright. Biscuity, sweet oak and stonefruit on the nose and mealy, savoury flavours with winemaking influences to the fore, hints of citrus, grilled peach and leesy, barrel ferment notes. With its silky fine texture, this is ultra-classy and just oozes finesse. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. Blue-Gold Sydney Top 100. 14% alc. $33.99. Screwcap.

Gunn Estate Skeetfield Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2005
Bright yellow gold, perfumed, almost floral with apricots and sweet cedar adding to the aromatic allure. Apricots in the palate too with bright acidity, sweet creamy oak, spice and zest. Leesy, biscuity characters emerge, it’s quite expansive in the palate and the finish is long, creamy, citrussy and harmonious. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 13.5% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Clearview Beachhead Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Lemon gold with intense aromas of tropical fruit and apricot, it's intensely fruity to the taste too with an almost viscous texture. There's a myriad of opulent sweet, ripe fruit - tropical fruit, stone fruit, apricots and mangoes with spicy oak, orange peel, a hint of liquorice, and a spicy, bready, powerful finish. 14% alc. $20.99 special. Screwcap.

Hunter’s Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
Bright lemon gold, powerful and fragrant with mealy, toasty oak aromas and rich, toasty flavours, this is a rich, spicy style with a little hint of age, creamy buttery oak, a mealy, nutty undercurrent and firm citrus acidity on the concentrated finish. Full-bodied and harmonious, delicious now and fantastic value. 4 Gold medals, 4 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $15.99 special. Screwcap.

Mount Michael Bessie’s Block Central Otago Chardonnay 2005
Pale gold. A little tight at first with nutty, savoury aromas, it opens up to become tantalising luscious. It’s spicy to the taste with savoury oak, creamy leesy flavours, a gorgeous texture and ripe sweet stonefruit, building to a rich, powerful finish with excellent length. This is another notch up again and an absolute crowd pleaser tonight. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Foxes Island Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Light yellow gold. Fragrant, nutty, smoke and citrus oil aromas, it's quite leesy and mealy, nutty and savoury with hints of stonefruit and citrus and a warm oaky finish with a powerful aftertaste. Quite Burgundian in style but didn’t excel in the line-up tonight. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $34.99 special. Screwcap.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light lemon gold. Spicy, creamy, a little sherbetty on the nose, it's creamy, soft and subtle in the palate with beautifully integrated spicy oak, some malolactic characters, concentrated stonefruit and a rich, powerful, expansive finish with hints of citrus. "Yum," said Kingsley. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $27.99 special. Cork.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Waikahu Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light, lime-tinged gold. Sweet toasty oak aromas with a hint of toffeed peach, toasty, smoky oak fills the palate with mealy, biscuity notes. Alcohol is noticeably hot. It's quite citrussy in the fruit spectrum hints of tropical fruit and zesty spice fills out the rich, nutty, sweet toasty oak finish. An intriguing fragrance lingers. 5 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $37.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Powerful toasty aromas and creamy, spicy flavours with savoury oak, citrus, stonefruit, wheaty notes and a flintiness to the backbone. "A big muscular style of chardonnay", says Kingsley. A good wine but the four star rating in this line-up is right. 4 stars – Cuisine Magazine. 14.5% alc. $33.99. Screwcap.

Sacred Hill Rifleman's Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2005
Light gold with fragrant, nutty sweet oak aromas, this gorgeous, harmonious, sweet-fruited wine is endowed with everything that makes good chardonnay great. It's silky smooth in texture and there exactly the right amount of savoury winemaking influences to complement the delicious nectarine, stonefruit and tropical fruit. Hard to believe it has 100% new oak but that's the quality of the fruit. We tasted it three weeks ago and it was sensational in the standard XL5 tasting glass. Even better tonight in the Zerrutti tasting glass. Clearly the class act of the night. 5 stars & No. 1 – Cuisine Magazine. 14% alc. $48.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7th March
All Australian
Wines were tasted blind.

Seaview Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay 2002
Light gold with a fine seam of bubbles, a toasty creamy aroma and soft, creamy flavours with a bright bubbly texture, melons, stonefruit, spice, creaming soda and a rich, toasty finish. Made from 100% chardonnay. 12.5% alc. $14.99.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2003 - Clare Valley
Yellow gold coloured, it smells of a warm place with tropical fruit, pineapple and toasty fusel notes on the nose and tastes powerful and weighty with bottle development adding richness to the spicy, toasty flavours of limes and apples with shortbread on the long, warm finish. 14% alc. $15.99. Screwcap.

d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2004 - McLaren Vale
Yellow gold with a first impression of butter caramel on the nose, it's aromatic, spicy, full-bodied and weighty with firm acidity, apricots, citrus, spiced nuts and honeysuckle. A high-toned wine but well-balanced, fruity and juicy with a long focused finish, the viognier component is playing the dominant role at the moment. 14% alc. $14.99. Screwcap.

