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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2008 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

August / September 2008
[ 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 - 10 Sep 2008
Northern Hemisphere v Southern Hemisphere
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection East Coast Gewurztraminer 2007
Lemon hued with a delicately fragrant floral bouquet and honeyed, spicy, slightly sweet flavours. Slightly oily in texture with classical florals, smoker lollies, orange honey, a touch of zest and a deep finish. Well balanced and not too overpowering.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2006 - Alsace
Bright citrine hued, pie pastry and lemon verbena on the perfumed nose which has pretty and intensely varietal scents, and a lovely rich oily palate. Delicately floral, creamy and rich, exotic Moroccan spices, a touch of freshly zested orange and mango. A delicious, soft, low acid wine with a toastiness to the finish. Irresistible to fans of gorgeous Gewurztraminer.
13% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Millton Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2007 - Gisborne
Straw gold. Flinty and steely at first on the nose and then blossomy floral and honeysuckle scents emerge. Unexpectedly sweet in the palate with toasty apples, underlying lemon cheese and boiled lemon lollies but there's a steely crisp backbone and juicy apple flavours come to the fore on the finish. A powerful wine. Let it evolve and it will surprise you.
12% alc. Cork. $26.99.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 1986 - Loire Valley
A light yellow gold with green glints, there's boiled lolly and hints of marzipan on the nose and it's quite oily in the palate. This particular bottle has a touch of an oxidised note, but it *is* 22 years old. While it initially seems to have unbalanced sweetness, apples come to the fore with a touch of pineapple and a hint of musk. Quite oily and fat with a long, long finish, it still has a zesty brightness. Really good with the bread and cheese
12.5% alc. Cork. $55.99.

Kahurangi Mt Arthur Classic Riesling 2007 - Nelson
Pale straw. Quite restrained aromas for Riesling. Sweetish flavours of honey and lime, it's deliciously juicy with a crisp dry finish, but the sweetness floods back to balance the drying acidity and the lasting mouthfeel is rounded and there's a hint of a salty tang.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Deutschherren-Hof Deutschherrenberg Riesling Auslese 2004 - Mosel Saar Ruwer
Pale straw. A touch of lime blossom on the gently aromatic nose. Rich and honeyed in the palate with bright acidity and an oily lightly viscous texture, it is quite sweet, almost nectar but crisp acidity balances the sweetness perfectly and a myriad of sweet juicy citrus flavours linger long after the wine is swallowed.
7.5% alc. Cork. $36.99.

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2006 - Margaret River
A slightly muddy Burgundy red. Minty and smoky with dark chocolate and bottled cherry on the nose, the aromas carry through to the earthy, dusty palate which has thick sensuous tannins and underlying acidity adding brightness to the flavours that are quite funky in a way. There's sweet oak, vanilla, smoke, jammy wild berry fruits and a hint of tobacco and a savoury meaty tang.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Domaine Baptise Boutes Minervois 2005 - Languedoc-Roussillon
Deep dark red with pink/purple edges. Smoky, earthy, almost gravelly on the nose, it's medium to full-bodied in weight and quite savoury to the taste with something reminiscent of mercurachrome and while there's a steely metallic note from the underlying acidity, there's also a meaty richness and a smattering of aromatic and peppery spices. It finishes big, rich and full with grainy tannins and is just that little bit different to be rather exciting. Blend unknown but likely to include Carignan (no more than 40%), Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah.
14.5% alc. Cork. $21.99.

G4 Finca Monte Carrascal 2006 - Carinena, Spain
Dark red with flashes of black. Smoky, earthy, herbal, beef stew aromas and dark, savoury, 'brooding in the undergrowth' flavours. There's a herbal saltiness, currants, and a spicy lift to the smoky finish that is smooth, long and, at last, fruit sweet with raspberries and cherries to the fore. Made from 100% Garnacha.
14.5% alc. Cork. $22.99.

