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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2011 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2011
[ 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 Apr 2011
Cuisine Top 10 Chardonnays 2011
Wines were tasted blind.

Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay 2010
Golden coloured with a mealy scent, served well chilled it's a full-bodied savoury style with noticeable yeast and French oak influence, a nutty undercurrent to the lemon/ grapefruit backbone and a spicy finish. As it warms up, luscious stonefruit flavours come through.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Coopers Creek Swamp Reserve Chardonnay 2009
A textural wine with aromas of stonefruit with a hint of pineapple, and a lovely fruit profile in the palate to balance the savouriness, with hints of nuts and lanolin, finishing focussed and tight. 4.5 stars and No. 9 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
There's lots of appeal to the complex fragrant aromas and the full-bodied, rich, oaky, toasty flavours with a touch of butterscotch; a salty, savoury undercurrent; fruit reminiscent of stonefruit and citrus and a concentrated, powerful, lasting finish. Lovely balance throughout. Gold Air NZ. 5 stars and No. 2 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2009
The aroma is quite nutty and in the palate there's a creamy, hazelnut, wild yeast, malolactic influence coming through. Quite elegant and nutty to start, it compounds in richness and flavour and becomes quite concentrated and creamy with spicy oak and lingering flavours of caramelised peaches. Sophisticated. Classy. Really, really nice. Gold NZIWS. Gold Air NZ. 5 stars and No. 5 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Vidal Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
With tantalising Mackintosh toffee scents, this seamless wine has a sweeter profile with fruit well balanced to the savoury oak and an expansive concentrated, warm, spicy, biscuity finish. Served only very slightly chilled, as were all the Top 10 wines, it's absolutely stunning and one of the stars on the night. Champion Chardonnay at the 2010 Royal Easter Show. 5 stars and No. 6 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
Quite high-toned in comparison to the previous wines, an indicator of its more southerly origin, it's juicy and fruity with a lovely nutty, mealy, savoury undercurrent. Smooth and seamless in its delivery, it's very classy with hints of mandarin zest and fig adding finesse. 5 stars and No. 7 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Morton Estate Black Label Chardonnay 2007
Show noticeable gold to the hue, this is big, rich, toasty and oak with smoky aromas – perhaps a hint of bacon fat. There are lovely bottle developed characters that enhance the complex fig, stonefruit, lemon butter and salted caramel flavours and the savoury finish is mouthfilling and long. Gold Hawkes Bay Show. 4.5 stars and No. 10 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
After the tantalising aromas of macadamia nuts and lemon bread, this wine initially seems quite lean and nutty with a creamy malolactic influence to balance the flinty acidity. Slightly grainy in texture with a salty savoury undercurrent and nuances of stonefruit and citrus, it compounds in richness becoming quite magnificent with a lasting and memorable finish. Excellent wine. Gold and Champion Chardonnay Air NZ Wine Awards. 5 stars and No. 8 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2009
The aromas are smoky and a little funky with a hint of caramel and a suggestion of rolling in the hay. The flavours have a salty, savoury, nutty undercurrent balanced beautifully by juicy grilled stonefruits, mealy characters and classy French oak. With an uplifting brightness to the creamy finish, it's all elegance and class. Gold Air NZ. 5 stars and No. 4 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Kina Beach Nelson Chardonnay 2008
A little more golden in colour, this is a rich, fat wine with aromas of smoke, nuts, hints of grapefruit and oatmeal, and plenty of buttered toast influence to the flavours with additional complexity that comes from bottle age. It's fleshy with a peachy disposition; citrussy notes that are sophisticated and well balanced; and an expansive finish that is mealy, nutty and long. 5 stars and No. 3 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $28,99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2009
The bouquet offers up Mackintosh's toffees and some intriguing spicy notes too – there's surely some wild yeast influence here too. Bright and lifted in the palate, the acidity plays a starring role from start to finish with melon and a touch of tropical fruit at times wanting to take over the lead. Lovely savoury, freshly baked vanilla biscuit flavours come through too. The finish is full, fat and concentrated with a mealy deliciousness lingering. 5 stars and No. 1 in Cuisine Top 10.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Cat Amongst the Pigeons Nine Lives Shiraz 2008
Dense black red. Smoky aromas joined by plums, blackberries, cake spices, chocolate and leather carry through to the juicy and succulent palate that has a savoury, spicy undercurrent, firm but easy-going tannins and a touch of bitter chocolate on the finish. Came up very well after all the Chardonnays.
14.9% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 Apr 2011
The Andrew, Sam, Tony and Harvey Show
Wines were tasted blind.

