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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

October 2009
[ Click here for index to other months ]

Sue Courtney's Fine Wine Wednesday tasting notes were recorded for First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna for publication on their website. These notes are archival and may have been deleted from their site by now.
Some of the prices may be 'specials'. Check out for current availability and pricing. New Zealand readers can purchase the wines online from there.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 28 Oct 2009
Wines with Multiple Gold Medals
Wines were tasted blind.

Yellowglen Perle Methode Traditionelle 2005
Straw gold with a fine bead of tiny bubbles. The bready aromas leads into a salty, savoury style with Champagne-like, yeast autolysis characters and a hint of apple. Made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is crisp and refreshing with a creamy Champagne complexity. Gold Medal NZIWS. No. 1 in Cuisine Magazine 2008.
12% alc. $19.99 special.

Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Undoubtably and distinctively Marlborough savvie, this straw gold wine has 'leap out of the glass' summer herb and tropical fruit aromas and exuberantly juicy favours full of passionfruit and lime with an underpinning of stonefruit and bean. Chilling adds a delicious crispness and the flavours last for ages. Gold Medals NZIWS and Top 100. Champion Sauvignon Blanc and Wine of Show at Liquorland Top 100.
13.5% alc. $13.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2005
Light gold coloured with lots of creamy caramel oak on the nose and then in the palate, more of the same with the richness of the oak and fruit decisively cut by an infusion of citrus perhaps enhanced a little by chilling. A rounded and creamy, medium to full-bodied style with a malty finish. Gold Medal NZIWS. Gold medal Top 100.
13% alc. $18.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold in colour, this full-bodied, rich, rounded style is nutty and savoury with grilled stonefruit, fig and hints of nougat. Spicy oak on the nose has a hint of butterscotch and there's a gorgeous, smooth, creamy texture with warmth to the finish. A beautiful wine that everyone loved. Three gold medals.
14% alc. $30.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Medium gold coloured. Fragrantly scented with varietally distinctive aromas of old fashioned roses, ginger and Turkish delight, this is just off dry to the taste with a lightly oily texture and full of exotic spice flavours and rose petals with dried orange peel coming through on the finish. Serve lightly chilled to enjoy this wine at its best.
13.5% alc. $20.99.

John Forrest The Doctors' Marlborough Riesling 2008
Light lemon gold. Delightfully aromatic with honeysuckle and citrus to the fore. A weighty style of Riesling, crammed with juicy lemons and limes to balance the luscious sweetness with honeysuckle pulsating through the zesty finish. Chilling accentuates the juiciness in the best possible way. And best if all it's low in alcohol. Multiple gold medals.
8.5% alc. $19.99 special.

Domain Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep burgundy hue. Gorgeous aromatics brimming with cherry and dark earth, and deep dark, rich, juicy cherry flavours underpinned by sweet spicy oak and a savoury spiciness - one of stars of the vintage. A steal at the price.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot 2007
A deep, dark red. Quite savoury on the nose with smoky oak and a hint of tobacco, those characters carry through to the juicy palate that's full of plum and black berry fruit with a savoury, meaty undercurrent, moderate tannins and a hint of rose chocolate coming through on the creamy finish.
14% alc. Diam. $19.99 special.

Johnny Q Shiraz 2006
Deep inky blackberry red. Quite minty, eucalypt on the nose with fruitcake spices to the fore. Creamy and succulent in the medium-bodied palate with loads of juicy, juicy fruit and a smooth texture with a touch of creme de menthe chocolate on the spicy finish. Made by Quarisa Wines.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special

Cat Amongst The Pigeons ' Alley Cat' Barossa Shiraz Grenache 2007
A deeply coloured, spicy smelling and thoroughly juicy tasting wine packed with sweet berry fruit and hints of cherry supported by smooth supple tannins and sweet vanillin oak with a hint of chocolate and a spicy finish. Medium-bodied in style with perhaps a hint of mint pushing through, it's a definite 'around the BBQ' quaffer. No. 1 in Cuisine Magazine, Gold medal New World Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Shingleback D Block McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Purple black with only the merest fading on the edges. Creamy chocolate combines with earth and cassis on the nose and the flavours are rich and savoury with a depth of red and black fruit supported by fine textured velvet-edged, silky tannins and classy oak. A big wine, a sumptuous wine and definitely still evolving. Jimmy Watson trophy winner in 2006. Champion Cabernet Liquorland Top 100.
14.5% alc. Cork. $56.99.

