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

May 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 May 2007
Sale Night
An interesting concept, with the tasters giving their opinions on how much they thought each wine was worth after tasting it - and then the sale price for the wine was set. As the prices were for sales only made on the night, and because most of the wines were limited in quantity and sold out, only the full retail is mentioned on these notes. As usual, wines were tasted blind.

Mills Reef Hawke's Bay Reserve Viognier 2006
Light gold coloured, light toasty oak, spice oak and tropical fruit aromas - a little reminiscent of a lightly oaked Chardonnay - and quite savoury to the taste with fig, melon and underlying pineapple-like acidity building to a long, juicy, creamy biscuity finish. Reasonably rich and full-bodied with apricots emerging to linger, it's fleshing out nicely since last tasted. 14% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Kerpen Classic Riesling 2002 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Bright, clear, citrine in colour, it's brightly aromatic with an engine oil overlay to the apricot and custard scents and the palate is full of vibrant acidity with apples, crushed melon, kumquat, lime and honey with a hint of struck match on the finish. A big, oily style, showing a little age and not immediately recognisable as German. 12% alc. $22.99.

Ashwood Grove Chardonnay 2002 - Yarra Valley, Victoria
Brassy gold in colour, it shows hints of oxidation both in colour and aroma where there's also a lanolin overlay. Rich and oily to the taste with apricot jam, honeycomb, melon and raisins and a hot, dried-out finish, it's hard to recognise this is Chardonnay. I thought it an older Marsanne. 13.5% alc. $16.99/$7.00.

Gem Gisborne Chardonnay 2005
Bright yellow gold with a nutty, marzipan-like aroma, it seems quite closed down in the very dry palate that has a mellow, buttery backbone with spice, nuts, apricot and melon, but it lingers well with spice and subtle smoky oak. 13.5% alc. $30.00. Screwcap.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Nelson Chardonnay 2005
Light yellow gold. Smoky and savoury on the nose with hints of stonefruit and ripe, rounded, spicy, creamy, nutty and savoury flavours with melons and creamy oak lingering on the seamless finish. Chardonnay as we know it and a sensational buy at the discounted price. 14% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Chardonnay 2004
Yellow gold with a bright spritzy aroma that appeals with its savoury, nutty, polished oak and a soft, creamy, buttery palate full of curvaceous lushness, fleshed out with melon and tropical fruit and edged with lime and a touch of smoky flint. Full-bodied and long, plenty of malolactic influence and still drinking well. French and American oak. 14.5% alc. $29.99.

Framingham Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2004
Pale lemon, fragrantly scented and exotically flavoured with lychee, rose petal, spiced orange honey and ginger. Warm and slippery and seemingly dry but it has the luscious factor - and while it has lost the vibrant pungency of its youth, the finish is still long and powerful. 14.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Mt Rosa Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Translucent in appearance with a fading brown-garnet colour, it's savoury on the nose and a little bit thin and boiled lolly to the taste with cherries, raisins, dried herbs and hard tannins that become quite silky on the finish. Fairly unexciting at this stage of its life. 13.8% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Lindis River Central Otago Pinot Noir 2004
Deeply translucent with a black red core and a purple garnet edge, it reminds me of an 'old fashioned' style of pinot with a smoky bacon aroma. It's sweet fruited to the taste with hints of liquorice and quite vinous in its texture with dry tannins, spice and cherry and plums emerging on the savoury and slightly herbal finish. 10 months French oak. 13% alc. $39.99.

Sorrento McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot 2004
Deep red black, opaque and dense. Spicy on the nose with an earthy, menthol backing to the berry fruit and chocolate scents, and jammy in the palate with sweet cassis fruit, chocolate, creamy oak, hints of cherry and spice. A juicy quaffer and a 'star buy' at the price - if you got in quick enough. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot.14% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Rosemount Traditional 2002 - South Australia
Deep black red with a brick red edge. Spicy, savoury, chocolatey oak aromas and powerful, full-bodied, spicy, rich, powerful, gutsy flavours full of red fruits, chocolate, raisins, earth and dried herbs with velvety tannins and beautifully integrated cedary oak. With its mouthfilling flavours and lasting and very satisfying finish, this is stunning in the lineup tonight. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from McLaren Vale/Langhorne Creek, aged for 18 months in French and American oak. Multiple golds and Trophies and my Wine of the Night.. 14.5% alc. $32.99.

