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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

May 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 - 27 May 2009
Yalumba Wines with Chief Winemaker, Louisa Rose
Wines were not tasted blind.

Jansz Methode Traditionnelle NV - Tasmania
Light lemon gold with a fine persistent bead. Nutty, yeasty, steely aroma leads into a full-bodied, dry, citrussy, savoury palate with a creaming soda-sweetness and a crisp salinity to the nutty backbone. Vivacious and fresh with very good length.
12.5% alc. Cork. $23.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007
Light white gold. Spice, yeast, smoky oak and white currant aromas and a flavour that is very savoury from the outset - a little malty, quite texturally thick, with a dash of spice and caramel and hints of peach. The stonefruit is emphasised on the toasty finish where there is lots of wild yeast funk. Certainly not a typical Australian style but fascinating, full and toasty.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2007
Light yellow gold. Perfumed with lemon blossom, vanilla and hints of musk. Bright, lifted, lemon and apricot honey flavours with a spicy twist and a hint of lime. A textural wine, gentle in its attack, with a long savoury finish and a hint of toasty oak. (60% is fermented in barrel with wild yeast).
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Yalumba "The Virgilius" Viognier 2007
Moderate yellow gold. Delicately smoky, hints of citrus and apricot on the nose, it is high-toned in the palate with a much finer texture than the Eden Valley wine. There's apricot, lemon grass, honeysuckle, flint and spice with a delicate toastiness and a richness that evolves to leaves behind a full flavoured aftertaste. Made from 37 year old vines and barrel fermented in old oak with wild yeast.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99.

Yalumba Bush Vine Barossa Grenache 2007
Transparent cherry red hue. Smoky with quite primary red fruit scents. Bright fruit palate with strawberry and cherry fruit, a little 'Pinot Noirish' in fact - but sweeter with vanillin oak and peppery spice. Soft and fruity with a hint of tobacco and finishes dry. Don't be put off by the light colour because the flavour builds and the finish is long. Provides an alternative in Australia to the big Shiraz-like styles.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Yalumba "The Scribbler" Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2007
Bright, inky, boysenberry hue. Smoke, vanilla, cedar, leather, cassis, plum and spice scents carry through to the even more spicy palate dominated by leather, dried herbs, earth and tobacco with moderately firm dry tannins. Cassis and raspberry flesh out the finish and vanillin oak and juicy fruit carry the finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba Barossa Shiraz Viognier 2005
Deep rich red. A tantalising aroma of vanilla, violets, red berries and rose petals leads into a fine textured, silky tannined palate with a gentle, mouth-enveloping presence, some dried herb and earthy notes, hints of pepper and plums and fruitcake on the lasting, medium to full-bodied savoury finish. 5% co-fermented Viognier in the blend.
14.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Yalumba Barossa "Patchwork" Shiraz 2007
Deep rich red with some purple highlights. A little leather initially then plenty of pepper, spice, chocolate and mocha on the nose. Ripe rich and jammy in the palate, lots of upfront juiciness with plum and cherry fruits, abundant peppery spice and hints of mint and tobacco. It's quite juicy but the tannins are firm and it finishes dry.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba "The Menzies" Cooonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Dark red colour, fully saturated with still some crimson on the edges. Concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon nose, typically Coonawarra with earth, mint, cedar and cassis. Concentrated and complex in the mouth, some cigar box and leather notes together with classic cedar, mint, dried herbs and cassis and leather. Tannins are firm, yet have suppleness and grace and the finish is magnificently long. A truly excellent wine. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Cork. $46.99 special.

Yalumba "The Signature" Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2004
Deep dark red. Voluptuous aroma with vanillin oak infused with hints of mint and peppery spice. Bright and lifted in the palate with the firm structure of Cabernet Sauvignon showing upfront dominance then the soft voluptuousness traits of Shiraz emerging. Powerful, rich and creamy with mint, cigar box, cedar, chocolate, spice and a juicy dark black fruit intensity - it's simply delicious with a long seamless finish where the Cabernet and Shiraz have amalgamated to make one.
14.5% alc. Cork. $46.99 special.

