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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

March 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 - 25 Mar 2009
Royal Easter Show Golds and Trophies
Wines were tasted blind.

Wild Rock 'Pania' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Light gold coloured with juicy citrus scents backed up by savoury oak and lots of toasty oak in the palate with ripe peach and tropical fruit. A well-rounded crowd pleaser, creamy in texture and long in flavour with a savoury, spicy finish. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99/$16.99 special.

Wither Hills “Rarangi” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Rich, powerful, pungent and flamboyant, there is no doubting what this pale lemon coloured wine is. It has tropical fruit, nectarine, pineapple and a hint of 'sweat' on the nose and a ripe, fresh juicy palate with limey acidity, abundant passionfruit, a well balanced herbaceous undercurrent and a long, tasty finish. From a single vineyard at Rarangi near the coast at the north east of the plains. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99/$19.99 special.

Vavasour Anna’s Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
From the Awatere Valley, this classy wine is moderate gold in colour with grapefruit infusing the gorgeous savoury barrel-ferment aromas and a smooth creamy, leesy palate. It seems to have that smoky complexity that comes with a little bit of age and served quite chilled it is juicy and creamy with a touch of spice and a rich mouthfilling finish. An absolute treat. Gold Medal RESWA & Sydney.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $41.99.

Vidal Estate East Coast Viognier 2008
Straw gold with a hint of yellow, this wine has a pretty perfume that is floral and delicately nutty with a hint of flower musk. A little spritzy on the first taste, it tones down to reveal a full-bodied richness with a creamy/oily texture, apricot and exotic tropical fruit, perhaps a hint of oak adding complexity, and zesty spice. Gentle and warm with a nut bread finish. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Selaks “The Favourite” Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2008
Light yellow gold with virtually no nose compared to the previous wine – what you’d call 'neutral'. In the palate it's reminiscent of windfall apples on a warm autumn day, a sweeter style with an oily texture, a kicker of spice and a warm comforting finish. The wine gets bigger and bigger as it traverses the palate, garnering peach-like nuances, and the finish is long. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Gewurztraminer 2008
Lemon yellow in colour, this has a powerful, almost pungent scent of rose oil, Turkish delight, lychee and spice. It smells big, rich and oily and it is. Served chilled, which brings out a tangy, musky, spicy sweetness, it nevertheless has a more delicate palate than the nose would suggest. Beautifully balanced and tantalising exotic with a long lasting finish, it is begging for a hot, spicy accompaniment to counteract that syrupy rose water richness. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Olssens “Jackson Barry” Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Rich, deep cherry red and perfumed with sweet, smoky, vanillin oak and savoury herbal nuances, this is a big, juicy, punchy style of fragrant, stylish Pinot Noir with a velvety texture, a firm tannin backbone, exotic spices, hints of chocolate and mocha. Rich, succulent and quite enticing with ripe cherry and plum fruit and well-balanced supporting savouriness. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14.7% alc. Screwcap. $38.99 special.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2007
Deep, dense, blackberry red in colour, this has dark savoury oak and concentrated plum-like fruit with just a hint of musky florals on the nose and a smoky, savoury, earthy, dry palate with hints of tobacco, spice, a touch of chocolate and a musky fruit sweetness pushing through. The bottled red and purple fruits are juicy and counteract the seemingly massive tannins and while the wine is overall very savoury, it is well balanced by the juicy fruit and underlying acidity. 91% Tempranillo and 9% Malbec. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14% alc. Diam. $31.99.

