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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

March 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 - 26 Mar 2008
Sale Night and Penfolds Bin Wines
Wines were not tasted blind. Wines without prices sold out on the night.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Chardonnay 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Deep yellow gold and opulently scented with toasty oak, peachy fruit and a rich, toasty, spicy Chardonnay flavour. A totally full-on wine crammed with stone fruit and tropical fruit with a creamy richness and a butter-laden savoury finish. A must for fans of the 'big' style. 14.5% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Dog Point Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Light yellow gold. Smoky and savoury on the nose with a nutty complexity and hints of fig, this is such a contrast to the flamboyant Morton Estate. It’s full of wheat and oatmeal, nuts and mealy yeast lees with baked peach flavours, smoky oak, a beautifully fine-grained texture and an exciting lemon/lime citrus infusion to the long warm creamy finish. All class and finesse, a wine to impress. 14% alc. $N/A.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2003 - Loire, France
Yellow gold with a gem-like lustre. A contrast of green and yellow apple scents together with florals, it’s quite high-toned with a suggestion of quince. Seemingly quite dry at first to the taste, the spiced apple and winey grapey flavours expand on the palate with a touch of toastiness and hints of lanolin, flint and gunsmoke. Texturally smooth with a honeyed sweetness filling the mouth, it’s rich, powerful and heady with layers of creamed honey and a long, smoky, savoury finish. 13% alc. $35.99.

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese 2005 - Saar, Germany
The colour of honeyed nectar - wow - the concentrated, honey, botrytis, apricot and green tea scents smell like a beerenauslese rather than a spatlese and the flavours even more so. There’s a lovely touch of spritz to the honeycomb backbone and simply luscious flavours of tangelo, spice, apricot and honey. Mouth coating and deliciously fruity with enough acidity to keep it pure, it can only be described as spectacular! 8% alc. $36.

Sandalford Margaret River Shiraz 2003 - Western Australia
Deep black boysenberry-red with a purple-tinted edge, the tantalising scents are smoky and rich with spicy oak and a hint of blackberry jam. A big wine, a huge wine, full of liquorice and mint and juicy plum and raisin flavours with big biscuity oak, peppery spice and a rounded, luscious finish with loads of savouriness to balance the sweetness. In Kingsley-speak, it's "almost irresistible". 15% alc. $16 special. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 138 2006 - South Australia
Inky purple-edged red-black. Savoury and floral on the nose and vibrantly spicy to the taste with pepper, purple berries, tobacco, leather, liquorice and anise. It has loads of complexity and flavour for a medium bodied style and despite a slightly lollyish red fruit overtone, it is definitely Rhonish in character. Made from a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre and aged in older oak, it's all Barossa Valley fruit. 14.5% alc. $21.99 special. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Youthful deep dark red in colour, this 100% Coonawarra wine emits creamy oak, smoke and fresh cracked pepper on the nose and the perfumed, lifted, bright fruit flavours have underlying acidity. It’s a dry, high-toned, peppery, spicy style of cool climate Shiraz with a touch of liquorice adding complexity to the earthy finish and hints of chocolate on the juicy lingering aftertaste. 14% alc. $21.99 special. Cork.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Deep purple red in colour, this upfront generous wine has plush creamy oak, cherry and blackberry fruit, pepper and spice and all things nice, ie sweet oak, big juicy fruit, succulent tannins and some liquorice and chocolate. Quite distinctly South Australian in style, though with all older oak now the norm for Bin 28, it's not as flamboyant as followers of this label may remember. A multi-regional blend McLaren Vale, Barossa and Langhorne Creek. 14.5% alc. $21.99 special. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - South Australia
Deep purple-red, almost black, it's big, rich, ripe and voluptuous and such a different style for 407, perhaps because it's predominantly McLaren Vale fruit supported by Padthaway with no Coonawarra component this year. There's a touch of mint to the cassis-infused cedary aroma and a savoury backbone to the ripe-fruited, thick-textured chocolatey palate with tobacco, dried herbs and a savoury cedariness keeping the wine true to varietal. 14.5% alc. $N/A. Screwcap.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
This inky purple-black wine is a perfect example of how Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blended together can bring out the best of both. Mesmerisingly aromatic with an ever-evolving array of winey scents, the flavours are spicy and succulent and full of mocha, chocolate, pepper, liquorice and vanillin oak with a smooth, seamless silk-edged tannin structure. Let it open up in the class or confidently cellar for at least 10 years. This rates as one of the best. 14.5% alc. $N/A. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19 Mar 2008
Cuisine Magazine Aromatic Tasting
Also included recent Trophy winners and two European wines for comparison. Wines were tasted blind.