Forrest Botrytised Marlborough Riesling 2006
Deep burnished gold, this nectar-like sweet wine is heady with it luscious toffee and plumped-up dried apricot scent with orange peel adding the cut of acidity to the sweet, viscous nectar. One of NZ's most awarded sweet wines ever; a little goes a very long way. Multiple gold and Trophy winner.
9% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 Oct 2009
Budget versus Premium
Wines were tasted blind.

Matua Valley Estate Series Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Banana passionfruit on the nose at first them more exotic sub-tropical fruits, like guava and feijoa emerge. A cat-free zone, this fresh, cool, juicy wine is dry in style with a fine texture. Summer herbs come through to join the tropical fruit and there's a twist of lime on the persistent finish. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Spinyback Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2008
A rich, concentrated and slightly oily style of Sauvignon Blanc, it's powerful in flavour with capsicum / bean / pea connotations, hints of fennel and juicy fruit that hints of apples with lots of sweet citrussy zest. Still fresh despite being now the 'previous' vintage and surprisingly, most people picked this as the more expensive of the pair. Five gold medals.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Felton Road Central Otago Chardonnay 2008
Creamy, mellow scents lead into a moderately oaky palate with a buttery layer and a hint of caramel. The texture is beautifully slippery, there's lots of fruit - melon, citrus, stonefruit - and the wine has a serious earthy/mealy/malty depth.
14% alc. Screwcap. $36.99.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2007
A South Australian blend with a salty, savoury smoky oak aroma with a hint of fig, peach and more citrus/grapefruit coming through when chilled. Powerful in its presence with smooth, seamless creamy oak flavours, spicy oak loitering in the background, bright tropical fruit and a deft hint of butterscotch/caramel coming through on the finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. The most preferred of the pair.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Saints Gisborne Noble Semillon 2004
Vivid gold, brilliant in its hues. Concentrated, oily, almost buttery aromas and smooth, nectar-like flavours of apricot, honeycomb, spice and runny golden syrup. Very luscious - it seems very youthful for its age. Gold Medal – Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia Late Harvest Noble Riesling 2006
Rich gold coloured - concentrated both in colour and flavour. A beautifully vibrant, rich, juicy nectar with gorgeous creamed honey and botrytis aromas and apricot and toffee apple flavours with Riesling's racy acidity cutting through the sweetness and leaving a freshness to the finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show, plus 5 gold medals and 3 trophies.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia Merlot 2004
Some bricking to the dense red colour, this has lashings of sweet vanillin oak on the nose together with tobacco and dried herbs. A big, sweet, juicy red yet quite sappy and earthy with a green minty edge, hints of tobacco and loads of chocolate. It finishes so smooth and rounded with mint highlighting the blackberry / plummy fruit. Full-bodied in style.
14% alc. Cork. $53.99.

Thornbury Hawke's Bay Merlot 2007
Vivid blackberry red colour. Earthy aromatics - quite leathery and plummy which is 'classic' for Merlot and juicy red and black fruit flavours with a spicy infusion. From the great 2007 vintage, this has concentration and beautifully fine tannins - simply amazing value for the price. Most people thought this was the most expensive of the pair as well. Gold Medals – Easter Show and Top 100.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2008
Dense youthful purple red colour looking like it is going to be a blockbuster but looks deceive. This is an approachable, medium-bodied wine with smooth tannins, juicy strawberry and cherry fruit and a savoury underpinning of tar. There's 10% Sangiovese in the blend.
13% alc. Screwcap. $18.99/$14.99.

Greylands Ridge Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
A deep red, quite dense, looking a little like Merlot and seems a smooth, rich, harmonious wine in the mould of a Merlot too. If you like Merlot, you'll like this but it doesn't really show any distinctive Pinot Noir characters. It has prunes and chocolate and a vanillin note to the finish as if it has been made with American oak, and a savoury undercurrent of leather and tar.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 Super Special .

CJ Pask Declaration Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007
Dense black red. Concentrated and full-bodied with black pepper and rose petal scents supported by creamy vanillin oak followed by deep, rich, savoury flavours with hints of mint, a touch of chocolate, spiced blackberries and cherries. When tasted blind this smooth, creamy, yet profoundly savoury wine, really shows it class. 3 Golds - NZ International Wine Show, Top 100 & Air New Zealand.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $53.99.

Bremerton Barossa Selkirk Shiraz 2007
Deep purple red in colour, this has pepper and spice-infused earthy vanillin oak aromas with a minty character embellishing the scent. In the palate there is great harmony of toasty cedar, peppery spices and sweet cherry, redcurrant and raspberry fruit supported by ripe, rich, succulent tannins with chocolate on the lasting finish and some biscuity nuances pushing through. Delicious, approachable and downright drinkable. 2 Gold Medals – NZ International Wine Show and Top 100.
14.5 % alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14 Oct 2009
More Gold Medals and New Releases
Wines were tasted blind.

