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Wednesday Round-up - the 2009 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

November 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 www.first-glass.co.nz for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 25 Nov 2009
Exclusive VC Cardholder Evening
Wines were tasted blind.

Montana Stuart Block Chardonnay 2007
This light yellow-gold coloured Chardonnay is a quite a deep sweet nutty style with layers of caramel and lashings of toasty oak. There's a deep, savoury undercurrent, the fruit is reminiscent of figs, citrus, apricot and crushed pineapple and the finish is long and creamy.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Westbrook Marlborough Riesling 2009
A refreshing, pale coloured Riesling with sweet citrussy scents, like late season mandarins, with a hint of ginger and lime sherbet. It's moderately dry but has a touch of touch of sweetness, a tickle of spritz from the ginger and lime and a juicy tropical fruit finish.
12% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
A lovely creamy chardonnay with a golden hue but otherwise does not hint at all of its age. Served quite chilled there is a delicious fleshy character to the juicy nectarine-like fruit, there's a smooth, savoury, nutty backbone and a bright citrussy finish. This is smart wine and drinking beautifully now. Four gold medals and Trophy for Exhibition White at the Air NZ Wine Awards 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Esk Valley Marlborough Riesling 2009
An off dry style with floral aromas and juicy flavours with lots of freshly squeezed mandarin and oranges with a touch of ginger, bright tangy zest and a memory of Granny Smith apples. Trophy for Champion Riesling, Air NZ Wine Awards 2009.
12% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Couper's Shed Hawke's Bay Pinot Gris 2009
Light golden in colour, delicate scents of warm nuts and apricot and beautiful clean and focussed flavours of apricot and biscuit spices. The texture is silky and smooth and with some viscosity and heat to the finish, it's could fool some people into thinking it is Viognier. It fooled me. A Pinot Gris that will seduce even ardent detractors of this variety. Trophy for Champion Pinot Gris, Air NZ Wine Awards 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
A lovely savoury pinot with a sweet spicy disposition. Savoury aromas and rich luscious flavours with dark plum and black cherries, a hint of mocha, forest floor and underlying tannins adding a grainy feel to texture. Another delicious wine from Julicher who have repeated their 2006 vintage NZ International success. Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and overall Champion Wine of the Show, Air NZ Wine Awards 2009.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99 special.

Artero Tempranillo 2008 - La Mancha DO, Spain
A deeply coloured rich, bold wine with a salted blood and cherry aroma and an underpinning of marzipan. Ripe and juicy to the taste, full of fresh blackberry flavours with velvety tannins, a savoury backbone and a hint of dried mint on the finish. Very modern in style. .Trophy for Champion International Red, NZ International 2009.
14% alc. Cork. $16.99.

Hobeck Barossa Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Saturated black purple colour, tarry aromatics with a hint of pepper and warm, ripe, juicy, red berry fruit flavours over a tight leathery backbone tempered by blackberry jubes, liquorice and cake spices. A wine that exudes generosity and drinkability.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Cape Mentelle Margaret River Shiraz 2005
Purplish black in colour and quite youthful looking for its age, this screams Aussie Shiraz with its creamy American oak and spice and red berry scents but the taste is surprisingly quite dry after that sweet expectation. With biscuity oak, chocolate, cherries, dried herbs and lots of allspice, this is a blockbuster wine with plenty of life left in it yet.
15% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Yalumba “The Menzies” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Rich velvety red in appearance. Typical Coonawarra nose hinting of mint, earth, cassis and cedar and dense, deep, rich flavours of spicy French and sweet vanillin American oak, concentrated cassis and blackcurrant fruit with an earthy, gravelly complexity. Still evolving with a huge but a very fine tannin structure while chocolate and berries characterise the voluptuous finish. A profound wine and definitely in the category of blockbuster. Trophy for Champion Cabernet, NZ International 2009.
14% alc. Cork. $44.99.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2007
Purple black with pepper, spice, tar and a vanilla/chocolate overlay to the blackberry scents. Ripe and juicy to the taste with powerful flavours of allspice, chocolate, liquorice, mocha and berries. The texture is smooth and succulent and the finish is long and lasting with a nuance of mint at the end. Gold Medal, NZ International 2009.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18 Nov 2009
Some gold medal winners from the Air NZ Wine Awards
Wines were tasted blind.

