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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

January 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 - 27 Jan 2010
Focus on Spain
Wines were tasted blind.

Torres Vina Esmeralda 2008 - Catalunya, Spain
Light gold with fresh, enticing, fragrant bouquet that is a little pear-like, a little herbaceous, a little honeyish. This bright tangy wine has a very pleasing texture, a touch of honey, sweet citrus and zingy summer herbs. It's fresh and bright with an oily richness and a lingering finish and is very tasty when served chilled as an aperitif on a hot summer's day. A blend of 85% Muscat and 15% Gewurztraminer.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Baluarte Verdejo 2008 - Reuda, Spain
Light yellow gold. A fragrant wine with an orange zest tang and crisp fresh, fruity flavours with an citrussy earthy depth, a lightly oily mouth coating texture, a touch of honey and a nectar infusion to the herbaceous aftertaste. A little reminiscent of a fruity Riesling, it has excellent length and leaves a zingy, fresh, citrus zest-infused, herbaceous aftertaste with a hint of musk. Made by Bodegas Chivite.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Coto De Hayas Garnacha Syrah 2008 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Black cherry red, deeply translucent. Sweet cherry jam aroma with a deep richness to the scent and flavours that are spicy and savoury with boiled lolly strawberry/cherry flavours, a little pepper and a soft creamy backbone supporting the fine tannins. Tremendous value. 13.5% alc. Cork. $13.99 special.

Granrojo Rojo Garnacha 2008 - Valdepenas, Spain
Blackberry red with crimson edges, this perfume is of bright, fresh, red berry fruit with a savoury tarry nuance coming through. It's more cherry / redcurrant jelly in the palate with a nicely balanced savoury backbone, little - if any - oak influence and a touch of anise-like spice on the finish. Smooth, rounded, medium-bodied, easy to drink. Made from 40 year old Garnacha vines grown in hills.
13% alc. Cork. $11.99 special.

Torres Coronas Tempranillo 2006 - Catalunya, Spain
Dark red with a touch of Burgundy to the hue hinting it may have some age. Savoury on the nose and tight, savoury, dry and spicy to the taste with plum and cassis fruit and a dark, integrated, savoury oak backbone. A hint of vanilla and a grind of pepper comes through on the finish, which is long and lasting with expanding vinosity. An excellent food wine, it is made from 86% Tempranillo and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon (no mention of Cabernet Sauvignon on front label).
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Torres Ibericos Crianza Tempranillo 2006 - Rioja, Spain
Dark pinkish red in colour with a pretty perfume of red fruits, a hint of rose petal and mint and very appealing bright, clean, spicy flavours. It's a fresh, juicy wine with fine smooth tannins, vanillin oak and a hint of tobacco on the finish and plenty of ripe cherry fruit. Depsite its freshness and juiciness, it is also savoury and meaty with underlying acidity that keeps the wine very bright. Medium to full-bodied and beautiful drinking right now.
14% alc. Cork. $28.99.

Codice Tempranillo 2007 - Manchuela, Spain
Youthful purple red in colour, this emanates a pure fruit aroma and pure red/purple berry fruit flavours with a fine silky tannin structure, sweet and savoury oak and a burst of spice. It has intensity, depth and richness without jamminess and a firm finish. Just six months in oak, it's made in a modern style. Vina de la Tierra de Castilla is written on the label.
13.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

La Multa Syrah 2007 - Calatayud, Spain
Dark black red. A big dark juicy black fruited wine with a bowl of freshly picked red and blackcurrants on the nose. Smoky and savoury to the taste, a bit of struck match or boy racer's tyres after a wheelie, this is sulphur reduction that will dissipate with some air. Fruit is like blackcurrant jubes with hints of olive and a long succulent finish. Savoury to start, spicy in the mid palate, some vanilla oak and fruit sweetness to the finish, it gets better and better in the glass.
14% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Pesquera Tempranillo 2006 - Ribero del Duero, Spain
Dark black red. Perfumed and floral with macerated raisin and a hint of barnyard, this full-bodied, savoury red has a fascinating flavour profile. There's a French oak influence, nutmeg-like spices, red fruit, a hint of earth and smoked venison yet all the time a wonderful depth of deep black fruits. A wine with firm meaty tannins and layers of complexity - you can enjoy now with food or put in the cellar for while. Tinto Crianza is on the label.
13.5% alc. Cork. $40.99 special.

