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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

January 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 - 28 Jan 2009
'Sale Night'
Wines were tasted blind.

Saints Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Light gold with a fresh, nutty oak aroma, a theme that carries through to the palate with spicy oak to the fore. Rounded and rich with peach and melon and plenty of juicy drink now appeal, it is medium to full in style with plenty of flavour. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $9.99 special - sold out on the night.

Wild Rock Pania Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
A little more perfumed with creamed nut and nougat on the nose and more malo-driven and nutty in the palate. Quite lifted with noticeable alcohol warmth, citrus, white peach and savoury spicy oak kicking in on the tropical fruit finish, it seems quite restrained at first although the finish is full, long and lasting. Don't overchill.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Vintage Lane Chardonnay 2005 - Marlborough
Golden yellow with a lime tint to the hue, this is an oily, nutty and abundantly fruity wine with pineapple, peach and sultana to the fore. Showing its age with its mellow disposition, it is full and fat with soft acidity and integrated oak. I wonder if there was some bottle variation as I would say my sample had a slightly oxidised character as well.
14.5% alc. Diam. $11.99 special.

Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Light yellow gold in colour, the aroma is tempting with nut, vanilla, chamois and orange zest scents but the initial taste of this lightly fruity wine is nutty and tight. But wait, it opens up beautifully with spicy, salty, savoury oak integrating with citrus and stonefruit and a pleasingly dry finish with mouthfilling length. Totally more-ish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special (was cheaper on the night).

Selaks Founders Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Yellow gold with smoky French oak on the nose, this is focussed, linear, citrus driven and tangy in the palate a with a beautiful spicy oak regime. Polished and poised, but so, so tight, it needs a big glass to let it open up and reveal those wonderful mealy biscuit and stonefruit flavours. Do not overchill either. Double gold medal.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special (was cheaper on the night).

Icono Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - - La Font de la Figuera, Valencia, Spain.
Dense deep black-red. European, tutti-fruiti sweet berry nose and a fascinating palate that is earthy, floral and leathery with cooked berry fruit, peppery spice, a hint of liquorice, subtle smoky oak, juicy tannins and a plush and lush savoury finish. Not Cabernet as we know it, but do we care?
14.5% alc. Cork. $9.99 special.

Artero Crianza 2003 - La Mancha DDO (Denominacion di Origen)
This blend of Merlot and Tempranillo is deep blackish red, fading on the edges. Quite spicy, savoury, sweet cherry aromas - you can smell its European origin. Sweetish at first to the taste with a touch of smoky oak and dried herb. It's well integrated and soft, with macerated cake fruit and a warm creamy finish.
14.5% alc. Plastic cork. $12.99special.

Icono Syrah 2006 - La Font de la Figuera, Valencia, Spain.
Ruby coloured with a deep, dense appearance. Meaty aromas, perhaps a little metallic and steely, then a full on spicy attack in the palate with pepper, dried herbs and cracked berry fruit. Medium bodied in style with a full, rounded, creamy finish.
14% alc. Cork. $9.99 special.

Kirrihill Companions Shiraz Cabernet 2004 - Clare Valley
Bright black-red coloured, deep and dense, fabulous looking for its age. Flamboyant aromatics of cassis and chocolate with mint and vanillin-infused cedar. It smells and tastes like Cabernet Sauvignon then the spicy pepperiness of the Shiraz kicks in. Concentrated and luscious with succulent meaty tannins and a long full finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Brokenwood Cricket Patch 2003
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz from Padthaway, McLaren Vale and Beechworth is showing age in its fading orange garnet colour. The nose is a savoury, smoky, dusty and funky and the palate is silky and integrated with allspice and smoky oak and while the fruit has faded, there is lots of vinous complexity that adds to the mouthfeel of this smooth savoury wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Primo Estate IL Briccone Shiraz Sangiovese 2006 - South Australia
Dense black red. Sweet scented juicy aromas pricked with eucalypt, biscuity cedar, vanilla and cherry and a bright, spicy, tingling palate with concentrated red and black fruits, chocolate, cherry, liquorice and lots more. Sangiovese evidently introduces savoury cherries to the wine, there are some dried herbs too and a deliciously succulent finish with excellent length. 'Il Briccone' translates to 'The Rogue', inferring that this is a bit of a rogue of a blend.
14% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Kingston Estate Echelon Petit Verdot 2005 - South Australia
There's a fabulously enticing blackberry and violet scent to this massive, full-bodied, concentrated blockbuster, yet it is full of finesse with well-structured tannins. Add mint and creamy vanillin oak together with succulent berries, a floral rusticity, a hint of chocolate, dried herbs and a powerhouse finish - this a very good wine and a great single variety example of this usually blended Bordeaux grape.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special - sold out on the night.