Thornbury Hawke's Bay Merlot 2007
From the Gimblett Gravels with 90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, this is a shiny, dense black red. On the nose there are plums and leather with smoky oak while in the palate is it rich, dry and spicy with a fine texture. Crammed with juicy brambles and mulberry fruit with fruitcake spices and hints of cigar-like oak, it is a classic rendition of Merlot with all the typical descriptors and an absolute steal at the price. Gold Medal RESWA.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Selaks “The Favourite” Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007
Deep crimson black. Perfumed with a lifted fragrance of chocolate biscuits, rose petal and tar, the fragrance carries through to the smooth textured spicy palate that has lovely sweet dark berry fruit, creamy oak, a beautifully balanced savoury backbone and just enough pepper to pin-point the variety. From the Heretaunga Plains. Gold Medal RESWA.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007
From the Gimblett Gravels sub region, this is a bright, shiny, dense black purple colour with a spicy, peppery, creamy oak aroma and a tight, dry, spicy palate - as we expect young NZ Syrah to be. With concentrated red and black fruit, dense smoky tarry notes, chocolate and fine grained tannins over a savoury, peppery backbone and a long juicy finish, this wine is going to evolve magnificently over the next few months. Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Noble Riesling 2008
Bright, lustrous, citrine gold. Intense apricot, honeysuckle, orange blossom and lime on the nose carry through to the deliciously juicy palate. Served chilled this is so refreshing despite its unctuous sweetness. Honey, apricot, passionfruit and pineapple brim through the nectar-like palate with perfect balancing acidity. Blindingly delicious and absolutely yum! Gold Medal & Trophy RESWA.
10% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 / 750ml bottle.

Wines were not tasted blind.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18 Mar 2009
Montana Gold with Phil Bothwell and Wyndham Estate with Nigel Dolan
Wines were not tasted blind.

Montana Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir Rose NV
Very pretty pale pink with a tiny bead of bubbles. Floral and delicately yeasty on the nose with a hint of strawberry. In the palate, when the fizz attack subsides, it's quite creamy and toasty with rose petal, peach, lively acidity and vinous sweetness to the finish. A very approachable and cheerful bubbles. Gold Medal – Royal Easter Show Wine Awards (RESWA). 12% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Cottage Block Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
Rich straw gold in colour, there's a mealy, malty, grapefruit-infused aroma and those sensory aromatics carry through to the creamy palate that has a nougat-like complexity with stonefruit pulsating through on the gorgeous finish. A 'hands off' wine that utilised wild yeasts in the barrel, it has layers of complexity and savouriness. "One of the most underrated chardonnays around. Consistently good," said one of the tasters. Gold Medal Hawkes Bay 2008 and RESWA 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Montana Stuart Block Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold. Quite zesty, spritzy, toasty and just a little malty on the nose. In the palate it's a big oak style, spicy and savoury and hinting of a warmer climate origin with its tropical fruit, hints of pineapple, oily texture and underlying acidity keeping it all fresh. The spice leaves a zesty tingle in the mouth. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Riesling 2006
Light yellow gold with a hint of lime. Concentrated on the nose with lime, tropical fruit, a hint of kero and lemon pith, it's quite dry to the taste yet not completely dry. Zesty and fresh in the palate with concentrated citrus fruit sweetness and lingering grapefruit and lime leaf notes. A rich, clean, lengthy Riesling with acid drive and a flinty tang, it has the potential to get even better with time. Gold Medal RESWA 2009. 6.5 g/l rs. 12.5% alc.
Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Pale lemon with a hint of oiliness to the appearance. Delicately fragrant violet lollies, rose petal, citrus and lychee juice. Quite intense in the palate, more so than the nose indicates, and perfectly spicy, as Gewurz should be. Quite dry (4.7 g/l rs) and perfectly poised with low acidity and an oily texture, the finish is lasting and a hint of ginger leaves behind a bright fresh tingle. Beautiful. Gold Medal RESWA 2009.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawke's Bay Merlot Cabernet 2006
A deep coloured blackberry red, quite dense in the core. Lush fruit aromatics with violet, a hint of mint and a savoury oak backing lead into a savoury, spicy full-bodied palate that is a little peppery on entry. Deep and concentrated with red and black fruits, hints of bitter chocolate, a touch of leather, creamy oak and firm velvety tannins, there's a rustic dried herb character coming through to balance the fruit sweetness and the finish is lifted, toasty and long.
Gold Medal NZIWS 2008 and RESWA 2009. 14% alc. Cork. $32.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007
A bright shiny boysenberry red, quite purple on the edges, it needs plenty of swirling to being out the deep tarry, pepper and rose petal aromatics that are infused with smoky oak. The full-bodied, creamy, sweet fruited palate has luscious purple fruit with beautiful balancing fresh acidity, a hint of menthol among the dried herbs, and an array of exotic spices, eg. anise. Like the aroma, the palate is tight and nowhere near ready to drink. It's quite smooth and drinkable, nevertheless. 2 Gold Medals, 2 Trophies.
13.5% alc. Cork. $33.99 special.

