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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

September 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 - 30 Sep 2009
More Gold Medals from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2008
When this is tasted at room temperature, it's bright and fresh with a smooth creamy texture and a butterscotch complexity. The juicy tropical fruit sings while oak strums away in the background. But serve it chilled and the oak moves into the foreground and displays its toasty veneer yet always with that beautiful balance of fruit. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
A lovely medium-bodied Hawkes Bay chardonnay with savoury French oak, a creamy texture, peach and melon fruit and a smoky nuance to the spicy finish. Lots of mealy, leesy characters add to the complexity and it can take chilling too. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2007
The flagship Chardonnay from Saint Clair, this is a big rich savoury style with spicy French oak, nuts, figs, melon and nougat. Full-bodied and rounded, it's rich, ripe, luscious and long with lots of mouthfilling delight. When chilled the toasty oak becomes more prominent and there are grapefruit nuances too. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
A full-bodied wine with lots of nutty, mealy, leesy flavours joining spicy oak, fig and nougat with a hint of grapefruit. It's creamy and harmonious with great mouthfeel, a beautifully balanced depth of stonefruit and smoky French oak on the long savoury finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Greystone Waipara Pinot Gris 2009
Fragrant and fruity with a nutty overlay to the bright, citrus-infused pear and peach scents, there's a delicate touch of sweetness with honeysuckle, rose petal and spice while juicy sweet orange / tangelo acidity brings the sweet pear and peach flavours into check. An outstanding NZ Pinot Gris with huge flavours supported by a light dancing step. Gold Medal NZIWS and Champion Pinot Gris.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Schoffit Pinot Gris Tradition 2007 - Alsace, France
Golden in colour with beguiling aromatics of honeysuckle and baguette, the honey nuances carry through to the oily textured palate that has moderate sweetness with baked pear, orange zest and subtle cake spices. The amazing thing about this wine is its luscious, almost nectar-like texture, and while it gives that impression of sweetness, it's so well balanced it seems to finish dry. A ring-in to the theme of the evening and it was very interesting to compete this against the Greystone wine.
14.5% alc. Cork. $40.99.

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2008
Intensely deep dark red-black colour with a vivid purple glow. Savoury aromas with a smattering of dried herbs and while also quite savoury to the taste, there's vibrant redcurrant and raspberry fruit adding a wave of sweetness. With firm textured succulent tannins, a smoky infusion from the well-integrated seasoned oak and a touch of red liquorice and spice this is an outstanding New World expression of a classic Italian grape. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
A garnet red of moderate depth, this aromatic and sensuous silky pinot is earthy and deep with a harmonious tannin structure, a depth of savouriness, crushed wild thyme and dried fennel with concentrated tamarillo and black cherry fruit. While restrained in fruit sweetness, a hint of bitter chocolate adds complexity to the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $43.99.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep in colour, crimson purple, almost opaque. Deep savoury aromas with an earthy tarry element and vivid fruit flavours of black cherry with chocolate and gorgeous anise-like spices with silky tannins and creamy oak adding to the all-round appeal. It has depth and structure, a lovely perfume and a very smooth finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99 special.

Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby purple in colour with harmony to the sweet cherry and savoury oak scent. It's earthy and savoury, the texture is fine, silky and smooth with red and black cherry fruit, dried thyme and hints of anise. Underlying acidity adding brightness to the finish - the peacock's tail flare. A gold medal winner last year, this is still very youthful and while delicious drinking now, it is sure to be a long-lived wine. Gold Medal NZIWS 2008 & 2009.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Frizzell Hawkes Bay Merlot 2007
Deep black red. Quite perfumed and floral with savoury oak adding to the scent and flavours that are succulent and sweet with juicy plum and blackberry fruit, cedar and spice. Tannins are fine textured and lightly grippy while crushed red peppercorns tickle the tongue on the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Vivid purple red. Chocolate, smoky vanillin oak, hints of mint and blackcurrants tease the nose while the smooth creamy palate has a lovely fine tannin structure with violets and juicy blackberry and cassis fruit, chocolate, mint and cedar. A medium to full-bodied style (in the context of the gold medal Cabernets) with a deep intensity that is not overpowering - simply a deliciously drinkable Barossa valley style. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 23 Sep 2009
Some Trophy winners from the NZ International Wine Show
Not all the wines arrived in time for the tasting, so some two gold medal wines were substituted.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2007
Made from 68% Marlborough and 32% Waimauku fruit from West Brook's home vineyard, this resonates with toasty oak and layers of smooth creamy mouthfilling flavours. Tropical fruit, stone fruit and melon abounds with a bright zesty zing of citrus and the finish is deliciously juicy and long. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Chardonnay, Commercial White and Champion Wine of the Show.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special or $14.99 per bottle on case buys.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 Foundation Block Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Vivacious sweet pea and powerful passionfruit aromatics, even a hint of sweat and tangy to the taste with excellent balance of tropical fruit to the more gooseberry / vegetal side of SB. It's deep, pungent and zesty with passionfruit dominating the bright, juicy finish. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc.
13% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Toi Toi Marlborough Riesling 2009
Light lemon in colour with sweet juicy aromatics, this medium weight Riesling smells off dry but is actually quite dry to the taste with flavours of lemon, green apple and lime with a touch of honeysuckle adding a hint of sweetness to the long dry finish. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Riesling.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Gewurztraminer 2008
Light yellow gold with a gorgeous perfume of lychee juice, violets and Turkish Delight, this powerful rendition is just off dry with a richness of flavour and a deft hand of spice. An intense, full on style with a silky texture and orange water, rose petal and hints of anise all adding to the mouthfilling allure. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
Spicy, perfumed, bath talc aromas and then in the mouth a lovely expression of sweetness balanced by delicate spice and distinctly varietal flavours of Turkish Delight, orange honey, rose water and spice. The texture is fine, delicate and silky and the finish is clean and never cloying. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13% alc. Cork. $28.99 special.

Burnt Spur Martinborough Pinot Noir 2007
Deep ruby with flashes of purple, almost opaque. Savoury aromas, earthy and gently smoky with bittersweet red fruits that carry through to the lightly spicy and silky textured palate with flavours that are finely textured, savoury and long and juicy sweet fruit just adding that extra flourish to the lasting finish. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99 special.

Selaks Winemakers Favourite Merlot Cabernet 2008
Deep back red with a crimson glow. Vibrant toasty French oak, oak spice and a red berry aroma and full of plum and blackberry fruit in the palate with a layer of strawberry chocolate too. A lovely smooth, medium bodied style, oak enhances the savoury element without intruding and the tannin structure is velvety and fine. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red Merlot Malbec 2008
Vivid black red. Smelling incredibly smooth and seamless, it tastes it too. Nicely seasoned smoky French oak, fruit cake spices, a touch of chocolate and succulent plums and black cherries. Tannins are smooth and velvety and the wine oozes class and finesse. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Merlot Predominant.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Artero Tempranillo 2008
From the La Mancha D.O. in Spain, this deep black coloured wine has intriguing floral, cherry and tobacco scents and lovely fresh berry flavours with a musky rose petal infusion and a savoury backbone - even a touch of mint. A very modern Spanish style - velvety smooth and juicy. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion International Red.
14% alc. Cork. $16.99.

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
A rich, juicy wine, deep in colour and bright and fresh in flavour. It's full of biscuity oak, chocolate and cherry on the nose and juicy red and black fruit in the palate with soft smooth tannins, creamy vanillin oak, peppery spice and a savoury depth with McLaren Vale's signature chocolate signing off the succulent finish. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Commercial Red Wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Yalumba Hand Picked Barossa Shiraz + Viognier 2007
Purple black. Fragrant sweet cherry and plum aromas, bright, clean and ultra smooth tannins with a freshness of fruit encapsulated by chocolatey oak and a finishing flourish of peppery spices. A big wine with a savoury depth and all round deliciousness. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Shiraz.
14.5% alc. Cork. $36.99.