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2006 - Barossa
Rich deep black red, immediately the sweet vanillin oak aromas and flavours tell you this is a little closer to home. Creamy textured and despite the big grunty meaty tannins, it is approachable and drinkable. Grenache adds strawberry-like fruit, Shiraz adds pepperiness and the Mourvedre adds earthiness but also a violet-like floral lift.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Codice 2006 - La Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Bright and shiny with crimson flashing through the deep red black colour. Blackberries on the nose and grippy tannins in the savoury palate which has an initial redcurrant lolly overtone, hints of liquorice, sweet oak and a tart undercurrent, becoming rich and rounded on the long creamy spicy finish and leaving an impression of full-bodied juiciness.
13.5% alc. Synthetic closure. $18.99.

Browns of Padthaway T-Trellis Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Dark red, just starting to fade on the edges. Minty and cedary on the nose and full of rich, ripe blackberry, mulberry and cherry fruit with chocolatey oak, an earthy depth, peppery spices and seamless tannins that make it super approachable and utterly drinkable. A star at the price.
15% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 27 Aug 2008
Cuisine Magazine's Top Cabernets and Merlots
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - McLaren Vale
Dark red with lighter red edges, this initially savoury wine smells like Christmas cake with powerful marzipan and cherry – that Xmassy character carrying through to the palate which is juicy and generous with spicy plum and blackberry fruit, a gutsy undercurrent and plenty of sweet vanillin oak adding to the bright clean finish. Excellent length too. Cuisine 4 Stars & Best Buy.
14% alc. Zork closure. $14.99 special.

Woop Woop Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - South East Australia
Dark red, similar to the previous wine. Smoky, savoury aromas with a hint of tar and Vitamin B and savoury to the taste with earth and herbal notes. Quite dense in the mouth with thick tannins, juicy blackberry and mulberry fruit, and sweet vanilla infiltrating the spicy oak finish. Cuisine 4 Stars & Best Buy.
15% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Deep dark red with flashes of purple. Rich and ripe with luscious black and red fruit that hints of boysenberry and cherry. Firm, grippy and robust despite the fine tannin structure, the concentrated fruit is infused with smoke and tobacco, or perhaps a touch of cigar and there's power to the long creamy finish, which becomes quite floral and lifted - no doubt because of the 15 % Cabernet Franc in the blend. There's loads of potential but the 2006 vintage is nowhere near as approachable as the 2005 was. This is a wine to decant or put in the cellar for a while. Cuisine 4 Stars & No. 3 Merlot.
13.5% alc. Cork. $26.99 special.

Newton Forrest Merlot 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
Another huge wine, quite similar to the previous but with that extra edge of voluptuousness and finesse. Deep dark red, gorgeously perfumed oak and fruit, almost silky in its tannin structure, which makes it seem so smooth and creamy. Juicy cherry, plum and blackberry fruit, a touch of chocolate and smoky savoury oak finish. Universally loved by the tasters because it is so deliciously good. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 1 Merlot.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Craggy Range Sophia 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay
Deep black red with hints of purple. Shy on the nose with cedar, tar and a floral perfumed edge. Tasted immediately after the Newton Forrest, it lacks that up front voluptuousness but Sophia loses her coquettish veneer with twirling and swirling to reveal beautifully proportioned red fruits, oak and finely structured meaty tannins. Made from a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec, there are classic Merlot smoky, cigar box, leather and earthy notes while the Cabernet Franc and Malbec adds the perfumed floral lift to the creamy, lingering finish. Total class. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 2 Merlot.
14% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Manara Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - Barossa Valley
Opaque blackberry red. Sweet cedar and blackberry aromas and sweet, succulent, smooth flowing flavours, it's like biting into juicy berries, with an explosion of sweet fruit in the mouth. With a fine tannin structure, a touch of mocha, blackcurrant fruit and smoke lingering on the more savoury finish, this is incredible value and hard to believe a wine this smart could be so cheap. It is smooth and easy drinking but just beware, it is a little sweet. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 4 Cabernet.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Saltram Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Barossa Valley, SA
Blackish red in colour with flashes of purple. Opulent American oak scents together with cherry, fruitcake and a touch of chocolate. Full of ripe, juicy flavours with blackcurrant fruit, a hint of violet / flower musk in the background, plush velvety tannins and loads of savouriness to keep the juicy fruit in balance, a touch of oak spice adds the perfect finishing touch. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 5 Cabernet.
15% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Vasarelli Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - McLaren Vale, SA
Deep shiny red black in the glass with earthy red edges. Shy and brooding on the nose - a brooding core of black fruit and savoury oak. Indeed the savouriness is foremost in the mouth with a touch of mocha and a tarry, smoky edge that gives way to mid-palate blackberry fruit sweetness and chocolatey vanillin French and American oak. Tannins are big but smooth and easy and the finish goes on and on. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 1 Cabernet.
15% alc. Screwcap. NA.