Yalumba "The Octavius" Barossa Shiraz 2004
Very dense black red with a purple intensity. Quite a salty demeanour to the toasty powerful, concentrated aroma - that concentration and power carrying through to the palate that is full of flavours of coffee, mocha, black cherry and dark chocolate with beautiful Shiraz spices like pepper and liquorice and loads of black fruit. Full-bodied and powerful with a beautifully fine tannin structure, it seems incredibly youthful but a little bit of bottle age complexity adds an 'X-factor'.
14.5% alc. Cork. $95.99 special.

Yalumba "The Reserve" Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2001
Deep dense colour totally black in the core with blood red edges. Some bottle development evident on the smoky, cedary nose with more primary cake spice, chocolate and vanilla, the bottle age evidenced also by a little fruit cake raisin in the palate. But this is a big bugger in every other way - it's rich and juicy with tar, earth, chocolate and liquorice, opulent red and black fruit and integrated oak with a full-bodied, mouth-enveloping structure and tannins asserting their power on the finish. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon. 26% Shiraz. 20 months in French oak.
14.5% alc. Cork. $110.00 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 May 2009
Return of the Big Buggers - Episode 4
Wines were tasted blind.

Mudhouse Swan Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Watery pale. Asparagus on the nose with a hint of cats pee. Bracingly fresh and crisp to the taste and full of jalapeno-like peppery spice with apple and a touch of lime and a long lasting juicy finish that builds up in toastiness. A very powerful wine and in the realm of Sauvignon Blanc, definitely qualifies as a "big". Gold & Trophy NZ International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Sileni EV Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Deep white gold. Malty and mealy on the nose with caramel and hokey pokey. This is a big fat style with spicy savoury oak and lots of creamy veneer. Ripe peach and apricot fruit is layered with butterscotch and there's a mellow softness and a smokiness to the long, luscious and complex finish.
14% alc. Cork. $49.99 special.

Rose Tree Cottage Gisborne Chardonnay 2006
Bright yellow gold with a savoury, nutty aroma with a spicy, butterscotch, salted nut and toasted oak flavour with a citrussy brightness that keeps the wine fresh and a long fruit salad and cream finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. Not available.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2006
Black red-purple tinged with a crimson edge. Luscious smelling vanillin oak on the nose with a spicy, smoky depth and spicy and peppery to the taste with concentrated cherry and blackberry fruit, earth, mocha, chocolate and liquorice, dried herbs and tar. Juicy and long with smooth supple tannins, the more you taste this impressive wine, the more you find.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Thorn Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2006 - Barossa
Purple black, shiny and deep. Sweet oaked, nutty, succulent red fruit aroma and simply masses of rich, ripe juicy fruit flavours with smoky oak, chocolate, vanilla, dried herbs and fruitcake spices. A striking blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot that is silky textured and luscious and long.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Wynns Michael Coonawarra Shiraz 2005
Dense black red with blood red edges. Spice, black currant, dark oak, soap, old fruitcake and with time chocolate on the nose. Quite a lot of pepper in the palate together with red fruits, earthy savoury notes and tar. A big wine with a silky texture, it has a the firm acid backbone to ensure longevity and the brooding finish is powerful and long.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $54.99 special.

Corbans Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006
Dense dark red, almost black with lashings of white pepper on the nose that carries to the palate. Spicy and very very dry with silky structured fine tannins, hints of rose petal, a nuance of dark chocolate, a smooth long finish and a great deal of finesse.
13% alc. Cork. $33.99.