McWilliams Show Reserve Liqueur Muscat Limited Release
Thick, dark and syrupy in appearance with a heady aroma of muscatels stepped in brandy and golden syrup and even richer to the taste - liquid toffee, muscatels, orange liqueur and luscious wood-aged characters with a thick, syrupy texture. A sensational wine with another trophy to its already impressive haul. Gold Medal NZIWS and Trophy for Champion Fortified Wine.
18% alc. Cork. $N/A

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 16 Sep 2009
Gold Medals from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Very pale coloured in appearance with a slight hint of musk to the juicy, tangy aroma and smooth, almost creamy flavours with green bean, passionfruit, honey, orange and hints of fresh coriander. Bright, flavoursome and juicy and while not as intense as some of the other 'Pioneer Block numbers, the touch of sweetness with have lots of appeal.
13% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Cypress Terraces Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
Light gold. Creamy oak and butterscotch aromas and smooth creamy textured flavours of butterscotch, savoury oak, spice peaches and cream. Lovely harmony throughout with a seamless flow and a punchy vibrancy to the juicy finish. Yum.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Bright yellow gold. Appealing peach and dried mango aromas and spicy oak flavours balance the fleshy peach and pineapple fruit. Medium to full-bodied in style with a spicy kick to the toasty oak finish where the ripe juicy fruit does a beautiful balancing trick.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

West Brook "Blue Ridge" Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Moderate gold. Lovely mealy barrel-ferment scents - nuts, fig and a hint of lemon - savoury in nature - savoury French oak and a harmonious silky texture. Fruit brims from behind the toasty oak to leave a lasting impression of nuts, figs, melon and peach. Ripe and rounded with a mealy complexity. Delicious.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Vidal Marlborough Riesling 2009
Very pale gold. A fresh, fruity Riesling with a sweet citrus and spring flower fragrance and juicy lemon and mandarin flavours with youthful acidity balanced perfectly by a juicy, tropical fruit sweetness.
13% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Fletcher Riesling 2008
This off dry, lower alcohol style seems quite delicate but it builds concentration and power. Delightfully fresh with tropical fruit, sweet citrus and even a hint of feijoa, a hint of honey and lovely, balancing, citrus zest tang. Chilling introduces a little more sharpness.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Chakana Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - Lujan de Cayo, Mendoza, Argentina
From the foothills of the Andes, this deep black red coloured wine emits blackberry and cherry aromas and deep, earthy, savoury flavours with fine tannins, nuances of dried herbs, hint of liquorice and a long, rich, cherry-infused finish. A voluptuous red, savoury and deep with succulent blueberry, cherry and blackcurrant fruit and hints of cigar smoke too.
14.5% alc. $19.99 special.

George Wyndham Founders Reserve Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2006
Deep and rich with a dense black red colour, mint and chocolate aromas and gorgeous, deep, earthy, grainy- textured flavours with blackberry spice, classy French oak and sweeter American oak with hints of chocolate on the long savoury finish. A class act - 3 years old and still evolving.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Morambro Creek Padthaway Shiraz 2007
Deep purple back. Opulent mint and cedar on the nose with concentrated black cherry and raspberry fruit scents and bright juicy flavours wit a succulent depth. Deep and sumptuous, bright yet savoury, this gorgeous, full-bodied cool-climate Australian style hash loads of varietal pepper and plenty of oak and a creamy, vanilla-infused cedary finish. A great combo of fruit sweetness and spice. Outstanding.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Vivid purple red. Chocolate, smoky vanillin oak blackcurrant scents and violets and juicy blackberry flavours in this smooth textured, medium to full-bodied style. Smooth and creamy with a lovely fine tannin structure and deep intense flavours that are not overpowering.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Bremerton Selkirk Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2007
Deep purple. A pepper and spice-infused earthy vanillin oak aroma and sweet cherry, redcurrant and raspberry fruit over vanillin oak and a deep, rich, savoury backbone. Great harmony of toasty cedar, pepper, spice and fruit with ripe, rich, succulent tannins and a touch of chocolate on the lasting finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Barossa Shiraz 2008
Dense purple black. Big plum, liquorice and smoky oak aromas and bright-fruited spice flavours of blueberry, chocolate, pepper and cake spices. Full-bodied, intense, deep rich and sumptuous with tannins that are smooth and fine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2 Sep 2009
Chardonnay and Shiraz
Wines were tasted blind.