Tapestry The Vincent Shiraz 2004 - McLaren Vale
Dense red black coloured and full of succulent red and black fruits, it is so Australian with American oak dominating the aromas and pulsating through the palate. Spicy and peppery with a touch of chocolate, it is lush and creamy with a lovely fine linearity cutting the plushness to make a sensual mouthfillling experience. The back label says there is French oak too. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special - sold out on the night.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 Jan 2009
Aromatics and South American and European Reds
Wines were tasted blind.

Shingle Peak Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2008
There’s an oily overlay to the nutty and delicately floral scent with the oiliness carrying through to the palate with flavours of flower musk, biscuit spices and abundant fruit salad of the pear and peaches kind. With its low to moderate acidity the attack is gentle while alcohol adds viscosity and warmth and the nutty character lingers on the lasting finish. Lots of flavour for the variety and a 'thumbs up' from the First Glass drinkers. Gold & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Geoffrey Grossett 'Springvale' Watervale Riesling 2007 - Clare Valley
You can smell the dry dusty Australian earth in this wine then when you taste it, the intense acidity of this searingly dry Riesling grasps you. Rich and powerful and full of intensely tart citrus with dried pineapple and mango fruit adding a perceived sweetness, the finish has a concentrated lime ginger marmalade tang and the most incredible length. If you like this style, this is a 'wow' experience already yet has the potential to last, almost, forever.
13% alc. Screwcap. $41.99.

Pegasus Bay Dry Riesling 2007 - Waipara Valley
Tantalising orange and lemon rind scents lead into concentrated full flavours that have a lovely touch of floral musk, a hint of apricot and the trademark Pegasus Bay grapefruit and spritzy zest. It says 'dry' on the label but there is about 7 grams of residual sugar balancing the powerful acidity and a touch of botrytis adds to the overall concentration and enhances the slightly luscious finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Sandalford Riesling 2003 - Western Australia
Talcy aroma with pollen laden florals and lovely earthy lime flavours almost tending towards creamy in texture. With almost six years of age it has developed the classic Riesling toastiness with the lightest scraping of butter and has a delicious juiciness to powdery, lime-rich finish. Age becomes this stylish dry wine - the acidity is integrated and beautifully in balance. Very smart buying at $9.99 a bottle.
12% alc. Screwcap. Sold out.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gewurztraminer 2007 - East Coast
Typically perfumed with rose petal and spice, it's oily textured with soft acidity and a hint of honeycomb. There's an interesting savoury intonation that balances the overall lusciousness with a spicy flourish to the floral finish and a warm aftertaste from the heady alcohol. Well balanced and not too overpowering. A blend of North Island and Marlborough fruit. Gold Medal – Royal Easter Show Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Albert Mann Pinot Gris 2006 - Alsace, France
This is just so, so different from the previous five wines - a hint of freshly peeled cultivated mushroom skin on the nose and a little steely in the palate on entry with almond and vanilla and floral notes joining spice pear and apricot fruit - perhaps a hint of botrytis. Steely, yet soft with a honeyed spiciness and a drier impression to the finish, this is medium bodied in style.
13% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Icono 'La Font de la Figuera' Monastrell 2006 - Valencia, Spain
There's a rustic character to this savoury wine both on the nose and in the palate. A deep red of medium depth with cherries and 'Throaties' lolly scents and sweet, strawberry-like fruit pushing through the creamy textured palate then raspberries and blackberries too. Tannins are soft and peppery spice adds liveliness to the finish. Earthy, savoury and easy going.
14% alc. Cork. $9.99 special.

