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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

December 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 - 16 Dec 2009
More wines for Christmas
Wines were tasted blind.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2008
Yellow gold. Intense citrus on the nose, particularly lime with a hint of talc and a suggestion of toastiness. Very dry, crisp, bracing and intense with lemon peel, lime zest and a hint of pineapple. Oily textured, powerful, full-bodied style with persistence of length. Clare & Eden Valley fruit. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
Pale lemon. Delicate floral scents of honeysuckle, rose petal and violets with musky Turkish Delight. Sweetish to the taste with flavours of "pink smoker lollies" and exhilarating spices reminiscent of coriander, cumin and ginger with a backing of honeycomb, an infusion of mandarin and violets on the finish. Smooth, silky, impressive. Gold & Trophy – Air NZ Wine Awards.
13% alc. Diam. $29.99 special.

Domain Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Gewurztraminer 2007 - Alsace, France
Rich gold with a glassy lustre. Perfumed like bath salts with a touch of honey, this smooth, oily textured wine is quite sweet to the taste, like butter toffee infused with spices and blended with the juice of blood orange, then lemon honey on the finish. It's fat, almost waxy, with warmth on the powerful finish that lasts and lasts and despite its power, it's gentle in attack.
14.9% alc. Cork. $40.99.

Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling 2007 - Waipara Valley
Deep lime-hued gold, gem-like. Quince jelly and apricot conserve on the nose with a hint of lemon honey, this yummy sweet wine is a bright zesty, honey-infused late harvest style with flavours reminiscent of macerated white raisins, mandarins and tangelos. Perfect balance of sweetness to acidity, almost perfect in every way.
10% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Brown Brothers Victoria Orange Muscat & Flora 2008
Yellow gold colour. Like Muscat on the nose with a botrytis character coming through, the muscatty flavours are sweet and grapey with an infusion of honey and crystallised ginger. A low alcohol style with a viscous texture and a sweet finish reminiscent of orange honey and lemon meringue.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 / 375ml bottle.

Pond Paddock Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
Distinctly pinot noir from the ruby/garnet hue and from the dried woody herb and cherryish aromas with hints of anise, this immediately attractive wine has juicy ripe red fruits, hints of cake spice, a toasty savoury undercurrent, earthy nuances and hints of game. Smooth and gentle in attack, long and persistent in flavour. Gold Medal – Air NZ Wine Awards.
13.7% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Martinborough Te Tera Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
Tasting the Pinots together you can sense immediately that this is a bigger, richer, more powerful rendition of the two Martinborough wines. It's a little more dense in its Burgundy red colour with smoky, savoury aromas infused with dried herbs and a full-bodied savoury flavours with some grip to the tannins, dark fruits and mulled wine spices underpinned by fresh acidity with some orange pomander adding brightness to the meaty finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Mills Reef Elspeth Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2007
Blackberry red. Aromas of earth, dried herb, smoky oak and hints of cassis with cassis and cherry fruit in the palate joined by savoury oak, a touch of chocolate and spice. Not as overtly peppery as many Kiwi Syrahs, but a stellar wine with a svelteness to the texture and depth to the flavours and fruit sweetness to the finish - it's from the great vintage and is immensely enjoyable already. Elite Gold Medal – Air NZ Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Deep dark red. Sweet aromatics gloss over mint and vanillin oak with profound flavours of blueberry, chocolate, peppery spices and earth. A full-bodied style of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon with a smooth impression on the palate - it has heaps of flavour and drinkability.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2007
Deep black red with a shiny appearance. Earthy, almost peppery aromas with vanillin oak pushing through. In the palate it’s deep, smoky and savoury with a dried herb profile to the plummy fruit and a hint of chocolate too. More savoury than fruity with some grip to the tannins and underlying acidity to give it longevity, this is a good cellaring proposition. Winestate Magazine Wine of the Year Finalist.
14.5% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Two Hands Angels Share McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Dense blackberry red. Chocolate aromas lead into a sweet-fruited palate with spice, chocolate, earth and raisins. A lush, juicy Shiraz with a lingering hot pepper finish.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Saltram No 1 Barossa Shiraz 2005
Black in colour, impenetrable to the eye with purple-red rims. This emanates class from the outset with refined, seductive Shiraz scents and a palate that's characterised by a fine tannin structure with blackberry and cherry fruit, chocolate, liquorice and spice. Well-balanced, harmonious and still so youthful after four years of age, this is a wine that will last for years and year. Outstanding.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $63.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 9 Dec 2009
Wine pairs for Christmas
Wines were tasted blind.