Richmond Grove Barossa Shiraz 2006
Dark purple black. So very Australian on the nose with succulent dark fruit and coconut oak, this robust powerful wine is smooth, succulent and juicy and crammed with ripe fruit and blackberry jam with chocolate, liquorice, spice and dark smoky oak an a earthy, savoury depth.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Scarpantoni Block 3 McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
Dark red. Gorgeous, luscious, chocolatey nose with a hint of cedar and mint. Sweet fruit in the palate reminiscent of cherry and redcurrant jelly underpinned by pepper and spice with hints of earth and tar add a savoury aspect to the finish that becomes quite brooding as it lingers.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Teusner 'The Riebke' Ebenezer Road Barossa Shiraz 2007
Black red. Herbal smelling and more Rhonish than Barossa on the nose and in the palate. Meaty and savoury with lots of pepper on the tip of the tongue, it's not really fruity at all but full of old vine concentration. Soft smooth tannins give a gentle attack and there is a hint of chocolate as it lingers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz 2006
Intense deep youthful purple black hue. Smoke, cedar and leather aromas and a concentrated, powerful palate full of rich red and black fruit, pepper, spice and chocolate with a hint of mint. Fantastically long succulent finish. An absolute big bugger and as a long time fan of this label, it's so sad to hear it is being deleted from New Zealand. A good vintage to stock up on.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Shingleback 'The Gate' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004
Deep dark red showing sign of age only on the rims, where the colour is starting to fade. Super aromatics reminiscent of chocolate biscuits and lovely development in the palate picking up those salty/savoury secondary characters. Silky textured fine tannins, smooth in its delivery with concentrated meaty flavours, smoky oak, shrewsberry biscuits and peppery spice, sustaining the memory of its juiciness on the infinitesimally long finish. Four gold medals.
14.5% alc. Cork. $39.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 May 2009
An evening of European Wines with Bob Campbell MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Peter Lehmann Semillon 2007 - Barossa Valley, Australia (intro wine, not part of the tasting)
Warm green gold coloured. Grapey, floral scents with a honey overtone. Rich and full to the taste with well defined acidity and a spicy warmth. With the zest of limes and a touch of honeysuckle, it has that distinctive tangy and toasty character I associate with Australian dry white wines.
12% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Martin Codax Albarino 2007 - Rias Baixas, Spain
Light yellow gold. Nutty on the nose with a hint of spice and a soft, gentle touch on entry to the palate with a flavour that is nutty rather than fruity. The quality of this wine lies in its crisp yet creamy texture that has phenolic warmth. There's a spicy, ginger-infused citrus zest lift to the finish, perhaps some floral notes and the slightest suggestion of peppermint too. A wine made to go with food.
12.5% alc. Artificial cork. $28.99.

Faiveley Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2005 - Chablis, France
Rich clear gold. Creamy smelling with nuts and mandarin on the nose. A full-bodied white to the taste - rich, creamy and hot in the palate, concentrated and complex, powerful yet steely and fresh. A beautiful expression of Chardonnay with subtle apricot-like stonefruit over a nutty mealy backbone, hints of mandarin peel, integrated oak and a very dry finish. Beautiful already but if very well stored, could last for many, may years.
13% alc. Cork. $85.00.

Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2007 - Alsace, France
Light white/yellow gold with a captivating perfumed, floral, rose oil, bitter orange, honey and spice scent. Complex and intense to the taste - immediately tingly on the tongue from a touch of ginger and white pepper - soft and gentle nevertheless with a simply gorgeous texture with just the right amount of oiliness to make it slip down so easily. Ripe and fresh with all sorts of interesting spice things going on and an orange marmalade sweetness coming through. Can also age extremely well. Delicious.
14% alc. Screwcap. $43.99.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2007 - Loire Valley, France
Light gold in colour. Quite restrained on the nose, nuts and ripe apples perhaps. That apple comes through in the palate and while it is initially crisp, steely and austere it quite honeyed and full with a lovely expression of apple and spice, and a smoky hint to the finish even though there is no oak. SO2 perhaps. A wine with perhaps the most potential of any to age.
12.5% alc. Cork. $30.99.