Wyndham Estate Show Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2003 - South Australia
Deep in the core of the glass, fading red on the edges. On the nose it is perfumed, floral and minty with vanilla crème biscuits. Such an unexpected flavour, quite mellow, a little savoury and leathery with hints of mint and a plummy, Christmas pudding sweetness. It's quite succulent and seems to float across the palate and has a long savoury mocha/berry aftertaste and still reasonable tannins to keep it on this developing plateau for quite a while.
14.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz Tempranillo 2007 - South Australia
A dense blackcurrant red in colour, it's perfumed and floral with cake spice and vanillin oak and smells mostly like Shiraz. In the palate is it smoky, savoury, chocolatey and a little earthy with the upfront cherry succulence, liquorice and peppery spices of Shiraz and the more tomato characters of the Tempranillo with a touch of dried rosemary and a rusticity to the finish. An interesting combination that works.
13.5% alc. Screwcap.

George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
This blackberry red coloured wine has a gorgeous fragrance of sumptuous vanillin oak, Shiraz fruit, dark chocolate and aromatic spices with a touch of mint coming through in the palate with succulent berry fruit, mocha, liquorice, sweet oak and peppery spices all bound together by caressing tannins. Gentle in its attack with a long sustained finish. "It's like a big pillow," says Nigel. Predominantly Langhorne Creek fruit.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

George Wyndham Black Cluster Shiraz 2005 - Hunter Valley
Rich shiny deep purple red. Smoky, tarry, earthy and leathery on the nose with the slightest suggestion of mint. Savoury and earthy in the palate, it expresses its origin in that it doesn't have the immediate upfront succulence and sweetness of the South Australian wines. A fine example of vintage Hunter - refined, earthy and savoury with dusty tannins and more subdued currant-like fruit with a touch of chocolatey opulence emerging on the warm lingering spicy finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. $67.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11 Mar 2009
Cuisine Magazine's Five Star Aromatics
Wines were tasted blind.

Waipara Hills Southern Cross Selection Waipara Pinot Gris 2008
Light straw gold in colour, this is sweetly perfumed with tropical fruit, citrus, and essence of pear. A firm, phenolic backbone balances the slightly confectionary, bubblegum, biscuity flavours with stone fruit, a touch of flower blossom and gingery spices. Overall a gentle Pinot Gris with savoury nuances to the lingering finish.
5 stars and No. 2 in Cuisine's Top Five Pinot Gris
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Forrest 'The Valleys' Wairau Dry Riesling 2001 - Library Release, Marlborough
This is an excellent example of bottle-aged, dry NZ Riesling. It's a deep, lime-tinged gold colour, the slightly fusel aromas have tropical lime and coconut nuances with a marmalade sweetness and the concentrated, almost toasty flavours are spicy and zesty with apricot, citrus and a fullness to the crisp, flinty finish.
5 stars and No. 7= in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Lamont Central Otago Pinot Gris 2008
Light yellow gold in colour, this is so youthful and fresh with smoke, flint, apple and pear aromas and stewed apple, strudel spices and stonefruit-like nuances to the flavours. The acids are gentle, there's a hint of bubblegum-like esters and although dry in character, it has impressive fruit sweetness that supports the lasting finish.
5 stars and No. 1 in Cuisine's Top Five Pinot Gris
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Lamont Central Otago Classic Riesling 2008
With an impression of sweetness on the first taste, this moderate alcohol, light gold coloured Riesling has vibrant fresh flavours of juicy citrus, apple, honey suckle, lime, bubblegum, zesty spices and warmth to the finish. High acidity imparts an impression on dryness as the wine progresses through the palate and balances that initial sweetness.
5 stars and No. 6 in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Allan Scott Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2008
This distinctly varietal Gewurztraminer is pale in colour with a rose musk perfume and gently sweet flavours with a touch of oiliness to the lightly viscous texture. A floral style with violets, rose petal, orange blossom and subtle hints of exotic spices that dance on the tongue - the initial embrace is soft but the hold is long.
5 stars and No. 5 in Cuisine's Top Five Gewurztraminer
13% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Spy Valley Gewürztraminer 2008 (Marlborough)
Moderate yellow gold in colour with a seemingly delicate perfume for the variety, perhaps because it is chilled, it is a firmer, more phenolic style with citrussy intonations and hot 'spritzy' Dutch biscuit spices. Even more attention grabbing than the Allan Scott, it impresses with flavours of violets and orange water, its lovely balance of tartness and sweetness and its rich, mouthfilling finish.
5 stars and No. 4 in Cuisine's Top Five Gewurztraminer
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Torlesse Waipara Gewürztraminer 2008
This rather more luscious style is light yellow gold in colour with sugared violets and lychee aromas and a nectar-like sweetness to the flavours of Turkish Delight and Asian fruits with hints of apricot, orange water and rose water while ginger and white pepper add spicy highlights. Chilling tones down the sweetness and the finish is gentle and long.
5 stars and No. 1 in Cuisine's Top Five Gewurztraminer
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99.

