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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

November 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 Nov 2008
Air New Zealand Trophies and Others
Wines were tasted blind.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2006
Light gold yellow, with legs running down the glass after the wine is swirled, this emits a nutty scent and an oily richness to the toasty flavour. The oak treatment makes it seem a little like Chardonnay at first with subtle fruit, vanilla and cream, then the hallmark signature of apricot comes forth as the main ingredient of the fruit salad-filled finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Pale straw lemon in colour, this is sweet and juicy smelling with enticing scents of lime, tangelo, pineapple and tarragon, this has loads of appeal with the juicy brightness to the fresh tangy flavours and the abundance of passionfruit on the mouth filling finish. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Goldwater Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Pale lemon lime in hue, this seems a little subdued on the nose tonight but there's nothing subdued about the rich, tangy, bold flavours. It's slightly oily textured with honey, herbs, passionfruit, lime and a touch of candied fennel adding a sweet spicy zing. Distinctly Marlborough with more classic regional traits, there's apple, gooseberry, passionfruit and lime on the lingering finish that lasts for quite a time. Multiple Gold Medals & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Vidal Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
This creamy yellow gold-coloured stunner tempts with butterscotch caramel and nougat on the nose and continues the seduction with its mouthfilling sweet creamy oak and ripe stone fruit flavours. A powerful wine with smoky, savoury mealy winemaking complexities, by the time the long rounded finish has faded, you have totally surrendered. Gold Medal & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Hunter’s Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Pale coloured with a hint of liquorice staple lollies in the floral perfume, there's a delicacy and light hand to this pretty, off dry to medium-styled wine. It has a fumé note like you get in musk lollies and a kind of spritzy lemonade-like backbone but all the while those soapy florals persist then a zesty orange-water infusion takes over the finish with an anise-like sweetness, which is, perhaps, a little short. Gold Medal & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Forrest The Doctors’ Marlborough Riesling 2008
Light straw gold. Juicy concentrated citrus on the nose with a touch of sugary sweetness and rich apple and lime flavours. Sweet and honeyish with a crisp acid backbone, tonight it has been served well chilled and makes it thirst quenching and refreshing with hints of yellow tropical fruit adding to its all-round allure. Gold Medal & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Forrest The Doctors’ Noble Chenin Blanc 2008
A deep golden colour, this has heady citrus and apple skin scents and decadently sweet flavours with a thick, viscous, honeyed, waxy texture. Full of toffee apple and orange peel with apricot and honeycomb flavours, the underlying piercing acidity moderates the luscious sweetness. It's such a powerful wine you only need to sip it. Gold Medal & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards
10% alc. Screwcap. $25.99. 375ml bottle.

Vidal Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
Deep garnet ruby with excellent colour extraction, this has a gorgeous heady aroma that is smoky, savoury and fruity and the same time and the taste delivers too. The smoky, spicy, savoury flavours support the juicy fruit reminiscent of black cherries and baked vine tomatoes. Following the trend of the vintage, it has excellent varietal expression and represents outstanding value. Silver Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby with flashes of black, this has a deep, brooding, savoury aroma with a fragrant wild herb overtone and sweet-fruited plum and cherry flavours tempered by an earthy depth. Finely textured with ripe supple tannins and a flourish of spice on the lasting finish, it's an enigmatic wine with lots of that indescribable pinot noir 'intrigue'. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep purple red, this has an appealing earthy savoury aroma with a hint of forest floor and a profound concentration to the juicy, savoury, spicy flavours with a nice earthy, smoky depth and a gamey infusion to the cherry and chocolate finish. A full-bodied approachable Pinot with a textural complexity that gives it the winning edge. Gold Medal & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Syrah 2006
Deep purple red, similar in colour to the previous wine (a Pinot!!!) with perfumed cedary aromatics and juicy flavours that are bright and peppery almost to the point of flamboyance but allayed by the wine's earthy, meaty depth. Together with its silky texture, black fruits, vanillin oak, hints of chocolate and succulent finish - it's drinking well now and incredibly easy to enjoy. Multiple Gold Medals. Trophy Hawkes Bay.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99 special.