Crossroads Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
Developing nicely with that little bit of bottle age, this light gold wine is toasty and spicy with melon, peach, nutty vanillin oak and a slightly oily texture. Served very cold, it is certainly easy to drink. With the chill taken off, the aromatics are enhanced and the texture is creamier.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Mudbrick Reserve Waiheke Is Chardonnay 2008
A powerful wine with grapefruit and struck flint the key aromatics and strong leesy, malty, barrel fermented flavours with plenty of sweet citrus brimming through and a smoky savoury finish. A big wine with some oak tannin and butterscotch nuances, it really needs a big Burgundy styled glass for utmost enjoyment.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2004
An older wine, not so much from the green-tinged golden yellow colour but also from the mellow, more refined savoury flavours. Tropical fruit combines with mellow oak and lime-infused butter on the nose, the flavours are reminiscent of melon, grilled pineapple, savoury oak, pan-fried brioche and salted nuts and the finish is dry with a hint of honey / caramel as the flavours linger for ages. Remarkable wine and a treat to try.
14% alc. Screwcap. $44.99.

Forrest Estate Marlborough Riesling 2008
Aromatic, concentrated and weighty with initially tropical fruit and citrus zest, then it is like a lemon and honey drink with a gentle touch of sweetness. It really suits chilling and finishes quite light. A thirst quencher and very easy to drink. 14 grams of residual sugar.
11% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Forrest "The Doctors" Riesling 2009
Very pale in colour with perfumed, floral, sweet citrus scents, this tastes sweetish too with lots of tropical juiciness, spiced apple, limes and a light viscosity to the texture. There's a tug of acidity behind the moderately sweet veneer and the quenching flavours persist for ages. 40 grams per litres of residual sugar.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Gewurztraminer 2008
Bright yellow gold, concentrated and powerful aroma of lemon oil / lemon meringue. Just off dry to the taste but distinctly varietal with concentrated flavours of orange peel, violets, smoker lollies and musk over a lightly oily texture with a seasoning of lemon pepper and ginger on the finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Hunter's Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
A more delicate style aromatically and lighter in colour with a graceful to the texture, but very intense in flavour - it's laden with ginger, ground coriander and cinnamon with honey spiced apples and lashings of lychees and Turkish Delight.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Thornbury Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
A familiar tasting wine - and very typical of Central Otago with its dense but bright colour, velvety texture, lush red and black fruits, underlying earthy savouriness, spicy brightness, smoky oak and that touch of chocolate mingling with violets on the long plush finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special

Fairmont Estate Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008
Showing a little more colour development, this is an earthy gamey wine with a grainy tannin structure, loads of funk, a touch of bacon, salty herbs like rosemary and thyme, Xmas cake spices and finishing with a chocolate sweetness.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
This is a blockbuster style of Pinot Noir - dark in colour with deep savoury aromatics and rich, generous flavours of jammy fruit, chocolate, anise-like spices and even a hint of pepper wrapped in plush tannins and all the while that intrinsic earthy savoury backbone. It's now won eight gold medals -four in New Zealand, two in Hong Kong, one in San Francisco and one in London - it is perhaps New Zealand's most awarded Pinot Noir ever.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2008
Vivid black purple colour - deep and dense and so immediately recognisable of its variety with abundant black pepper / cracked pepper / scent. Yes, this is Syrah. A dry wine to the taste with leather, pepper, bitter chocolate, meat, dried herbs, briar rose and grippy tannins at this stage of its life. Perhaps lacking a little generosity right now but remember it is still very young and needs a big glass (or decanting) to open up in to reveal all its hidden pleasures. Note the new black label too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Vidal Estate Reserve Hawke's Bay Syrah 2006
Purple red colour, saturated to the edges, amazing for its age. Full, rich aromas of chocolatey oak, blackberry, faint hint of pepper, then sweet, generous, rounded, upfront flavours of red fruit, pepper, vanillin oak, allspice and chocolate. With its firms tannins and youthful impression, there is still plenty of life ahead in this blockbuster. A great example of Hawkes Bay Syrah.
14% alc. Screwcap. $56.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11 Nov 2009
Wine by numbers (and letters)
Wines were tasted blind.

