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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2010 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

December 2010
[ 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 - 22 Dec 2010
Christmas Tasting
Wines were tasted blind.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2008 – South Australia
Clear, light to moderate gold in hue with citrus blossoms on the bouquet and racy acidity, lime and lemon fruit, mandarin peel, a honeyed mid-palate richness and a long tangy finish. This is distinctly dry Australian Riesling and right now it's a baby. It will develop a gorgeous toastiness with a little age.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

The People's Awatere Chardonnay 2009 - Marlborough
Moderate to deep gold with an appealing caramel and barrel-ferment scent. Spicy oak fills the palate with malt and grapefruit and abundant underlying zest. Tropical fruit takes over the finish. Well-rounded, smooth and seamless all the way through. Very tasty. Gold NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Light yellow gold, not hinting of any age, this is a tight, elegant and very dry style perfumed with smoky cedar, nuts, and wine biscuits and nut and fig characters coming through in the high-toned palate. A beautifully refined, silky drop with hints of apricot, pineapple and tropical fruit layered with butterscotch on the lasting finish. Total class.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Gewurztraminer 2008 - Alsace, France
Tropical fruit, lychee, orange and rose water fill the heady bouquet of this golden coloured luscious drop, the sweetness balanced beautifully by exotic, Moroccan-like spices and a tickle of ginger. A butter toffee character fills the finish and with its low acidity, it is soft, rich, spicy and long. A decadent drop for the hedonist in the family.
13.5% alc. $41.99.

Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling 2008 – Waipara Valley
This late harvest style is moderate to deep gold in its clear, gemmy colour. Honeysuckle and lime radiate from the bouquet and there's a delicate hint of spritz to the texture. Finely poised acidity balances the nectar-like sweetness to perfection. Luscious. Delicious. Simply divine.
11% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Torres Ibericos Crianza Tempranillo 2007 – Rioja, Spain
Deep maroon red in colour with aromas that are smoky, spicy, savoury and earthy, perhaps even a hint of barnyard coming through, and spicy, savoury meaty flavours with vanillin oak and a red fruit juiciness. Tannins are smooth, a tinge of acidity adds brightness and a touch of tobacco helps pinpoint the variety. One year in oak.
14% alc. Cork. $27.99.

Codice 'Tierra de Castilla' Tempranillo 2007 – Spain
Black purple-red with aromas reminiscent of red- and blackcurrant, and profoundly juicy flavours with very little influence of oak. Fine supple tannins, succulent plum and berry fruit and spice all add to this juicy wine's appeal. It's had six months in oak and is made in a 'New World' rather than a traditional Rioja style.
13% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Farnese Edizione NV (Bottled 2007) - Southern Italy Inky purple black, impenetrable to the eye, this immense, concentrated red has vanilla, smoky cedar and marmite on the nose and opulent flavours of juicy blackberry and raspberry with sweet oak and chocolate pushing through. Underneath is a leafy, meaty savouriness that brings it all into balance. Made from Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia Rossa from several regions and a blend of vintages, it's a blockbuster with an opulent finesse. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Cork. $51.99.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – Padthaway & Mt Benson, South Australia
Dark, deep maroon red. Fragrantly perfumed with creamy oak, cherry and concentrated currant scents and beautifully balanced flavours of currants, spice and chocolate underpinned by savoury oak, with its super fine tannin structure, the texture of this full-bodied red is just gorgeous. It's ripe, succulent and juicy with a well-rounded, mouthfilling finish. Gold and Trophy for Champion Cabernet, NZIWS 2010.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Browns of Padthaway T-Trellis Shiraz 2008 – South Australia
This is a biggie, full of pepper and spice and all things nice. Black red-coloured with blackberry, cherry, cedar and vanilla filling the bouquet and thick, sumptuous flavours crammed with biscuity oak, juicy red and black fruits, spice and pepper. Soft, succulent and rounded, it's easy to see why it is a First Glass favourite.
15% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2008– South Australia
Inky black purple - bright and dense. Juicy blackberry fruit and smoky vanillin oak scents carry through to the sumptuous palate. It's a big bold wine with rich grippy tannins and a savoury undercurrent to balance the lavish red and black fruits, Add peppery spices, hints of mint and chocolate, it has everything you want in delicious Shiraz.
15% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz 2005– South Australia
Showing some age on the nose and in the palate, this dense dark red-coloured wine has developed intriguing bottle-age characters. It's silky in texture with refined tannins, nutty oak, plum, spice, leather, chocolate and the ever so slightest suggestion of mint. Lovely drinking right now, definitely not a blockbuster in the modern sense, in fact it is what could be called, 'a brooding, old-fashioned Barossa style'.
14.5% alc. Cork. $73.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15 Dec 2010
Thinking of Christmas
Wines were tasted blind.