Nobilo Methode Traditionelle 2005
Lustrous light gold with a fine bead of bubbles, this is very Champagne-like with mouthfilling creamy mousse and a nutty depth to the bready flavours with just a hint of peach-like sweetness to the finish. This approachable bubbles, made from a blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Meunier, is even a little reminiscent of Champagne Lanvin.
12.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Taittinger Champagne NV Brut Reserve
This deep, savoury, yellow gold Champagne has lots of froth when poured and fine beads of excited tiny bubbles that race each other up, from the bottom of the glass. Savoury and nutty with dried fig and a malty overlay to the bready flavours, it's deep, rich and tasty and hints of marmalade too. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.
12% alc. Cork. $64.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Light yellow gold with distinctive aromas of aromas of sweet tropical fruit, lime and gooseberry joined by apple and an amalgam of flavours in the palate. Flat, fleshy, juicy with passionfruit, pineapple, lots of summer herbs and even a hint of sweat. The style of Sauv that makes you go 'Wow' if you've never had Sauv like this before. Gold medal and Champion Sauvignon Blanc at the NZ International Wine Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
There's a greenish hint to the light gold colour and while somewhat restrained for Sauv on the nose, it's full of juicy sweet fruit in the palate - tangelo, coriander, snow pea in particular with a deliciously long finish and a flinty undercurrent. Gold medal NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
A rich gold colour with toasty oak and butter caramel aromas, this smooth creamy wine has rich, brash, oaky flavours with a malty, mealy influence and fruit in the tropical fruit and stonefruit spectrum with a hint of grapefruit. There's an oily veneer to the finish and butter caramel and toasty oak flavours linger.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2008
Light yellow gold in colour, this beautiful wine entices from the outset with its scent of florals intertwined with nutty French oak and creamy yeast lees and flavours that show skilful winemaking while preserving the fruit. There's citrus and stonefruit with creme brulee and caramel - a barrique ferment chardonnay with power and length. Delicious.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

36 Bottles Central Otago Pinot Gris 2009
Pale straw gold. Heady aromatics of apricot, nut bread and spice but full of varietal pear flavours with a glycerolic texture and a nutty undercurrent. Seems warm from the alcohol and there's a hint of vanilla to the finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Spinyback Nelson Pinot Gris 2008
Rich gold, no doubt due to the botrytis that I sense on the nose and amongst the flavours that are ripe and juicy and full of lemon, spice, grapefruit and apricot. It's smooth and creamy with perhaps some botrytis influence that adds a delicious honeyed sweetness to the finish. A delicious, easy-to-drink and easy-to-like style.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Coto de Hayas 'Tinto' Garnacha Syrah 2008 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Lightish red in colour, this smooth textured wine hints of earth and leather on the nose and has a gentle attack in the palate. Spicy, not much oak (if any), lolly-like red fruits and a creamy finish. Easy going, summer drinking.
13.5% alc. Cork. $14.99.

Chateau Pesquie Terasses Grenache Syrah 2007 - Cotes du Ventoux
Blackberry red, with depth to the hue. It's reminiscent of cool climate Syrah on the nose with a hint of black pepper to the savoury scent. Ripe, juicy, blackberry and cherry fruit, savoury spicy oak, hints of pepper and smooth tannins that enhance the rich, rounded finish. A clean modern wine from the southern Rhône with a modern label to match. Very impressive in every respect.
14% alc. Cork. $25.99.

Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Reserve Shiraz 2007
Black, intense, some bricking to the rims. Deep intense, American & French oak aromas infused with Shiraz spices and full-on spicy flavours of boysenberries, mocha, earth, dark chocolate and mint, and while it initially seems quite sweet in the palate, the savouriness comes through to balance the fruit sweetness beautifully. Tannins are velvety textured and fine. Gold medal NZ International Wine Show.
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red Shiraz 2007
While showing some fading to the once dark red hue, this big-flavoured wine has a soft gentle touch with a smooth tannin caress in the mouth. it's quite savoury in aspect with smoke, spice, camphor and tobacco supporting the blue and black fruit. A blend of 65% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, it's drinking well now and an excellent buy.
15% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Climbing Shiraz 2007 - Orange, New South Wales.
Deep purple red in colour, dense and opaque. Chocolate aromas with a hint of earth, this peppery cool climate, savoury Shiraz is smooth in texture and deep in flavour with blackberry, cherry, spice, leather, chocolate and plums. At first you wonder where it could be from but the sweet vanillin American oak sends a signpost to Australia. No. 1 in Cuisine. A ring-in as the stand up options wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2 Dec 2009
Chardonnay, Chardonnay, Chardonnay
Wines were tasted blind.