Bremerton Tamblyn Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot 2006 - Langhorne Creek, SA
Pinkish black in colour with a minty / eucalypt infusion to the cedary perfume and a touch of florals too. Quite striking in the palate with sweet vanillin oak, mint chocolate, juicy red fruits and a bright, spicy lift to the savoury finish. This blend of 41% Cabernet, 39% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 7% Merlot is rich, ripe, smooth and deliciously drinkable. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 6 Cabernet.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Rosemount Show Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Coonawarra, SA
Purple black in colour and initially minty on the nose, then tobacco along with wonderfully deep, sweet red and black fruit scents. Savoury to the taste with reasonably grippy tanning but gorgeous primary blackcurrant fruit and smoky oak combine in harmony on the tarry, savoury backbone. Shows that Coonawarra Cabernet purity. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 7 Cabernet.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay
Deep, dense, black cherry red. Connotations of mint sauce and balsamic on the nose together with hints of leather and classy cedar, it is tight and grippy in the palate with a meaty, savoury backbone, classy French oak and tannins that add a layer of silky finesse. Seems there is a decent dollop of Merlot adding mid-palate roundness with red and black fruit and violet-like notes adding to its allure. Would benefit from decanting right now. Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 3 Cabernet.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $50.99.

Craggy Range The Quarry 2006 - Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay
A touch of vanilla and cherry on the nose and more so in the palate - this is incredibly sweet and rounded for a New Zealand wine. Voluptuous and creamy-textured with a savoury, dried herb undercurrent and a touch of cigar and leather, the beautifully fine tannins coat the mouth and harmonise with the concentrated core of juicy red and black fruit, cedary oak spice, liquorice and violets. Deep and intense yet sweet and long, this is a profoundly good New Zealand wine and made from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon with 4% Merlot and 1% Malbec Cuisine 5 Stars & No. 2 Cabernet.
14.5% alc. Cork. $60.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 Aug 2008
All Brand New
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Eradus Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Pale, a little oily in appearance. Vibrantly scented with passionfruit, lime zest, a sweet herbaceousness and perhaps a suggestion of armpit. A little oily in the palate and perhaps a little more dilute than the scent infers but with tropical fruit, melon, lime, a slightly chalkiness, sweetness to the tangy passionfruit filled finish and a citrussy herbaceous twist to the lasting aftertaste it is well-balanced and clean.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Riverby Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Light lemon gold. Gently scented with smoky sweet oak and mealy nutty scents and lots of power to the warm, rich, creamy flavour with spicy grilled peach, well balanced acidity and sweet toasty oak becoming quite caramel/ butterscotch on the finish. Drinking beautifully already.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2006
Rich yellow gold with smoky, savoury aromatics and nutty flavours with a nougat sweetness, savoury French oak and ripe stonefruit. Dry, sophisticated and toasty with an almost salty undercurrent and a spicy zest, it seems quite tight but this is a serious wine with long term potential that is inferred by the length of the warm, rich, rounded finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Mills Reef Elspeth Chardonnay 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Deep bright gold in colour, there's a lemony undercurrent to the creamy, nutty oak scent and there's plenty of peach and tropical fruit in the full-bodied, creamy textured palate with a light, lemony, mealy undercurrent and powerful French oak that dominates on the finish at this stage of its life.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Stonecroft Hawke's Bay Gewurztraminer 2007
Pale straw coloured. Perfumed with pretty, floral, talcum powder scents this makes a delicate impression on the gently sweet palate with flavours of rose petal, orange water and exotic fragrant spices. The delicacy gives way to power on the strong finish with the lingering flavours lasting for ages.
13.5% alc. Diam. $27.99.