Richard Hamilton Gumprs' Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale
Impenetrable purple black, shiny in appearance. Savoury, cedary, blackberry aroma and lifted red fruit flavours with violets, plums, blackberry and spice. A deep, complex, brooding wine with reasonable acidity, silky tannins, a hint of rose musk and mint on the bright, lifted finish. With hints of tar and leather, it's a little more cool-climate in style. 14% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Coriole Toa Shiraz 2004 - McLaren Vale
Deep black red with hints of purple, it's tarry and leathery and overpowerlingly 'bretty' with its distinct farmyard scent that is such a contrast to the bright, spicy, almost spritzy, jammy red fruit flavours that introduce the creamy oaked, fine-tannined palate. It's complex and savoury with the tar, leather and farmyard found on the nose, coming forth with abundance on the finish. 14% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 23rd May 2007
Six Chardonnays and Six Options Practice Reds
With Wine Options coming up on the 10th June, this was a further chance to practice. Wines were tasted blind.

Wyndham Show Reserve Chardonnay 2005
A bold, brassy medium to full bodied Chardonnay with a light gold colour, a peachy aroma and spicy toasty oak. It has lots of upfront flavour with a firm citrussy backbone, tropical fruit and a warm, savoury oak aftertaste. Tasty. Silver medal NZIWS 2006. Gold Medal Chardonnay-du-Monde 2007. 14 % alc. $17.99.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2006
A leesy influenced, creamy, stonefruit and sherbet aroma presents this light coloured Chardonnay. It's quite tight and lean at this stage of its life with an earthy, steely, grainy textured undercurrent to the stonefruit and citrus fruit with toasty, savoury oak and just a hint of flint. 14% alc. $27.99.

Craggy Range Seven Poplars Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Light straw gold in colour, almost water pale. Tantalising aromas of delicate stonefruit and apricot and a beautifully balanced palate with soft acidity, melon, stonefruit and savoury French oak. There's a touch of spritz to the texture and a long savoury finish with tropical fruit and apricot lingering. 14.5% alc. $29.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 Chardonnay 2006
A full-bodied rich, ripe, toasty barrel ferment style with a light gold colour and mouthfilling spicy, savoury and citrus fruit flavours with upfront grapefruit to the fore, stonefruit emerging on the mid to end-palate and a long, rich, creamy, almost caramel finish. A little tight and grainy at this stage of its life but the potential is there for this to blossom into a star. 13.5% alc. $27.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Chardonnay 2006
This is striking right from the outset with its light golden colour, its ripe stonefruit and mealy, spicy oak aromas and its rich, almost oily, full-bodied, creamy textured palate that's full of semi-dried, concentrated stonefruit with a touch of tropical fruit and a hint of grapefruit. Beautifully balanced and deliciously drinkable already, it is made in the mould of the stunning, multiple gold medal winning 2005. 14% alc. $27.99.

Clearview Reserve Chardonnay 2006
A big rich style, as to be expected from Clearview, it's a medium gold colour with creamy, toasty, vanilla, cedar and stonefruit aromas and a full flavoured palate of spicy, savoury French oak with a mealy richness, ripe peach and apricot with a hint of citrus and perhaps even pineapple. Quite tight to start with, especially in the XL5 tasting glass, but it opens up beautifully with a warm aftertaste leaving a glow of Chardonnay happiness. 14.5% alc. $37.99.

Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti 2005
Deep red/black in colour, youthful in appearance with blackberry hints. Savoury and a little medicinal on the nose with a hint of dried herbs and initially savoury to the taste until the juicy red and black fruits take over with soft acids, grainy tannins, even a touch of chocolate and a creamy finish. Made in an approachable, modern style. 12.5% alc. $23.99.

Domaine Georges Michel Golden Mile Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005
Deep purple/black garnet with good saturation, this is an earthy, savoury style of full-bodied pinot with truffle-like aromas, soft silky tannins, red fruits, a fair dollop of acidity, hints of anise, a touch of tar, and rosemary and other savoury herbs on the long, savoury, meaty finish. Quite vibrant. $19.99.

Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone 2004
Deep red in colour with a black core and blood red edges, this distinctly European wine has a powerfully 'pongy' aroma and tarry, medicinal flavours reminiscent of phenol gargle that initially hide the underlying sweet plum and red fruit and creamy cedary oak flavours. It's a powerful wine with a powerful tannin structure, a gutsy French farmyard red, not for the faint hearted. 13.5% alc. $19.99.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2005
Shiny, vibrant, inky black with purple edges, this wine imitates Australia with its ripeness and lusciousness, so it was a surprise to find out it was from Hawkes Bay. An opulent Merlot with ripe black fruits, creamy oak, fine silky tannins, vanilla, mocha, a touch of chocolate and a hint of mint - it's powerful, concentrated, juicy and delicious. 14% alc. $25.99.

Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2004
Deep black core with fading rims, there's a hint of seaweed on the nose together with bitter chocolate and red berries. It seem like an older wine because it is ripe and soft and reasonably developed with a lovely integration of silky tannins and toasty cedar with chocolate and a fragrant lift to the finish. Drinking beautifully now. 15% alc. $18.99.

St. John’s Road Julia Barossa Shiraz 2004
Deep dark red, opaque. Distinctly Shiraz with its peppery aromas and hot, spicy, peppery flavours with hints of mint, chocolate, liquorice, tar and savoury oak. A mouthfilling, full-bodied Barossa red with well-integrated tannins, a smooth creamy texture, depth of fruit and a warm lifted finish. 14.5% alc. $33.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 16th May 2007
Jacobs Creek with Philip Laffer
Wines were not tasted blind.

Orlando Trilogy
Pale lemon, delicate brioche and white flower aromas, good attack of bubbles in the mouth with rich, toasty biscuity flavours, a rounded finish and a zesty tingle to the aftertaste with a lemon drop, yeasty sweetness. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier. 12.5% alc. $14.99.

Jacobs Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2004
Light gold with smoky French oak on the nose, it's deliciously toasty, broad and bright, spicy and creamy with figs, nuts, melons and a rounded fruit-filled savoury oak finish. Tropical fruit lingers. The little bit of age becomes it. 12.5% alc. $14.99.

Jacobs Creek Reeves Point Chardonnay 2003
Bright gold with a hint of green, the aromas are crammed with tropical fruit salad, peach and melon with a buttery influence from malolactic fermentation. It's hot and spicy in the palate, big, bold and oily/creamy textured with a caramel overlay to the savoury finish and lemon leesy flavours lingering. Very dry with good acid balance, which has kept this wine in such good shape. 13% alc. $26.99.

Jacobs Creek Reserve Riesling 2004
Pale lemon coloured with dry, spicy, pure lime aromas with a hint of hand cream in the scent. It tastes crisp, dry and austere at first with tingling acidity from the lemon and lime fruit but there's a creamy richness on the finish with a floral muskiness, toast and a touch of honey. The bottle age complexities are starting to creep in - give it a few more years and this will be brilliant aged Riesling. A blend of Clare Valley, Eden Valley and Barossa fruit. 12% alc. $14.99.

Jacobs Creek Steingarten Barossa Riesling 2003
Light gold, very bright. Freshly zested lime peel and orange blossom on the nose with a hint of aged Riesling toast. Very dry to the taste but with a gorgeous slippery texture, purity of lemon and lime fruit with a honeyed richness emerging and spicy nuances as it lingers. This is the best Riesling in the Jacobs Creek range and could cellar up to 20 years. 11.5% alc. $30.99.

Jacobs Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Opaque deep red. Rich, wine-soaked bread aromas, deep and complex with a hint of violet. Earthy and savoury to the taste with creamy oak, a touch of chocolate, herbs, a hint of mint and plum and blackcurrant fruit and firm underlying acidity. A medium bodied style with smooth tannins, it has evolved well and is drinking nicely now. 14.5% alc. $14.99.

Jacobs Creek St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Deep, opaque black red. Intensely varietal aromas of cassis, mint, tobacco and cedar. Bright to the taste with lovely cabernet lift, concentrated blackcurrant, cassis, chocolate, cedar, spice and very acceptable green leaf characters. A reasonable amount of underlying acidity and firm grainy tannins that are integrating nicely and building to a long, concentrated finish with a succulent aftertaste and hints of liquorice. 2002 vintage was the coldest ever and made some of Australia's most elegant and in examples like this one, possibly most long-lived wines. 14% alc. $42.99.

Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz 2004
Deep red black with purple/red hues. Savoury, spicy aromas and rich, dark chocolatey flavours with red cherries and blackberries to the fore, a biscuity backbone, soft velvety tannins, creamy American oak and a spicy, lifted finish. Ripe and tasty, medium bodied in style. 14.5% alc. $14.99.

Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Barossa Shiraz 2002
Deep inky, black red with blood red rims. Opulent aromas of mint and cedar with a deep concentrated richness. Ripe, rich and full-bodied to the taste with gorgeously smooth tannins and texture, it's very minty with lots of cassis, chocolate, cherry, blackberry, tobacco, mocha, liquorice and peppery spice. A totally seductive wine with power to go. Centenary Hill is the peak of Shiraz in the Jacobs Creek range and Philip Laffer says this is the best Shiraz they have made in 25 years. 15% alc. $44.99.

