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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2009 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

August 2009
[ 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 Aug 2009
Cuisine Under $25 Tasting and Others
Wines were tasted blind.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 7 Berry Block Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - Marlborough
For a one-year-old wine, this tasty Sauvignon Blanc has a surprisingly light impression with a pungency that grows and grows and fresh flavours that last for ages. It takes you to a place where there are summer fields, meadow flowers, micro salad greens, herbs and a zing of lime - I can just imagine accompanying this with pan-fried snapper, fresh truss tomatoes, Thai basil and salad greens. No 1 Sauvignon Blanc Cuisine . Excellent value at the special price.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

TW Gisborne Viognier 2008
Nutty on the nose, creamy in the palate with hints of apples and pears and savoury oak adding a Chardonnay-like signature to the finish, it's smooth and creamy and nice to drink but perhaps not as varietally distinctive as the apricotty 2007.
13% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Farnese Don Camillo Sangiovese 2008 - Italy
Purple red - shiny and dense. On the nose this smell tight, dry and concentrated and it is savoury to the taste with quite dry tannins, wood smoke, purple berries, hints of mocha, tar and leather. The concentrated fruit becomes quite juicy and the finish is bright, fresh, creamy and long. It was the 2007 that was in the Cuisine tasting but this new vintage is pretty amazing too.
13.5% alc. Cork. $25.99.

Torea Oystercatcher Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008
A lighter wine in every respect from its translucent red garnet hue and shy perfume with hints of strawberry and rose petal. Young and fresh with a little bit of spritz in the palate with strawberry and raspberry fruit, fine tannins and a gentle finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2007 - Italy
Dense, shiny purple black colour. Savoury and tarry with a rose hip infusion to the scent and sweet oak flavours over a tarry backbone with moderate tannins, plums, peppery spice and a creaminess to the long, supple finish. 2nd equal in Cuisine – a terrific everyday wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Three Paddles Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
A light ruby garnet coloured hue, perfumed savoury spicy aromas and a bright spicy flavour with harmony to the texture. Nicely integrated oak that hints of vanilla with juicy fruit in the bittersweet red spectrum - at first it seems a lighter style but is persistent and long, filling out with savoury pinot flavours of earth, mushrooms and game. No. 5 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Burnt Spur "Russian Jack " Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
A deep ruby garnet. Savoury and just a little smoky on the nose with a fruit of the forest infusion, this is a richer and seemingly 'sweeter' wine with abundant red and black cherry fruit and fruit cake spices. Lots of flavour and a texture that just flows. 7th equal in Cuisine – brilliant value.
13.7% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Cat Amongst The Pigeons "Alley Cat " Barossa Shiraz Grenache 2007 - South Australia
Deep purple red. A rush of mint/eucalypt and cassis on the nose whisks you immediately to Australia and a place where there is sun-baked earth. Incredibly juicy strawberry and red berry fruit float on a backbone of soft smooth tannins with vanillin oak, hints of chocolate and pepper making a flamboyant appearance on the bright fresh finish. No. 1 in Cuisine Top 10 – Delicious.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special

Chanarmuyo Estate La Rioja Malbec 2006 - Argentina
A big black wine in the class, it smells different to the others - deep and rich, hinting of age with a floral nuance and hints of vanilla bean. A full-bodied wine and heading towards sumptuous, it tastes quite porty with liquorice, raisins, oak spice and concentrated red berries with ultra-smooth tannins that make it pretty easy to drink.
14.2% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Arrogant Frog Ribet Red Syrah 2007 - Languedoc, France
A moderate deep black red. Not incredibly fruity just savoury and smoky with creamy oak, meaty tannins, dried herbs, leather and some underlying acidity with a sprinkle of pepper on the bright juicy finish. Cool climate style. Gold Medal NZIWS. 4 stars in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Cat Amongst The Pigeons "Nine Lives " Barossa Shiraz 2007 - South Australia
Black red. Smoky vanillin oak aromas and ripe rich flavours over a meaty backbone with firm tannins. Full of spice with cherries and blackberry fruit and perhaps a hint of mint adding to the brightness of the finish. Juicy and succulent with plenty of oak flavours too. No. 4 in Cuisine.
15% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007 - South Australia
Deep red black Appealing creamy oak, floral, spice and red fruit aromas and smooth, medium to full bodied flavours of bright berry fruits supported by creamy oak, pepper and liquorice spices. A very juicy succulent style. 2nd equal in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19 Aug 2009
Anything from Everywhere
Wines were tasted blind.