The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2008
Pale straw gold in colour with grapefruit and honeysuckle the key aroma and flavour profiles, it is brown sugar sweet but has plenty of juicy acidity to balance that luscious sweetness and becomes quite steely/austere/flinty on the finish. Chilling makes it rather mouthwateringly scrumptious.
5 stars and No. 9 in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings
9.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Forrest The Doctors’ Marlborough Riesling 2008
Pale in colour with a very attractive floral, citrussy perfume, this wine blossoms with apple, lime and zesty spices, it has a delicacy to its attack then builds in flavour to an impressively long finish. A sweeter style with the sweetness perfectly balanced by lively acidity. Just gorgeous if you like the low alcohol, sweeter style.
5 stars and No. 4= in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Mt Difficulty Target Gully Central Otago Riesling 2008
Light yellow gold. Concentrated lemon, lime and honeysuckle aromas with a pithy, earthy inflection and a subtle toffee note to the sweet Riesling flavours with incredibly delicious, tangy, zesty, mouthwatering acidity to balance that sweetness. There's a modicum of spritziness, it has a rich mid palate and builds to a full long finish. “Real Riesling, really really really good,” says Kingsley.
5 stars and No. 3 in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings.
11% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Pegasus Bay Aria Late Picked Waipara Riesling 2007
Light gold coloured with honeysuckle and citrus aromas together with a botrytis character that imparts an apricot character, this is so Pegasus Bay with abundant grapefruit and that hallmark spritz from some retained CO2 that imparts vitality and zest and keeps this medium sweet style just so clean and fresh. The nectar-like texture coats the mouth, ripe stonefruit adds depth to the flavour, zesty spices and clean acidity cut through the sweetness to perfectly balance the wine and the beautiful flavours last and last.
5 stars and No. 2 in Cuisine's Top Ten Rieslings
10% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Ring Bolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Deep black red with purple flashes. Smoky and savoury with red fruit and little impression of oak on the nose, after the Rieslings it smells slightly warm climate European but in the palate it is classic Western Australia with cedary oak, rich red berries, blackcurrant, a hint of chocolate, oak spice and firm succulent tannins. With its smooth, approachable disposition, it definitely seduces the palate.
Gold Medal and Trophy - Royal Sydney Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Cork. $16.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4 Mar 2009
All Brand New
Wines were tasted blind.