Jacobs Creek Johann Shiraz Cabernet 2001
Deep purple black, fantastic colour saturation for its age. More distinctively Shiraz on the nose with aromas of chocolate, cherries, a touch of earth, violets and lots of vinous intrigue. It's rich and ripe to the taste with the soft Shiraz exploding in a spicy mouthful of juiciness, the Cabernet adds the structure, the length, the red fruit profile, the leafiness, the acidity and the tannins. With great depth and concentration throughout, the wine is evolving, developing with some interesting secondary, earthy, mushroom characters coming through on the complex finish. The flagship wine of the Jacobs Creek range, it's drinking beautifully now but there is plenty of life ahead of it too. 14% alc. $60.99.

Morris Liqueur Tokay
Dark, orange/brown amber, translucent with green olive edges. Rich, raisin aromas and sweet treacle flavours with mocha, anise, orange peel and Christmas cake fruits macerating in brandy. Some cold tea flavours, but definitely not a cold tea texture - it's thick and viscous with the alcohol adding warmth to the mouth-coating lingering finish. 17.5% alc. $22.99 / 500 ml.

Morris Liqueur Muscat
Deep red orange, translucent and clear with none of the green hue seen in the Tokay. Warm, spirituous aromas of dried fruit, white raisins and toffee lead into a thick, unctuous textured, sweet wine with a spicy heat from the alcohol and flavours of orange toffee, honey and peel and lots of those cold tea flavours. Luscious and lasting. 17.5% alc. $22.99 / 500 ml.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 9th May 2007
Yalumba with Jane Ferrari
Wines were not tasted blind. Wines in italics were not tasted at the First Glass tasting, but are recorded here for reference.

Jansz Premium Non Vintage Cuvée
Light gold, crisp and dry with a tingle of high-toned citrussy bubbles in the mouth popping to reveal apple and apricot fruit, a freshly baked bread character, a creamy richness and excellent length. Methode Tasmanoise made from 58% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier. 12.5% alc. $18.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2006
Light gold, clear, bright. There's a rich, mealy, subtle barrel nuance to the bright apricot aroma but it's surprisingly crisp at first in the palate, a little Riesling-like on entry with a hint of rose musk. The rich mealy characters on the nose evolve to make the palate quite opulent with a spicy warmth to the lingering, clean apricot fruit and lemon bread finish. 14.5% alc. $18.99.

Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2005
Light gold, clear, bright. Powerfully fragrant aromas of blossom and apricot with spice, yeast lees and an earthy, nutty savouriness. There's a Chardonnay richness mid palate and an opulently spicy and very distinctive, slippery textured, clean Viognier finish where apricot, pear and lemon grass emerge to linger with tropical fruit and passionfruit on the long focused aftertaste. A beautiful wine that encapsulates the essence of Viognier with its beautiful fruit purity. 13.5% alc. $49.99.

Yalumba Bush Vine Barossa Grenache 2006
Purple ruby, medium depth. Creamy, leesy aroma with cherry and red fruit abounding. Bright and fruity in the spicy palate with a ripe, creamy texture, firm acidity, a chocolatey undercurrent and purple and red berries on finish. Medium-bodied and spicy, perfect to accompany Mediterranean food. 14.5% alc. $18.99.

Yalumba Barossa Shiraz Viognier 2004
Deep purple red with a bright black core. Bright, spicy, vanillin oak and cherry on the nose, complex and aromatic. Firm tannins, red fruits, savoury oak and hints of Christmas cake in the palate. Dry and spicy, quite lifted with a little VA (Viognier Aromatics) enhancing the experience. Very delicious and creamy with red cherry and hints of anise. Remarkably approachable style. 5% Viognier in the blend. 14% alc. $18.99.

Yalumba Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier 2004
Deep purple red. Tarry, meaty, spicy aromatics with a strong dried herb character of thyme, rosemary and sage. Dry, spicy and leathery, deep and complex, medium to full-bodied with silky tannins, red and purple fruits and a lovely aromatic floral lift to the long, savoury finish. 14.5% alc. $35.99.