Milton Opou Riesling 2007 - Gisborne
Bright pale lemon. Strongly aromatic and flinty with kero-infused citrus and honeysuckle aromas and bright zesty flavours with a spritzy /sherbet up-front attack, a weighty mid-palate and sweet mandarin and tangelo on the lingering finish. With such well balanced acidity to sugar, you don't really notice the sweetness. Bio-dynamically grown fruit. 9% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

The Crater Rim Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
A deep black-cherry red, not totally opaque. Rich, ripe, generous aromas scented with smoke and savoury oak and black and red cherry fruit that follows through to the juicy palate that abounds with black cherries, plum, spice, a touch of bacon and a light touch of aromatic herbs. With plenty of warmth, supple tannins and savoury oak, it is totally drinkable and exudes quality for the price.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Mills Reef Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Deep red/black with youthful crimson edges, the smoky aroma is dark and brooding with a Shrewsberry biscuit sweetness adding brightness and lift. Mouthfilling with a creamy richness, ripe firm tannins, a solid backbone of cedary oak, currant, plums, a touch of liquorice and a long full finish, this is stunning and reminiscent of the trophy winning 2005.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba The Scribbler 2006 - Barossa Valley
Deep red black in colour, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (63%) and Shiraz (37%) is big and juicy and so classically Australian in style. It is full of blackberry fruit yet is smoky and savoury with an earthy depth, a touch of mint and leather and powerful tannins that have plenty of grip while the peppery lift of Shiraz on the finish leaves a spicy mouth tingling aftertaste. It's called 'The Scribbler' as it is has been inspired by Yalumba's famous 'The Signature' Cabernet Shiraz blend.
14.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2006- Barossa Valley
Deep red in colour, this is gorgeously perfumed with a floral violet-like overtone to the classy oak scent. Full of juicy ripe fruit that gives an impression of sweetness and allays the power and might of this big meaty wine, it is smooth and flowing with succulent tannins, cherry, chocolate, dried herbs, leather, tar and an interesting touch of exotic spices with a peppery flourish to the finish.
15 months French oak.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $41.99.

Schild Estate Barossa Merlot 2005
Showing some development to the orange-tinged tawny red hue, there's also some development to the meaty aroma but it is powerful and youthful to the taste with redcurrant, vanilla, spice, cedar and chocolate. Still quite tight with a grainy tannin framework, so despite the colour (that some say is typical for Merlot at this age), it has cellaring potential ahead of it. Gold Medal Sydney Top 100.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep red with flashes of black, this has intense aromas of vanillin oak, smoke and spice and it's warm, and cosy in the full-bodied palate with plenty of cedar and spice, fruit cake, boysenberry and a slightly herbal nuance to savoury finish. Juicy and long. Drinking well now. Double Gold Medal - San Francisco.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 Aug 2008
The First Glass Olympics.
Wines were tasted in sets of three to determine gold, silver and bronze medal placings.
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Odyssey Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Straw gold coloured with hints of sherbet on the nose and light, soft, creamy flavours with tropical fruit, spice and subtle oak. Well-balanced. A perfect starter wine.
The bronze medal winner in the First Glass Chardonnay event.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Clearview Reserve Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
A lemon gold colour introduces this smoky, barrel-fermented style with nuts, figs, sweet oak and perhaps some wild yeast. It's rounded and rich with a lemony undercurrent and a rich toasty spicy finish with a touch of butterscotch lingering on the long creamy finish. A lovely wine with an 'elegant' allure but nowhere near as oaky as we have seen in the past from this label - in fact there were some eyebrows raised when it was revealed as 'Clearview Reserve'.
The silver medal winner in the First Glass Chardonnay event.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Seifried Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2006 - Nelson
A reasonably deep gold and voluptuous for chardonnay on the nose with its rich, full-bodied, savoury aroma full of sweet mealy oak - and of plenty of it. A big toasty chardonnay in every way with peach, citrus, nougat and honey but do not over chill as it accentuates the underlying acidity. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
The gold medal winner in the First Glass Chardonnay event.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Pegasus Bay Riesling 2007 - Waipara Valley
Light lemon gold - bright and showing a little spritz in the glass when poured. Sherbet on the nose and crisp, vibrant, citrus and honey/honeysuckle in the reasonably weighty palate with a spritzy, tingly mouthfeel and a medium sweetness level although with its high acidity it gives an initial impression of being quite dry. There is abundant fruit sweetness mid palate and the signature Pegasus Bay flourish of grapefruit lingers on the lasting finish.
The bronze medal winner in the First Glass Riesling event.
11% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2006
Pale straw gold in colour with citrus peel and honeysuckle on the nose together with a touch of kero that makes you think Australia, as does the dry, lime-rich, talcy, smooth textured, weighty palate. An excellent example of a rich, dry Marlborough style with hot spicy notes to the full, rounded finish. It is also picking up some desirable bottle-aged toastiness. Gold medal NZ International Wine Show. Limited stocks.
The silver medal winner in the First Glass Riesling event.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josephshofer Riesling Spatlese 2005 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Light yellow gold, Germanic style - sweet, honeyed, low-alcohol with a viscous texture reminiscent of a light nectar. It has a light attack in the palate with a fine backbone of acidity to balance the sweetness, there's predominant ripe red apple fruit with just a hint of earthiness and the luscious aftertaste lasts for ages. Absolutely delicious. The gold medal winner in the First Glass Riesling event.
8.5% alc. Cork. $62.99.