Mills Reef Reserve Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
A medium gold colour. Lovely mealy, creamy nutty oak aroma and a rich, juicy full-bodied palate full of peaches and cream with spicy savoury oak and a butterscotch finish. Fresh and vibrant and can take some chilling.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Felton Road Chardonnay 2007 - Central Otago
Light gold in hue, it's even more mealy and malty on the nose with a hint of grapefruit that becomes more obvious when you taste it. Soft and deep with a creamy texture, spicy oak, citrus and stonefruit and a mealy finish. A serious wine that exudes class.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Church Road Reserve Chardonnay 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Quite shy on the nose but juicy and fruit sweet in the palate with nougat, caramel cream, fig and spice. Seriously serious with a beautiful oak regime and an expansive finish that lasts and lasts. Very tightly bound at this stage of its life, just let the beautiful flavours expand in the mouth and savour the long, nutty finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Dr. Loosen Riesling Trocken 2007 - Mosel
Straw gold coloured. Lime and flower blossoms on the nose and a zesty, flinty, juicy-filled palate with lime, green apples, a lightly spritzy texture and a surprisingly dry finish, but then "Trocken" does mean dry. A delicate hint of tarragon too.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Mt. Arthur Reserve Riesling 2007 - Nelson
Light gold. Perfumed, with concentrated lime, a hint of tropical fruit and nuances of kero, it smells dry but it has fruit sweetness and palate richness. The tropical island, limey nuances explode on the finish and linger with a tingly spiciness. Great length too.
13% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 2007 - Cheviot Hills
Garnet hued. Smoky and savoury on the nose and full of upfront savouriness in the palate with cherry fruit, dried herbs, earthy notes, forest floor and underlying acidity. Tannins are firm and dusty and the finish is perfumed and floral. Hard to pinpoint the region because it is Cheviot Hills, halfway between Marlborough and Waipara.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99 special.

Terra Vin Hillside Pinot Noir 2006 - Marlborough
Garnet red with a flush of maroon. A little richer, sweeter on the nose. Savoury with plum and cherry fruit, this has richness, texture and viscosity to the mouthfeel. There's a tart, red fruit infusion and an earthy savouriness combining beautifully with anise-like spices that add to its charm. Tannins are sensual and a chocolatey veneer coats the savoury finish. A good long finish. Lovely drinking right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $56.99.

Ring Bolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Bright red black. Ribena-ish, mint, cedar, vanilla aroma - classic Cabernet Sauvignon. The sweet fruit aromatics carry through to the bright lifted palate with juicy tannins, cherry and cassis fruit, chocolatey oak, dried herbs and tobacco. A full-bodied savoury wine, juicy yet dry.
13% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Te Mata Coleraine 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Deep purple red. Smoky, cedar, spice box and blueberry/plum/blackcurrant aroma. A beautiful succulent palate with a fineness to the thick textured velvety tannins. Concentrated red and blackcurrant fruit, a hint of cherry, dried herbs, tobacco, Bordeaux-like cigar box and cedary sweet oak with a spicy, vanillin influence and a long lasting finish. A sumptuous wine and one of the most forward Coleraines that I remember on release. 52% cabernet sauvignon, 14% cabernet franc and 34% merlot with 20 months in predominantly new French oak.
14% alc. Cork. $65.99 special.

Wolf Blass Presidents Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - South Australia
Black and shiny with purple red edges. Concentrate, powerful aroma of liquorice, vanilla and savoury, spicy oak. Spicy and lifted in the plate with remarkably smooth supple tannins, biscuity oak and blackcurrant. Deep, dark and quite firm, not really wanting to be penetrated at this stage of its life - or that's what you think until the more-ish succulent finish takes over.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2006 - South Australia
Dense dark black-red with crimson edges. Cameo cream biscuit on the nose. Dark, earthy savoury palate with profound tannins, this is classic 389 with a combination of soft, dark-fruited, peppery Shiraz and lifted red-fruited Cabernet. Mouthfilling with vanillin oak, it is tight and meaty to start but soon reveals its succulence and layers of complexity. A wine with incredible potential for longevity.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2007- South Australia
Shiny purple black. There's a hint of tar on the nose with biscuity oak, pepper and nuances of rose petal. Full-bodied, juicy, succulent palate. Creamy, chocolatey and spicy with black and purple fruit. A big bugger. Barossa through and through with a finish where flavours of savoury oak, bright cherry and chocolate just last and last.
15% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Wolf Blass Presidents Selection Shiraz 2006- South Australia
Dense black red. Spicy aromas and a smooth, chocolate palate with a lovely array of Shiraz spice, nutmeg, pepper, bramble, liquorice and just a hint of mint combining in vinous harmony. A rich, opulent wine. The long savoury finish seems beautifully integrated, and the pepper signature of Shiraz masterfully signs it off.
15% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 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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