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2007
Shiny, inky purple black - typical of this variety in its youth. Smoky and spicy with liquorice, red fruit and vanilla scents and a sweet-fruited, earthy, savoury flavour with a violet-like floral overlay. A robust wine with firm tannins, concentrated fruit and a juicy savoury finish - the full succulent flavours really deliver lots of bang.
13.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Icono Tempranillo 2006 - Valencia, Spain
Bright, black tinged red with a cherry glow, like the Monastrell this has a savoury aroma and a savoury flavour but it's not so 'rustic'. Seems quite simple and easy going at first but that's just momentary because there's lots going on and the finish is long. Chocolate, liquorice, mocha, cherry and cigar box add to the complexity, tannins are smooth and slippery and the characteristic herbal tobacco spicy trait of Tempranillo shows its presence too.
13.5% alc. Cork. $9.99 special.

Venta del Puerto No 12 Seleccion Especial - Valencia, Spain
This big, rich ripe creamy wine smells just gorgeous and tastes gorgeous too. A big wine with creamy vanillin oak, a beautifully proportioned savoury backbone and a fine tannin structure supporting the silky texture. There's something that reminds me a little of Shrewsbury biscuits with a violet character coming through and a herbal undercurrent that is in balance to the ripe fruit. A 'non vintage' blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo with 12 months in American oak and bottled in 2004.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina
Deep blackberry red, in colour with a strikingly intense Bordeaux-like aroma and a rich, creamy palate. Sweet oak provides the structural backbone with silky tannins while mocha and tar balance the concentrated plum and berry fruit. A deep dark wine with an exceptionally long finish that hints of chocolate. An excellent example of this country's splendiferous number one grape.
14% alc. Cork. $20.99.

Viu Manent Secreto Syrah 2006 - Colchagua, Chile
Saturated purple red - deep and intense. A touch of pepper on the nose, with a slightly 'sous bois' undercurrent that adds to the earthy, savoury disposition that balances the sweet oak and mouthfilling juicy red fruit. Creamy textured with soft tannins and long savoury finish where that spicy character really asserts itself as the wine lingers - a touch of chocolate too. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Cork. $23.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14 Jan 2009
South Australia and Hawkes Bay
Wines were tasted blind.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2007 - SA A little shy on the nose, this delicately floral scented wine tastes fairly dry and nutty with a touch of aromatic spice infusing the subtle apricot fruit flavours and a creamy oiliness that imparts a rich full-bodied rich mouthfeel. It's clean and long with soft acidity and a stonefruit juiciness to the lingering aftertaste. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Elderton Friends Eden Valley Riesling 2005 - SA Flamboyantly aromatic and easy to pick the variety with lime, a hint of kero, lemon oil and zesty spice on the nose. This is a full-flavoured dry Riesling with juicy lime and apple fruit, the slightest suggestion of grapefruit peel, a touch of honey and a refreshing salty tang. Fabulous for an aperitif, this drinks well straight out of the fridge and is fabulous buying at the price.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2005 - SA Smoky French oak, grilled nuts, a hint of butterscotch and acacia on the nose while fine citrus acidity underpins the delicately spicy oak and ripe toasty stonefruit flavours with a nutty, vanilla, floral lift to the lingering finish. Dry, sophisticated and stylish with very good length, this Adelaide Hills wine is a South Australian benchmark.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $36.99.

Tapestry McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2006 - SA On the nose the aroma is reminiscent of stonefruit and slightly rancid toasted nuts. There's an oily nuance too. Toasty oak fills the broad creamy palate with stonefruit flavours that become richer and richer. Grapefruit zest adds brightness and the toasty finish brings to light some tropical fruit too. Can take chilling for flavoursome summer drinking.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay There’s rich toasty oak on the perfumed nose and ripe juicy flavours in the palate with a gorgeous caramel crème infusion. Dry and savoury with spicy oak and a smoky overlay to the beautiful fig and stonefruit flavours, the perfectly balanced acidity adds a bright zesty lift to the long, full finish. Maraekakaho subregion.
Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards
14% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay This radiant looking wine has something rather exotic about the aroma - a hint of lemon oil, nuts, orange blossom and apricot kernels come to mind. Quite youthful at the moment with fine acidity balancing the glazed apricot and peach fruit with mealy, nutty, leesy flavours enhanced by delicately spicy, perfumed French oak. All this over a delicious savoury backbone while the warm finish has concentration and a permeating vinous depth. A total class act, this is destined to become one of the stars of 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $52.99.