Terrace Heights Estate Marlborough Pinot Gris 2007
A bright straw gold wine scented with honeysuckle and lime blossom, it seems light and delicate to start but has focused lime and marmalade flavours with hints of peach and nuances of strudel spices. It's soft and rounded with a slightly oily texture and builds in palate weight to a warm finish with juicy citrus adding verve. Very, very good. Five stars and No. 3 – Cuisine Magazine. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Marlborough Pinot Gris 2007
Light yellow gold in colour with quite floral and delicately musky scents, this is an immediately richer and more obvious sweeter spicier style with lychee, pink smoker lolly, strawberry, orange peel and apple strudel-like spices. It has an oily warmth and because it's quite phenolic, there's also a hint of graininess and it gives an impression of finishing drier than it really is. Trophy for Champion Pinot Gris at Royal Easter Wine Show.
11.5 g/l residual sugar.13.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylor’s Pass Pinot Gris 2007
More like pinot gris as we know it as we know it with its intrinsic pear character, this straw gold wine is has perfumed pear drop aromas and rich, oily, almost creamy flavours full of stewed pear and apple, laced with strudel spices and an earthy savouriness. Warm, ripe and rounded throughout, there is mandarin/lime acidity cutting through the fruit sweetness for a dry nutty well-balanced finish with power and length. Very smart. Five Stars & No. 1 – Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Pinot Gris Medium 2007
The immediate impression of this more yellow gold coloured wine is class. A little Alsace-like in character and though medium in its sweetness classification, it is so well balanced and tastes just delicious. Phenolics and a dry, nutty backbone balance the smooth texture and the beautifully lush pear and peach fruit that's overlaid with a lemon herb-scented honey and a heady, orange water and musk-scented finish that just lasts and lasts. 5 Stars & No. 2 in Cuisine. Trophy for Champion Pinot Gris at NZIWS.
13% alc. $25.99. Diam.

Waipara Hills Waipara Riesling 2007
Very pale lemon-tinged gold with a hint of green, this light, juicy off dry Riesling has perfumed aromatics and apricot nuances to the juicy tropical fruit and lime flavours. Initially seems quite sweet but the citrus acidity cuts through the sugar for a drying sensation to the crisp, clean finish. 5 Stars & No. 1 in Cuisine Magazine. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards
11.7% alc. $16.99. Screwcap.

Gustave Lorentz Reserve Gewurztraminer 2005
A deeper gold colour, the scent of this delicately pungent, oily, floral wine whisks you to Europe. It smells like Gewurztraminer and it tastes like it too, though more restrained than most New Zealand styles . Quite dry, floral and spicy with a juicy sweetness and orange water and rose musk lingering on the full-bodied, lingering finish and though it gives an impression of dryness, it is actually quite sweet.
13% alc. $25.99. Cork.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2007
Pale gold coloured, initially quite restrained on the nose but delightfully fragrant with rose oil and Turkish Delight, it's rich and lusciously textured with moderate sweetness, exotic spices, a tickle of ginger, Asian fruits and orange marmalade. A heady wine that is mouthfilling, warm, rounded and succulent and with a dry impression to finish. 2 Gold Medals.
13.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2007
Very pale with aromas that are nutty and phenolic at first but open up with rose petal florals and lychee scents. A dry style with a zesty, citrussy undercurrent, a lightly oily texture and a rose-scented hand cream smoothness. It opens up quite well in the glass with a long persistent finish full of Gewurztraminer's pungency - but it just takes time. 5 Stars & No. 1 – Cuisine Magazine.
14.5% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Gewurztraminer 2007
Pale gold in colour, the mesmerising perfume is scented with violets, Turkish Delight, lemon meringue pie and exotic spice scents and the luscious, ripe, rounded soft flavours immediately fulfil the palate. It's full of baking pie spices, lemon honey, lemon verbena and aloe vera with a delicious creamy and lightly oily texture. Refined and long. 5 Stars & No. 2 – Cuisine Magazine, Gold Medal – Royal Easter Wine Show.
14% alc. $21.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2007
Light gold in colour, this stunning wine is delicate and poised with gorgeous aromatics that are subtle yet varietally spicy. The juicy, lychee-filled flavours have a touch of apricot and Turkish delight with exotic coriander and cardamon spices, hints of white pepper, orange blossom honey and a fine satin sheet texture. It's rich with beautifully balanced sweetness and there's just a hint of savouriness on the long lasting finish. 5 Stars & No. 3 – Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. $26.99. Diam.

