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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

August 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 - 31 Aug 2011
More Gold Medals from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Squealing Pig Awatere Sauvignon Blanc 2011
When chilled this straw gold coloured wine has a vivaciously fresh bouquet and tangy pineapple and tangelo combining with summer herbs. A little flinty, fumé and grassy, the flavours compound in richness and the finish is powerful and long.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson Chardonnay 2010
Light gold with a smoky, creamed cashew bouquet and a nutty sweetness to the tropical fruit and apricot flavours with nuts, figs and nougat and a tingly citrussy infusion to the long, smooth creamy finish. A lovely wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Marsden Estate 'Black Rocks' Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2010
Tantalising and appealing with a rich, creamy, spicy vanillin oak and subtle butterscotch bouquet, its light gold-coloured and tastes warm, rich and rounded with spicy oak and tropical fruit combining in harmony. Served chilled it's initially quite nutty and tight but opens up beautifully and the finish is fleshy, mouthcoating and long. Terrific wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Chardonnay 2010
Light gold with a gem-like lustre and an aroma of creamed cashews and hazelnuts infused with zest of lemon. Tight, flinty and citrussy with underlying vanillin oak and a touch of butter caramel coming though, it's texturally complex with a full-bodied finish and shows excellent cellaring potential.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Triplebank Awatere Valley Pinot Gris 2010
Light gold coloured with a delicate heady rose petal scent, this is off dry, warm and textural with bright citrus and juicy tropical fruit flavours toning down on the more creamy finish with the softness of pear and a recurring tingle of spice pulsating through.
13% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Whitehaven Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Decadent and lavishly expressive of the variety, this is a moderately dry style with a lemon yellow hue and aromas and flavours of Turkish delight, rose musk and oriental spices. It compounds in richness with a lovely creaminess to the texture and a touch of orange zest lingering.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Crowded House Nelson/Marlborough/Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
Deep-hued purple garnet with a rich creamy succulent cherry and chocolate aroma and a bright-fruited layer to the earthy savoury flavours, chocolate, cherry, citrus and fruits of the forest combine in the best possible way and while the tannins are firm, the savoury finish is succulent, spicy and long.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Fairmont Estate Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2010
Deep purple-tinged ruby, almost opaque, this is a rich, powerful expression with intensity to the aroma and a deep savoury flavour with spicy oak, bittersweet cherry and a touch of strawberry. The texture is fine and velvety and the firm full-bodied finish is juicy and ripe.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Te Awa Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
A brilliant plummy-purple red with a smoky, savoury, tarry and gently peppery aroma and juicy raspberry and boysenberry fruit and dark smoky oak playing on the firm, almost grippy, leathery palate with allspice and rose petals on the increasingly succulent finish.
13.5% alc. Diam. $30.99.

Piano del Cerro Aglianico Del Vulture 2004 – Southern Italy
Impenetrable purple red with an opulent aroma of jammy red fruit and lashings of oak, this full-bodied blockbuster is remarkable at seven years of age. Its firm and savoury with concentrated red and black fruits, leather, tar, vanilla and cake spice and a chocolatey nuance to the mouthfilling finish.
14% alc. Cork. $38.99.

Johnny Q South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Dark plummy red with mint and vanilla nuances to the deep-fruited aroma and ripe, rich, rounded succulent flavours with layers of chocolate, mint and mocha joining blackcurrant, cherry and plums with a spicy nuance to the finish and hints of tobacco and leather.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Rosemount District Release McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010
Shiny purple black, inky and deep. The aromas are quite primary with chicory, sappy oak, nut chocolate and tar and the first impression in the palate is concentrated black and purple fruits with varietal peppery spice, fine but firm tannins and a beautifully balanced savoury backbone with some tantalising chocolate on the long, powerful finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 24 Aug 2011
Gold Medals from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind.