12000 Miles Wairarapa Pinot Gris 2009
A warm, oily wine with a hint of vanilla to the aromatic scent and a little hot spice, with a ginger-like tingle, infusing the concentrated, full-bodied flavour. Apricot, apples, pears, honey and lovely lift to finish with a hint of Turkish Delight.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $10.99 special.

Coopers Creek Gisborne Gruner Veltliner 2010
A neutral wine at first, seemingly a little earthy and austere, but this is an exciting example of this New Zealand-grown Austrian grape. It's oily textured with ginger, green apple, guava and grape with racy acidity stimulating the taste buds and providing a fresh, dry finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Chardonnay 2008
Golden coloured with a peach and toast aroma and sweet-fruited, fat, full flavours of sizzled butter, stonefruit, toast and smoky bacon with a smooth delivery all the way.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Main Divide Waipara Pinot Gris 2010
A medium wine in sweetness level, juicy and fruity - like Watties fruit salad. There's a lushness to the texture; flavours of apple, melon, mandarin, grapefruit and pear, and that characteristic spritz, a hallmark of this producer's wines, cuts right through the fat. The second label of Pegasus Bay and like all this producer's wines, it is characteristically delicious.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Waimea Estate 'Classic' Nelson Riesling 2008
A fragrant bouquet of honeysuckle and lime follows through to the palate where racy acidity balances the natural grapey sweetness with honey and toast coming through. Lovely weight and concentration. Has become complex with that little bit of age and is drinking beautifully now.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Supper Club Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Ruby-hued, translucent in appearance, it's savoury and earthy with a little bit of dirt, bittersweet red fruit and silky tannins, a temptress as it compounds in flavour. It doesn't have the richness and density you'd expect from the Cromwell Basin, but has the savouriness you'd expect from much further north. Made by PW Wines, one of the 100 or so Central Otago producers.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mudbrick Shepherd's Point Waiheke Island Syrah 2010
Startling colour, like Black Doris plum jam, a character of the aroma too but the initially meaty, savoury taste is not what the nose suggests. A bit of a blockbuster, yet with surprisingly supple tannins, this is the seducer. Flavours of plums, leather, mocha, chocolate and pepper yet an enigma with it alcohol level. A cracker of a wine from a cracker of a vintage.
15.9% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache, Shiraz , Mourvedre 2009
Perfumed with vanillin oak and mint, this dense coloured red tastes ripe, sweet and chocolatey with blackcurrant and cherry and a hit of spice. It's smooth and generous in the typical Penfolds way with the Mourvedre adding savouriness and structure and imparting a dry character to the finish that lasts for ages.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Step x Step Shiraz 2008 - South Australia
Deep red-black coloured, dense and opaque. Aromas of 'cherry ripe' join biscuity oak with a touch of mint adding allure of the scent. Luscious and powerful with juicy sweet fruit and a plush velvety texture finishing with chocolate and cameo cream, it packs a punch much higher than its price point would suggest.
13.9% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

D'Arenberg Footbolt McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007
Show some bricking, indicative of some age, this is a savoury, earthy, meaty and leathery with firm tannins, great depth, richness and expanse. It's showing bottle development characters with a hint of barnyard and the fruit is just a memory, but the vinosity and length is very pleasing.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Dark red with a little bricking, it smells earthy and savoury, that savouriness carrying through to the palate. With plenty of plum and redcurrant fruit, cedary oak and smooth tannins, it's a wine to enjoy this autumn and winter because it probably won't improve with further cellaring.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Two Hands Sophie's Garden Padthaway Shiraz 2008
Vivid purple-black coloured, this is a huge, mouthfilling number for a relatively cool climate area. A voluptuous wine with brightness and vivacity, mint, chocolate, red and black fruits, firm yet succulent tannins, a lovely savoury undercurrent and an ultra long finish.
15.8% alc. Screwcap. $69.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 Apr 2011
Spain, Italy, France and South Australia
Wines were not tasted blind.

Carpene Malvotti Prosecco di Conegliano NV - Italy
This straw coloured sparkling has a fine bead of bubbles. The nut and lemon aroma echo in the flavour with a hint of lanolin, an infusion of quince, a savoury herbal undercurrent and vinous sweetness as it lingers. Eurocentric. Very fresh. Very dry. Very nice.
11% alc. cork. $27.