Citra Montepulciano D Abruzzo 2007 - Abruzzo, Italy
Deep and dense, black red with fading pink rims. Fascinating floral aroma of violets with biscuits, cherry jam and a distinct savouriness too. Spicy to the taste - spicy, earthy and savoury with lots of juicy red fruit allure. Soft, juicy and easy drinking, medium-bodied with all the spice and savouriness you need. A wine that will hit the spot this winter.
13% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Frescobaldi Remole Sangiovese Cabernet 2006 - Tuscany, Italy
Deep dark red with dark pink rims. Quite restrained on the nose but cherry fruit is to the fore in the soft and juicy palate with a creamy backbone - it is gentle in its attack. A dried herb savouriness and underlying acidity asserts itself on the much crisper and more grippy finish. A value-packed 'Super Tuscan' style with Sangiovese constituting 85% of the blend.
12.5% alc. Cork. $18.99.

Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Ruffina 2005 - Tuscany, Italy
Quite a deep dark colour. Perfumed with scents reminiscent of cake cherry and hot tar with a hint of rose petal - the aromatics are intriguing and beguiling and changing all the time. The perfumed carries through to the lifted palate with smooth, fine textured tannins and a deep tarry savoury backbone. The wine becomes quite gamey with dried herb, mellow oak, fruitcake cherry and a long spicy finish.
13% alc. Cork. $41.99.

Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2005 - Rhone Valley, France
Orangey-red. Shy on the nose and medium bodied in palate weight with a grapey vinosity, dried herbs, hints of black cherry, mild peppery spice and some leathery notes. It seems rather modest to start but builds to a long, full finish with a distinctive pepperiness. With its moderate tannins it is a versatile food wine - a blend of 55% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre and 2% other varieties. Excellent vintage and great value.
13.3% alc. Cork. $20.99 special.

Armantes Old Bush Vine Garnacha 2006 - Calatayud, Spain
Pinky red black - dense and shiny in appearance. Perfumed aromas of violets and cherries with a touch of anise and other exotic spice. It momentarily smells like Aussie Shiraz but it is Spanish Garnacha and that becomes apparent in the sweet jammy palate. It is juicy and savoury with a musky overtone to the meaty backbone and all kinds of florals, chocolate and peppery spice. A clean, modern wine with old vine concentration and depth.
14.5% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Domaine De Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur 2005 - Bordeaux, France
Black red with a bricking red rim. Gorgeous intense sweet cedary oak on the nose first oak weve really smelt all night. Smells modern and insinuates that in the palate too. Concentrated currant and blackberry fruit, a hint of cigar and chocolate with some mint, game meat and barnyard nuances coming through. Well structured with slightly grippy tannins, it finishes very dry. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc blend - made under consultation to Michel Rolland of Mondovino fame.
14% alc. Cork. $33.99.

Prunotto Barolo "Bussia" 2003 - Piedmont, Italy
Bricking red with some depth and a deep, complex, intriguing vinous perfume - not quite tar and roses. Savoury and liquoricey to the taste with plum and prune-like fruit, hints of violets and fine textured but grippy tannins. It is the complexity and intrigue of this wine that totally captivates and, for a Barolo, it is surprisingly approachable.
14% alc. Cork. $89.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 May 2009
All Brand New to a Wednesday Tasting
Wines were tasted blind.

McWilliams Hanwood Chardonnay 2007 - Australia
Light yellow gold. Toasty tropical fruit aroma. Peach and citrus flavours with a bit of a tingly acid zing. Lightly oaked, youthful and estery with a hint of butterscotch as it lingers. Extraordinary quality for the price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $10.99 special.