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Shiraz 2004
Deep black red with no hint of its age, the winey perfume full of cassis, mint chocolate biscuits and eucalypt, emits so much succulence you can’t wait to taste it. Full-bodied, sweet and juicy, this deep rich wine has loads and loads of pepper over a smoky cedar backbone with ripe juicy black and red fruits, succulent tannins and a long, savoury, mouthfilling finish. Gold Medal & Trophy – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19 Nov 2008
Gold Medal Value
Wines were tasted blind.

Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Light straw gold coloured, brightly aromatic with distinctive Sauvignon Blanc fruit scents and hints of fennel and tarragon. Slightly oily textured and full of juicy fruit with an almost honeyed overlay to the pineapple, apple, passionfruit, herbs and gooseberry flavours, it is fresh and tasty with a bright refreshing citrussy finish. Gold & Trophy – International Wine & Spirit Competition.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Selaks Founders Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Yellow gold in colour, this is particularly chardonnay on the nose with toasty French oak and hints of smoke, and is full of flavours of toasty oak, apricot, tropical fruit and lime. It's still very tight and with all the citrussy flavours it seems atypical for Hawkes Bay, but if you like a big blockbuster style, this is it. It's a multi Gold Medal winner too.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Chardonnay 2006
A light golden yellow in colour, this is a peaches and cream Chardonnay that floats across the palate with its soft, sensual, butter caramel texture. It's like crème brulee with a citrus-infused butterscotch topping served alongside a platter of tropical fruit and all the while those smoky, savoury notes keeping the fruit sweetness in check. Drinking beautifully right now, this is a crowd pleaser and will go down a treat on Christmas Day. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Gris 2008
A light straw yellow, this has floral, honey, and mandarin-like citrussy scents and creaming soda notes in the slightly spritzy palate with classic pear flavours and while the texture becomes a little oily, there is that bright acidity that slightly emulates Riesling. Gold Medal – Liquorland Top 100.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Riverby Estate Sali’s Block Riesling 2008
Light straw in colour, this bright juicy yet delicate Riesling has a touch of honeysuckle on the nose and spritzy, zesty, fresh, off-dry flavours crammed with apple and citrus with a touch of pineapple on the lingering finish. Gold Medal- NZ International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Waipara Hills Waipara Riesling 2007
Pale lemon in colour with scents of honeysuckle and citrus, this juicy, year older Riesling has a little more richness and power. A drier style, or seemingly so when chilled, it is full of refreshing tropical fruit and citrus flavours with the off dry sweetness coming more into play on the lingering finish. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
11.7% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special or $15.99 p.b. on case buys plus a magnum.

Strugglers Flat Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006
A medium depth ruby garnet, showing a little development to the colour, this is an aromatic Pinot with smoke, herb, black cherry and a hint of strawberry adding to the alluring scent. Quite savoury, spicy and gamey with the red cherry fruit playing a secondary role and a hint of chocolate on the finish, it is drinking well now. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

McWilliams Hanwood Merlot 2007
Deep youthful red, black with crimson edges, this is immediately approachable with its Christmas cake aromas and juicy-fruited, savoury flavours. It's crammed with ripe cassis and plum fruit with a smattering of cake spices, an underpinning of leather and smoke and soft approachable tannins. Outstanding quality at the special price. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Quarisa Johnny Q. Shiraz 2006
Deep bright red black in colour, this has a very open aroma that hints of wild berries and offers a big juicy mouthful of red and black fruits with velvety tannins, hints of liquorice and tar and a peppery spicy flourish to the long, juicy finish. It's great for entertaining as it is not overly complex and thus easy to enjoy. Multiple Gold Medals.
14.5% alc. Cork. $14.99 special.

Penley Estate Phoenix Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Shiny purple black with fragrant cedar, cassis and mint-infused scents, it smells spicy and fruity with harmonious oak. Biscuity and juicy to the taste with a touch of mint, it's quite deep and complex with concentrated purple fruits and cedar, underlying leather and tar and plenty of spice. The rounded, full-bodied flavour builds up and stays there and the flavours last and last. It's a gold medal wine in every sense. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2005
Deep red black, still with some flashes of purple to the hue, this is full of creamy American oak and red fruit on the nose and has a vibrantly spicy palate with chocolate covered salted raisins, mint, vanilla and cedar. A big blockbuster style, it has a rich ripe tannin structure and a juicy disposition. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Shingleback D Block Reserve McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Dense purple black - very youthful in appearance for its three years of age, the gorgeous blackberry and spice aromas intimate a classy oak regime. Full of juicy purple and red fruits in the mouth with a hint of mint and underlying cedar that imparts a spicy creamy oak sweetness, this powerful wine that is very 'tight' in the context of the evening's tasting, however it has excellent cellaring potential. The winner of the Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner in 2006, Kingsley describes this as a monumental wine that will outlast most of us.
14.5% alc. Cork. $55.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12 Nov 2008
France versus Australasia
Wines were tasted blind.

