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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

February 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 - 23 Feb 2011
Cuisine Aromatics
Wines were tasted blind.

Tohu Marlborough Riesling 2010
Floral with apple skin scents, it's citrussy and juicy to the taste with lemon and apple reigning supreme and honeysuckle nuances on finish. Evolves to become moderately weighty and the racy acidity is bracing. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Tupari Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010
Perfumed and floral, immediately much softer acidity – this is a smooth, rounded wine with a ginger-like zing and rich flavours of apple, stonefruit and pears with estery pink bubblegum notes. Classic in style, it is medium-bodied with a long bright finish. Grapes from the upper Awatere and the winemaker is Glen Thomas. No. 1= in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2010
Tight, pithy aroma. A little spritzy in palate. Juicy, thirst quenching and very drinkable. Tangy acidity is well-balanced and the wine finishes dry, coating the mouth and leaving behind a burst of lemon and lime. No. 1 in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Shingle Peak Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010
There's depth to the warmed honey and baked apple scent with a waft of cinnamon and cardamon spice. An unctuous style with a honeyed sweetness and ripe pear and apple strudel flavours, it seems to have subtle nuances reminiscent of Gewurz, yet turn direction becoming quite nutty and finishing dry. Lovely balance and quite easily the bargain of the night. No. 1= in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Fallen Angel Marlborough Riesling 2010
Sweet apple scents lead into a medium dry palate with racy acidity and a slaty texture. Loads of lemon and lime with honeysuckle bringing it all into balance. Some flint and green apple notes provide austerity, so despite the juicy sweetness, it finishes exceedingly dry. What I like about this wine is the way it evolves in the palate and the honeysuckle / citrus flavours linger for ages. No. 2 in Cuisine.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
A heady scent of dried petals, essential oils and orange pomander carries through to the soft, oily textured palate. The lovely flavours of spiced oranges and lychees are pricked with ginger and white pepper finishing with a touch of honey. No. 1 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Martinborough Vineyards Manu Riesling 2010
The floral bouquet of this medium to medium dry Riesling is quite delicate but the flavours are bright, mouthwatering and delicious. Filled with juicy apple and honey with a tarragon infusion and a lovely touch of mandarin zest, it has exquisite balance and harmony. Gold Medal Easter Show. No. 3 in Cuisine. 11.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

West Brook Marlborough Riesling 2010
A more earthy, malic style with floral and citrus aromatics, it's medium dry in style with mid palate fruit sweetness and good acid balance. At first it seems a little shy but it bursts out of its shell and builds in power with a weighty richness and flavours of quince and lime. A very good wine to age.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Man O War Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2010
Ripe apple and strudel spice scents and warm and bready in palate with a lovely slippery texture and spice backnotes balancing the fruity sweetness. Medium to full-bodied in style, it's much colder than when we tasted it two weeks ago but still struts its stuff when well chilled. No. 1= Pinot Gris in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Albert Mann Alsace Gewurztraminer 2009
A big, rich, oily style with unctuous sweetness, exotic spices and orange peel. There's a little alcohol heat that ruches straight to your head and the delicious flavours are infused with Turkish delight, stonefruit, honey and cardamon. The texture is viscous and the wine is powerful with warmth to the lasting, mouth-coating finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
A heady perfume of citrus blossom, rose talc and Moroccan spices, this is a medium dry style yet still has that soft acidity and lusciousness with a spicy richness, lychees, sweet citrus and hints of tarragon, while white pepper and ginger add a zing to the finish. Gold & Trophy Royal Show. No. 5 in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Turkish delight, exotic spices and orange blossom fill the bouquet and carry through to the palate of this rich, intense wine. It's honeyed with a very fine texture, similar to but not as sweet as the Albert Mann, just balanced to perfection with a delicious finish that lasts and lasts. Outstanding – perennially one of New Zealand's best. Gold Medal NZIWS. Gold Medal Easter Show. No. 2 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Diam. $32.99.

Forrest The Doctors Marlborough Riesling 2010
A medium style, clean and pure, fresh and bright, classic in its expression with sweet citrus and honeysuckle and a long quenching finish. A permanent favourite at First Glass and one of the best low alcohol Rieslings around.
9.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 16 Feb 2011
Mainly South Island
Wines were tasted blind.