Browns of Padthaway ‘T’ Trellis Shiraz 2006 - SA Deep black-red in colour, this is full of sweet jammy fruit and spice on the nose and delivers the aromatic promise with the full on, upfront, juicy flavours. There's an explosion of cherry, blueberry and blackberry fruit over a smooth, rounded, savoury oak backbone with plenty of pepper, a hint of chocolate and just a suggestion of mint. An excellent follow-on to the popular 2005 vintage and the chocolate component seems to get stronger as the full flavours linger.
15% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Kirrihill Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - SA Saturated red black colour. Vibrant red cherry, allspice and black pepper aromas and broad, jammy, bottled fruit flavours, like blackberry jam on toast. At first it's all ripe fruit with soft acidity and smooth, integrated tannins yet it has a bit of bite with the underlying bramble fruit acidity and oak spice bringing it into balance. A big wine with a long, succulent, savoury finish and a hint of mint and chocolate too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special

Wild Rock Angels Dust Syrah 2007 - Hawkes Bay Dark red black with white pepper on the nose and a subtle peppery infusion to the plum and cherry flavours. It's seems quite dry on the first taste with moderately firm tannins and a leathery backbone but the juicy fruit takes over to fill the palate and the spice comes into its own on the finish. 2% Viognier and 2% Malbec add an extra dimension to the medium-bodied style. Screwcap. 13.5% alc. $22.99 special.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2006 - SA Deep dark red in colour. Opulent and inviting from the outset with gentle red fruit and violet scents mingling with vanillin oak and the mouthfeel and flavour is just gorgeous. It's so beautifully rounded and creamy with an exemplary example of a fine tannin structure supporting the concentrated juicy fruit with exotic spices, dried herbs, hints of chocolate and liquorice and a long savoury finish. Full-bodied and powerful yet stylish.
14.5% alc. Cork. $41.99.

Esk Valley Reserve Syrah 2006 - Hawkes Bay Very vivid purple black in colour, this has a deep, dark savoury aroma and is so spicy to the taste, it almost seems spritzy. Quite thick textured with dry tannins and leathery intonations underlying the big juicy purple fruit, there's a deft touch of luscious vanillin oak and loads and loads of pepper. All in all, it's a lovely balance of spice, savouriness and fruitiness with a long, long succulent finish.
Champion Wine of the Show – Royal Easter Show Wine Awards
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $63.99.

Heartland Directors’ Cut Shiraz 2005 - SA A glossy black-coloured wine with sweet spicy vanillin oak and cherry on the nose and succulent flavours of spice, red and purple fruits and smoky oak while a hint of rose petal adds a fragrant fascination. Tannins are svelte yet just a little meaty, there's an increasing chocolate richness and despite the sweet American oak, it's dry with a lasting savoury finish. Langhorne Creek and Limestone Coast fruit.
Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99/$33.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7 Jan 2009
Central Otago's Finest
Wines were tasted blind.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2008
Pale coloured with a clear, bright lustre. Oily textured, perfumed, slightly high-toned and just off-dry with pear, apple, a hint of lime, some delicate florals and lots of tingly zest. Refreshing when even only lightly chilled.
10 g/L rs. 14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Felton Road Central Otago Chardonnay 2006
Glossy lemon yellow. Barrel-ferment and gentle caramel scents. Soft, buttery flavours with plenty of spicy oak influence and grilled nectarine and stonefruit flavours. A firm, sweet orange acid spine adds punch and length. A big, bold, glassful that needs a big glass, but in the XL5 tasting glass it opened up beautifully too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special. Only a few bottles available.

