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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

June 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 - 24 Jun 2009
Classic Wines from the Regions
Wines were tasted blind.

Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Pale straw. Summer herbs, lemon and passionfruit on the nose. Bracingly fresh to the taste - it's almost spicy too - spicy and zesty with a hint of oiliness to the texture, drying acidity, tropical fruit, pineapple, green apple and lots of herbs with that typical Marlborough grassy green edge.
13% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Sandalford Margaret River Chardonnay 2006 - Western Australia
Soft yellow gold. Scents of nutty oak and tropical fruit lead into a full-bodied, buttery creamy palate with big toasty oak and lots of citrus and pineapple with an underlying savouriness that carries the finish. 12 months in French oak.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. Sold out.

Hauth Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2005 - Mosel, Germany
Bright light yellow gold. Tantalising mandarin and honeysuckle aromas and deliciously juicy flavours with a gentle sweetness to balance the taut focussed clean acidity. The glorious fruit has an oily, savoury, slightly kero-like undercurrent and a creamy butter toffee richness characterises the finish. Riesling lovers will find this absolutely hedonistic. Excellent cellaring potential too.
7.5% alc. Cork. $41.99.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2006 - Riverina, NSW
Deep lustrous yellow gold. This smells sweet and luscious from the outset with orange and lime marmalade, honey and a hint of volatile acidity adding aromatic lift. Thick and viscous in texture with apricot, sweet orange, honey and beeswax, integrated oak adds complexity and there's a suggestion of marmalade on the sweet heady finish. First made in 1982, the back label states that since then the wine has won 100 trophies & 345 Gold Medals. Australia's greatest sweet wine.
10% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Rich ruby garnet. Chocolate and cherry with a strong savoury influence to the delightful fragrance, it's savoury to the taste and juicy and spicy with mossy forest floor and thyme. Gently seductive, mouthfilling and long with red and black fruits and violet and chocolate on the finish, this is a very smart wine. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Sileni Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007
Deep dark pinky red. Peppery and floral scents, a hint of chocolate too. Spicy in the palate, black and white pepper, rose hips, red and black fruits, fine-grained meaty tannins and a long, juicy, savoury spicy finish. Excellent value for money. A ring-in to this tasting.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Climbing Shiraz 2007 - Orange, NSW
Inky black-red. Vanilla oak, chocolate, concentrated berry and spice aromas. Vibrant red and black fruit in the palate with violets, peppery spices and toasty oak underpinned by firm grunty tannins. A more 'elegant' cool climate style from a vineyard 600m above sea level, it has some similarities to the ripest Syrahs from Hawkes Bay. Interestingly, the Cuisine judges rated this No. 1 in the recent Australian Shiraz tasting.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006 - South Australia
Vibrant purple black. Quite minty and cedary on the nose, at first it seems a little reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but the taste dispels that notion. It is crammed with juicy plum and mulberry fruit, pepper, nutmeg, chocolate and chicory with vanillin oak, succulent tannins, an earthy, savoury undercurrent and again that hint of mint to lift the finish.
15% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Tinto Pesquera Crianza Tempranillo 2006 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Moderate black red. Earthy and savoury smelling with a cedar and chocolate overlay to the scent. A full-bodied wine with bright purple and red fruits, smooth tannins, underlying acidity, hints of tar and graphite and a mellow character to the earthy, savoury finish. Dense and juicy with excellent length.
13.5% alc. Cork. $45.99.

Trapiche Single Vineyard 'Vina Francisco Olive' Malbec 2005 - Mendoza, Argentina
Black red, deep. Showing some development to colour, it also smells a little mellow. Salty, savoury, earthy in the full-bodied palate with thick grainy tannins, it is also very juicy with succulent purple plum and berry fruit, vanillin oak, pencil shavings, mocha, spice and violets on finish. A very smart wine with a point of difference, it has well balanced savouriness and fruit sweetness. Aged for 18 months in French oak, it is named after the grower.
14.5% alc. Cork. $48.99.