d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2005 - McLaren Vale
Lemon gold with honeyed apple on the nose, it's a rich, spicy wine with a reasonably oily texture, loads of apricot, hints of tropical fruit and although it seems like there is some botrytis, the warm finish is bone dry. A very good wine made from something different. 14% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Taylors Jaraman Chardonnay 2003 – South Australia
Yellow gold in colour, this ripe creamy chardonnay is straight up and down. It smells buttery, nutty, oily with hints of smoky oak and tastes ripe and smooth with stonefruit, savoury oak and a warm creamy toasty finish that exudes pineapple and tropical fruit. A blend of Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills fruit, its tastes better and better with every mouthful. Gorgeous drinking right now. 13.5% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Red Deer Station Unoaked Merlot 2004 – South East Australia
Brick red coloured, this is a sweetish wine with a ripe fruity aroma of blackberries and raspberries while the juicy taste is soft, smooth and sweetish with hints of mint, strawberry jam and raspberry. There's no oak at all, so the wine could probably be slightly chilled while the sweetness will complement spicy foods. Made by Dal Broi Wines. 14% alc. $11.99.

Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2004 - McLaren Vale
Deep black red, opaque to the core, there's smoky oak on the nose with cassis, mint and biscuity oak; and mint, spice, a ton of pepper, leather and dried herbs in the palate. An intense wine, a savoury wine with a reasonable wallop of vanillin oak, velvety tannins, bright fruits on the finish and a succulent aftertaste with excellent length. 14.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2004
Deep purple red, bright with crimson edges, the concentrated, sweet oaked aroma is delicately floral and peppery. With seemingly more creamy oak than 128 has had in the past, this is a big sweet juicy style, rich and dense with creamy vanillin oak, mint, anise, blackberry, chocolate, hints of leather and that lovely floral peppery character coming through again on the finish. The tannins seem quite tight, thick and grippy at first but they become soften to become a harmonious part of this medium to full-bodied wine. 100% Coonawarra grapes with 12 months in French oak (22% new). 14% alc. $22.99.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2004 – South Australia
Deep crimson red with a rich creamy aroma of sweet American oak, blackberries and spice, this is a concentrated, full-bodied style with lovely fine tannins, vinosity and depth with a purity of red, cherry-like fruit and a tight, leathery, earthy backbone. Sweet oak emerges with a cool climate peppery character, anise, and chocolate. Perhaps not as opulent as some of the Bin 28's in the past, but still very good, it's a multi-regional South Australian blend matured for 12 months in American oak, none of which was new. 14.5% alc. $22.99.

White Box Heathcote Shiraz 2004 - Heathcote, Victoria
Deep in colour with blackberry hues, it is spiritous on the nose and quite sweet and porty with raisin the dominant fruit in the palate. The spicy character of shiraz comes through and the tannins are ultra smooth, but it's very ripe and jammy with high alcohol heating up the powerful finish. A high alcohol fruit bomb without much complexity. 15% alc. $17.99.

Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005 - Barossa Valley
Dense blackberry red with crimson rims, this is brightly perfumed with brambles and dried herbs on the nose and is concentrated, spicy and savoury in the palate with fine firm tannins, smoky oak, dusty blackberries, hints of cassis and a rounded finish with peppery spice lingering. A very smart wine with classy oak playing a supporting role to the intense jubey juiciness. Made from a blend of Grenache (72%), Shiraz (15%) and Mourvedre (13%) with 16-17 months in seasoned French and American oak. 14.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2004
Even denser in colour, impenetrable in its deep, dark hue, this wine comes across as very closed in the XL5 tasting glass. It doesn’t show much on the nose and it's tight and leathery in the palate with huge, grainy disintegrated tannins, stewed plum fruit and a dark savoury backbone. But sweet oak pushes through with bramble and cherry-like fruit, liquorice, anise and other fragrant spices, while the tannins smooth out and show their finesse. This is being hyped as one of the best 389's that has been made for a long time, but there seems to be a stylistic change. It definitely needs decanting at this stage of its life and it definitely needs a big glass. A multi-regional blend (mostly Langhorne Creek, Bordertown and Padthaway), it is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Shiraz and was matured for 13 months in American oak (27% new). 14.5% alc. $33.99.

Kalleske Greenock Shiraz 2005 - Barossa Valley Deep blackberry with crimson rims, this is a perfect example of a wine with the 'wow' factor. Sweet oak, spicy oak, biscuity oak on the nose and thick plush tannins, vanilla, spices and brylcream in the palate with chocolate, liquorice, jammy/jubey fruits and an underlying savouriness. Opulent all the way though, harmonious and balanced, and although the alcohol is high, the fruit simply soaks it up. A wine for lovers of rich Barossa shiraz. 15.5% alc. $55.99.

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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