Lochiel Estate Mangawhai Chardonnay 2008
Light gold colour, peaches and creamy aroma and delicious ripe stonefruit flavours of peach, yellow plum and nectarine with lots of spicy oak to complete the package. A big rich creamy wine with well-balanced underlying acidity. Nice.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Light yellow gold. A more of a nutty savoury smoky style but still with hints of peaches and cream to the scent that carries through to the complex and interesting palate. It's quite dry and has a touch of a salty tang. Hints of citrus and pineapple join the toasty oak with nougat-like complexities to the delicious stonefruit finish. When we tasted this 17 months ago it really needed more time; now it has evolved beautifully but will withstand more cellaring.
14% alc. Diam. $31.99 special.

Fairmont Estate Block One Wairarapa Chardonnay 2007
Creamy yellow gold. Peach, pineapple and nougat on the nose and immediately fat, broad and toasty in the smooth, creamy palate that's flushed with sweet smoky vanillin oak, citrus, stonefruit and grilled pineapple and a lasting succulent finish. A big wine, a 'Kingsley style' and ready to enjoy right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special or $16.99 p.b. by the case.

Forrest The Doctors' Marlborough Arneis 2009
Very pale straw in colour. Perfumed, floral on the nose and a little pinot gris-like in the palate with spiced apple and pear, but perhaps more body and richness and just a touch of sweetness with well-balanced underlying acidity and a bright orange juice / orange zest zing. Light and fresh but with power to the finish. Some anise-y like herbs coming through too. Quite intriguing.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2006
Light gold coloured. Not offering too much on the nose but in the palate a little sweet, musky and spicy with a very fine silky texture that is so reminiscent of the best from Alsace. Fleshes out beautifully and coats the mouth with its texture and vinosity with lots of ginger and exotic spice to add life to the increasingly rich finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Primo Sangiovese Merlot 2008 - Daunia IGT, Italy
A youthful dense crimson-edged black-red. Aromas are savoury and fruity at the same time and ripe juicy flavours are of plums, strawberry, florals and even a hint of chocolate with a kick of peppery spice. From the soft entry the tannins become quite firm on the finish. Offering excellent drinking and something different at a very good price.
13% alc. Cork. $15.99.

Harvest Man Waiheke Island Syrah 2007
A dense coloured black cored garnet red. A hint of mint comes through on the savoury nose with smoke in the distance. Mint, cherries and florals in the palate with sweet vanillin oak and cake spices and just a touch of pepper. Medium-bodied, mouthfilling and juicy with some grip to the finish and though lighter than many NZ Syrahs, it has very good mouthfeel and presence. Gold Medal London IWC 2009. Made by Hay Paddock.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Geoff Merrill Bush Vine McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2005
Showing some development to the dense red-black colour, there's creamy oak, pepper and spice with hints of strawberry and chocolate on the nose and in the palate there's coconut-like American oak, a touch of mint and lots of pepper. Juicy and mellow with a ripe fruit undercurrent and chocolate emerging on the finish, it is a well-structured wine showing excellent balance and harmony right now. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Chateau La Grand Clotte - Lussac St Emilion 2005
Deep red with some black. A little reductive on the nose when first poured characterised by 'struck match' and a little hard going after a succulent juicy Australian, but you soon get into the groove of this Bordeaux red. A dry wine with powerful tannins, it has a characteristic leafiness, earth and dried herb but becomes more and more rounded as you sip it with brambles and liquorice emerging on the finish. A blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, buy as an affordable cellaring proposition or decant for best drinking now and accompany with food that will cut through the tannins.
14% alc. Cork. $NA.