Jim Barry "The Cover Drive" Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - Coonawarra/Clare Valley
Deep black red with a purple glow, this is distinctly Cabernet Sauvignon with profound mint, cassis and cedar on the nose. Quite earthy and savoury to the taste with firm tannins, cigarbox, cassis, mint and French oak, there's some heat on the succulent finish and the lingering leather and spice aftertaste is long and dry.
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Valdespino El Candado Pedro Ximinez Sherry - Spain
Translucent malt toffee colour with green/gold edges. Treacle-coated raisin scents. Huge raisin-like muscatel flavours with hints of orange peel and that slightly ‘rancio’ character. Concentrated, viscous and warming with a toasty oak richness. Very very sweet but quite savoury too - a little sip is all you need.
18% alc. Cork. $35.99. 375ml.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 17 Jun 2009
Last Chance before the Wine Options
Wines were tasted blind.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Gris 2007
Light gold coloured. On the nose there's a momentary suggestion from the scent that this could be Chardonnay but it's the subtle oak that adds complexity to this full-bodied Pinot Gris. Fruity, juicy and just a little steely, this is initially bright and fresh with a touch of sherbet, passionfruit, lime and pear then becomes quite rich and mealy on the fruity finish. This was quite universally liked by tasters on the night.
13% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Clearview Beachhead Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2008
Light lemon gold. This is a lighter style Chardonnay with oak seemingly secondary to the abundant apricot and melon scents, but it's reasonably oaky to the taste with a smooth texture and a creamy mealy backbone. Buttered toast lingers on the finish but the fruit is the winner on the day.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
Creamy gold. Smoky oak and grilled ripe peach aromas and toasty oak flavours with a smooth creamy texture provides a platter for the stonefruit, apricot and tropical fruits. Underlying acidity provides spine to the deliciously juicy fruit and there are lots of mealy malty complexities with butterscotch emerging on the full, lasting finish. A super wine and sure to appeal to Chardonnay lovers.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Light creamy gold. Powerful, heady, floral scents reminiscent of violet and rose petal and full flavours of Turkish Delight, lychee and orange with a tickle of ginger that dissolves into the soft, slightly oily texture. Just off dry with a richness to the long lasting finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Carrick Josephine Central Otago Riesling 2007
Straw gold. Floral and delicately citrussy on the nose with juicy apple and mandarin flavours, a flinty mid palate and some toffee notes emerging on the light but very lingering finish. A tight, taut, acid-driven style with hardly enough alcohol to notice. Just beautiful.
8% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Castillo de Monseran Old Vine Garnacha 2006
Moderate black-red. Fruit cake cherry overlays the rustic earthy scents and in the mouth the fruit flavours are ripe, sweet and juicy. There's a rusticity to the earthy, meaty backbone with dark smoky oak and firm tea-like tannins overlain with vanilla and spice. A rounded wine with lots of savoury drinkability and far better than its cheaper brother tasted last week
. 13% alc. Screwcap. $21.99.