Menhir 5 Passi 2007 - Salento, Italy
Made from Negroamaro grapes, this is opaque blackberry red in colour with a smoky aroma that hints of wild blackberries and raspberries with an overlay of liquorice and aromatic oak. Earthy and savoury to the taste with tar and earth, it immediately whisks you to Europe and the medium-bodied palate is smooth, bright, juicy and lightly spicy. Very impressive for the price.
The silver medal winner in the First Glass 'International Reds' event.
13% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Carchelo 2006 - Jumilla, Spain
A deeply concentrated blackcurrant and blackberry jube scent with hints of violets, this medium-bodied aromatic red has an abundance of blackberries and raspberries with a salty and savoury undercurrent of herbs and tea-like tannins, yet it its short on the finish and lacks the concentration that the aroma promises. A blend of Monastrell and Syrah. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
The bronze medal winner in the First Glass 'International Reds' event.
14% alc. Cork. $13.99 special.

Coto de Hayas Fagus 2005 - Campo de Borga, Spain
Deeply translucent dark cherry red. Sweet oaked, vanilla scented, chocolate and cherry aromas and plenty of fruit sweetness in the palate with creamy oak, juicy currant-like fruit, velvety tannins and spice with just a hint of mocha on the finish. Approachable, drinkable and a shoe-in for lovers of the full-bodied Australian style, this 100% Spanish Garnacha is long, tasty, and simply delicious.
The gold medal winner in the First Glass 'International Reds' event.
13.5% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Showing just a touch of development to the translucent edges of the deep black pool of wine, this oozes sweet vanillin oak, peppery spice, cherry and chocolate on the nose and is typically sweet luscious Aussie Shiraz to the taste. It's super smooth and crammed with chocolate, toast, char and biscuity sweet oak with cherry and blackberry fruit, peppery spice and a bright raspberry lift to the finish. Made from a blend of McLaren Vale (75%), and Padthaway (25%) fruit, it is the typically adored First Glass style - yet in the company was only the bronze medal winner in the First Glass Shiraz event.
15% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

John Duval Entity Barossa Shiraz 2006 - South Australia
Concentrated shiny red black with youthful pinky/purple edges, a voluptuous nose of vanillin oak and meaty Shiraz spices leads into a fine tannined palate with classy French oak, a smoky savouriness, aromatic spices, dried herbs de Provence and purple fruits. With 17 months in French oak, this is a big wine with a long life ahead of it - but is just a 'baby grunter' at this stage of its life.
The silver medal winner in the First Glass Shiraz event.
14.5% alc. Cork. $46.99.

Kingston Shiraz 2006 - South Australia
The deep reddish-black indicates some development and so does the integrated palate, which seems quite mellow. Peppery and savoury to the taste and showing the true spicy character of the Shiraz grape but quite sweet on the finish with some coarseness to the tannins. However, this soft juicy wine is so ready to drink and was the hands-up crowd favourite on the night and thus the gold medal winner in the First Glass Shiraz event.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

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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