Astrolabe "Voyage" Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Powerful and fresh with distinctly varietal aromatics and bright, tangy flavours of grass, lime tangelo, tarragon and passionfruit. A light sense of oiliness imparts roundness to the mouthfeel and there's a zesty kicker to the long lasting finish. Delicious.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Felton Road "Elms" Central Otago Chardonnay 2009
Unoaked, although the label doesn't say so, this has nut, citrus and grilled peach scents that lead into a distinctly citrussy palate with a creamy texture and a malty richness. A perceived toasty savouriness that must come from aging on yeast lees definitely adds a classy dimension. Medium chilling is best.
14% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Seifried Barrique Fermented Nelson Chardonnay 2009
Now this has lashings of lemon-polished oak, both on the nose and in the palate. Smooth and seamless, yet quite high-toned and citrussy with a little bit of apple and stonefruit coming through, and malty and savoury on the powerful finish. Beautiful drinking.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
Softer and more rounded than the previous wine, quite citrussy with acidity that is definitely more tingly. It's smooth and creamy to the taste with malolactic adding a nice touch of butteriness and lovely mealy barrel ferment flavours building on the very refined finish. Gold Medal Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Trophy International Chardonnay Challenge.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Labelled 'medium' this beautiful wine has an enticing floral aroma infused with Asian 'five spice' and it's off dry to the taste with soft acidity, a lusciousness to the silky mouthfeel and pear drop and spice flavours. It's Alsace-like with elegance and power and is very reminiscent of the Johanneshof's trophy winning 2007.
13% alc. Diam. $31.99.

Thornbury Waipara Riesling 2008
Seemingly quite dry, but this could be deceptive, it's very fruity with green grape and honeyed citrus flavours and just enough botrytis to add interest with overpowering the wine with sweetness. Starting to show some bottle-developed characters with a hint of kero creeping in, it has a lip-smacking sweet/sour balance. Value packed drinking right now. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
12% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Auburn Lowburn Central Otago Riesling 2010
Immediately sweet and redolent with citrus blossoms and honeysuckle scents, it's sweet to the taste, but a succulent juicy sweetness rather than a honeyed sweetness, with racy acidity giving it impeccable balance. A gorgeous Spatlese style from Central Otago's new specialist Riesling star, Auburn is a label to watch. 64 g/l residual sugar (rs).
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Muddy Water Unplugged Waipara Riesling 2008
Although this has similar residual sugar to the Auburn, the lower acidity makes it seem much sweeter with botrytis and honey also key factors to the luscious flavours. Botrytis is also being responsible for the yellow gold hue. Showing fabulous development with bottle age, orange peel, hints of grapefruit, white pepper and ginger add to this wine's appeal. At the perfect temperature when well chilled. 70 g/l rs.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $30.99.

Heredad del Baron Monastrell 2009 – Yecla, Spain
Dark red with a rich bouquet of plum and blackcurrant, it's savoury to the taste and a little leathery and herbal with a touch of mint, plum and cassis. Creamy with rounded tannins and an earthy, gamey depth it has an appealing rusticity - an absolute charmer at the price. (A ring-in options wine on the night).
13.5% alc. Cork. $14.99 special.

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Translucent, not inky, showing a little indication of age partly due to the lighter year. Earthy, savoury and mellow on the nose with a strawberry jam sweetness. Ultra silky and smooth with strawberry, cherry and herbs, the palate is lovely – reminiscent of Burgundy Villages wines.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Seddon Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006
A rich, full-bodied, juicy, generous, deep red Pinot Noir – reflective of the riper vintage. Spicy and savoury, beautifully balanced by the a plum and cherry fruit sweetness, with hints of chocolate too. It's a silky supple wine with a funky, earthy allure. Hard to believe it's almost five years old. Delicious now. 2 golds, Trophy and No 1 Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $59.99.

Bald Hills Single Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Showing depth and richness to the deeply translucent wine-red hue, this is a lovely medium-bodied savoury wine with a fine, silky texture and a youthful freshness. Floral aromas with herbs, spice and cherries and spicy, savoury flavours with cherries and mushroom and a vinous sweetness that makes it so charming on the finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $48.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 9 Feb 2011
Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Gris
Wines were tasted blind.

A powerful toasty Chardonnay with a golden colour, a savoury oak and citrus/grilled peach perfume and lots of rich toasty oak and pineapple flavours with nutty nuances coming through on the finish and butterscotch as it lingers. A distinctive Australian Chardonnay at a bargain price.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Matua Valley Ararimu Gisborne Chardonnay 2009
A subtle hint of cream to the scent and quite mellow and buttery to the taste with an underlying flinty nuance to the citrus and tropical fruit and an expansive, mouthfilling finish where caramel and apricot linger. From the Judd Estate, this once iconic label is really back to form, following on from the gold medal winning 2007.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 11 Cell Block Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
This is a completely different style with a bouquet of nuts and figs infusing into mealy, malty, biscuity scents and toasty oak pulsating through the citrussy palate with stonefruit fleshing out the finish. Rich, juicy and long. Gold Medal Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Babich Irongate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
Quite delicate scented, even perhaps a little floral with just a hint of spicy oak to the bouquet, but full of flavour with apricot, citrus, lemon and melon, honeyed oak and a savoury, creamy veneer. Beurre noisette and peach linger deliciously on the long, finely textured finish. Another 'once iconic' label that is truly back to form. "A delicious Chardonnay," says Kingsley.
14.5% alc. Cork. $30.99.

