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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

December 2008
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17 Dec 2008
Kingsley's and Sam's Best of Year
Wines were tasted blind.

Orlando St Helga Riesling 2004
A rich, weighty, dry Riesling with powerfully aromas of lime and talc - it is becoming pleasingly heady with age. Powerful, oily, spicy zesty flavours of pineapple, lime, orange oil and apricot and just a touch of a salty-like tang. A delicious dry Riesling with ample fruit sweetness; chill it, swill it, imagine a tropical island. Also a Wine of the Year last year. Gold and Trophy - NZ International Wine Show 2007.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Beach House Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
A peaches and cream style of Chardonnay with a tantalising aroma of nutty French oak and a deliciously juicy flavour of tropical fruit and pineapple that tempers the toastiness while savoury, mealy flavours hum away in the background. Creamy, mouthfilling and long. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. Gold Medal Top 100. Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Chardonnay 2007
A gorgeously creamy wine - like sucking on Wehler's Originals. Yes, it's buttery and creamy with a citrussy backbone, freshly baked biscuits and malo winemaking influences all the way though. A full wine, a big wine with plenty of oak and mouthfilling flavours that simply last, it can be lightly chilled too. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Seifried Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2006 - Nelson
Mesmerising aromas of smoky savoury oak, nuts and vanilla butter icing and big, bold, rich spicy flavours full of nutty oak, butterscotch and mouthfilling peach and citrus fruit. About as big as it gets. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Forrest The Doctor's Riesling 2008
Pale straw gold. Spritzy with a zesty citrus peel tang, the aromas carry through to the fresh fruity palate. Bright and tasty, it’s like a blend of freshly squeezed orange, lime and lemon juice diluted with water and sweetened with sugar and consumed in a tropical fruit orchard. Light, refreshing and frivolous now but will become powerful and rich with time. Trophy and Gold Medal - Air NZ Wine Awards.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Mount Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2008
Light straw. Concentrated honeysuckle and lime aromas and fresh racy flavours with lime, pith and apple. Oily textured with great balance of winey sweetness to nervy acidity - it's refreshing and vital with richness and length.
11% alc. 40g/l residual sugar. Screwcap. $25.99.

Waipara Hills Southern Cross Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Gorgeous vivacious, purple-red colour, a tantalising savoury, smoky, bittersweet fruit aroma and smooth silky flavours of bottled cherries and plums stirred with a cinnamon stick characterise this approachable Pinot. It has beautifully focussed fruit, creamy oak, a hint of chocolate and intrinsic Pinot Noir savouriness. 5 stars - Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Church Road Cuve Series Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2005
Deep and brooding with leather and cedar on the nose and a concentrated palate - this dense red-black wine it opens up to reveal florals, pepper and chocolate with fine grained powerful tannins, cherries, violets and blackcurrants. It has something reminiscent of Syrah but has the suppleness of Merlot with a minty sweetness and finishes with cigar box, mulberry, plum and the leather first detected on the nose comes back to linger. Outstanding, concentrated 100% Merlot. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
13,5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Taltarni Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
A deep black red coloured wine with brick-red rims, this has an aroma reminiscent of coconut chocolate and fresh blackcurrants. A big rich wine, almost porty in its concentration, it has mint, cassis, chocolate, beautifully integrated oak and a lasting finish. Although rather sumptuous right now, it is still tightly structured and has plenty of life ahead of it. Gold Medal & Trophy – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Cork. $32.99.

Sessantanni Old Vines Primitivo di Manduria 2004 - Italy
Vivid purple red - still exceedingly youthful in appearance. Full of life on the nose with mint, chocolatey oak and cream, this is simply a colossal wine. It's full of concentrated purple fruit, violets, pepper spice and dried herbs with soft acidity, fine tannins and a long, mouthfilling, creamy finish. Magnificent. Trophy and Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. The 2004 in the tasting is now sold out but the Trophy winning 2005 vintage has arrived – it’s just as good.
14.5% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Penley Estate Phoenix Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Deep purple red. Concentrated blackcurrant on the nose with cedar and hints of mint and beautifully harmonious full-bodied flavours. There's mocha, earth, dried herbs, leather, currant and chocolate-coated raisins and although the tannins are big, they are enveloped in a smooth sultry package and do not overpower. Very nice. No, make that 'gorgeous'.. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Founder’s Shiraz 2005
Shiny purple black. Lots of peppery spice and chocolate on the nose and a pepper-filled palate together with mocha and chocolate and sweet berry fruits with oak making its presence known on the long lasting finish. A refined Shiraz, velvety smooth with a brooding savoury undercurrent. Gold Medal - NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep shiny purple black with a rich, heady, chocolate and spiced cherry aroma. Full of pepper and Xmas cake spice, red fruits and blueberries, this beautifully succulent, fine-textured, silky smooth Shiraz is full of chocolate too. Outstanding Barossa value.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10 Dec 2008
Marlborough, Martinborough and McLaren Vale
Wines were tasted blind.