No. 1 Family Estate No.1 Cuvée NV - Marlborough
Quite smoky toasty on the nose, this straw coloured bubbles is fresh and ctirussy with a savoury yeasty undercurrent heading towards marmite. There's a steely nuance coming through at the end and the lasting finish had a rich nutty sense. Made from 100% Chardonnay and very dry in style.
12% alc. $33.99 special.

Saint Clair Block 3 '43 Degrees' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
This straw gold-coloured, 18-month-old Sauvignon Blanc has surprisingly quite shy aromatics compared to its bolshy forwardness that it displayed a year ago. Still distinctly varietal in its flavour profile with sugar snap pea, capsicum, juicy fruit gum, tropical fruit and lots of citrus zest and while still very fresh, it seems soft and just a little sweetish. A good choice for those who do not like an overly flamboyant style.
12.5% alc. $20.99 special.

Dog Point Section 94 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007
A ripe wine with moderate gold colour and scents of grilled peach and funky caramel/hokey pokey-like character of wild yeasts to the fore, this alternative style of Sauvignon Blanc is 100% barrel and wild yeast fermented. Distinctive Sauvignon notes of dried grass and hay, with tropical guavas and honeyed oak combine with grilled peach. A wine of body and texture.
13.5% alc. $29.99 special.

Saint Clair Block 10 'Twin Hills' Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Light gold in colour, this barrel fermented style is quite savoury in many respects with lovely use of oak to balance the juicy citrus that hints of grapefruit and rich peach flavours with hints of fig. Drinking very well right now. Gold Medal NZIWS 2009.
14% alc. $26.99 special.

Saint Clair Block 12 'Lone Gum' Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Pale straw, this medium sweet wine is distinctly varietal on the nose with candied violets, rose petals and ground cumin and coriander spices. It has soft acidity in the palate and a gentle mouth feel with a light sense of oiliness to the texture. The flavours detected on the nose are much more concentrated in the palate and are joined by Turkish delight with spiced apple coming forth on the long lasting finish.
13% alc. $23.99.

Menhir 5passi Negroamaro Salento 2008
Deep in colour, this medium-bodied red has a European sense to the aroma. It's a little savoury with leather-like tones and although the tannins seem a little dry, the fruit is ripe and juicy sweet. Purple fruit, black cherries and macerated raisins are underpinned by earth and nugget flavours; there's a floral nuance, like rose petal, at the end and the juicy finish lingers for ages.
13% alc. $16.99 special.

36 Bottles Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Burgundy-hued in colour with a transparent appearance. Savoury aromatics of earth and herbs lead into a much fruitier palate. A medium-bodied style with bittersweet cherry fruit, silky tannins, well-balanced oak and hints of violets, it has a deep earthy savouriness to the lingering finish.
14% alc. $34.99.

Menhir No. Zero Negroamaro Salento 2008
Very deep dark colour. On the nose there are ripe black fruits, purple plums and fruit cake aromas and the palate is filled with ripe fruit flavours. The tannins are smooth and velvety, there's a rusticity to the tarry, savoury backbone and the finish is long and juicy. Medium to full-bodied in style and seemingly more modern than the first Negroamaro.
13% alc. $20.99.