Mad Fish Gold Turtle Margaret River Shiraz 2005
Moderately shiny black red, Juicy berry and chocolatey oak on the nose and big rich juicy flavours full of pepper and spice with plum, blackberry and even a hint of strawberry. There are underlying dried herbs - perhaps a hint of mint, an earthy undercurrent that introduces savouriness and chocolate again on the finish. A fine textured, medium to full-bodied wine with supple tannins, no doubt from the splash of Viognier in the blend.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fox Creek Red Baron McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007
Dark red. Chocolate, berries and peppery spice abound on the nose of this rich, full-bodied red with ripe red and black fruit, liquorice, chocolate biscuits, a whiff of rubber band and plenty of oak. A big wine with a long savoury finish and ready to drink now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special

Hewitson Mad Hatter McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
Deep purple black. Quite oaky on the nose but in the palate this beautiful wine has an incredibly fine texture - you know you have stepped up in quality with its harmonious flow. Ripe, juicy black fruit complements the smoky oak with liquorice, anise, violets, dried herbs, pepper and dark chocolate coming into play. Rich, full-bodied and creamy - a very smart wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $56.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12 Aug 2009
Church Road with Phil Bothwell
Wines were tasted blind.

Deutz Marlborough Cuvée
Very pale gold with a tiny bead of bubbles. Like freshly baked lemon bread on the nose, this is a rich toasty style of bottle fermented bubbles. It's quite bready with a steely backbone, a citrussy brightness and plenty of bubbly zest to the finish. Now predominantly Chardonnay with Pinot Noir, the correct pronunciation is 'dirtz'.
12% alc. Cork. $26.99 special.

Church Road Cuve Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Rich yellow gold. Lovely toasty nutty oak aromas and mellow savoury oak flavours with a lemon polish finesse. Now moderately developed, it has a tropical fruit and stonefruit richness and a nuance of browned butter on the long, full finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold. Nutty, mealy, barrel-ferment influenced aromas and deep, savoury flavours with a seamless, harmonious texture. This is one of those malt and nougat styles packed with nuts, figs and dried fruits and abundant spiced oak that is integrating nicely. Rich, creamy, opulent and long. Drink now or cellar.
14% Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
There's just a touch more yellow to the light gold hue. Bright on the nose with salted cashews, butter, spice and creamy oak, this is simply packed with ripe, plump, fleshy stonefruit, citrus, butterscotch and caramel cream. A creamy, mealy, malty style - silky in texture, smooth in attack, plenty of sweet oak and a bright toasty finish. Champion Wine of Show, Easter 2009.
14.5% Screwcap. $31.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Viognier 2007
A straw gold colour. Initially quite savoury with the nuttiness from the yeast lees quite dominant together with a subtle smoky nuance that draws back like a curtain at the start of a performance to let a chorus of orange blossom and the star of Viognier - apricot - come through. A full-bodied dry wine - rich, opulent and heady with an creamy/ oily texture, vinous sweetness to the finish and a tangy, almost salty character that makes it all so interesting. 14.5% Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Noble Semillon 2004
There's a lustrous brightness to the deep gold hue. On the nose there's honey, apricot, smoky oak and orange cake with typical VA (volatile acidity) that is part and parcel of these wines and the nectar-like texture is viscous, creating long silky legs that, after swirling, run slowly down the glass. The wine is decadently sweet with flavours of apricot, dried mango, orange honey and lime marmalade balanced by savouriness from barrel ferment and oak aging while cleansing acidity refreshes the finish. The outstanding food matches, we are told, are Roquefort cheese (now available in NZ) and Foie Gras.
13% alc. Cork. $32.99 special.