Wild Wood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Pale straw. Green, grassy, capsicum and nettle-like scents carry through to the bracingly crisp palate where green apple joins in. It has an increasingly oily texture and just a hint of that famous Marlborough BO.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Fairmont Block One Chardonnay 2007 - Gladstone Terraces, Wairarapa
Light golden yellow. Peaches and tropical fruit join the toasty, creamy oak scents with the oak quite polished in the palate and nicely setting off the fleshy peach and green melon fruit flavours. Powerful and long with a touch of sweetness and a buttery, toasty finish. A touch of citrus too.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Chardonnay 2007 - Marlborough
Light golden. With hints of butterscotch on the creamy scented nose, this nutty savoury chardonnay is full-bodied and fleshy with oak quite dominant at this stage of its life. Full of peach, melon, butterscotch and zesty citrus, the texture is smooth and rounded and simply flows. Do not over chill.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Palliser Estate Martinborough Chardonnay 2006
Golden yellow. Smoky aromas mingle with tropical fruit while the dry, slightly salty, tangy flavours have a little acid 'bite' that keeps the wine focussed. A stylish Chardonnay with integrated oak, tropical fruit, obvious malo influence, a zesty finish and a 'light touch' appeal.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Emphatically stating its varietal makeup from the outset with its pretty perfume of musk, rose petal and spice, this light gold coloured and slightly oily textured, sweetish, soft acid wine is full of flavour and can take plenty of chilling. It's fruity and spicy with fruit salad, tangelo, rose water, ginger, pepper and a long lasting, floral finish. It's quite exotically boudoirish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
13% alc. Diam. $30.99.

Vidal Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
Bright morone red. Aromatic with smoky sweet oak, a hint of musk and black and red cherry scents, the cherry-filled palate is decidedly savoury with a forest floor depth, firm velvety tannins, smoky oak, and a touch of bacon and spice. Medium to full bodied in style, it's full of intrinsic pinot flavour and very appealing. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Palliser Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006
A lightish red with garnet hues, this entices with its smoky bacon aroma and lovely savoury flavours with plenty of earth and tart red fruit brooding away in the background. It's a gentle wine with beautifully integrated French oak and a silky textured mouth feel - it slowly grabs you and wants to stay.
14% alc. Screwcap. $47.99.

Dry River Lovat Vineyard Syrah 2003 - Martinborough
Youthful shiny red black, young for its age. Initially quite closed on the nose, it soon reveals a flamboyant perfume of meat, pepper and bottled plum scents embellished with plenty of savoury oak. The ripe, almost jammy plum fruit is joined with tamarillo and tart red cherries in the smoky, meaty palate and a peppery note comes through on the dry, grippy finish. It has incredible length and if you let the flavours evolve after swallowing it has those longed for florals, a hint of musk and perhaps even some bitter chocolate. A celebrated wine that is not done any justice by the tiny tasting glass.
12.5% alc. Cork. $82.99. N/A.

d’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - McLaren Vale
A dense purple black wine with boot leather on the nose carrying through to the palate where it is joined by sweet jammy flavours of rich cassis and red berry fruit, French oak, cigar box and smoke. Intense and full-bodied with a herbal, minty, lift.
14% alc. Cork.$16.99 special.

Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
This deep purple red coloured wine offers up aromas of freshly baked blackberry pie together with smoky oak, pepper and spice. While it seems quite grippy in the mouth from the meaty tannins on the first taste, it becomes quite creamy with sweet fruit, liquorice, peppery spice, vanilla, bitter chocolate and perhaps a suggestion of anise. A bold, rich red with plenty of juicy appeal.
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Gemtree Tatty Road 2006 - McLaren Vale
This dark red coloured wine is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. More medium-bodied in style (in the company), it's smoky, savoury, meaty and slightly minty with cigar box and cracked berry fruit flavours together with cassis and boysenberry. Tannins are grainy, there's a touch of dried herbs and it lingers nicely in the palate. Perhaps a touch of chocolate too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2005 - McLaren Vale
This smooth, rich, sumptuous wine is deep purple black in colour with a shiny, bright appearance. There's plenty of chocolate coating the succulent cherry fruit and a savoury sweet oak backbone that's embossed with firm tannins, pepper and spice. The full-bodied finish is long and lasting where, surprisingly, more fragrant, almost floral, and more characteristic 'Syrah' traits emerge. A simply beautiful expression of the opulent McLaren Vale style.
15% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 3 Dec 2008
Bubbles, Sweet Wines and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