Yarra Burn Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier 2004 - Australia
Straw gold coloured with a fine persistent bead. Fragrantly scented with delicate butterscotch aromas and lovely, rich yeasty flavours with a nutty sweetness and a toasty richness, lots of zesty zing and a crisp, dry finish.
13% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Bouvet Brut NV- Loire Valley, France
Bright light citrine with a foamy mousse when poured and foamy bubbles in the mouth, this has a toasty, fruit salad aroma and a mellow, dry, nutty flavour with a yeasty savoury undercurrent and a tangy finish. Possibly one of the best non-Champagne wines out of France.
12.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Domaine Leflaive Macon-Verze 2006 - Burgundy, France
Light lemon-gold with a brilliant lustre. A little reserved on the nose and quite linear and steely at first to the taste, there's a malolactic influence that adds a creamy complexity to the salted nut flavours and finish is delicately citrussy. It's a savoury rather than a fruity wine with a rather seductive, lightly viscous texture.
13% alc. Cork. $45.99.

Church Road Cuve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Full of toasty oak, tropical fruit and loads of nutty savouriness, this rich, buxom wine makes you think of beaches and sun. There's a hint of lime to the yellow gold hue; a touch of nougat in the hard-to-resist flavours and it's drinking beautifully when served lightly chilled. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Lemon yellow coloured with a distinctive rose petal, exotic spice and Turkish Delight perfume (everyone picked the grape variety) and a peppery, Asian spice character to the soft generous flavours. Off dry to medium in sweetness level with a hint of orange water adds to its appeal. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2006 - Alsace, France
Light golden yellow coloured, rich and powerfully scented and a concentrated, full-flavoured palate with botrytis adding to the richness and additional flavours of honey, orange water, lychee and Turkish Delight. A beautiful expression of the grape, it finishes dry with a lingering, spicy, mouth-pleasing tingle. Rated outstanding.
13% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Pierre Andre Savigny-Les-Beaune Clos des Guettottes 2005
A dark garnet red, deeply translucent, showing a little bricking. Smoky, savoury, earthy pinot scents with some bottle developed character and quite mellow to the taste with little fruit definition and tannins presenting quite hard at first before they melt away. Savoury with dried salty herbs, smoky bacon, stewed cherry and an earthy barnyard character, it is a subtle but distinctive expression of the great Burgundy grape and quite alluring in its own special way.
13% alc. Cork. $51.99.

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
A deep dense purple-red, like a Black Doris plum. Opulently scented with a distinctive spiciness that carries through to the concentrated, silk-edged velvety textured palate that is a delight of savouriness with plum and berry fruit and layers of cherry chocolate. Fruit forward and lush but there's a deep earthy brooding complexity that makes this sumptuous wine the complete package. From Dom Mondillo's own vineyard at Bendigo, the wine is made by Rudi Bauer. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99 special.

Domaine de Courteillac 2005 - Bordeaux, France
Dense black-red, shining. Quite a savoury aroma with smoke, cigar box, dried herbs, a hint of barnyard too and a sweet berry vinous allure, the savouriness carries through to the earthy palate which has plenty of underlying acidity, powerful tannins, tobacco and raspberry-dominant red and black berry fruit. A complex Bordeaux red with an impressive texture.
14% alc. Cork. $33.99.