West Brook Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2007
Medium gold with a lustrous glow. Toasty oak on the nose and loats of oak flavours with melon and peach and a zing of citrus on the finish. If you love toast and love spicy oak, you'll love this wine made from a blend of Marlborough (68%) and Waimauku (32%) fruit. 13.8% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Yering Station Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2006
Light yellow gold. A tight austere wine showing a little reduction on the nose when first poured. In the mouth the smoky French oak is classy, the fruit is tangy and citrussy and the finish is dry. Creamy textured with with persistence of flavour and peach the lasting memory. A wine for long term cellaring.
13% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
Creamy gold in colour, this beautiful bottle-aged Chardonnay is rich, malty and mealy with a vanillin infusion to the smoky oak and a touch of grapefruit. A classy, fine textured, linear, barrel-fermented style with fleshy stonefruit and spicy oak increasing, it's still brimming with youthfulness and while drinking beautifully right now, it's also a worthwhile short-term cellaring proposition.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008
Light gold. A little citrussy on the nose with hints of nuts and butter and juicy tropical fruit flavours over a smooth creamy backbone and seemingly just a light touch of oak, probably because this 100% barrel-fermented wine spent just six months in oak and only 30% of the oak was new. A very nice wine but needs a little more time to further evolve. I reckon that by Christmas it will be absolute super drinking.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Matua Ararimu Chardonnay 2007
Made from Gisborne fruit in one of Gisborne's best Chardonnay seasons ever, this flagship white from Matua Valley is golden in colour with a buttery inflection to the citrussy aroma and a smooth rounded mouthfeel to the toast, caramel, nectarine and peach flavours. Oak seems to become spicier with every mouthful and the finish is full and long.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Gisborne Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold in colour, this is a spicy, nutty, leesy style with plenty of citrus, zest and spice that's accentuated by light chilling. There's sweet toasty oak and a juicy tropical fruit explosion as the wine warms up with hints of butterscotch/ caramel emerging add adding to the overall appeal on the long lasting finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Browns of Padthaway T Trellis Shiraz 2006
Deep dark red, almost black with fresh blood edges. Spice and cherry aroma and vibrant fruit in the palate - ripe, juicy red fruit dominated by cherry with a touch of chocolate and a touch of spice. Soft, smooth, easy to drink.
15% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Shiraz 2008
Purple black in colour, the nose resonates with creamy oak and the palate brims with upfront fruit of red berries and mulberries with hints of violets adding an intriguing floral allure. The texture is smooth and creamy, tannins are fine and there's a mocha notion to the finish with embellishments of pepper and spice.
15% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2008
Massive purple black in colour, this is a bigger wine in every respect. Powerful violet and purple fruit aromas with just a suggestion of mint, and a firmly structured, fine textured palate with oodles of blackberry fruit, a profound depth to the spicy flavours, harmony to the French and American oak and a creamy flourish to the long full finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2005
There's a notion of age both in the bricking to the edges of this deep red-coloured wine and to the savoury, mellow disposition of the flavour but still with a juicy brightness, a meaty backbone and plenty of Shiraz-like spices. Gentle in attack with a persistent finish, it seems to hide the alcohol well and is drinking beautifully right now. The little touch of age really becomes it.
15% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Two Hands Angels Share Barossa Shiraz 2008
Youthful in appearance with its shiny purple black colour, but a little like port on the nose with raisin-like fruit and heady alcohol fumes. A big gloopy wine in the palate with dark, jammy mulberry and blackberry fruit with vanilla and a confectionary sweetness from the 100% American oak. Very soft and smooth for its age and sure to appeal to the many who like a full on fruity, 'easy drinking' style. Personally, it's not my style.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Wyndham Black Cluster Shiraz 2005 - Hunter Valley
Rich deep back red. Youthful and tight with leather and spice and a tightly structured backbone with slightly grainy tannins - this is a blockbuster wine in a very refined way - perhaps one of the most exceptional Shirazes ever to come out of the Hunter Valley. Increasing succulence since last tasted in March '09, with ripe red currant-like fruits and a savoury earthy depth. No-one in the room guessed this as Hunter, by the way.
13.5% alc. Cork. $68.99.

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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