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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

July 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 - 28 Jul 2010
Anything but New Zealand
Wines were tasted blind.

Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut NV - South Australia
Lemon gold with a fine bead of bubbles, this is a rich yeasty oxidative style with a marmite backbone, a biscuity richness, a zesty citrussy brightness and a long creamy finish. Stylish yet refreshing with attractive bottle presentation as well.
12.5% alc. Cork. $27.99 special.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2007 - Loire, France
While a little subdued on the nose, the flavours of this golden coloured wine brim with apple, pear, honeysuckle and lime on a lightly oily texture with a hum of bright acidity that carries the finish for ages.
12.5% alc. Cork. $31.99.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2007 - Margaret River, WA
Yellow gold in colour with caramel and toasty oak on the nose, it is full and fat in the smoky palate with a hint of fig and while very dry, with a citrussy zing to the finish, it's long and luscious, classy and seamless.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $53.99.

Artero Tempranillo 2009 - La Mancha, Spain
This dark purple red coloured wine is aromatic, fruit forward and juicy. Full of plums and raspberry with a hint of tobacco all wrapped in warm velvety tannins with a dry finish and an almost floral lift to the finish, there's an appealing touch of chocolate too.
14% alc. Plastic cork. $16.99 special.

Sierra Cantabria Seleccion Rioja (Tempranillo) 2008 - Coscecha, Spain
Darkish red in colour, this wine has an interesting aroma that whisks one to a delicatessen. Smoky, savoury, cured meat aromas carry through to the palate to be joined with spices and a floral note, hints of earth and leather and juicy plum and cherry fruit. A little more structured and concentrated than the previous Tempranillo, the savouriness of this wine is really the key.
13.5% alc. Cork. $26.99.

Cantine due Palme Canonico Negroamaro 2007 - Salento, Italy
A dense, black red-coloured wine with jammy sweet fruited and cedary aromas indicative of very ripe grapes or a very hot climate. It has ripe, juicy and fruit-sweet flavours with loads of plum and liquorice, a touch of cigar box, supple tannins and a dry smoky finish. Fantastic value, great drinking.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99.

The Winery of Good Hope Pinotage 2009 - Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dark blackish red in colour with a thick, earthy savoury aroma infused with concentrated berries and a hint of chocolate. Spicy and savoury to the taste with a firm tannin structure, concentrated juicy bramble and blueberry fruit, a hint of mint, and a long full finish with a sweet smoky aura despite there being no oak. Probably the surprise of the night.
14% alc. Screwcap. 22.99.

Papa Luna Garnacha Shiraz Monastrell 2007 - Calatayud, Spain
This is a dark fruited juicy wine with a dense pinky-red black colour. Cassis, cedar, vanilla, chocolate, pepper and herbs give a taste of familiarity but a tarry, earthy, savouriness hints of Europe. A blend of 70% Garnacha, 25% Shiraz and 5% Monastrell, it has smooth supple tannins with raspberry coming forth on the smoky finish.
14.5% alc. Plastic cork. $28.99.

Chanarmuyo Reserva Malbec 2008 - La Rioja, Argentina
Inky black with crimson edges, it's actually quite floral on the nose but there are also aromas of nugget and massively concentrated plummy fruit. A big wine, brooding and dense with a substantial tannin structure, a concentrated blockbuster in fact. It's jammy, meaty and gamey with smoky oak, plums, herbs and violet on the long, juicy finish. Delicious if you like Malbec. I do.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz 2006 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Inky black-purple with violet edges, this flaunts its Australian origin with its American oak, chocolate, cedar and cherry aromas. Full-bodied and juicy, spicy and peppery, with smoky vanillin oak, blackberry and raspberry fruit and a plush, lush texture, it looks amazing for a 4-year-old wine and definitely worthy of a gold medal at the NZ International Wine Show last year.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz 2008 - Barossa Valley, South Australia
Purple black in colour, this is another massive dense looking wine and it builds in power in the glass. Vanilla, spice, pepper, red berries and black cherries, it's a juicy blockbuster with a smooth tannins finish. Aussie Shiraz fans will love this.
15% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Brown Brothers special Late Harvest Orange Muscat & Flora 2008 - Victoria
Citrine gold in colour with mandarin and honeysuckle aromas, this is a light, fresh sweetie, perfect for a mid meal sorbet or after dinner with fruit. The sweet Muscat grapes dominate the flavour with hints of hints of tarragon and apricot while mandarin-like acidity brings it all into balance.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 Jul 2010
No Wimpy Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Kim Crawford Doc’s Block Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
And it starts on the right track with this big, bold, golden Chardonnay with rich toasty oak, loads of juicy stonefruit and mealy nutty spicy flavours and a refreshing balance of citrus on the beautifully rounded finish. Drinking beautifully now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
Toasty oak combines with citrus, melon and tropical fruit in this much drier style with spicy savoury oak and a nutty complexity to the very long finish. Still quite young and zingy but destined to become spectacular, it is one of only three New Zealand Chardonnays to be awarded a gold medal in this years International Chardonnay Challenge, judged in Gisborne.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Taylors Jaraman Chardonnay 2008 - Adelaide Hills/Clare Valley
Figs and stylish toasty French oak abound in this classy wine. It’s quite dry with a spicy savoury richness and lingering yellow fruit sweetness. A wine to match to snapper or prawns. Gold medal winner in Brussels.
14% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Selaks East Coast Ice Wine 2007
Deep burnished gold in colour this little sweetie has a waxy, honeyed aroma and apricot, toffee and candied citrus peel flavours. It’s concentrated and rich, with loads of viscosity, a fine seamless texture and a raisiny finish. Made from a blend of Gewurztraminer and Riesling, a little goes a long way.
11% alc. Screwcap. $NA.