Quartz Reef Methode Traditionelle NV
This is a gorgeous fresh bubbles. Made from 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, there's apple sherbet and lemon bread on the nose and it's foamy in texture with a savoury yeasty backbone and though it seems quite dry, there's more than a touch of apple-like sweetness to the finish. Different and exciting.
12.5% alc. Cork. $24.99 special.

Pebble Row Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
There's no doubt as to what the variety is here with such aromatic, punchy aromas and the flavours are crisp and fruity with bright acidity underpinning the tropical fruit and nectarine flavours with hallmark summer herb grassy characters and a dry flinty finish. Made by the Vavasour crew, this was 5 Stars and No. 4 in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
There's no doubt as to what the variety is here, either, with a gorgeous caramel cream aroma and rich nutty flavours. It's a yellow gold colour and tastes quite malty with savoury oak, tropical fruit and peaches and a touch of hot spice to the warm, rounded, toasty, mouth-filling finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
You immediately sense the finesse both on the nose and in the palate. Light gold coloured, with nut and refined oak scents, it's spicy and savoury to the taste with a smooth seamless texture and delicate peach flavours coming through. A beautiful, beautiful wine, this was tasted after it spent about one hour in the refrigerator, but it doesn't want to be over chilled. Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of Show, NZIWS 2010.
14% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Gewurztraminer 2010
This light gold-coloured wine is tantalisingly aromatic with a bouquet of pink smoker lollies, honey, candied violets and lychees. Oily in texture with moderate sweetness and flavours of orange blossom, violet, white pepper, ginger, Turkish Delight and Moroccan spices and a soft, lasting finish. A beautiful expression of the style. Gold Medal and Trophy Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Riesling 2008
A creamy gold colour with fragrant aromas of lime and marmalade and Pegasus Bay's distinctive spritz in the palate, but otherwise a departure from the typical Pegasus Bay Riesling style. It's fuller-bodied with an oily texture and tantalising honeysuckle, lime and grapefruit flavours with a hint of botrytis coming through. There's fantastic acid balance to pull in the honeyed sweetness and it's fine and poised on the finish with pineapple coming through. 13% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
This deep, bright, dark Burgundy red-coloured wine has a floral bouquet with fruits of the forest, spice and game. It's silky in the mouth with fine velvety tannins and smoky oak, dried herbs, lovely dark cherry fruit and spiced plums and a very deep sense of earth and game. The aroma is beguiling and the ripe sumptuous flavours have a kick of pepper and cake spices filling out the finish. Gold Medal Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Sessantani Old Vines Primitivo Di Manduria 2007
This opulent wine is vivid and impenetrable in colour and seems almost black. Primary fruits like blackcurrants and plums fill the bouquet and the flavours are rich, ripe, concentrated and with currants, prunes, liquorice, spice and orange peel. A wine of stature and power with big grippy tannins dissolving into the sumptuous fruit. A little reminiscent of Zinfandel, in fact.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $49.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008
Dark crimson red. A little earthy and leathery on the nose at first with smoky oak, rose petals and red berry sweetness coming through. A big plump red with juicy strawberry, cherry and spiced plum fruit, creamy oak, a savoury almost barnyard depth and pepper emerging on the succulent, juicy finish. Ready now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008
Black red in colour with distinctive, peppery scents joined by smoke, berries, violets and leather. This wine screams finesse with its fine silky tannins and juicy red and black fruits together with spice, leather and savoury oak and a rich, ripe sumptuous finish with hints of chocolate and just a little bit of grip.
13% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Thorn Clarke Shotfire Barossa Shiraz 2008
With sumptuous chocolate, cherry and vanillin oak scents and succulent full-bodied juicy cherry and blackberry fruit flavours complemented with toasty oak, peppery spices, liquorice, mocha and chocolate and plush velvety tannins, this deeply coloured, supple red is hard to resist. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Allan Scott Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008
The citrine-gold coloured sweetie is intensely aromatic in the best possible way, like a bag of candied tropical fruit. Those aromas carry through to the decadently sweet palate where there is tropical fruit galore with honeysuckle, lime and nectar. Pretty hard to pinpoint the variety but who cares when it is so delish. Gold Medal and Trophy Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
9% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 8 Dec 2010
Spain, Italy and Great Value Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Villa Jolanda Prosecco NV
Light straw gold with fine frothy mousse. Spritzy rather than fizzy with salivating bitter apple, creamy soda and a salty nuance to the crisp, fresh finish. A great aperitif or lunchtime wine. Excellent presentation too.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Soho White Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Fragrant, slightly floral, a little oily – chilling restrains the aroma and its initially quite restrained in the palate, but not for long as the intensity of the variety comes through with zesty summer herbs, juicy apple, tangy citrus, and an abundance of passionfruit on the long, pungent almost toasty finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Mt Hector Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Star bright medium gold in colour, this is a rich, nutty, toasty bouquet and toasty oak and canned tropical fruit salad flavours fill the palate. A lovely full fat creamy style with enough zesty acidity to keep it all in balance.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2008 – Loire Valley, France
Light yellow gold in colour, this is a distinctly different wine, just off dry but full of clean acidity with a distinct saline tang. Made from Chenin Blanc grapes, this is oily in texture with a lovely infusion of tropical fruit, and apples and melon on the lingering finish. Very fresh and also deliciously refreshing. A touch of botrytis adds to the overall appeal.
12.5% alc. Cork. $33.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Noble Chardonnay 2009
Bright lime gold in colour. Fragrant and floral with nectar and a smoky nuance, this seems more like a medium sweet than a sweet wine. It's heading towards luscious in style with delectable flavours of toffee apple, baked pear, candied orange and raisins. Lightly viscous in texture. Unanimously liked on the night.
120 g/Li residual sugar.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special . 375 ml bottle.