Bannock Brae Goldfields Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Saturated purple red. The distant woodsmoke and bitter cherry aromas are quite brooding to start - but there's something there that is distinctive of New Zealand Pinot Noir. It's full of flavour in the mouth with plenty of spicy oak, ripe cherry and bittersweet red fruits over a thick, dense, meaty backbone with a chocolatey richness and classic Central Otago dried herb - and the finish is bright, boisterous and juicy. Very good.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2007
Dense, inky black red. A flamboyant wine in every way, this has a meaty, savoury, earthy aroma flushed with savoury red fruit and a blockbuster flavour filled with plums, earth, dried herbs and cigar with spicy oak and a black nugget / floral lift to the finish. Made to go with food, a rare cooked juicy steak will simply dissolve the huge grippy tannins. Perhaps the 'Buy of the Night', it delivers plenty of bang for the buck.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Deep black red. Perfumed with violets, blackcurrant and hints of mint the immediate impression in the palate, after the previous wine, is light and elegant with a juicy fruit sweetness. But it's actually quite powerful, lifted and bright with mint, cassis, a hint of mocha and cedary undercurrent with smoky bacon, leafy dried herbs and a hint of chocolate. Excellent fruit weight with well-integrated tannins and oak. Gold Medal and Trophy - Royal Sydney Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Mamre Brook Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Shiny Purple black. American oak and sweet, juicy bramble fruit aromas. Quite spicy in the palate, some black pepper and perhaps a hint of volatile acidity but mostly jammy red fruits, dark chocolate and dry tannins with American oak imparting succulence and drinkability. A huge wine but quite tight at the moment - decant and drink from a big glass for best results.
15% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2006
Saturated purple red. Sweet berry, chocolate and woodsmoke aroma and a big, bold juicy palate crammed with chocolate, cherry, blackberry and mulberry with smoky oak, fruit cake spice and just a hint of mint. Lifted, succulent, juicy and long with fine grained tannins and though deceptive of its high alcohol content, it is always a great wine.
15.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Kilroy Was Here Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Black red starting to develop some bricking. Earthy and savoury on the nose with mint and florals - and just a little metallic. Thick textured in the palate with a plum / blueberry fruit paste concentration, it's quite earthy and brooding to start but opens up as it warms up in the glass. A meaty wine with cigar box-like oak and a spicy flourish to the finish where the minty detected on the nose re-emerges to linger. Powerful and long.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10 Jun 2009
All Around the World
Wines were tasted blind.

Dr Loosen Riesling Trocken 2007 - Mosel, Germany
Pale straw coloured with tantalising fresh, fruity, pineapple and tropical fruit aromas and lots bright, crisp, zesty zingy flavours of lime and juicy fruit chewing gum with just enough sweetness to the flinty dryness. Very appealing style.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

La Chablisienne Vaulorent Chablis 1er Cru 2005 - Chablis, France
Straw gold. Perfumed spice and apple scents and dry, spicy, tangy flavours with a slightly oily texture and a richness to the nutty backbone that builds to a full, fleshy, expansive finish with excellent length. There's plenty of underlying racy acidity with apple the dominant fruit supported by a touch of lime.
13% alc, Cork. $65.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold. Perfumed aromas of sweet toasty oak with a delicate butterscotch overlay leap out of the glass and prepare for the full, fleshy, bold flavoured palate. There's stonefruit and hints of pineapple with lots of citrus that imparts a slight spritz to the texture when served chilled. Classy from the outset, even more so as it warms up in the glass and the full, mealy, nutty flavours come through. Excellent length too. Gold Medal International Wine Challenge 2009 and Trophy for Champion Runner Up.
14% alc. Screwcap. $33.99 special.

Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes 1er Cru 2005 - Bordeaux, France.
Deep gold with a leggy appearance to the oily hue. Powerful aromatics - sweet and honeyed with apricot and orange liqueur - some volatile acidity too. Viscous in texture - thick and luscious - with apricot, candied orange and honey, but not overly sweet despite initial impressions. Concentrated and powerful with some oak in the background - there's finesse to the wine and one sip lasts for ages.
14% alc. Cork. $65.00. 375ml

Lurton Barco Negro Douro Vindima 2005 - Portugal
Deep inky black red. Smoky and savoury on the nose, hard to pick what it is - with lots of earth, cherry, cassis and leafy dried herb it is reminiscent of both Pinot Noir and Cab Sauv. Firmly structured in the palate with big grippy tannins, earth, leather and hints of tar that counterbalance the succulent plum, cassis and black cherry fruit with spicy oak and some violets adding a classy allure. Finishes ripe and creamy - seems like quite a modern wine. A blend of Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. Worth trying.
13% alc. Cork. $25.99.