Quota 29 Primitivo 2008 - Salento, Apuglia, Italy
Deep pinkish-tinged red in colour this is fragrant smelling with a floral overlay to the berry, eucalypt and chocolate scents. A succulent, juicy red with a supple, fine textured palate, a savoury backbone to the juicy red and black fruit flavours and a nuggetty richness to the smoky, meaty finish. Ripe and approachable with drinkability plus.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna 2005 - South Australia
Poured from a magnum into jugs for serving, this is a deep dark red colour with a concentrated aroma and even more concentrated, deep, profound flavours of vanilla oak, chocolate, spice and berries. An absolutely beautiful wine with a silky tannin structure, some lovely savoury slightly earthy flavours that have accrued with age and a long, full, yet bright finish. The Rewards of Patience gives a drinking projection of up to 2030.
14.5% alc. Cork. $44.99 special (Magnum price).

Shot in the Dark Shiraz Petit Sirah 2008 - NSW
Purple red. Initially quite savoury smelling until blackberries infiltrate the scent and hints of chocolate too, this is a sweet-fruited wine with chocolate and spice, hints of mint and robust tannins on the deep dark smoky finish. Smooth, succulent and long, it stood its ground well after the glorious Bin 28.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Deep, glossy, purple black in colour, this momentarily seems like a tarry savoury wine but juicy red and black fruits well up from within together with chocolate, creamy vanillin oak and peppery spice. With its incredible fruit intensity, super smooth tannins and downright drinkability, this is one of the great buys. Gold Medal and Champion Commercial Red Wine NZ International Wine Show 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special or only $13.99 per bottle on 6-pack buys..

St Hallett Old Block Barossa and Eden Valleys Shiraz 2005
A dark red colour, showing a hint of bricking, there’s smoky vanillin oak and menthol on the nose and it’s dense and savoury in the palate with a touch of barnyard character. Full-bodied and juicy with plum and mulberry fruit, pepper, earth, smoke, mint and dark chocolate, yet still quite brooding so decant for best enjoyment.
14.5% alc. Cork. $71.99.

Shinas Estate "The Verdict" Victoria Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Shiny black red, this smells of woodsmoke and juicy blackberries and while the tannins are still a little furry, the juicy tasty flavours of blackberries, boysenberries, chocolate, mocha, spice and smoky oak are quite delicious and sumptuous and seem to mask the alcohol. Has a little age and is drinking very well now. "Could be the biggest red wine in the shop," says Kingsley.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

[Yellowtail] Premium Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Deep dark red, youthful for its age, this has a lovely rich, ripe, spicy aroma and is a bright, fruited, oaky wine with vanilla, chocolate and earth and dried herbs supported by fine textured silky tannins. Tasted four years ago, it was magnificent then and although some bottle variation in the room on the night, the bottle I tasted from was still magnificent now. The winner of the Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner 2004.
13.5% alc. Cork. $42.99.