Coli Montepulciano D' Abruzzo 2009 – Italy
Deep ruby garret, like a youthful Pinot Noir, this has a rich aroma of smoky oak, earth, cherries and leather and a nuance of grapefruit too. Red berries amalgamate with chocolate in the firm-textured, savoury palate, there are hints of dried herbs and violets and the citrus detected on the nose hums along in the background then pops out to brighten up the finish, which is gamey and long.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Pencarrow Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009
Bright purple-pinky red. Full aromas of savoury oak, bramble, pepper and spice and rich, juicy flavours of black cherries, chocolate, mocha and pepper over a deep savoury backbone with woody herbs, savoury oak and spice, and a long dry finish. Gold Medal Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Coto de Hayas Garnacha Syrah 2009 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Medium deep purple-pink-red in colour with an appealing bouquet of sweet smoky oak and fruitcake with a hint of mint and a full-bodied spicy savoury flavour with buckets of raspberry and black cherry fruit supported by creamy vanillin oak and chewy tannins. Very modern, juicy and succulent with pepper and violet on the finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. $13.99.

Castano Monastrell 2009 – Yecla, Spain
Black-purple red, fine in appearance with a smoky, savoury, slightly earthy aroma infused with appealing rose pepper, cherries and cake spice, this upfront, juicy, fruity, spicy mouth-filling wine has a fine silky texture, black fruits, and a cigar box and liquorice note to the dry flavourful finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Wolf Blass Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Inky black red with a vibrant bouquet of vanilla, eucalypt, chocolate, mocha and spice – very distinctive of its place. Full-bodied and succulent with abundant vanilla, pepper, allspice, cherries, chocolate and velvety tannins. Rich, luscious and creamy with a deep powerful savouriness to the long lasting finish. An absolutely terrific wine.
15% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Shiny, impenetrable black-purple-red with an intense and evocative aroma of eucalypt, mint, cedar and lashings of chocolate too. Full-bodied and powerful with fine but firm tannins, rich red and blackcurrant fruit, mint, cedar, and a savoury backbone with hints of cigar. It's drinkable now but decanting is recommended. From an excellent vintage, this is a wine that is worth cellaring.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Delgado Zuleta Pedro Ximenez Sherry NV – Jerez, Spain
Syrupy in appearance, it's the colour of steeped tea with a yellow-green tinge to the edge. Heady aromas of salted muscatels, dried figs and golden syrup prepare for the thick, viscous, honeyed nectar flavours with raisins, Muscatels, candied peel and toffee on the hot, syrupy, heady finish. What an excellent accompaniment this would be with Xmas Cake on the big day.
17.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99. 375ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 1 Dec 2010
Festive Bubbles and Wines to go with Turkey and Ham
Wines were tasted blind.