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2007 - Carinena, Spain
Dark pinky black red. Perfumed with cherry and raisins, this is a soft, easy, medium-bodied wine with ripe, jammy, juicy fruits, pepper and liquorice, a leathery backbone and perhaps a hint of cigar. Possibly unoaked. Mixed reactions. Some bottle variation in the room.
12.5% alc. Cork. $15.99.

McWilliams Hanwood Shiraz 2006 - Australia
Pinky red. Concentrated cassis and black cherry on the nose. Light to medium bodied in palate with tobacco coming through to add savouriness to the ripe jammy, prune-like fruit. Meaty with fruitcake spices but not overly peppery and not particularly oaky either.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Segeshio Sonoma County Zinfandel 2007 - California, USA
Dark black red, dense and shiny. A huge step up in quality and immediately makes one think Shiraz with chocolate and cherry on the nose and a concentrated, luscious palate full of creamy vanillin oak, black fruits, pepper and red liquorice. It's not Shiraz of course, but a very endearing and delicious wine with firmly structured, smooth tannins, lots of nutmeg and pepper with an underlying citrussy zest. Harmonious throughout. Yum!
15.5% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Menhir Primitivo Manduria 2005 - Italy
Dense purple black. Spicy cedar, dried herb, leather and prunes on the nose lead into a firm spicy palate that hints of age. Full of sweet fruit, creamy oak, liquorice and spice, with ripe fruit reminiscent of prune and raisins, this big juicy wine was great to taste after the Segeshio as there are some similarities. (Zinfandel is the same grape as Primitivo). Very good.
14% alc. Cork. $26.99.

Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec 2007 - Argentina
Inky black-red. Fairly brooding on the nose. Initially quite leathery and tarry to the taste with a firm tannin structure, cabernet-like blackcurrant and red fruits, peppery spices and sweet vanillin oak pushing through on the lasting finish. Despite the initial illusion of bigness, it is relatively supple and easy going with loads of succulence and flavour. A star buy at the special price.
13.5% alc. Cork. $14.99 special.

Jip Jip Rocks Limestone Coast Shiraz 2007 - South Australia
Purple black-red. Succulent vanillin oak and cassis aroma and lots of peppery spice in the fine-textured, medium-bodied palate, becoming quite earthy and savoury on the finish with mint and dried herbs. Made in a drink-now style.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Jim Barry "The Cover Drive" Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – South Australia
Black! Voluptuous aroma brimming with vanilla, fruitcake and spice. This has classic Cabernet flavours of mint, cedar, blackcurrant and plum with vanilla, a touch of leather and spice. This mouthfilling wine has great presence and length, a firm but succulent backbone and finishes dry. Coonawarra and Clare Valley fruit.
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special

Shinas "The Guilty" Shiraz 2005 - Victoria, Australia
Purple black. Quite meaty on the nose with creamy oak and chocolate, those traits carrying through to the spicy palate. A big succulent style with spiced blackberry fruit and just that little bit of age that has ironed out all the edges to make it such a smooth harmonious wine that’s just so delicious right now. Excellent.
15.2% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 3 Jun 2009
Everyday versus Premium
Wines were tasted blind.

Tasman Bay Nelson Chardonnay 2006 A big rich bold style of Chardonnay with a yellow gold colour that hints of some age. Toasty aromas and spicy flavours with a savoury intensity, a mealy undercurrent and a peach and tropical salad layer on the creamy oak finish with bottle age imparting a mellow complexity
13% alc. Zork. $14.99 special.

Odyssey Reserve Iliad Chardonnay 2007 - Gisborne Light gold coloured with a lovely fresh, tropical fruit scent, that juicy freshness carries through to the delicately mealy palate where classy oak plays a secondary role but imparts spice and toastiness to the luscious finish. There's lovely expansion of flavour in the mouth and the delicious finish is long and lasting
13.5% alc. Diam. $25.99 special.