Richmond Grove Padthaway Chardonnay 2005
Bright light gold with a greenish tinge. Smoky aromatics of sweet toasty oak and a hint of pineapple. Full-bodied, bright fruited, spicy oak flavours with melon and pineapple, a touch of caramel, a flinty undercurrent and a salty citrussy tang. Magnificent condition for a four year old wine. Beaut price too.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special or $11.99 per bottle on 6-packs.

West Brook Blue Ridge Chardonnay 2007
Moderate gold. Quite smoky with a tangy note to the savoury oak scent, that savoury theme carrying through to the palate where a touch of citrus joins nougat, nut and fig with a toasty finish and great persistence of ripe-fruited deliciousness. Gold medal NZIWS.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Hunters Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
This pale gold wine is a light fruity expression with a creamy texture, a nutty backbone from the aging on yeast lees and when chilled, oak seems to play a very minor role. The bright fresh fruity flavours are in the grapefruit, white peach and white melon spectrum and the oak pushes through add subtle toastiness to the finish. Gold medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Mission Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2008
Light yellow gold with aromas of caramel and spice that are a little subdued to start and flavours of grapefruit and stonefruit with a richness to the texture. A wine that doesn't overpower but makes its presence gently felt with a long finish with juicy fruit salad aftertaste. Fabulous buy. Gold Medal New World Wine Awards
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Odyssey Reserve Iliad Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
A golden yellow wine with a funky wild yeast scent with lactic lemony notes (wild barrel ferment). Initially Chablis-like to the taste - until the butter caramel kicks in and coats the luscious stonefruit with savoury spicy oak keeping everything in balance and a finish that just goes on and on. Seamless, integrated, textural.
13.5% alc. Diam. $25.99 special.

Coopers Creek Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Bright light gold in colour with a smoky, spicy, sweet caramel and peach aroma and lots of savoury, smoky flavours with grapefruit, stonefruit and tropical fruit in harmony and a nutty nougat character coming through. A big wine, creamy in texture with a malty richness. Gold NZIWS 2008.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Thornbury Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold. Smoky oak and hints of grapefruit on the nose and warm, rich, spicy flavours accentuated by the creamy oak with a mandarin zest brightness and a delicious smoky savoury undercurrent. Rounded and mouthfillingly with a caramel cream finish, and there are some fig, nougat and dried fruit characters too. Unbelievable quality for the price and simply stated, this gold medal winning wine is a brilliant buy.
14% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2008
There's a richness to the light yellow gold colour to this bright, fresh, juicy wine with tropical fruit scents and grilled peach, caramel and nutty oak flavours, a citrussy finish and smoky oak in the background. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Crossroads Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2008
This light, zesty style of Chardonnay is pale gold in colour with a nutty character to the scent and citrus, nectarine and delicate salted caramel flavours. It builds in richness in the palate and the finish is smooth. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine. Gold Medal Air NZ.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
This big, rich savoury wine is light gold in colour with smoky aromas and grilled peach and savoury oak flavours underpinned by a malty, mealy richness and beautifully balanced acidity while tropical fruit and stone fruit brim through the lasting aftertaste. Full-bodied, seamless, spicy and powerful - you could apply the iron fist in velvet glove analogy quite easily. A delicious wine with five gold medals and two trophies to its name.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Kim Crawford SP Gisborne Dolly Chardonnay 2006
Golden yellow with smoky, flinty aromatics, that flinty character carrying through to the palate where the oak initially seems quite restrained but builds in power to balance the pineapple, pear and toffee apple flavours with caramel and butterscotch lingering on the finish. Drinking beautifully now. Gold medal NZIWS 2007.
13% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Church Road Tom Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
The aromas of this golden coloured wine from the standard tasting glass are quite restrained, you need a big glass to inhale all the glorious scents that this wine can offer. But you can taste the powerful flavours that remind you of smoky barrels, sizzled butter, spice, flowers, stonefruits, fig, macadamia, hazelnuts and caramel. A powerful wine in every way with deep fruit, lots of savouriness and a gorgeous, mouthcoating, glycerolic texture - it just blows all the others away. Not tasted blind.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $69.99.

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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