Torralta Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbidane NV
A 'vino spumante' or bubbly wine from northern Italy, this is pale straw coloured with slightly floral scents and dry crisp apple flavours with a touch of herb, a steely backbone and a mellow character to the sweeter finish. Light and refreshing.
11% alc. $20.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2005
Pale lemon in colour, there's a hint of marmite to the fruity aroma and it tastes quite toasty and creamy with bubbly vitality and zest. Soft, not steely, with tropical fruit, some caramel on the finish and very good length, it should please plenty of palates and it's a well-presented bottle too.
12% alc. $15.99 special

No 1 Family Estate Cuvee No. 1 Methode Traditionelle NV
A blanc de blancs made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, it's easy to tell this light lemon gold coloured bubbles is a more serious wine. It has toasty, mealy, wet straw aromas and full-bodied flavours with funky yeast, a hint of peach, a touch of caramel and a lovely bright orange zest and grapefruit infusion - all building to a long lasting creamy finish. Outstanding presentation too.
12.5% alc. $34.99 special.

Saints Noble Semillon 2004
Bright yellow gold in colour with burnt orange peel and marmalade on toast scents and rich honeyed flavours, this has a waxy, syruppy texture, wood smoke, peach, sweet citrus fruit and a long rich finish. There's also a hint of acetate that adds an extra level of complexity to this four-year-old wine. Gold Medal – Royal Easter Show Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. 375ml bottle. $17.99 special.

De Bortoli Noble One 2006
Bright yellow with lime tints and slightly smoky on the nose too, this heady wine is hugely viscous with a syruppy texture that is heading towards treacle. The luscious sweetness of the botrytised Semillon fruit is brought into check by a backbone of bright acidity and a tropical and citrus fruitiness, and the lasting finish leaves behind a flavour like sucking on brittle orange toffee. Gold Medal NZIWS.
10% alc. Screwcap. 375ml bottle. $40.99.

Lone Goat Botrytis Selection 2007
Rich gold in hue, there's a grapefruit zest brightness to the lime marmalade scents and the taste is even more bright and citrussy amongst the luscious honeyed flavours. With a texture that is glycerolic and viscous (sticky), this is a beautiful sweet wine experience with a myriad of tropical fruit including pineapple and feijoa. Have this for Xmas day with the fruit salad - or instead of. 254g/li residual sugar. Gold Medal & Trophy – NZ International Wine Show.
8% alc. Screwcap. 375ml bottle. $29.99 special.

Yalumba Barossa Shiraz Viognier 2005
Deep in its dense ruby garnet hue, this Shiraz with 5% Viognier in the blend has a spicy vanillin oak aroma along with just a hint of mint, loads of berries, dried herbs and leather. Full-bodied flavours follow with concentrated fruit, a touch of liquorice and a rich peppery finish with a lifted brightness.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2006
Shiny black red in colour, the aromas are dark and brooding with a suggestion of spiced plum. A massive wine to the taste with noticeable tannins, spice, pepper and rich fruit; vanillin oak melts the tannins and adds a lovely smoothness and oak sweetness to the finish, which has a hint of liquorice and a deft minty flourish. Matured in new French and American oak, this is a meal in itself.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $N/A.

Morambro Creek Padthaway Shiraz 2005
The deep garnet red colour hints of a little age and the smooth, mellow flavour and silky texture confirms this perception. With dried herbs and smoky French oak on the nose and savoury flavours with a brooding sweet berry fruit backbone, beautifully integrated oak, a hint of mint and a peppery finish, this is drinking beautifully right now. Not in your face but hard to ignore. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Hentley Farm Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep purple black in colour this offers appealing aromas of chocolate with just a hint of tar while creamy chocolate fills the palate. Quite young and still a little brooding with firm velvety tannins, integrated oak, fruit cake spices, hints of liquorice and a warm spicy finish, it's beautifully balanced and long with a brightness to the smooth, lasting finish.
15% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Willows Barossa Shiraz 2004
Shiny purple black, this is vibrantly minty on the nose with a hint of tobacco and vanillin oak. Smooth and creamy in the palate with a svelte tannin structure, a lovely array of peppery spices, red and black fruits, liquorice, mocha, creamy oak and more, it leaves behind a lovely lifted brightness in the mouth with a grainy texture and delicious Shiraz flavours that last and last.
14.5% alc. Cork. $32.99.

St Hallet Blackwell Shiraz 2005
A deep dense black red; the opulent aromas of smoke, spice and concentrated fruit heading towards the mulberry spectrum pave the way for the Shiraz fruit sweetness in the palate. A big, bold wine yet with a remarkably fine tannin structure, it has a layer of caramel chocolate, lovely spices and a vanillin oak finish that becomes quite savoury as the flavours linger. A beautiful, rich, concentrated Barossa Shiraz.
14.5% alc. Cork. $36.99.

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.

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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