Moss Wood Margaret River Chardonnay 2007 A creamy golden colour with perhaps a lime glint. Smoky and savoury on the nose with spicy French oak and hints of grilled peach. Nutty oak imparts a toasty flavour from the outset and provides a perfect backbone for the bold fruit that is reminiscent of melon, citrus, canned pineapple and grilled peach with a big, broad, mealy toasted cornbread finish with a silky texture and phenomenal length
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $74.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 9 Riesling 2007 Pale straw gold. Delectably perfumed and floral on the nose this gorgeous low alcohol style is full of sweet lemon and mandarin with a zesty ginger-like spiciness and a honeysuckle lusciousness. Served lightly chilled, it's incredibly juicy and has sweetness and acidity that combines in perfect harmony.
10% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Dry River Late Harvest Riesling 2008 Light yellow gold. Passionfruit, cherimoya, mango and Kaffir lime on the nose. Rich and concentrated in the palate, there’s a rose scented hand cream oiliness and lots of lemon and lime peel adding a racy acid backbone that is fantastically balanced to the luscious sweet fruit with a silky texture and a long, long finish. It's a comfort wine that is reminiscent of freshly squeezed homemade orange and grapefruit juice with the addition of honey.
10% alc. Cork. $56.99.

Wentworth Pinot Noir 2006 - Central Otago Deep translucent fading garnet coloured with cherry-infused smoky savoury aromas and earthy, savoury flavours with a vinous sweetness to the bittersweet red fruit. Gentle in its attack with a silky textured mouthfeel, it's a little mellow in comparison to the complex 2007's from Central Otago but has lots of cherry and forest floor with a gamey, mushroom hint to the lasting finish. Made by Peregrine in exceptional vintages only from Gibbston Valley fruit
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $54.99.

Torea Oystercatcher Pinot Noir 2008 - Marlborough Bright ruby red, quite deep. Ripe cherry, blackberry and hints of pepper on the nose, this is a juicy style with a jammy sweetness supported by an intrinsic Pinot Noir smoky savouriness. Made by Fairhall Downs, it's a smart drop at the special price
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Cat Amongst the Pigeons Nine Lives Shiraz 2007 - Barossa Intensely deep black red. Pepper, ripe mulberry and sweet oak scents lead into a brooding palate that's dark, dense, tarry and peppery - more like a Rhone style rather than typical Barossa, or so it seems. Youthful and concentrated, it opens up resplendently to reveal big, black juicy fruits and a succulent finish
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Passage Rock Waiheke Island Syrah 2007 Dark mulberry red. A little peppery on the nose with leather and cedar scents, it's savoury and peppery to the taste with a floral overlay. Medium-bodied in style with smooth easy tannins imparting a fine silky texture, it's full of multi-coloured peppercorns and liquorice with juicy strawberry and blackberry fruit over a leathery backbone. Has impressive mouth presence and length
13% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Johnny Q Shiraz 2006 - South Australia Inky black red with wild berries on the nose, this is a big wine that's full of sweet juicy red berry fruits, spicy oak, hints of liquorice and tar and even a hint of chocolate. More red than black, it emulates cool climate with hints of dried herbs, underlying acidity, and a peppery zest. Fruit is mainly from Coonawarra and Padthaway
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 Deep dark black red in colour, it looks sumptuous and it is from the outset with creamy, spicy, vanillin oak scents and big, bold, juicy flavours of black cherry and blackberry fruit with smooth tannins, leather, tar, smoky cedar and vanilla with dark chocolate emerging on the seductive finish. This label is so back to form - the wine is succulent and delicious and offers unbelievable value
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Cullen Diana Madeleine Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2005 Inky black red in colour, this intensely opulent, big bold red has lovely fine texture to the firm meaty tannin structure with concentrated blackcurrant and plum fruit, vanillin oak, leather and dried herb with just a suggestion of mint. It seems savoury rather than fruity with cedary and cigar box pushing through but there's a lasting succulence too. Still remarkably youthful, the blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot
14% alc. Screwcap. $84.99.

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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