Starborough Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
Pale in colour with fresh, bright aromas of pears and pineapple sage, this initially seems dry and steely but increases in richness and creaminess with flavours of pears, quince and spice and gentle fruit sweetness to the lingering finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Gris 2011
Concentrated and deliciously fruity with tropical fruit and flower musk aromas and abundant pear, citrus, pineapple and passionfruit flavours infused with an apple strudel-like spicy brightness. Off dry in style, mouthwateringly juicy and vibrant. Another star from this label.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Tantalisingly fresh aromas of passionfruit, pineapple and lemon grass and succulent tropical fruit flavours with a well-balanced citrussy tang and a flourish of herbs on the juicy, pungent lingering finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Bright punchy powerful aromas of passionfruit, herbs and citrus and fresh, vibrant, punchy, zesty, tangy flavours with grapefruit, herbs, tropical fruit and a touch of stonefruit too. Full-bodied, rich, juicy and texturally satisfying.
13% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Riverby Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
When chilled there’s a lovely toastiness to the bouquet while leesy, mealy, nuances come through in the warm, rich, rounded palate with spicy, savoury oak a lovely foil to the melon, stonefruit and citrus and a touch of caramel to the lingering finish. A First Glass style of Chardonnay.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Mt Difficulty Central Otago Chardonnay 2008
Citrine bright in the glass, quite nutty and restrained at first with a smoky flinty undercurrent, it compounds in richness with stone fruit and citrus and a hint of toast to the long, savoury finish. A stylish complexity has been introduced with that bit of bottle age.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Coopers Creek Gisborne Gewurztraminer 2010
With a beguiling perfume like an old fashioned rose garden, it's spicy and intense in the palate with exotic Asian fruits, rose petal sand jasmine, a seamless texture and a dry spicy finish that lingers delightfully. Amazing value for this lovely wine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill South Australian Shiraz 2009
Purple red with aromas of spice, jammy red fruits, briar and leather. Smooth with fine tannins, savoury oak, lifted red fruits, blueberries and sweet cherries, it's a soft easy wine with a delicate seasoning of pepper.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Deep purple red, the colour of blueberries in muffins. Intensely scented fruitcake, chocolate and plum, and juicy and luscious tasting with a meaty, savoury backbone, a nuance of mint, smoky cedar, dark currant-like fruit, chocolate and leather all combining seamlessly on the silky-textured, firmly structured palate. Long, lingering delicious.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Deep, bright, plummy purple red with a bright, peppery, floral-like aroma infused with allspice and creamy smoky oak. It's deep, dark and rich to the taste with an earthy depth, plum and boysenberry fruit, soft suede-like tannins and a flourish of spice on the long juicy finish. Almost seamless in its flow and succulent, with a hint of rose petal, as the flavours linger. Classy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2009
Dark purple red with lovely, lifted chocolate biscuit scents that carry through to the firm, dusty-tannined palate where the chocolate is joined by blackberry and black cherry fruit, vanillin oak sweetness and pepper. Big, rich, ripe and juicy with a savoury finish, it's had 22 months in oak and will be even more superb with more time.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2009
Intense purple black, vivid and inky. Fragrantly opulent with black pepper, dark chocolate and mocha, and concentrated flavours of spice and pepper with succulent purple and black fruit, liquorice, savoury oak, chocolate, vanilla and firm powerful tannins. An impressive wine with well balanced savouriness and concentrated fruit sweetness.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 10 Aug 2011
Kingsley and Andrew's Favourite Wines
Wines were tasted blind.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Fresh tropical fruit salad aroma and juicy exotic fruit flavours - tropical guava, banana passionfruit and tangy citrus with a vivacious undercurrent of summer herbs and a vibrant finish of gooseberry. Sweet and sour, Yin and yang balanced to perfection. Nice palate weight too and joyously long.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
A little smoky and savoury on the nose and smooth and creamy in the mouth with lovely grilled peach and mealy flavours, with just the right amount of toasty oak. A rich, flavoursome wine with a hint of butterscotch sweetness lingering beautifully, uplifted on the finish by a citrussy tang.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
Vibrant gold with the mellow melony aroma confirming the visual impression that the wine has a bit of age. Seamless in its flow, it's mouthfilling and complex with a malty richness. A touch of grapefruit underpins subtle tropical fruit, the smoky oak is toasty and spicy and the long mellow finish has a butter caramel inflection.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