Church Road Cuve Series Limited Release Hawkes Bay Marzemino 2007
A dense, shiny blackberry red. Quite leathery and savoury on the nose with a juicy berry sweetness and a pepperiness reminiscent of Syrah. But nothing like Syrah in the palate - it's big, rich, full-bodied and meaty - a monster of wine with huge but very supple tannins, juicy blackberry fruit, creamy oak, earth and hints of leather. If you like savoury with succulence, this is it. Phil says the Italian's answer to Malbec. Ready to enjoy now.
13.5% Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Church Road Cuve Series Hawkes Bay Merlot 2007 Another dense, deep coloured red. Typical Merlot aroma - earth, leather, plums and cigar. Fruit is ripe and juicy with spicy oak adding opulence to the leathery backbone with a touch of anise and floral notes supporting the plum and blackberry fruit. A big wine for Merlot with firm but supple tannins and well-balanced savouriness.
14% Screwcap. $27.99.

Church Road Cuve Series Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Shiny black red - dense like the others. Fragrant cassis and creamy oak aromas with spicy oak foremost in the palate together with the typical leafy character that is Cab Sauv. A deep, rich wine with a firm tannin structure, quite dry yet creamy with concentrated richness and Bordeaux character. Juicy blackberry comes out when tasted with bread and colby cheese.
14% Screwcap. $27.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2007
Deep dark dense black red. Fragrant on the nose, perfumed with violets, plums and cassis that carry through to the full-bodied palate where ripe red berry fruit is to the fore together with creamy oak and chocolate on a bed of smooth, well structured tannins. A step up from the previous two wines, both very good in their own right, but this is an superb example of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot together. A stunning wine and many people said this was their favourite red of the night.
14.5% alc. Cork. $32.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007
Deep shiny purple black. Chocolate and mocha on the nose - it smells complex and deep, opulent and rich, but not really peppery as expected. In the mouth this is so smooth and creamy with ripe purple fruit and an earthy savoury depth. You can taste the peppery spice with chocolate, violets and underlying acidity adding brightness to the finish. It has evolved beautifully since last tasted at First Glass five months ago. Trophy & Champion Wine - Air NZ Show2008.
13.5% alc. Cork. $33.99 special.

TOM Merlot Cabernet 2002 - Hawkes Bay
Showing some bricking to the dark red hue and a delicacy to the aroma that has a subtle smoky, savoury, leafy, dried herb complexity and carries through to the palate where the fruit profile is no longer identifiable. But it is the fine, silky, seamlesss texture that is the most incredible feature and the underlying power of the wine that grows and grows. Then you detect the youthful acidity and the tannins exert dominance and you realise the wine has years and years to go. Church Road's flagship red - a blend of 47% Merlot, 44% Cabernet and 9% Malbec.
14% alc. Cork. $155.90.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 Aug 2009
Te Mata with Peter Cowley and other delicious wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Woollaston Nelson Pinot Gris 2008
Shy on the nose but full of flavour in the warm rounded palate with a toasty richness from the subtle use of oak together with tropical fruit, hints of orange zest, baked apple, a touch of pineapple sage and a stonefruit sweetness to the persistent finish. Just ever so slightly sweet, it got the thumbs up from the First Glass tasters with at least 3/4 people in the room raising their hands to indicate they liked it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – Hawkes Bay
Pale straw coloured with a powerful perfumed youthful herbaceous savyy aromas and full on, fresh zingy flavours - primarily spiced apple then becoming quite tropical with passionfruit, mango, a tangy citrussy backbone and lots of tarragon, chervil and other delicious anise-like herbs. Fresh, bright, dry and juicy - sunshine in a glass.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – Hawkes Bay
Straw lemon gold with a smoky, creamy, vanilla bread and tropical fruit aroma enhanced by an intriguing scent from the wild yeasts. The taste is deep and fruity with passionfruit, tropical guava, mangosteen, lime and vanilla bean with spicy oak nuances and textural complexity from the 100% barrel ferment. Inspired by white Bordeaux, this is a rich dry white wine up to 15% Semillon and 2-3% of Sauvignon Gris in the blend.
13% alc. Diam. $24.99 special.