Yalumba Hand Picked Tempranillo Grenache Viognier 2005
Quite a deep purple red with an earthy, savoury, smoky, tobacco and tar aroma and a lush, ripe palate with vanillin oak and deliciously juicy red and purple fruit that combine beautifully with the herbal savouriness. Violets, rose petals and a white pepper spiciness emerge on the lifted finish. An exciting wine made from a blend of 89% Tempranillo, 6% Grenache and 5% Viognier. 13.5% alc. $35.99.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Deep black red, inky and concentrated. Intensely aromatic with smoky creamy oak, a hint of menthol and black jube fruit on the nose. Seems a dark, deep, earthy, leathery wine at first but wonderful sweet lush fruit takes over. Intense, deep and concentrated with a fine tannin structure, blackcurrant, blackberry and cherry fruit and a warm, extended finish. 14% alc. $45.99.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Black red, almost inky with a very fine textured appearance. Fragrant with smoke, tobacco, herb and even a hint of capsicum. Fruit in the cherry / redcurrant spectrum with creamy vanillin oak, herbs and a touch of spice with grainy tannins, firm acidity, leather and tar and an intensity of purple fruit on the finish. Quite tight and cedary still, at this stage of its life. 13.5% alc. $45.99.

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz 2003
Deep black red, crimson rims, opaque, intense. Rich, opulent, creamy American oak aroma (love it). Creamy and spicy in the palate. Red-blue blackcurrant and tobacco combine beautifully with supporting thick grainy tannins and a long dry finish. Beautiful wine with a lovely cherry overlay, Xmas Cake and a creamy chocolate / mochaccino richness. Fruit lingers beautifully. 14.5% alc. $45.99.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2003
Inky purple black – wow, voluptuous, concentrated, pepper and cedar aroma with hints of menthol and in the palate it's dark and deep with biscuits, red and purple fruits, fine grainy tannins, bitter chocolate, opulent creamy oak, hints of iodine and a herbal influence to the finish. A grunter of a wine and although more forward than the 2002, it's still very much a baby. 14.5% alc. $103.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2001
Deep inky purple red, saturated, youthful colour. Aromatic, perfumed, smoky and savoury with a hint of cow pat, still very firm tannins, purple fruit, underlying spicy acidity beings out the black pepper and nutmeg spice – and there’s a kind of tarry, oily, slippery character to the lifted, spicy finish. This is the one to drink. 13.5% alc. $103.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2002
Inky purple black coloured wine with a deep, rich concentrated aroma of creamy oak, nutmeg and chocolate and a deep opulent flavour with incredibly fine tannins. It's savoury and spicy, warm and biscuity, dense and earthy with dried herbs, plum and blackberry fruit and a flourish of beautifully balanced acidity to make this wine a very long-lived prospect. Jane calls it 'The Abyss' because it's a big black bottomless pit. I rate it outstanding. 14% alc. $103.

Yalumba The Reserve Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz 2001
Deep inky black, purple red, saturated, youthful colour. Incredibly deep and concentrated aromatic smoky, savoury perfume with a lightly, oily, tarry overlay. It's big, rich, tarry and savoury in the palate with undeniable spices and concentrated black and blue fruits, very tight fine-grained tannins, a dark, savoury sweet-pastry pie undercurrent and a long voluptuous finish. Tight with underlying spicy, red fruit acidity, brooding in its depth. A long term wine. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon. 26% Shiraz. 20 months in French oak. Released 1 May 2007. 14.5% alc. $121.

Yalumba Wrattonbully Hand Picked Botrytis Viognier 2006
Light yellow gold, star bright. Aromatic, fruity with a tropical fruit salad sweetness and a lovely viscosity to the lightly spritzy texture with pear, apricot, spice and pineapple sage nectar. Juicy and long, clean and refreshing with an aftertaste of grilled apricots in syrup. It's like Liquid Honey in May. 12% alc. 155g/L residual sugar. $25.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2nd May 2007
Not So Common - To First Glass.
Wines were tasted blind.

Mills Reef Reserve Viognier 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Light gold, delicately fruity, clean and bright with a soft oily texture and a slightly musky flavour with a spicy complexity, zesty acidity and an array of fruit reminiscent of apple, lime, feijoa, melon, apricot and passionfruit. A fresh, light to medium-bodied, lunch time style. 14% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Pazo de Barrantes Albarino 2004 - Rias Baixas, Spain
Lemon gold. Nuts and lemons on the nose, crisp, bright acidity in the lightly oily palate. Tasty and tangy, full of zesty lime, lemon and apple fruit with an earthy, flinty undercurrent. Very reminiscent of a young, fresh, racy, dry Riesling, but it is something entirely different. 12.5% alc. $34.99.