GR-174 Garnacha Carignan Cabernet 2007 - Priorat, Spain
Deep dark red with a perfumed sweetness to the scent, this is smooth, creamy and sweet oaked with plum and berry-filled chocolates and a savoury undercurrent supported by fine tannins. A blend of Garnacha, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, a modern style with a long succulent finish. Made by Casa Gran del Siurana.
15% alc. Cork. $30.99 special.

Papa Luna 2007 - Calatayud, Spain
This dark, brooding wine is deep in colour with aromas of smoky oak, black fruit and allspice carrying through to the palate that seems a little closed even though the wine was decanted for an hour before the tasting. A difficult wine to interpret, a main course wine, it is full-bodied, deep, intense and worth persevering because of the fruit sweetness that characterises the long smooth finish and the bright spicy character that lingers. A blend of 70% Garnacha, 25% Shiraz and 5% Monastrell, it only had 5 months in oak. Incidentally, Papa Luna is an indirect reference to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
14.5% alc. Cork. $25.99 special.

Monteagvdo Delgado Zuleta Pedro Ximenez Sherry - Jerez, Spain
A dark, translucent toffee/amber colour with a green gold meniscus. The aromas are heady and filled with spice, chocolate and Muscat raisin scents and the texture is thick and unctuous with the alcohol spirit cutting through the thickness to leave a warm, cosy mouthfeel. Flavours of orange toffee, muscatels, nuts and spice are delicious and the finish is long and rich. A wine to enjoy after dinner, although some people pour PX on ice cream.
17.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special. 375ml bottle.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 Jan 2010
Focus on Italy
Wines were tasted blind.

Villa Jolanda Prosecco NV – Friuli
This light, tangy, refreshing, pale coloured bubbles is dry and crisp and even a little earthy and savoury with fruit a little reminiscent of Nashi pear and apples. It's a soft bubbles, almost creamy in the mouth, lighter than methode styles and even though it's incredibly dry there's vinous sweetness to the finish. Prosecco is a grape variety and this is made in a made in a 'Spumante style'. Recommended.
11.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Anselmi San Vincenzo 2008 - Veneto IGT
This blend of grapes, called Garganega (80%) and Trebbiano (5%) combined with Chardonnay (15%), is a green tinged light gold and smells as if it could have some oak although it doesn't taste oaky at all. It quite dry, rich and textural with an impression of oiliness to the texture and a nutty mealy undercurrent - actually the aromas could have been a toasty mealy nutty character - while the fruit is reminiscent of lime and pear. A medium to full-bodied style with a tangy finish. Very acceptable.
13% alc. Cork. $23.99 special.

Farnese Pinot Grigio 2008 - d'Abuzzo region
The light gold wine is definitely not Italian Pinot Grigio as we thought we knew it. It's moderately full-bodied and not austere at all. There's a smoky note to the aroma with a mealy character and a hint of grapefruit, the smoky note carrying through to the palate that's dry and crisp with an oily richness and a salty tang. Fruit is reminiscent of apple with a touch of stonefruit and I doubt if there is any oak. But like most Italian Pinot Grigio, it's so much better with food - bread and cheese did it on the night.
12.5% alc. $15.99.

West Brook Blue Ridge Chardonnay Marlborough 2007
Light gold. Spicy oak harmonises with stonefruit and citrus on the nose, those tempting characters carrying through to the palate with the fruit flavours under pinned by a leesy, lemony backbone and a long, smooth, rounded finish. As good as we remember. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Alpha Zeta 'V' Valpolicella 2008 - Veneto, IGT
Burgundy hue, like a lighter Pinot Noir. Nutty, smoky, dried herb and cherry aroma but so dry and tannic in the palate (although softened with bread and cheese) with those nut and cherry flavours coming through. Made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes it is like a poor man's Pinot Noir or a high class Beaujolais. Matt Thomson from Saint Clair is the winemaking consultant behind this wine.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99.