West Brook Marlborough Riesling 2010
Pale coloured, with a fresh-cut lemon aroma, and lemony flavours, like fresh lemons just picked off the tree. With a weighty mid palate and a crisp dry finish, it's reminiscent of a memories-of-childhood lemon and honey drink and the flavours linger for ages.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Chocolate Box Barossa Valley Sparkling Shiraz 2009
Foamy pink bubbles top the dark red liquid when this sparkling red is poured. The aroma seduces with its deep fruit-infused, cake spice and chocolate scent and the sweet-edged flavours are reminiscent of black forest chocolate and raspberry ripple ice cream. With just enough spice and savouriness to balance the sweetness, it's a ripe juicy crowd pleaser.
14.5% alc. Zork. $26.99 special.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
Bright ruby-hued purple with a deep savoury aroma that has a cooked cherry fruitiness, earth and plums. Firmly structured with more tannin than you probably expect from the region, this earthy savoury wine opens up nicely in the glass to reveal deep flavours of black cherries, Portobello mushrooms, dried thyme and hints of anise.
13.5% alc. Screwcap.$36.99 special.

Richemont Du Chateau De Sours Grande Vin de Bordeaux 2009
Dark red with an aroma that momentarily smells like old socks worn by a Frenchman, but becomes increasingly more fragrant, no doubt the Cabernet Franc of this 60:40 Merlot /Cabernet Franc blend coming through. A brooding, plummy, leathery red with firm dry tannins, it fleshes out mid palate and finishes with a smoky cigar box character. Medium-bodied in style and actually very nice. Appellation Bordeaux Controlee.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Step X Step South Australia Shiraz 2008
Dark red coloured with an aroma of chocolate box, hot tar and black pepper that is intriguingly fragrant. Sweet fruited and chocolatey to the taste with supple tannins, it's fleshy, full-bodied and long with a well-balanced savouriness kicking in on the finish. A seductive little wine and the bargain buy of the night.
13.9% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Rocland Duck Duck Goose Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Black red with an inviting perfume of smoky vanillin oak, juicy cherries and spice. Initially quite lifted in the palate with a red fruit intensity becoming more blackberry and plum with vanilla, mocha, a seasoning of peppery spice and a lasting finish. Full-bodied in character and very easy to like.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 2008
Purple black coloured and opulently scented with hints of chocolate, dried herbs, vanilla and, spice. A very structured, powerful, and quite dry wine, a huge step up in the tasting. Matured in 100% French oak, the dry tannins are finely structured and there's a meaty undercurrent to the plum and dark berry fruit flavours and incredible depth of spice. An outstanding wine, but I recommend decanting for drinking right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Black red with a minty nuance to the chocolate-infused vanillin oak scent, this is a powerful wine with a firm tannin structure. Flavours of savoury oak, blackcurrant, dried herbs and leather fill the palate, the chocolate and mint from the aroma comes through and the long juicy finish has a spicy infusion.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wynns John Riddoch Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Black red in hue with a perfumed aromas of vanillin oak and currants. This is immediately recognisable as a very serious wine – it's dry with firm tannins, yet the sweetness and the succulence of the fruit comes through. Not overly minty, but definitely cassis-y with a lovely French oak regime and the finish goes on and on, compounding in deliciousness. A wine that begs to be cellared right now, but it is a wine that will reward - give it a couple of years and it will be like the 2006, which is drinking beautifully right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $59.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 3 Aug 2011
Highs and Lows
Wines were tasted blind and tasted in pairs.

12,000 Miles Wairarapa Pinot Gris 2009
Light gold with a sweet melon aroma, this is a powerful wine in the mouth. It's off dry and textural with flavours of fruit salad, custard, peaches and pear and the mouth-coating finish is pleasing.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $10.99 special.