Waitiri Creek Gibbston Valley Chardonnay 2006
Light lemon gold. Such a contrast to the Felton Road, this has obvious malolactic influence resulting in a milky/lemony/slightly cheesy overlay. Tropical fruit, orange zest and babaco fruit flavours join the mix, spicy oak plays a subtle role, there's a hint of salinity (some would say minerality) and the finish is toasty with a touch of canned pineapple. A wacky wine that prompted lots of comments.
13.6% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Mt Difficulty Dry Riesling 2008
Pale straw. Delicate floral perfume. Lots of bracing acidity with fruit in the lime, lemonade, mandarin and apple spectrum with just a hint of honeysuckle and a shimmery, fine gravelly texture. Very dry and quite austere at this baby stage of its life. A wine to evolve in the bottle.
5 g/L rs. 12.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Riesling 2008
Pale straw. Honeysuckle and sweet orange aroma. A gently sweet wine with fresh, fruity, tasty flavours and exactly the right amount of residual sugar to balance the tangy citrus acidity. It has a lovely lightness to its attack with lively zest and spiced green apple on the lingering finish. Lots of all round appeal and will take plenty of chilling too.
20 g/L rs. 11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Mt Difficulty Long Gully Riesling 2008
Light straw yellow. A little spritzy on entry, this late harvest single vineyard wine is sweet and lightly viscous with a nectar-like texture. Full of sweet orange, apricot, lime zest, honey and spiced apple, it has a touch of ginger marmalade and plenty of refreshing acidity to balance the sweetness. With just 70 cases made, it's a bit special and a treat to try, especially when served lightly chilled as an aperitif.
80 g/L rs. 10.5% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Nevis Bluff Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
Burgundy plum red. A hint of chocolate on the nose. Fruity and a little confectionary in the palate with a stalky spicy backbone. Earthy with moderate tannins, macerated plum and a cherry fruit underpinned by classic varietal savouriness. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2007
Vivid purple red as if it is trying to imitate Syrah except for the more diluted crimson edge. On the nose there's savoury oak, game and a hint of leather while there's a lovely bright mouthfilling presence of spice, ripe berry fruit and hints of violets with chocolate and bittersweet cherries and all the time that intrinsic savouriness. Drinking beautifully tonight, this is a firm, fleshy Pinot with the oak that was so dominant in September now much more integrated. 4 Stars – Cuisine Magazine. The First Glass tasters would rate this higher.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99 special.

Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir 2007
A deep purple garnet colour. Savoury and a little meaty on the nose. Fine textured with soft velvety-smooth tannins, the taste is savoury rather than fruity with dried herbs, cake spice forest floor and bittersweet cherry. A touch of chocolatey sweetness adds some viscosity with underlying acidity bringing it all into balance and the long, dry finish is sensual and sultry. Very interesting to compare this Alexandra wine with those from the Cromwell/Dunstan area. 4 Stars – Cuisine Magazine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Carrick Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
Burgundy red with cherry hues, starting to fade on the edges. A savoury, earthy 'Burgundian-like' scent and a hint of chocolate too. Quite dry to the taste with grippy tannins balanced by vinous sweetness. There's black cherry, a hint of anise, a sappy herbal undercurrent and a spicy lift to the slightly port-like finish. 4 Stars – Cuisine Magazine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $40.99 special.

Waitiri Central Otago Creek Pinot Noir 2007
Deep Burgundy red with ruby hues. Savoury, plummy aromas and a peppery note to the savoury flavours with black cherry fruit and spice adding interest lift and intrigue. A rich, powerful wine with a curvaceous body and a lasting finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99 special.

Lowburn Central Otago Ferry Pinot Noir 2007
Deep purple/red with a dense deep core. Spicy, savoury, purple-fruited pinot aroma and a lovely smooth, rounded, sweet-fruited palate perfectly balanced to the dry, savoury, earthy backbone. This is a beautifully structured wine with a textural softness that is very alluring. For many, including me, the Wine of the Night. Multiple Gold Medals.
14% alc. Screwcap. $38.99 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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