Schild Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
A dense red black colour starting to brick on the edges. Chocolatey oak combines with cigar and dried herb scents and the full-bodied, ripe, sweet fruited juicy palate is full of plum and cassis with chocolate, spice and creamy oak, underlying tarry nuances and a spicy kick to the finish. A sumptuous style and the crowd favourite of the two on the night. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Guigal Cote du Rhone 2004 - Rhone Valley, France
A deep, translucent, fading garnet red introduces this subtle, dry, spicy expression of Syrah with its rounded silky tannin structure and savoury, earthy disposition with hints of barnyard and well-balanced, red plum fruit sweetness and a flourish of peppery spice on the long dry finish.
13% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Thorn Clarke Shotfire Barossa Shiraz 2006
Dense purple black - concentrated in appearance. Voluptuous creamy oak and spicy Shiraz scents with abundant juicy purple fruit layered with violet-like florals. A sophisticated classy Shiraz, quite dry and savoury with dried herbs, pepper, chicory, chocolate, tar, beautifully integrated oak and just enough fruit sweetness to add an x-factor succulence. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 Nov 2008
Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

Crossroads Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
A peaches and cream style of chardonnay with a topping of orange butterscotch sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and toasty oak adding a savoury layer. Despite the citrussy characters that come forth on the finish, this is a wine that can take plenty of chilling for summer drinking. 5 Stars Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

McWilliams Hanwood Chardonnay 2006
This juicy little Aussie quaffer has a bright yellow glow to the hue, smoky oak aromas and quite broad rounded oily textured flavours indicative of a warm climate origin. Brash and buxom with lime and lemon joined by vanilla, butterscotch and layers of buttery oak, this is an easy drinking carefree style at the price.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Lots of savoury spicy oak characters add to the appeal of this bold, fruity, toasty, mealy, full-bodied barrel fermented style with a grainy texture, layers of vanilla bean and underlying acidity. Youthful and tangy with cellaring potential, it is a step up in quality and a step up in price. Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

White Rock Wild Ferment Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Another mealy savoury style with toasty oak, nectarine, figs and nuts. Rich, powerful and creamy, this is a sophisticated wine at the at the price point with the wild ferment adding a momentary ‘Euro feel’ then the butterscotch and tropical fruit finish whisk you straight back to New Zealand.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Beach House Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Enticingly fragrant with grilled peach and nutty scents and a smooth, creamy, seamless palate filled with savoury, mealy flavours integrating into the toasty spicy oak and fleshy stonefruit with a warm finish and a flourish of tangy acidity. Simply delicious.
Gold NZIWS. 14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mondillo Central Otago Riesling 2007
Pale lemon coloured. Abundant citrus and apple scents and crisp dry racy flavours. The ripe lime and juicy apple flavours together with honeysuckle impart just enough sweetness to balance the fresh acidity. The grainy, ripply texture invokes the purity of a mountain stream tumbling over rocks while the fruit fleshes out to a more tropical spectrum on the much richer finish.
4g/l rs. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2008
Wow, there's a ton of flavour in this exciting, full-flavoured Riesling. It's filled with tropical fruit, honey, mandarin, orange and apricot and though it has a seemingly dry character, there is enough sweetness coming through to make the finish seem off dry. Beautifully balanced, fruity and easy to enjoy. Gold Medal NZIWS.
12% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Main Divide Waipara Riesling 2007
Very fragrant and citrussy on the nose with honeysuckle and old-fashioned sweet yellow grapefruit or new-fashioned pink grapefruit if you like. Full of juicy sweet fruit with tropical guava, feijoa, mandarin and apricot flavours perfectly balanced by mouthwatering citrussy acidity, making it medium in style.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Climbing Shiraz 2006 - NSW
Deep maroon red (like many Central Otago pinots in colour), this cool climate peppery style is a big wine with big tannins. It has a chocolate, berry and leather aroma and a savoury leathery undercurrent with bitter chocolate, mocha, chicory and a deep berry flavour to the long lasting finish. Four Golds. Two Trophies.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Hobeck Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep dense black red, youthful in appearance. Smoky oak and spicy Shiraz scents lead into a sweet, ripe, juicy generous palate with soft easy tannins, warm toasty oak, raspberry fruit, toffee filled chocolate and a savoury spicy, peppery finish. Priced to drink now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz 2006
Deep purple black. Fragrantly scented with bright fruit and biscuity spices and rich, well balanced, spicy, juicy flavours full of black cherry, blackberry and liquorice with a deep creamy, vanillin oak sweetness, firm ripe tannins, dark chocolate and leather. A rather more substantial style with a long lasting finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Kalleske Pirathon Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep red with just a hint of bricking to the edges. Appealing spicy Shiraz scents and rounded, juicy flavours full of chocolate, cherry, vanilla, spice, mocha, liquorice – everything. Big and bold with rich fruit, toasty oak, integrated tannins and a long mouthfilling spicy, savoury finish.
15% alc. Cork. $39.99.

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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