Novementi Bianco Salento 2006 - Puglia, Italy
A blend of Chardonnay and an indigenous Italian grape called Verdeca, this is lemon gold in colour with an oily, neutral, slightly pungent, grapey aroma - perhaps a hint of green pineapple - and a rather unusual flavour for our New World palates. It's perfumed in the palate with an oily texture, a medium to full body, stewed green apples, apple skins and nuts; it seems a little oxidised on entry and mid-palate but there's a minty Colgate-like freshness to the finish. 12% alc. $17.99.

Deutschherren-hof Deutschherrenberg Riesling Kabinett 2005
Pale straw gold with aromas of fizzy fruit lollies, limes and a hint of strawberry it's lightly spritzy in texture and tingles the tongue with a bright, fresh, sweetness, frivolous dance while filling the mouth with zesty flavours of limes and apples. A light to medium bodied style with a lightly viscous texture, quite sweet for Kabinett but with an earthy, steely undercurrent throughout. Refreshing. 11% alc. $24.99.

Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone 2004
Dark red with black hues, not quite opaque. Rich, creamy, lightly cedary oak and fruitcake raisins on the nose and crisp red fruits in the palate with a dark, earthy, meaty, savoury backbone, hints of liquorice, grunty tannins and a spicy, creamy finish with underlying red fruit acidity. Not particularly peppery, but there is a hint of chocolate. 13.5% alc. $20.99.

Coto de Hayas Reserva Garnacha 2002 - Campo de Borga, Spain
Deep, bright, crimson red with lightly minty aromas overlaid with vanillin oak that makes it seem quite New World in style. Full-bodied and flavoursome, smooth and creamy, soft and juicy with chocolate, ripe sweet black cherry fruit and a savoury seductiveness. Good length. Easy to drink. 13.5% alc. $21.99.

Ransom Matakana Carmenere 2005
Dark Red. Sappy French oak and wild berries on the nose carry through to the creamy textured palate. Medium to full-bodied, rich and tasty with red berry fruit, liquorice, creamy oak, hints of tar and herb, a spicy lifted overlay and well balanced acidity on the deep, earthy finish. Silky tannins throughout. An exciting wine from Matakana and a good cellaring prospect too. 13% alc. $26.99.

Hacienda Araucano Carmenere Reserva 2005 - Colchaqua Valley, Chile
Deep black red with crimson rims. Earthy, savoury aromas with a myriad of dried herbs and juicy, jammy red fruits with vanillin oak, blackberries, chocolate, earth, tar and herbs. Plenty of flavour and a long savoury finish. Lots of similarity to the Matakana wine, just a little deeper in colour and a little more chocolatey in flavour. Synthetic closure. 13% alc. $17.99.

Kemblefield Hawke's Bay Zinfandel 2004
Fading in its garnet red colour, it looks a little thin – like an older pinot noir. A little pongy and earthy on the nose but spicy and perfumed in the medium-bodied palate with sweet fruit and silky tannins, it's ripe, juicy and creamy with mulled wine spices, an array of berry fruit from strawberry to blackberry, an earthy finish and hints of barnyard as it lingers. Nothing like a Californian Zin, but well made and ready to drink now. Diam closure. $22.99.

Chanarmuyo Malbec 2005 - La Rioja, Argentina
Deep inky purple red with crimson edges. Concentrated aromas of berries and raisins and spicy, savoury, dense flavours of fruit cake cherries and raisins, charry oak and the slightest hint of mint. Rich, ripe, smooth and voluptuous this powerful, flavoursome, full-bodied wine is so deliciously drinkable. It's like Christmas cake in a glass. A real grunter. Synthetic closure. 14.5% alc. $18.99.

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity GSM 2002 - Barossa Valley, South Australia
Fading red. Sweet oak, spice, dried herbs and currants on the nose; ripe, creamy, spicy and savoury in the palate; it’s losing the primary fruit and the secondary bottle characters are taking over. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, the salty savouriness of the rosemary-like herbs add intrigue to this elegant, silky tannined wine. It's soft and integrated, like an older Shiraz, and ready to drink right now. 14% alc. $36.99.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - South Australia
A super charged Aussie Shiraz with a deep, inky purple-red colour; creamy oak, red cherry and chocolate aromas and a vibrant spicy, creamy flavour with opulent American oak and chocolate to the fore. A big wine with juicy fruit, a fine tannin structure and a thick, blood warming finish. Three years old and still a baby. Delicious. Easy to see why it has won several golds and a Trophy. 14.5% alc. $19.99.

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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