Vavasour Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
The water pale colour is a great indicator to a new vintage wine and so is the bubblegum-like estery bouquet that will settle with a bit more time. The scintillating freshness is simply mouth-watering, the flavours of juicy tropical fruit have a crisp citrussy sweetness and spiced pear flavours linger.
14% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

The higher-priced Vavasour was my preferred of the pair

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2010
Light yellow gold with a tantalising mealy, grapefruit-infused, creamy oak bouquet. Expressive in the mouth, this is a toasty wine with melon and tropical fruit underpinned by grapefruit and cornmeal. Hints of caramel and butterscotch push their way through. Seamless in its flow, a great wine from a great vintage and simply delicious. Gold Medal & Champion Chardonnay and Overall Champion Wine at the Spiegelau International Wine Show
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99 special.

Clearview Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Golden yellow with an aroma of spiced pear, and pear and stonefruit flavours. A juicy fruity wine with little influence of oak, although the oak is there, and seemingly quite sherbetty tonight.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

The higher-priced Villa Maria was easily my preferred of the pair

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009
Light gold with a perfumed, peppery, carnation and roses bouquet. Concentrated and luscious, lovely focus without being too sweet. The distinctive Middle Eastern spice and rose water flavours come through. The finish is persistent and lingers delicately. Champion Gewurztraminer at the Spiegelau International Wine Show
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Joseph Cattin 'Hatschbourg' Grand Cru Alsace Gewurztraminer 2009
Yellow gold coloured with a finesseful bouquet of violets, it initially tastes quite dry yet has an underlying sweet impression and a spicy heat, perhaps a tickle of spritz. Powerful and distinct, has extra everything with a lingering taste of spice peach. .
If the previous wine was gold, this is platinum. Gewurz fans will find this irresistible.
13% alc. Cork. $49.99.

The higher-priced Alsace was irresistible for me - my favourite of the pair

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2010
Ruby garnet, bright in appearance. Perfumed and delicately savoury. Sweet-fruited, yet savoury with a lovely fine textured, silky veneer. Medium body, floral tones, bittersweet cherry finish. Fabulous sub-$20 pinot if you like a lighter style.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
Dense purple red with a powerful aroma of plums, spice and leather. The wine coats the mouth with its firm velvet tannins and seduces with chocolate and black cherry flavours balanced by an underlying savoury richness, spiced mushrooms and thyme. A little reminiscent of the fabulous 2002. Exciting!
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

With Akarua on top, the higher-priced again won this match-up.

Jerome Quiot Côtes-Du-Rhone 2008
Translucent garnet with an earthy savoury aroma, a hint of old socks too. Quite sweet to the taste and fruity and light; strawberries reign with a little peppery spice and a dry tannin finish. Lots of easy drinking appeal.
13.5% alc. Cork. $19.99.

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2008
Dense dark black red. Opulently scented, spicy and savoury with succulent raspberry and blackberry fruit, a very subtle suggestion of mint, thickset tannins, underlying meatiness and a tingly peppery finish. A substantial wine and definitely a First Glass drinkers style.
14.5% alc. Cork. $44.99.

The higher-priced Grant Burge was my preferred of the pair

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008
Dense black red with a dry peppery scent that carries through to the concentrated palate where red berries are the jus to the meaty backbone. Tannins seem very dry, yet the finish is succulent and persistent and the lingering flavours are blackberry, allspice and black pepper.
13% alc. Cork. $35.99.

Penfolds South Australia St Henri Shiraz 2007
Black red in colour dense in appearance. The aroma of vanilla, cocoa and red berries firmly place you across the Tasman. It's succulent with fine tannins, fresh lavender and violets, cameo crème biscuits, a dark fruit profile and leather. Builds up continuously, garnering depth and complexity, and lingers contentedly.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $79.99 special.

The higher-priced Penfolds, with its increasing complexity, was the winner of this pair

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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Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

2011 Tastings
Jan 2011 tasting notes.
Feb 2011 tasting notes.
Mar 2011 tasting notes.
Apr 2011 tasting notes.
May 2011 tasting notes.
Jun 2011 tasting notes.
Jul 2011 tasting notes.
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Sep 2011 tasting notes.
Oct 2011 tasting notes.
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Dec 2011 tasting notes.

Dec 2010 tasting notes.

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