Taylors Jaraman Chardonnay 2008- Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The scent of this golden wine is smoky and toasty and those toasty traits carry through to the opulent, fat, oily-textured texture. Flavours of baked peach and canned apricots are underpinned with a mealy richness and oak spice. A stylish Chardonnay with the 'hot climate' taste of South Australia.
14% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Wolfberger 'Signature' Alsace Gewurztraminer 2009
This golden coloured wine has a distinctive bouquet of rose petals and Turkish Delight and the flavours are characteristically musk and spice. Moderately dry with a lightly oily texture and a long fine finish, it's hard to fault.
13% alc. cork. $19.99 special.

Coto de Hayas Tempranillo Cabernet 2008 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Purple ruby in colour with a deep plum and violet bouquet, it's a fruit forward wine with a juicy fruit sweetness, a meaty undercurrent and a touch of jaffa. The tannins seem firm but it has a silky veneer. Aged for four months in American oak barrels.
13.5% alc. cork. $17.99 special.

Coto de Hayas Reserva 2005 – Campo de Borja, Spain
Fading dark red in colour with a savoury richness to the bouquet, and dry tannins that make an impressionable entrance but quickly dissolve away. Dried cherries and dried roses infiltrate the flavour with chocolate and fruitcake spices. Overall a pleasing suppleness and vinous sweetness that lingers. Aged for 14 months in American oak and 2 years in the bottle before release.
13% alc. cork. $25.99.

Gran Sasso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2009 – Ortona, Italy
Dark red, almost black. The aromas are subtle – perhaps chocolate box, prunes. This is a big, meaty savoury wine to the taste, not really fruity at all. It has gutsy tannins and a dry finish and a lingering vinous sweetness with currants and spice.
12.5% alc. cork. $18.99.

Caldora Tierre di Chieti Sangiovese 2009 – Ortona, Italy
A rich, deep red colour with black tints, this is profoundly savoury smelling with hints of leather and farmyard to the scent. It tastes like a gutsy, well-balanced wine with juicy plum-like fruit, smoky oak, hints of tar and tobacco, and a long succulent finish. A wine that screams for food. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. cork. $18.99 special.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Vivid purple red in colour with a black pepper, leather and sweet oak bouquet that is intrinsic of New Zealand Syrah. That black pepper infiltrates the flavour, which is juicy and spicy with succulence and silky tannins. Supple and sensuous with lovely fruit and oak balance. Three trophies and overall champion wine at Sydney International Wine Show 2011. The 'Stand up' options wine on the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2008
Dark red with crimson tints. Strawberry-centred chocolates come to mind when smelling the bouquet. A big, rich, ripe, jammy wine with liquorice and allspice, it's deliciously juicy with supple tannins and easy to drink. Give me another glass please! Rated 94 points and No. 4 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2010. A bargain at the price.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Black red, vivid in hue, with mint adding a touch of magic to the cassis and vanillin oak bouquet. It's still quite tight with firm, velvety tannins but the flavours totally deliver with lashings of eucalypt, cough lollies, red and black fruits, mint, chocolate, cassis and leather. Made from Limestone Coast and Fleurieu Peninsula fruit, this generous wine is outstanding value for money. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