Barossa Valley Estate E & E Black Pepper Barossa Shiraz 2003
A deep dark profound and utterly concentrated wine that needs to be enjoyed in a big glass, it’s dark in colour yet bright in flavour. There’s vanilla, chocolate, concentrated berry and savoury scents and a brightness to the flavour juicy dark red fruit, fine tannins and a long luscious finish with just the right amount of black pepper spice. Hard to say anything other than ‘excellent’.
15% alc. Cork. $NA.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14 Jul 2010
Mostly All Brand New
Wines were tasted blind.

Bouvet Saumur Brut NV - Loire Valley, France
Straw gold coloured with a fine bead of bubbles, this Champagne look-alike has yeasty scents and toasty baguette flavours with a fine citrussy backbone and a super crisp savoury finish. Made from Chenin Blanc this looks like, sounds likes, tastes like but is not priced like Champagne.
12.5% alc. Cork. $23.99 special.

Craggy Range Seven Poplars Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2008
Oily and creamy with a distinctive butterscotch caramel flavour, this is a smooth, ripe, juicy wine with a smoky aura and hints of fig and nougat. Very tasty and slips down easily. Totally hits the spot. Very, very good.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Astrolabe Voyage Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Smoky, nutty aromas - savoury more than fruity, this stylish barrel fermented wine is nutty and fairly dry with hints of grapefruit, Burgundian-like oak and a zesty finish. Still looking youthful for its age.
13.5% alc. Screwcap $27.99.

Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer Stegreben de Rorschwihr 2004 - Alsace, France
Moderate deep gold with fragrantly perfumed floral scents and a hint of orange bitters. A luscious, perfumed, oily textured wine with Turkish Delight, bitter orange and ginger-like spices that dance on the tongue yet seamless throughout with a lasting impression. Decadent and delicious, a must for Gewurz-lovers.
13% alc. Cork. $56.99.

Urlar Noble Wairarapa Riesling 2009
Tropical fruits abound in this light, sweet wine with a mild fruit tea and honey character, the sweetness beautifully balanced to the clean citrus-like acidity. A pretty little wine with a bright zesty zing.
13.8% alc. Screwcap $29.99.

Red Deer Station South East Australia Unoaked Merlot 2007
A fading Burgundy red colour, hinting of some age, there are hints of stewed cherry and plum on the nose of this very savoury smelling wine that is contrastingly sweet, ripe and juicy in the palate with strawberry-like fruit and mellow vanilla flavours. A perfect ice-breaker.
13.5% alc. Screwcap $9.99 special.

Fairmont Estate Block One Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2008
Plummy red in colour, this has a lovely savoury perfume with a smoky, meaty aura to the scent. Quite oaky and toasty in the palate with an earthy depth to the juicy, ripe, sweet plum-like fruit and super approachable already. Gold Medal Liquorland Top 100 2009.
14% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Deep purple red in colour, this is a lovely bright, spicy, tangy Pinot Noir, youthful in its expression with firmness to the tannins, underlying acidity, a minty nuance to the thyme-like herbal notes juicy black cherry fruit, wood smoke and a savoury finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $56.99.

Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2007
Densely coloured, almost black in the core with dark red rims. A deep rich savoury wine, full of smoky bacon with bittersweet guava and tamarillo supporting juicy black cherry fruit and a funky allure to the deep rich savoury finish. Drinking well now with life ahead of it. An excellent buy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Artero Legado Munoz La Mancha Garnacha 2008 - Spain
Dark red in colour with sweet fruit aromas tinged with cake spices and vanillin oak, this deliciously juicy, soft, easy drinker has red fruits, peppery spice and a savoury note to the finish. Made in a New World style for the export market, it was not surprising that no one picked this as Northern Hemisphere wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap $15.99 special.

Kingston Estate Mount Lofty/Limestone Coast Shiraz 2008
Inky purple-black red. Perfumed with plums, spice and hints of menthol, perhaps a little sage too, this initially seems a savoury wine but it has that underlying juicy sweetness akin to hot climate South Australia with raspberry and plum fruit, peppery spices, vanilla, hints of mocha and a firm tannin finish. 4 Stars Cuisine Magazine
14% alc. Screwcap $12.99 special.

Wolf Blass Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 - South Australia
Inky black-purple in colour, this big bold blockbuster is super juicy and succulent with cracked pepper, tar and liquorice and concentrated black and purple fruit supported by super fine tannins and an amazingly long finish. A dinner party wine with fantastic cellaring potential. Gold Medal and Trophy Liquorland International Wine Show
15% alc. Screwcap $34.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7 Jul 2010
Spot the Difference
Wines were tasted blind.