San Marzano F Negroamaro Salento 2008
Very deep dark crimson purple in colour, the vanilla oak and hints of eucalypt on the nose mingling with earth had most people thinking this was Australian. But this is a very serious and very good Italian that's velvety textured in mouth feel and full of bright fruit flavours of cherries and redcurrants with vanillin oak, allspice, cinnamon, liquorice and pepper with a well-balanced, tarry, earthy, savoury undercurrent. A full-bodied red and like the Negroamaro's before it, the juicy sweetness prevails again. Gold Medal NZIWS 2009.
14.5% alc. $54.99.

Browns of Padthaway T Trellis Shiraz 2007
A deep coloured wine, dense in appearance but dark red rather than purple on the edges. The aromas brim with vanilla, chocolate, cherries and hints of mint and the generous flavours are ripe and juicy with blackberry, blueberry and cherry fruit, Shiraz spices, chocolate velvet, creamy oak and hints of mocha with a savoury nuance and just a little heat coming through on the finish. Even better than the popular 2006.
15% alc. $14.99 special. Limited stocks available.

Scarpantoni Block 3 McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007
A deep black red colour, youthful in appearance. On the nose it's a little earthy with sweet ripe berries pushing through the cedar and hints of mint. A beautifully fine texture escalates this wine to a premium level and the flavours complement the texture - there's chocolate, spice, a hint of cigar box, and ripe berry fruit with underlying savouriness and a long full finish.
15% alc. $39.99.

Grahams Six Grapes Reserve Port
Deep and dense in colour, almost black with a lustrous crimson glow. Rich, heady, grape and brandy aroma and a smooth velvety textured, seductive flavour - generous black and red fruit, fruitcake spices, nuts, currants and liquorice. A super wine to muse over at the end of an evening. For trivia fans, the six grapes are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tinto Cao.
20% alc. $56.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4 Nov 2009
Cuisine Champagne and Pinot Noir tasting
Wines were tasted blind.

Soljans Legacy Methode Traditionelle 2004
Light gold. Toasted nut and lemon bread on the nose and rich, deep and toasty in the palate. Crafted from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, it has complex lees-aged characters, refreshing bubbly zest and a rich, savoury finish. Judged at the NZ International amongst the Champagnes it was the only NZ bubbles to receive a gold medal in that lauded company, and now No.1 methode traditionelle and the only 5 star bubbles from Australia and New Zealand in Cuisine.
11.5% alc. $33.99.

Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne
In this Champagne the yeasty characters are profoundly savoury, the foamy bubbles add extra creaminess to the texture, there's a marmite-like nuance in the background and a delicious nutty richness comes through. Dry, full-flavoured and long with acidity adding freshness, a salty tang and a hint of sweetness to the lemon bread finish, this is the bottle with the distinctive bright red label. Gold medal NZIWS. Four stars Cuisine.
12% alc. $57.99 special.

H Lanvin & Fils Brut Champagne
Pale gold. Sweetish lemony, leesy aromas with toasted hazelnut and cashew scents adding to sensory allure and a light kiss and delicate caress to the palate from the creamy mousse that is full of finesse. Slightly salty creamed nuts and savoury lemon lees flavours are not overpowering and with its extra long finish, this lovely fresh Champagne has lots of appeal. Five stars and No. 1 Champagne under $100. Gold medal NZIWS. Champion Champagne at Liquorland Top 100.
12% alc. $47.99 special or $44.99 per bottle on case buys.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV
There's a dried herb note running through this Pinot Noir dominant Champagne - dried herbs and lemon grass with a creamed nut overlay, a hint of peachy sweetness, lots of lemony tang and a reasonable amount of fizziness to the bubbles. There's a funky, yeast autolysis richness and a long, dry, deep nutty finish. Five stars and No. 3 Champagne under $100. Gold medal NZIWS.
12% alc. 69.99 special.