Hauth-Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2005 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Pale gold in colour, this sweetish wine smells chalky and flinty with lime and a touch of match stick. A stunning example of sweetness / acid balance, it's more like a Spatlese than a Kabinett, but the vintage was very ripe. There's baked apple, lime, toffee, concentrated melon jam and dry earthy phenolics but the overall lusciousness coats the mouth and leaves a feeling of yum. Long, piercing and focussed. Fantastic cellaring potential too.
7.5% alc. $25.99. Cork.

The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2007
Pale straw with a glint of lime, the delicate citrus blossom scent is initially quite restrained. It’s very sweet, very linear, limey and honeyed with malic green apple and baked apples flavours taking over the finish. Vinfanticide to drink right now but all the indications are that it will be very long loved so it needs to be nurtured in the cellar right now. 5 Stars & No. 5 – Cuisine Magazine.
9.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12 Mar 2008
Te Mata Showacase with Nicholas Buck
Wines were not tasted blind.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Viognier 2005
With its fragrant, peachy, mealy, smoky, barrel fermented scents, this golden yellow wine smells a little like Chardonnay at first until more typically Viognier musk and floral scents come through too. It's full-bodied and toasty to the taste with a smooth slippery texture, a bright zesty undercurrent, a lemon bread richness and a spicy vibrancy with hallmark apricot on the lingering stonefruit finish and just a hint of fennel.
14% alc. $24.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Viognier 2007
Light yellow gold in colour, immediately upfront and fruity on the nose with a strong leesy lemony brioche scent and musk, orange blossom and honeysuckle, this juicy young Viognier is bright, fresh, zesty and spicy to the taste. It's slightly oily textured with a deep warmth and richness, pink bubblegum estery flavours, hints of butterscotch coating fresh stonefruit and candied fennel (aniseed) on the fruit-sweet lingering finish.
14% alc. $25.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Light yellow gold with a powerful mesmerising scent reminiscent of exotic fruits, yellow guava, stonefruit, pineapple, flower meadows, semi-dried hay and mealy yeasty funk, it's distinctly sauvignon to the taste with varietal pungency the driving force. A little grainy in texture, a touch grassy, some underlying herbaceousness, exotic tropical fruits and stonefruits with a rich, full-bodied aftertaste and barrel fermentation adding complexity, the blend is complemented by Semillon (13%) and Sauvignon Gris (2%), and 1/3 of the French oak is new.
13.5% alc. $26.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2006
Tropical fruit abounds on the nose with a nutty oak complexity to the scent of this bright lemon gold-colour wine. It’s a fat leesy style, quite mellow already with melon and tropical fruit flavours and honeyed oak emerging on the warm, rich finish while underlying citrus keeps the wine fresh. Nicely integrated and drinking well now.
13% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2007
The classiness of this bright, light gold-coloured wine shows from the outset with hints of butterscotch joining nectarine, peach and classy French oak on the nose, with a blossomy fragrance and lemon brioche. Heady and rich but youthful in the palate, this baby really needs more time before taking to a dinner party, but the class and finesse is so obvious already. It's full-bodied and warmly textured with citrus, stonefruit, apricot, sweet oak and mealy flavours, with toasty spice filling the ripe fruit finish where delicious stonefruit lingers deliciously. Decant for best drinking right now.
14% alc. $34.99 special. Diam.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2007
A gem-like ruby / purple garnet colour, translucent but deep. Fragrant, berryish aromas with fruitcake spice and liquorice staple lollies and amazing structure and depth to the taste for what one regards as a lightly oaked, lighter-styled red. It has lots of bright mouthfeel, fruitiness and savouriness with a touch of tar, woodsmoke and game. 12.5% alc. $19.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2006
Moderately deep blackberry red. Loads of white and black pepper on the nose with a delicate floral nuance and concentrated brambly fruit. Very dry to the taste, dry and savoury with a touch of chicory but a remarkably smooth and slippery texture that counteracts the initial dry grippiness . It evolves so beautifully in the glass with cherry, spiced plums, aniseed, fine-grained tannins and a lovely balance to the long lasting finish. Co-fermented with 5% Viognier .
13% alc. $22.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2006
Deep blackberry red. The nose entices with its complex scent that is reminiscent of freshly ground pepper, tar, creamy oak, rose spice, brambles, cherries and hints of dried herbs. Gorgeously creamy as it flows through the mouth with silky-smooth, velvet-edged tannins and flavours full of bright red and black fruits and exotic spices with chicory, tar and liquorice on the concentrated, smoky, slightly charry, peppery finish. Very dry, but with a lushness just waiting to be released, it just needs a little more time.
13.5% alc. $39.99 special. Cork.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Merlot Cabernet 2006
Blackberry red but lighter than the syrahs, this savoury scented, smoky, Bordeaux-character red has hints of leather, dried rosemary and cassis on the nose and becomes more aromatic with time in the glass. The savouriness and dried herb rosemary carry through to the medium to full-bodied palate with fruitcake cherry, cassis, spice and hints of lavender. Well-balanced, supple, soft and approachable, it's a wine that evolves beautifully. Top value at its price point.
13.5% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2006
The aroma on this deeply opaque, boysenberry red-coloured wine is simply amazing. It's fragrant and floral with violets, dried herbs, anise, smoke, and creamy oak and perfumed in the palate too. Smooth and creamy but with such depth and concentration, the savouriness balances the deep blackberry, blackcurrant and purple fruit sweetness with fine velvety tannins, a swathe of leather and smoky oak. An outstanding vintage of Awatea made from a blend of 38% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 11% Petit Verdot.
13.5% alc. $32.99 special. Cork.