Te Mata Elston Chardonnay 2008 – Hawkes Bay
Light yellow gold. On the nose it's quite tightly bound at this stage of life - delicately smoky with nut bread and hints of peach. Quite nutty in the palate too, nutty and savoury with orange peel, hints of tropical fruit, nectarine and a creamy, yeast lees influence with spicy French oak flavours that comes in waves. Texture is fine and everything seems beautifully in harmony although it will become bigger and richer over the next 3-4 years.
13.5% alc. Diam. $33.99 special.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Gamay Noir 2009 – Hawkes Bay
Like the colour of bottled cherry juices with a bright purple crimson edge. Aromas are fresh and fruity and the taste is spicy with a hint of sweetness. The fruit is ripe and juicy, raspberries and strawberries in particular with a creaminess to the lingering finish with a hint of leather, a touch of spice and just a little bit of grip. Te Mata's answer to Beaujolais, it can be well chilled especially in the summer.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2007 – Hawkes Bay
Dense purple black in colour. Perfumed on the nose, like iced chocolate zucchini cake, and smooth and creamy in the palate, more so than many at this price point - it could be the 5% Viognier that makes the tannins seem so supple - or simply the excellent 2007 vintage. With Black Doris plum and purple berry fruit, red peppercorns, smoky vanillin oak and hints of chocolate, anise, and violets, this is succulent and very, very, drinkable.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Te Mata Awatea Cabernets Merlot 2007 – Hawkes Bay
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, this is deep dark red with a youthful brightness and crimson tinged edges. Concentrated on the nose - there's currants and a Bordeaux character to the cedary, smoky, slightly leathery scent. The smokiness carries through to the full-bodied palate with ripe cassis-like fruit, plum and purple fruit undertones, mocha, chocolate, spice, currants, a firm backbone of rich dry tannins and sweet oak on the succulent finish. A wine that is one of the best made under this label, and can be safely put away for several years in the cellar.
14% alc. Cork. $33.99 special.

Te Mata Coleraine 2006 – Hawkes Bay
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc - the purple has gone from the deep red colour of this wine. The aroma is sensationally fragrant, concentrated and deep. Oak is in the background and fruit is like cassis. In the palate it is texturally sublime with fine silky tannins and lovely fruit ripeness, spicy oak, chocolate, a persistent finish and an earthy depth. A harmonious wine that has improved magnificently in the bottle over the past year - you can drink it now or cellar 10-15 years. 13.5% alc. Cork. $68.99 special.

Shot in the Dark Shiraz Petit Sirah 2008 - Australia
Deep, inky, purple black. Dense and concentrated aroma of liquorice, violets, chocolate and cameo cream biscuits and big, rich, succulent flavours of juicy black fruits, chocolate and cream with a smoky oak backbone, peppery spice and velvety textured tannins. From Quarisa Wines, the makers of Johnny Q.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Chapelle Lenclos Madiran 2002 - France
Deep black red. A wine that smells like the oak and fruit is fully integrated; a wine that obviously has some age. A powerful wine to the taste with tannins the dominant feature and in tune to the toasty oak, plum and blackberry fruit, liquorice and peppery spice. It seems a little porty, yet is dry, not sweet. Made from 100% Tannat, it is a massive wine of power and structure. Madiran wines are promoted as healthy wines and this one has a 5-heart "healthy heart rating".
14% alc. Cork. $39.99.

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 – South Australia
Deep black red in colour, we often think of this juicy red as quite big, but the Madiran wine is about as big as they get - this is only moderate in comparison. So Australian with its creamy vanillin oak, Shiraz spice and black cherry scent and smooth, soft flavours of strawberry, cherries, chocolate, vanilla, peppery spice, leather and tar. The signature McLaren Vale chocolate becomes richer and richer on the long juicy finish. It's soft, succulent and delicious.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 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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