The Willows Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Showing some bricking to the dark red hue, this has a flamboyant mint and chocolate aroma that follows through to the thick, rich, sumptuous palate with cassis and cherry fruit, chocolate, more chocolate and lots more mint. Tannins are supple but have the necessary grip. A contradiction for Barossa but distinctively 'The Willows' in style.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Lustau Moscatel Emilin Sherry – Jerez, Spain
Dark amber with a sunshine glow to the rims. The bouquet is rich and powerful, it smells of juicy, macerated raisins infused with spices and orange peel. it's opulently viscous in texture with rich raisin and Muscat flavours, nuts, candied peel, a salty tingle and a surprisingly dry finish. A real treat.
17% alc. cork. $28.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 Apr 2011
MW Series with Jane Skilton MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2009
Light yellow gold-coloured with a smoky aroma that's infused with butterscotch and apricot, this flavoursome Chardonnay has flavours of apricot and tropical fruit with a firm seam of citrus, a savoury leesy undercurrent and a toasty richness. Fills out well in the palate and is super value for the price.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Felton Road Block 2 Central Otago Chardonnay 2009
Light lemon gold-coloured with a lemon brioche aroma that carries through to the savoury, malty palate. Texturally sublime – smooth, silky, mouthcoating – and while not overly fruity it has intensity and richness in the best possible way. Made from Felton Road's oldest Chardonnay vines.
14% alc. Screwcap. $51.99.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Moderate yellow gold with perfumed oak scents and a ripe fruit flavours with stonefruit joining savoury oak, lashings of toast, a touch of nutmeg and an undernote of grapefruit and lemon. Rounded in the palate and a finish that's long. Gold Medal AirNZ 2010.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Millton Te Arai Vineyards Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2008
Bright yellow gold with a gentle bouquet of honey, dried hay and lanolin, this is lifted on entry to the palate with zingy Granny Smith apple acidity tempered by honeysuckle and beeswax with a fumé-like savouriness from fermentation in oak barrels. It's off dry in sweetness level and has a great deal of finesse. Made to biodynamic principles and certified organic.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Taylor's St Andrews Clare Valley Riesling 2005
Pale gold coloured - surprisingly pale considering it is six years old, this exquisite Riesling has an earthy, fusel, lemon and lime scent and a buttered toast coating to the boiled lemon lolly flavours infused with blossoms and limes. It's meant to be bone dry but there's richness and weight that rounds out the edges and there's a lingering nuance of tarragon. "A textbook example and not expensive considering what you are getting," says Jane.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $43.99.

Steve Bird Old Schoolhouse Marlborough Riesling 2010
Straw in colour with a rich, citrussy, almost lime marmalade bouquet. Off dry to the taste with zippy acidity underpinning the fruity sweetness and a hint of spearmint. Quite a powerful Riesling that stands up well to cheese. Gold NZIWS.
12% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Lawson Dry Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
Light gold coloured with a floral bouquet and an oiliness to the texture in the palate. Very cold when first tasted, chilling enhances the small oak component but doesn't take anything away from the spice and pink smoker lolly flavours. Warming the glass in the hand brings the textural lusciousness through. A gorgeous Gewurz but don't over chill. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Lamont Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Deep Burgundy red with ruby highlights. The tantalising bouquet is initially floral, rose petals perhaps, and a gentle infusion of spicy oak, cherries. Big, rich, luscious and chocolatey with supple tannins, layers of bright fruit and an earthy depth, it has lots going on and with some underlying bottle age characters that enhance the savouriness, it's one to enjoy drinking this autumn and winter. Gold NZIWS. Trophy Sydney International.
14% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Chateau Lavallande Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2005 - Bordeaux
Dense red black in colour, this has a bouquet of smoke, tar and a hint of leather with fruit reminiscent of blueberry and cassis. With furry tannins and underlying berry-like acidity and a deep earthy profound savouriness, it lacks fruit generosity in the palate compared to New Zealand wines made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the tannins and acidity are stimulating. An outstanding intro to Bordeaux at the close out price, Jane says it has everything going for it - cigar box, lead pencil, graphite and stalkiness, which Jane says is a good thing to her.
13.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni 2008 - Tuscany
Bright dark red, dense in appearance. Smoky aromas with generous fruit scents. Rich and ripe to the taste with juicy plum and blackberries, velvet-edged tannins, structure and depth. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and 10% Sangiovese, it's a lovely marriage of old world savouriness and new world fruitiness and very easy to like.
13.5% alc. Cork. $43.99.

Saltram No. 1 Barossa Shiraz 2006
Inky black red, shiny and deep, the aromas with a tinge of American oak is what top class South Australian Shiraz is all about. With blackberries, black cherries, chocolate, mint, tobacco and pepper with a powerful backbone of oak, spice and tannins, this is sumptuous Shiraz that's still at the pubescent stage - it offers so much already but it promises so much more. Winestate 2010 Shiraz of the Year.
15% alc. Screwcap. $62.99.

Waimea Late Harvest Nelson Riesling 2006
Made from full botrytised (raisined) grapes this is bright heliotrope gold with a gem-like appearance. The aromas are powerful with honey, beeswax, a hint of kerosene and perhaps some VA, and the sweet, luscious flavours are reminiscent of orange peel, dried apricots, honey and beeswax with a zing of marmalade-like acidity lifting the finish. A delicious finish to any dinner party or wine tasting.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page should have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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