Te Mata Coleraine 2006
A deep black-cored red with a purple tinge, this deep, intense, brooding wine has an initial smoky, cedary, savoury aroma that soon reveals violets, cassis and lush vanillin oak. Firmly structured, dry and savoury with anise-like spices, ripe red currant fruit and a long and intense finish with a hint of creamy chocolate. The plush cabernet tannins are tight yet the overall impression is one of mellowness. Best to decant for drinking right now, even better to cellar for a couple of years before broaching the super long natural cork. The 25th vintage and a blend of 49% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc.
13.5% alc. $68.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 Mar 2008
Gold Medal Winners from the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards
Wines were tasted blind.

O:TU Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007
A vivaciously fruity sauvignon blanc, straw gold coloured and full of gooseberry, grapefruit and pungent tropical fruit scents, perhaps even a touch of 'sweat'. Soft on entry to the palate, lightly oily and brightly flavoursome with a grassy, summer herb undercurrent to the gooseberry, melon and tropical fruit, a citrus zest finish and lots of tingly vibrancy. Gold Medal RESWA.
13.5% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2007
With a touch of butter caramel on the fragrantly scented blossomy nose and a spicy savouriness to the flavour, there's a Chardonnay-like nuance to this soft, smooth, deep, heady wine with a nutty undercurrent, malt, fig and a suggestion of honeyed toast. Apricot adds lushness to the smooth seamless finish and a hint of orange zest adds brightness. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. $23.99 special. Screwcap.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Viognier 2007
Light yellow gold. Initially a hint of reductiveness on the nose (rubber band) which quickly blows away, the aromas fill out with nutty oak, pear drop, lemon bread and yeast-derived complexities. High-toned compared to the Villa Maria, it has a soft lightly oily texture and spicy nutty, yeast lees flavours with ripe yellow stonefruits and a touch of anise. Apricot fills the mouth with abundance on the long, sweet-fruited aftertaste and the bright zesty finish has richness, length and power. Gold RESWA, NZIWS and HBWA. 14% alc. $21.99 special. Screwcap.