Leasingham Magnus Clare Valley Chardonnay 2005
Honey gold in colour with toasty oak, melon, grapefruit rind and a hint of honey, this has a warm textural palate with toned acidity and a powerful dry finish. There's something interesting in here that is a little reminiscent of aged Semillon - perhaps it is the age of this Australian wine - it's five years on and still drinking well.
13% alc. Screwcap. $9.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2007
Light gold in colour, this Chardonnay is obvious from outset with savoury aromas and flavours of toasty oak, stonefruit, citrus and zesty spices with moderate acidity and a creamy finish. A gorgeous wine, tasted blind it was definitely the most popular of the two on the night. Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of the Show - Liquorland 2010. Five stars and No. 1 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Santa Ema Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2008 - Santiago Chile
Bright citrine gold in colour, this fat buttery wine has tropical fruit and toasty French oak aromas with a savoury undertone to the melon and bubble gum flavours with a tropical fruit finish and a dry lingering aftertaste. A slightly oxidative character makes it seems a little older than the vintage would suggest and most people didn't pick it as Chardonnay.
14% alc. Cork. $24.99.

Main Divide Waipara Riesling 2009
Light gold in colour, the perfume is musky - a little reminiscent of Cecile Brunner rose initially, then mandarin aromas cone to the fore. Fresh and fruity with a zesty impression, a tingle of spritz adding to this effect, it's full of juicy apple, citrus and lime sherbet flavours with a touch of sweetness adding to its allure. The most preferred of the two Rieslings on the night.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Bischoflichen Eitelsbacher Marienholz Riesling 2006 - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Light yellow in colour, the initial impression from the flinty aromatics is that this is a dry Riesling but tastes sweeter than expected. It's full of lime and honeysuckle with a weighty mid palate, hints of stewed apple and a slightly astringent citrus skin finish. Showing just a little bit of bottle age. QBA (= Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiet - quality wine from a specified region).
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Protocolo Tempranillo Tierra de Castilla 2008 - Spain
Impenetrable black red in colour, this has a concentrated redcurrant and mocha scent and concentrated flavours of nutty fruit cake, cherry, violet, vanilla and hints of tobacco with a dry spice finish. Though bold in colour, it has a pleasing, medium weight palate and a long lingering finish. A great introduction to Tempranillo.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

d’Arenberg Custodian McLaren Vale Grenache 2006
Fading Burgundy red in colour, it smells a little muddy and rustic to start, later mint and cedar make the nose more appealing. Stewed red fruits, leather, tar, spice and cedar join pepper in the finely textured palate with hints of anise on the rich powerful finish. Worth persevering, it shows the traits of bottled-aged Grenache very well.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

El Puno Calatayud Garnacha 2007 - Spain
Concentrated black red. Chocolate, vanilla, mint, cedar combine on the interesting evocative nose of this youthful tight wine and while it seems a little herbal on first tasting, it is concentrated with a dark savoury backbone, firm tannins, underlying acidity, a hum of red fruit and a surge of vanillin oak on the full rich finish. A food wine and worth cellaring for a while.
15% alc. Cork. $52.99.

Beresford Highwood Langhorne Creek Merlot 2008
Dark red in colour, mint and eucalypt abound on the nose of this soft, rich, mouthfilling wine with a very approachable tannin structure, plummy fruit, a tinge of pepper and a little bit of chocolate too. Trophy for Champion Merlot at Liquorland 2010.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Merlot 2006
Dark red in colour, this has a stewed plum/prune aroma with hints of leather and toasty oak while the palate is earthy and savoury with barnyard and leather, plum, blackberries, liquorice and just a suggestion of mint. A concentrated red with smoky oak, velvety tannins and a lingering finish - still youthful for its age.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Syrah 2008
Inky purple black in colour, this is opulently perfumed, almost floral, perhaps there is a smidgen of Viognier in the wine? Hugely concentrated with firm grippy tannins, red brambly fruit, chocolate, mocha, tar, a rustic note to the backbone and the classic black pepper signature to the finish, a wine that can be cellared or enjoyed with food right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Chocolate Box 'Dark Chocolate' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2007
Dark muddy black red in colour, it is true to its name with chocolate box aromas infused with meaty spices. A smooth mellow wine with lovely supple tannins that evolve with some age, it's full of chocolate, raspberry and blackberry fruit, vanilla, earth and spice and the finish is long. Really has a lot going for it, including the evocative label.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 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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