Lindauer Sparkling Sauvignon NV
Light, bright, fresh and crisp with soft textured bubbles and distinctive sauvignon piquancy that blends in nicely with the bready flavours that come from the 25% Pinot Noir/Chardonnay base. Takes Sauvignon Blanc to another level - perhaps the best innovation this year and perfect for summer soirees.
12.5% alc. $11.99 special.

Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Quite fruity on the nose, subdued for Sauvignon Blanc (no cats pee or sweat at all) but full of bright punchy flavours of gooseberry, tropical fruit, capsicum and lime. An array of flavours across the spectrum with some flinty nuances to the finish and lime and passionfruit lingering around long after the wine has been swallowed. Destined to become a star. A Kevin Judd wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Cape Campbell Limited Edition Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Moderate light gold. On the nose, a malty, savoury, barrel fermented style with smoky nuances carrying through to the palate with fleshy peach and nectarine and a leesy undercurrent with lactic influences and a touch of caramel on the finish. It is served lightly chilled and takes it well too. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Seifried Barrique Fermented Nelson Chardonnay 2006
A deeper gold colour and much richer and oakier too. There’s mellow buttery oak on the nose and there's a lovely spicy oak and butterscotch richness to the flavour with a rounded mouthfeel and harmonious texture. This won a gold medal in the 2007 NZIWS. It has developed gorgeously and it is still drinking beautifully now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Wairau River Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Light straw gold. Classic gris aromas of apple, pear and strudel spices characterise this fragrant wine that's dry in style. Citrus zest and a hint of ginger add brightness to the juicy white fruit flavours with a hint of ginger and creaming soda on the finish. Chilling accentuates the acidity. Gold Medal NZIWS 2009.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Vidal Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby garnet. Savoury on the nose with deep black cherry, a nuance of chocolate and biscuity spices and earthy savoury flavours with a silky texture, anise and cake spices, black cherries and fruits of the forest. A beautifully balanced wine, on the medium side of full-bodied with a gentle attack, a spicy brightness and an infusion of violet chocolate lingering on the creamy finish. Gold Medal NZIWS 2008. Gold Medal NZIWS 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Deep marone with a youthful brightness. Fragrant, smoky, herb-infused, fruit-driven aromatics and intense, powerful flavours with deep, dark, plum and black cherry fruit, a spicy tingle, a touch of chocolate, dried herbs and a long savoury, silky, seamless finish and the much sought after 'peacocks tail' flair. Bendigo fruit. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $38.99 special.

Fox Creek Shadows Run Shiraz Cabernet 2007
Deep red. Hints of strawberry jam on the nose and bright red fruit in the palate - a fruit-driven style - strawberry jubes, blackberries and raspberry jam with hints of earth and tar adding funk and tobacco nuances on the finish. It was a bit whiffy / struck match / metallic last time it was tasted but decanting this time allowed some of those characters to dissipate.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Shiraz 2007
Deep dark red/opaque. Ribena-ish on the nose. Bright red fruit flavours with American oak, mulled wine spices, orange, chocolate and cherry. A little lighter than I expected from this label.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Jacobs Creek Centenary Hill Shiraz 2004
Dense dark and dense with a shiny black-red colour. After the previous two wines, this smells really voluptuous, concentrated and dense with sweet cedary oak, Christmas cake spices and a hint of mint. Still quite tight despite its age, it has a fine tannin structure and sumptuous flavours of juicy berries with liquorice and pepper-like spices, a big chocolatey mid palate and classy well-integrated oak. Some savoury nuances emerge on the lingering finish together with a hint of mint. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap $$44.99 special.

Two Hands Lily's Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007
Deep purple black, youthful in appearance. A more brooding number on the nose with savoury oak, violets and the sweetness of the alcohol add headiness. Very, very concentrated in the palate - huge fruit, big oak and chewy tannins. Plummy and deep with lots of tingling spices and a warm, mouth-enveloping finish. Violets and rose musk on the finish add a Rhonish quality too.
15.7% alc. Cork. $60.99.

Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port 2000
Dense purple red. Heady aromas of rose petal, chocolate raisins, liquorice, and alcohol spirit and deep, rich, sweet grapey flavours with mellow nutty oak and a liquorice richness. Warm on the finish with fantastic length. Bottled in 2004. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
20.5% alc. Cork. $39.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7 Oct 2009
Riesling, Pinot Gris, Cabernet and Shiraz
Not all the wines arrived in time for the tasting, so some two gold medal wines were substituted.