Kim Crawford SP Tietjen Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Bright yellow gold in colour, this young blockbuster has rich, powerful, fragrant vanillin oak and stonefruit scents that immediately whisk you to Chardonnay land. It's savoury and spicy and full of creamy vanillin oak with a nutty mealy deliciousness, juicy peach and tropical fruit and a long rich finish with hints of butterscotch. American oak adds to its approachability and best of all, it can take serious chilling. Gold Medal RESWA.
14.5% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Rose Tree Cottage Gisborne Chardonnay 2006
Light yellow gold in colour, a contrast to the deep gold colour of the 2005 vintage tasted last week. A hint of caramel overlays the toasty oak aroma then rich, powerful, creamy, caramel flavours fill the mouth with toasty French oak, luscious tropical fruit, a hint of citrus and a long savoury finish with spiced stonefruits adding to the allure of the lingering aftertaste. Gold Medal RESWA, ICC and Top 100.
14% alc. $19.99 special. Screwcap.

Kim Crawford SP Dolly Gisborne Chardonnay 2006
Creamy gold in colour with dry, citrussy, spicy oak and biscuity, bready aromas, this beautiful wines just flows across the palate. It's full of juicy tropical fruit, citrus, toasty oak and spicy lemony leesy flavours with full malolactic fermentation adding creaminess and a long, mouthfilling, savoury and spicy finish. Still quite tight, which shows its long term potential - if you can wait. Gold Medal RESWA.
13% alc. $29.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Riesling 2007
Very pale with a glint of green-gold, there's sherbet and fizzy fruit lolly aromas with subtle lime zest and hints of honeysuckle. Zesty, fragrant and full of crisp acidity with green apple flavours, a hint of anise and a lightly oily texture, it initially seems quite dry but it's actually a medium style. A very good Riesling but a little hard to appreciate straight after a big rich Chardonnay. Gold Medal RESWA.
11.5% alc. 10g/l residual sugar. $21.99 special. Screwcap.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
Deep purple-red. Smoky and savoury with black cherry and spiced-fill aromatics, this rich, soft, powerful juicy style is earthy and savoury from the outset with cracked red berries, chocolate, cherry, a hint of smoky bacon and just a touch of game. Medium to full-bodied, silky in texture and long in flavour, it has well balanced acidity, a long, smoky aftertaste and excellent length. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Villa Maria PB Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2006
Quite a deep red, with its earthy, leather, rosemary herb and cassis fruit aromas, there's a definite Bordeaux-character to this wine. It's quite dry with slightly grippy tannins, a minty underlay, cassis and boysenberry fruit, a hint of barnyard and a leathery finish with well-balanced acidity carrying the length and cherry chocolate lingering on the soft, fruity aftertaste. Gold Medal RESWA.
13.5% alc. $13.99 special. Screwcap.

Vidal Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006
Deep intense boysenberry red, opaque and bright, this is so cut-and-dried Syrah with its black pepper and black fruit scents with a hint of liquorice and a touch of funky leather. Full-bodied, succulent, classy and full of finesse with a hint of mint joining the chocolate, tar, boysenberry and plum, with a juicy and succulence that just makes it so appealing, it's hard to believe this is only the second tier wine in the Vidal range. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. $25.99 special. Screwcap.

Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006
Deep boysenberry/blackberry red, huge in colour and huge in aroma and flavour. There' a deep varnishy oak character and a hint of menthol to aroma and sweet ripe purple and red jubey-fruit flavours with a pronounced peppery undercurrent. It's juicy, succulent and generous with creamy oak, liquorice, tar, leather and a refined tannin structure and a mouthfilling but very dry finish. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. $63.99. Screwcap.

Shingleback Show Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
Purple black, shining and opaque, the lush, overt, spicy Shiraz aroma whisks you out of New Zealand to another place - and the fact it is a 'ring-in' is confirmed by the soft, juicy, succulent, sweet-fruited taste. Full of toasty vanillin oak, plummy fruit, chocolate biscuits, mocha, leather and spice with a firm tannin backbone and a vibrantly spicy finish, it is approachable already but built to last. Gold NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $22.99 special. Cork.

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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