Farnese Sangiovese 2008 - Terre di Chieti IGT, Abruzzo
Black red. A little spicy and perfumed on the nose and fresh juicy fruit flavours reminiscent of brambles and black cherries with rose petals, spices and plush velvety tannins that makes the finish seem dry. Has a good long finish and would be a good food wine. 13% alc. Cork. $15.99.

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2007 - Tuscany
Deep Burgundy red, quite dark in the core of the glass. Perfumed yet savoury with a hint of cherry extract. Quite dry on first tasting with expanding vinosity, more of an old fashioned Italian style than the wines tasted so far. It has a spicy undercurrent and tangy acidity with dried herb, earth, a deep fruit intensity and dry silky tannins with dried herb and cherry/berry flavours lasting for ages. Delicious.
13% alc. Cork. $40.99.

Pikes "Luccio" Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet 2006 - Clare Valley, Australia
Bricking dark red, a little thin in appearance. Perfumed smoky aromas. Spicy and quite dry to the taste with flavours similar to the Tuscan wine but seemingly older (18 months older in fact) and thinner. There's earth, dried herb, stewed cherry fruit, underlying acidity and increasing richness to the finish. A good European look-alike from an unlikely source and drinking well now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Rivetto Barbaresco Ce Vanin 2005 - Piemonte
A fading Burgundy red, thin in appearance, typical of the variety. Perfumed with a salty savouriness, a hint of rose petal and sweet leather. In the mouth the first impression is that it is dry, savoury, salty and tannic with an earthy, leathery, gamey undercurrent and some macerated prune characters coming through - but then it opens up and the vinosity, warmth and length of this wine that emerges is simply amazing. Made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, one of the most tannic grapes in the world, a classic wine best enjoyed with food. A treat to try.
13.5% alc. Cork. $56.99.

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2008
Dense purple black - it looks New World but it isn't. A savoury wine both on the nose and in the palate. Big, dark and juicy with leather, tar, spicy oak, cherry and blackberry fruit and supple tannins.
13% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Quota 29 Primitivo 2008 - Salento IGT
Pinkish tinged dense purple black. Aromatic with spicy vanillin oak, this is a big, rich juicy wine with spice and black fruits, meaty tannins and a deep savoury undercurrent. Lots of oak, very very ripe and immediately approachable. Made by Menhir. Very popular on the night.
14% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Alpha Zeta 'A' Amarone della Valpolicella 2006- Veneto
Bricking colour, starting to thin. Nutty, dried fruit cake aromas. Silky smooth in texture, quite a sensuously textured wine. Savoury and smoky with dried red earth, liquorice nuances, a luscious richness to the dried cherry fruit, chocolate and a little bit of underlying tannin grip that assists in holding the flavour in the mouth. Another Matt Thomson wine made from Corvino, Rondinella and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
15% alc. Cork. $87.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 Jan 2010
Cuisine Sauvignon Blancs and Western Australian Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Invivo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Fresh citrus and summer herb aromas and lashings of tasting of citrus, gooseberry and herb flavours with tangy tropical fruit and hints of tomato stalk. Vibrant and fresh yet with an oiliness to the texture that adds softness and roundness to the mouthfeel. On a show of hands this was the outright favourite of the three Sauvs tasted on the night. Five stars and No. 2 in Cuisine. No 3 in Winestate's Sauvignon Blanc of the Year.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Matua Valley Paretai Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Such a contrast to the previous wine as well to the last tasting of this wine, it seems to have garnered some canned pea characters already. Then grapefruit on both the nose and in the palate emerges together with summer herbs and those are two of the characters that endeared this wine to the judges back in September. Gold medal NZIWS 2009. Five stars and No. 8 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 2 Swamp Block Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Perfumed, almost bath salts-like aroma and a little grainy/spritzy in texture but light and delicate in attack with tangelo-like citrus, summer herbs, underlying gooseberry and a nectarine sweetness coming through. Not as pungent as some of the Saint Clair Sauvs can be, which makes it very appealing. Four gold medals (Air NZ, Bragato, NZIWS, Top 100.). Five stars and No. 5 in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Sandalford Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2008 - Margaret River, WA
Yellow gold colour. Smoky oak and wheat germ oil aromas. Smooth and oily in texture with bright acidity (typical of the region) underpinning toasty savoury oak and fruit in the citrus, nectarine and yellow plum spectrum. There's richness to the finish and a persisting aftertaste. Very smart.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2006- Margaret River, WA
Pale lemon hue, youthful looking for its age. Citrus infused savoury French oak aromas with a blossomy, soapy, oily fragrance adding intrigue. The initial flavour is reminiscent of grapefruit but that quickly morphs into caramel cream with a spicy tangy undercurrent and mealy winemaking flavours coming through. Smooth and seamless. Deep, rich, powerful and spicy. Delicious already but underlying acidity will ensure longevity.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $116.99.

McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2006 - Margaret River, WA
Deep Burgundy red. Brambles, dried herb and toasted French oak aromas. A youthful tasting wine with bright acidity underlying the fruitcake cherry and soft plum flavours with some liquorice on the finish. Seems easy drinking with fine supple tannins and tastes better with every sip (it followed on from that fantastic chardonnay, remember).
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2006 - Margaret River, WA
Deep dark red with crimson highlights. Some sweet vanillin oak on the nose together with ripe cherry fruit. Beetroot is the first thing that comes to mind when tasted - sweet, earthy beets with a hint of mint then lots of creamy oak and deep rich berry flavours filling out to a rounded voluptuous finish. The acidity is soft, the tannins are meaty and bright spicy notes characterise the finish. Real wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Sandalford Reserve Shiraz 2005 - Margaret River, WA
Shiny black red, fantastic for its age. Similar aroma to the previous wine but better. In the palate this is super smooth and rounded with deep rich berry fruit, creamy oak, spices, hints of chocolate and dried herbs with a flourish of mint on this finish. Seems so easy to drink but it is deceptive. Great follow on from the 2004 that we all loved.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - Margaret River, WA
Dark red, with bright crimson edges. This is so strongly mint, cassis and cedary oak on the nose and in the palate, it’s archetypical of the variety. Violets and dried herbs add fragrance to the juicy fruit with a smoky, savoury undercurrent, well-integrated tannins and American oak adding vanillin sweetness. "Rounded, juicy and fruit driven" says Andrew. Gold Medal and Trophy - Royal Sydney Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special or $16.99 p.b. on case buys.

Mosswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Margaret River, WA
Deep dark red with pinky red edges, this super smooth wine is very reminiscent of a top notch South Australian, perhaps as good as Penfolds 707. It is chocolatey with fine American oak, grainy tannins, a deep cassis richness and flavour complexity with layers already developing and an underlying smoky savouriness coming through. "It ages magnificently," says Sam. A wine that could become a magical experience with more cellaring time.
14.5% alc. Cork. $114.00.