Seifried Nelson Chardonnay 2008
Pale gold. Malty, honeyed oak aromas with a hint of citrus. Rich and savoury to the taste with spicy oak, grilled stonefruit and flavours reminiscent of muesli with cashew and caramel adding to the complexity. Served chilled, as this sample was, the grapefruit-like acidity is enhanced but it becomes fatter as it warms up and the finish is rich, toasty and long.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Sleeping Giant 'Hill Block' Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Light gold. A powerful wine on the nose with fig, dried fruits and barrel-ferment aromas. At first it seems quite linear - high-toned in palate - a result of the chilling - but the underlying oatmeal, honey, spicy French oak and concentrated stonefruit shows the wine's true colours. It gets richer and richer as it evolves in the glass and the mouthfilling finish is long, full and savoury.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Mount Edward 'The Drumlin' Central Otago Riesling 2008
Straw gold. Delicate honeysuckle and citrus aroma and flavours of apples every which way - juicy apple, tart apple, baked apple, spicy stewed apple and apples in a cool room. Alcohol seems hardly discernible and there's just a hint of mandarin. Citrus pith adds earthiness to the clean crisp finish and the racy acidity balances the 46 grams per litre of residual sugar. Quite incredible.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

36 Bottles Central Otago Pinot Gris 2008
Straw yellow. The nose is subtle and at first seems neutral but apple, flowers and hints of musk are coaxed from the glass however the taste is immediately so much brighter. It's quite zingy with flavours of creamy soda, apple, lime and earthy nuances reminiscent of cultivated white mushrooms with underlying honey adding to the light viscosity of the texture. There's a richness to the wine and warmth from the alcohol and for Pinot Gris, it has good acid spine. Gosh, even Kingsley liked it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Greylands Ridge Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
Deeply coloured rich black red. Big fruit on the nose a hint of a floral perfume but the slightly oxidative character is most powerful. A full-bodied red that seems very youthful for its age, it is rich, spicy and plummy with a smoky, tobacco-like piquancy and a toasty oak finish - made in an extractive style, it is definitely not Pinot Noir as we know it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Wild Rock Cupid's Arrows Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Translucent tamarillo red. Perfumed aromatics and earthy, savoury, jammy bittersweet fruit flavours. Medium-bodied in palate weight with a floral-like muskiness and a bright spicy finish, there's a delicacy to the wine - almost a fragility - but definitely Pinot Noir as we know it. Made by Craggy Range.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

36 Bottles Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Bright, crimson-tinged, translucent red. Smoky, aromatic, herbal aromas lead into a full-flavoured palate. Initially quite meaty, savoury and toasty with a juicy deliciousness, it has cherry fruit with an appealing sweetness and a hint of violet adds to its allure. It's spicy, smoky and silky textured with a hint of mocha and a zesty infusion to the long lasting finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

McWilliams Hanwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - Australia
Dark purple red. On the nose there is a suggestion of leather intermingling with pepper and blackberry jam. That spice carries through to the succulent medium to full-bodied palate that has a fine, yet firm tannin structure with juicy red fruit and a brooding, leathery, smoky oak backbone. Amazing value at the price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Trentham Lantana Shiraz Cabernet 2007
Black red with pinky red edges. Quite closed on the nose - smoky with a hint of leather. Juicy and jammy in the palate with cake spice, black cherry and a touch of sweetness on the finish. A light to medium-bodied easy-going red with smooth tannins.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Dark red with a youthful brightness and crimson tinged edges. Concentrated on the nose - there's currants and a Bordeaux character to the smoky, slightly leathery scent. The smokiness carries through to the full-bodied palate with ripe cassis-like fruit, mocha, chocolate, spice, currants, a firm backbone of rich dry tannins and sweet oak on the succulent finish. An impressive Hawkes Bay red that could challenge even the Coleraine.
14% alc. Cork. $36.99.

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2005 - Australia
Deep dark red with an impression of sweet vanillin oak and mocha on the nose, this has fine supple tannins that impart a smooth feel to the creamy texture, yet it is firm in structure. A majestic wine with sweet plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit, a myriad of spices and a touch of tobacco - quite earthy in a way yet has those violet-like florals on the finish and excellent length. Beautiful already but with years ahead of it, this lauded label is almost as iconic as Grange.
14% alc. Cork. $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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