Hardys Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz 2004
Deep red-black in colour, this hearty Australian "Burgundy" style is succulent and juicy, smooth and creamy with savoury oak, cherry, blackberry and spice. The big, rich juicy flavours are like Christmas in a glass with a fine attack of bubbles that add zest to the bottle-aged complexities. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Riesling 2008
Light yellow gold on colour, this aromatic, moderately sweet, lightly oily, almost creamy Riesling brims with tropical fruit, citrus blossom and honeysuckle aromas while the juicy honeyed sweetness is balanced perfectly by apple acidity and a fine seam of orange zest. Gold Medal NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Culley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Light yellow gold in colour and a little floral on the nose, this is a drier wine (than the Greystone) and is classically Pinot Gris with signature flavours of pears and spice, with a medium-weight palate and a gentle finish that has warmth and richness. Neil Culley's personal label from Cable Bay. Silver Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Spicy on the nose with concentrated citrus zest and pear and dry, rich and textural to the taste or so it seems until the quince and tropical fruit explode with their fruity concentration and power. The lingering finish is dry, spicy and long. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

McWilliams Barwang Granite Track Riesling 2009
The Australians are finally getting the hang of the medium sweet, lower alcohol Rieslings because they certainly fill a gap in the market. Light in colour, with honeycomb aromas and honey, tropical fruit and succulent sweet citrus flavours this has a delicious long-lasting finish with perfectly balanced mouthwatering acidity. Outstanding. 45g/l residual sugar. Gold Medal NZIWS.
Screwcap. Not yet available.

Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Deep rich, concentrated purple red. On the nose there's bramble fruit, sweet spice and smoky oak then in the palate it is earthy and savoury with rich, ripe bramble fruit, leathery undertones, hints of tobacco, smoky notes and firm tannins - still tight and brooding at this stage of its life. A blend of 57% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, this is a very good example of the blend - and rated top in a tasting by Jancis Robinson in a tasting of Gimblett Gravels wines earlier this year.
14% alc. Diam. $34.99.

Grant Burge Cameron Vale Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Purple red in colour with flamboyant aromatics of ripe juicy fruit and chocolate-layered vanillin oak and generous flavours full of cassis and chocolate with a flourish of mint and a spicy note. Moderately grippy, fine-grained tannins add a pleasing texture and there's a savoury richness to the long, deep finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
15% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Kingston Estate Shiraz 2008 - South Australia
This bright, juicy, ready-to-drink red is made from fruit sourced from the Mt Lofty Ranges and the Limestone Coast and is one of the incredible bargains from the NZ International. Vivid black-red in colour with a peppery aroma and juicy flavours of red fruit and spicy oak, it has easy tannins and a touch of savouriness to the long deep finish. Silver Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2007
Dense purple-tinged black-red, incredibly youthful in appearance, this has sweet succulent biscuity oak on the nose reminiscent of old-fashioned Cameo cremes and powerful flavours of liquorice and spice with a background of smoky oak and concentrated black and purple fruit. Up several notches in quality with fine-grained tannins, it's deep, it's rich and it's easy to see why the judges scored this gold and the previous wine silver. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

The Willows Vineyard Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005
Deep black red, showing a hint of age on the edge of the colour, this gorgeous, rich creamy wine has a mint overlay to the rich, deep, red berry and cherry fruit with pepper and cinnamon adding a spicy kick. Vanillin oak adds sweetness, tannins are powerful yet succulently smooth and there's a red fruit and chocolate flourish to the lingering vanillin oak finish. Another outstanding wine from this consistent producer. Gold Medal NZIWS.
15% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2007
Shiny deep black red in colour, this opulent and delicious red has chocolate on the nose and a deep, savoury richness to the succulent flavours. It's rich and meaty yet brimming with juicy fruit, vanillin oak, spice and chocolate and silky, fine-grained tannins that provide for smooth, seamless delivery while providing the essential structure and backbone.
14.5% alc. Cork. $36.99.

Wirra Wirra RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007
Deep black red in colour with crimson tints. Savoury spicy aromatics sprinkled with distinctive pepper and chicory lead in to the rich, black-fruited, sumptuous palate brought into check by rich, powerful tannins. A brooding wine at this stage of its life with a leather and tar undercurrent, a hint of mint, a chocolatey richness and well-balanced savoury oak with a deep-seated peppery finish. A wine that will reward cellaring at this stage of its life. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $58.99.

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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