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV
Wow - of all the Champagnes, this has the most intriguing and beguiling aroma of freshly roasted macadamias, vanilla bean and honey. Surprisingly it follows on quite savoury in the palate with a sizzled butter complexity and a richness of fine effervescent bubbly foam. Toasty, creamy and buttery with a long leesy nutty savoury finish. Beautiful. The bottle with the eye-catching yellow-orange label. Five stars and No. 2 Champagne under $100.
12% alc. $79.99 special.

Mumm Cordon Rouge Vintage 1999
Light yellow gold. Savoury, toasty, nutty aroma and smooth creamy flavours with a touch of lemon zest and a hint of spice and though it seems young and fresh, a deep savouriness from the time on lees adds additional complexity and there's an extra level of textural finesse. A little sweeter compared to the wines before it with butter caramel over a well-balanced lemony leesy backbone and salty and tangy on the long and beautifully balanced finish. Five stars and No. 1 Champagne over $100 retail section. Gold medal NZIWS.
12.5% alc. $94.99 special.

Bollinger special Brut Cuvee NV
Now this is a big wine and is perfectly placed as the final wine in this tasting of fine Champagnes. A deep rich, savoury style with flavours you associate with the most savoury of Champagnes - marmite, toasted baguette and the brown apples flavours described in Cuisine and although it is a more developed style, underlying acidity adds freshness. A Pinot Noir dominant blend with partial barrel ferment. Five stars and No. 2 Champagne over $100.
12% alc. $94.99 special.

Vidal Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby purple. This is smooth and creamy and brimming with savouriness with a little touch of spice and rich red fruit of the forest flavours. An earthy undercurrent states the varietal signature and the finish is long, savoury and juicy and the tannins are silky and fine. This is remarkable Pinot Noir and better than may twice the price. Two gold medals. Five stars Cuisine and No. 4 in the Top Ten.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
A deep translucent bright ruby/violet. Crushed herbs and cherry on the nose and savoury fruit in the palate with a velvet-edged silky texture and concentration to the finish. Dried herbs and earthy notes balance the ripe red berry fruit with a spicy flourish and underlying acidity to the lifted finish. Long and savoury with a hint of musk. Nice length. Gold Medal NZIWS. Four stars Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Julicher Te Muna Road 99 Rows Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008
Dark red in colour, the aromas are savoury, meaty, earthy and just a little funky while the rounded, gentle flavours are ultra savoury with bittersweet cherry and plum and a spicy flourish to the floral-infused finish while smoky oak plays a well balanced supporting role in the background. Excellent value and seductively juicy right now. Five stars Cuisine and No. 5 in the Top Ten.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
A deep coloured wine from the Central Otago vintage where many lighter coloured wines were produced. Made from fruit grown in Earnscleugh, Alexandra, this has a dried thyme infusion to the perfumed aromatics and it's quite spicy to the taste with juicy red and black cherry fruit, a savoury depth and a tangy seam of underlying acidity with hints of chocolate on the lingering finish. A big wine with smooth dry tannins. Five stars and No. 9 in Cuisine's Top Ten.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby purple. There’s harmony to the sweet cherry and savoury oak scent and the texture is fine, silky and smooth. Gentle in attack, mouthfilling in presence and persistent in flavour with red and black cherries, dried thyme and hints of anise-like spices with underlying acidity adding brightness to the finish. A succulent wine that still seems very youthful. Sure to be long-lived. Multiple gold medals. Five stars and No.1 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 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.

Wednesday Wines index
Current month's tasting notes.
Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

2009 Tastings
Jan 2009 tasting notes.
Feb 2009 tasting notes.
Mar 2009 tasting notes.
Apr 2009 tasting notes.
May 2009 tasting notes.
Jun 2009 tasting notes.
Jul 2009 tasting notes.
Aug 2009 tasting notes.
Sep 2009 tasting notes.
Oct 2009 tasting notes.
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Dec 2009 tasting notes.

Dec 2008 tasting notes.


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