Nautilus Cuvee Marlborough Methode Traditionelle NV
Creamy yellow with fine bead and mousse. Baking bread scent and decadent bready, savoury, yeasty flavours with a touch of vinous sweetness skilfully cut by the fresh underlying acidity. Classy bubbles made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Gold NZIWS – judged amongst the Champagnes.
12% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

No 1 Family Estate Marlborough Cuvee No 1 NV
Shining gold. A little restrained on the nose with subtle floral and marmite scents, but rich flavours that are quite yeasty with hints of peach and a creamy texture cut by a hint of grapefruit with a touch of marmite savouriness on the toasty finish. The bubbles are very fine both in appearance and taste and it's dry and clean with fantastic length. Outstanding packaging too.
13% alc. Cork. $31.99 special.

No 1 Family Estate Marlborough Cuvee Virginie 2006
A rich, savoury, yeasty wine with a delicate aroma and lemon verbena in the palate combining beautifully with the spicy, nutty, creamy bready flavours. Very fine bubbles create a smooth springy texture and coat all the nooks and crannies of the mouth leaving behind a delicate marmite savouriness and toastiness. A blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir matured on lees for 4 years, this adds to the textural finesse and flavour and everything is in balance. Like the No 1, the packaging excels on this wine too.
12.5% alc. Cork. $64.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2008
Intensely aromatic with rich, mealy, toasty, barrel fermented scents tinged with nougat and grapefruit - instantly appealing to Chardonnay lovers and the palate of this light golden Chardonnay totally delivers too. A lovely nuts, fig and nougat style that's ultra-creamy in texture with spicy oak, juicy stonefruit sweetness and a caramel cream finish. Beautifully balanced, seamless and dangerously drinkable! Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99 special.

Thornbury Waipara Riesling 2008
Light gold coloured, a little 'petrolly' on the nose with a salty savouriness coming through and crisp and dry to the taste with richness and palate weight balancing the juicy citrus acidity. With 8 grams per litre residual sugar it could be considered just off-dry, though it actually seems dry. A powerful wine with a little age and rounded edges, it takes chilling well and is drinking beautifully right now. A bargain gold medal summer buy. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Peregrine Central Otago Riesling 2008
A bright fresh tangy wine with an immediate sensation of lime sherbet and racy lemon and green apple acidity – like biting into a Granny Smith apple. Honey notes come through on the floral finish yet it still gives the impression of being quite dry. Tip: do not over-chill this wine. Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Clos St William Waipara Riesling 2009
This light gold-coloured wine has lovely richness and roundness with honey, tangelo juice, tangelo zest and even a hint of rose petal. At the ripest end of the Riesling spectrum, when served chilled it has well-balanced soft acidity, a lovely slippery texture and flavours of red apple coming through. A Riesling for Pinot Gris drinkers.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Mission Estate Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Deep black red with purple crimson edges. A gorgeous bouquet of smoky oak, earth, pepper and spice, and the distinctive black pepper signature of Syrah permeating through the flavour. With earth, leather, sweet oak, juicy black cherry and blackberry fruit, smooth tannins and a long bright satisfying finish, it has that real NZ feel to it. Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards. An absolute steal.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Dark ruby/garnet red with a vivid, intensity. Creamy oak brims forth on the nose with subtle hints of strawberry, cherry and earthy savoury notes adding to the allure of the bouquet. Silky textured with spicy oak, a gamey, forest floor undercurrent and red and black cherry and plum fruit that is so juicy and succulent it simply wows the palate. Add to this a lovely dense structure and a savoury, smoky complexity and it really is very good wine. Champion Pinot Noir and Supreme Champion Wine Air NZ Wine Awards 2010.
14% alc. Screwcap. $35.99 special.

Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Reserve Padthaway Shiraz 2008
Shiny black with crimson-purple edges. A big, oaky, grunty-smelling wine with a sumptuous, full-bodied palate to confirm this. Velvety textured with firm tannins, vanillin American oak, chocolate biscuits, juicy black berries, earth, and plenty of pepper and spice. A hint of mint comes through on the finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
15% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Almost black in its shiny hue, chocolate and vibrant red berry scents and bright spicy flavours that simply wow. There's lashings of toasty American oak, lashings of juicy berries, lashings of chocolate, lashings of pepper and allspice. A big wine, for sure, but with its fine tannin structure and well-balanced savouriness, it’s delicious all round too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Brown Brothers Patricia King Valley Late Harvest Noble Riesling 2006
36 carat gold hue. Intensely aromatic – the bouquet is filled with honeycomb, nectar, pollen, apricots and candied orange. A rich sweet wine cut by sweet citrus acidity that balances it perfectly, with botrytis adding complexity and toffee on the lasting finish. Concentrated heady and rich. Outstanding!!!! 9 gold medals.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.95.

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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