Xabegras Cabernet Merlot 2005 - Mt Barker, WA
Showing some bricking to the dark brown black colour, this is a high-toned wine with bright lifted fruit and shows development in flavour as well as colour. It's quite smooth with integrated tannins, biscuity oak, an underlying tarry character and hints of mint. Seem quite juicy and easy going although a bit of an anticlimax after the Mosswood.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 Jan 2010
First Tasting of the Year - Anything Goes
Wines were tasted blind.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Light straw yellow. Mowed grass and tropical guava scents and crisp, fresh, zesty flavours infused into a lightly oily texture. Packed with gooseberry, fennel, citrus, capsicum and apple with a touch of a salty tang, it's absolutely mouthwatering and refreshing. Juicy passionfruit and pineapple comes forth to linger on the lasting finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2008
Light lemon gold. A peaches and cream Chardonnay on the nose and toasty oak flavours with a creamy oily texture and plenty of citrus and the slightest suggestion of pineapple. The wine has a mealy undercurrent and caramel emerges on the lingering finish. Can definitely take chilling because that's how we had it. Gold Medal Air NZ Wine Awards 2009.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Kim Crawford Doc's Block Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Lemon gold with a vitreous lustre. Smoky savoury aromas and toasty flavours with a touch of vanilla and caramel cream quite dominant. Fruit is in the peach and nectarine spectrum and there's a spicy tang to the finish. Definitely a Kingsley style - he said it deserves a big glass or two.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2007
Some deep tints to the light gold colour. A little oily on the nose, the aromas dulled by chilling, however the mouthfilling taste of savoury, spicy French oak, grilled stonefruits and hazelnuts is delicious. It's seamless in attack and the finish is long.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99 special.

Cumulus Wines Rolling Pink 2009 - Central Ranges, NSW
The colour of a rubellite gemstone, this attractive looking made from 100% Shiraz sparkles in the glass. Perfumed with raspberry and strawberry, it's just off dry with a touch of spice and rose petal florals enhancing the red berry fruitiness. It finishes dry and a little bit of tannin grip adds structure. Gold Medal and Trophy for Champion Rosé at NZIWS 2009.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Jules Taylor Gisborne Rosé 2009
Light ruby pink in colour with aromas of dried plums, brambles and spice, this seems quite dry. Fruit is in the strawberry and plum spectrum and a touch of liquorice hums through the silky backbone. Made from 100% Merlot, it's made to be chilled and tastes just delish straight from the fridge. Gold medal NZIWS 2009.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Purple garnet with a dense translucency. Slightly herb-infused red and black cherry aromas with a hint of spice and funky, earthy, savoury flavours with a plum and black cherry sweetness. A plush medium-bodied wine with smooth gentle tannins and a touch of underlying acidity that adds a pleasing tang to the finish. Made by Mt Difficulty Wines.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Dark garnet, translucent in appearance, this soft juicy, medium-bodied wine has wild thyme and cherry aromas and bright, spicy, savoury flavours with a peppery, zesty tang. Those hints of Otago's wild thyme come through, the tannins are fine and silky and the red-blue fruits impart a fruity finish. Made by Peregrine Wines.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Carchelo Monastrell Syrah Cabernet 2007 - Jumilla, Spain
Black red, opaque in appearance. The aromas are reminiscent of plum with hints of chocolate and spicy vanillin oak. Quite earthy and savoury to the taste with some herbal nuances behind the blueberry fruit. There's some tannin grip to balance the juicy fruit with liquorice and spice and a touch of mocha filing out the finish. A smart wine for the price and with the new and attractive bottle presentation it is extremely appealing.
14% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Shiny purple black, dense to the core with crimson edges. Deep, rich, heady, sweet oak aromas with chocolate and a hint of rose petal. A full-bodied red with a smooth slippery presence and flavours of biscuity spice, chocolate, liquorice, blackberries and black cherries with the real clue to it being Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Shiraz the lack of pepper and the brightness and vibrancy of the lingering finish.
14.5% % alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red Merlot Malbec 2008
Deep, dense black red, quite shiny too. Savoury aromas of French oak, leather and plum carry through to the palate to underpin the upfront plum and cassis fruit with fruitcake spices and hints of chocolate. A medium to full-bodied red with velvety tannins supporting the fruit. Trophy for Champion Merlot - NZIWS 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Cat Amongst The Pigeons Nine Lives Barossa Shiraz 2007
Dark red, opaque. A juicy, jammy style with cherry pie and sweetish American oak aromas followed on by redcurrant and cherry fruit flavours with smooth supple tannins, spice, creamy vanillin oak, hints of chocolate and a tangy undercurrent to the red liquorice finish. No. 4 in Cuisine Magazine, Blue Gold Sydney Top 100.
15% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 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.

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