Mud House The Home Block Vineyard Waipara Pinot Gris 2010
A tangy wine that tastes just like the Pinot Gris grapes it is made from with an infusion of citrus and a lovely tang of gingery zest. It has a slightly fumé backbone and a flinty finish, and while fairly dry it has just enough sweetness to round out the edges. Gold Medal & Trophy Air NZ Wine Awards 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Vavasour Awatere Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
With a bouquet infused with fresh cut peach, this is a richer wine both on the nose and in the palate. Sweet mandarin-like citrus hums though the wine with pear, peach and spice and it hints of a little butterscotch too. Multi-layered, juicy and just off dry. Gold Medal & Trophy New Zealand International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Man O' War Ponui Is Waiheke Pinot Gris 2010
There's a spritz to the texture of this fresh, young thing. Full of summer orchard fruit with peach, pear, spice and honeyed cream, it has well-balanced sweetness and softness and roundness to the ripe and much fuller finish. Succulent and moreish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Clos St William Waipara Pinot Gris 2009
A little hint of butterscotch on the nose and more so in the palate, with lovely fruit flavours of 'just ripe' pears, freshly plucked peaches and a touch of spice. A very impressive wine and while not overly sweet, it's juicy, rich and luscious and I wonder if a smidgen of oak is adding to the complexity and weight.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Rosemount District Release Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Deep purple red with pepper, leather, herbs and dusty blackberry scents, the aromas follow through to the dark, savoury palate. Full-bodied, but not a grunter, it has supple tannins, underlying berry acidity and tobacco, and a chocolatey richness to the lingering finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Adelaide Shiraz 2008
Black in colour with dark, savoury, pepper, chicory and leather scents, this is a fleshy wine to the taste with typical Penfolds' generosity that makes it seem so ripe, soft and easy to drink. There's blueberry, cherry, smoke and leather with American oak adding vanilla tones to the savoury, peppery finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2008
Shiny black red with chocolate and creamy oak scents, it smells ripe and inviting and follows through in the palate with juicy blackberry and boysenberry fruit. But it's also quite savoury with lots and lots of pepper and dry, tight tannins – distinctly cool climate Shiraz.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Rosemount District Release McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
A rich, voluptuous, creamy wine from start to finish. Shiny black in colour with a tantalising aroma, it's crammed full of chocolate with smoky oak, black pepper and grunty tannins that dissolve into the generous cherry and blueberry fruit. A brilliant wine at a brilliant price.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 2 Feb 2011
Four from Europe, Four from NZ, Four from Australia
Wines were tasted blind.

Goldridge Estate Premium Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Golden in hue with toast and butterscotch scents and juicy peach and red apple flavours supported by toasty oak, this is medium-bodied in style with a long creamy, almost caramel finish. It's rounded and easy, a great quaffer. 5 Stars Winestate Magazine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special or $11.99 pb on 6 pack buys.

Maetierra White Guerrilla Albarino 2009 – Spain
Light lime-tinged gold with a citrus and apricot aroma and a soft, oily texture with gentle flavours of nuts, stone fruit, apples and pear. Underlying acidity adds a bright seam of zest and the finish is rounded with a hint of white mushroom adding an earthy depth. A bit like a combo of Viognier, Riesling and Pinot Gris, it has a fun label and is tasty and fresh.
12.5% alc. Cork. $19.99.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
This is a fascinating wine with subtle smoky, savoury, toasted baguette scents and hints of citrus oil and orange zest, the citrus theme also running through the palate. With a mealy creamy richness and a lovely infusion of spice and juicy white summer fruits, it has a vibrancy and excitement that belies its age. Smooth, subtle, impressionable and delicious. A seafood Chardonnay, perhaps. New release.
14% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago Riesling 2010
This tantalisingly aromatic Riesling is pale straw gold with scents that are reminiscent of fruit salad and quince. When first tasted it is surprisingly sweet with delicious flavours of passionfruit and mandarin but flinty phenolics add an earthy edge, there's a very subtle suggestion of spritz and zingy acidity keeps everything in balance. Riesling aficionados will love this and it can be super chilled too. 9% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Brown Brothers Lexia 2008 – Victoria
Light gold coloured with a refreshing floral, blossomy, grapey scent and luscious flavours of concentrated citrus, lemon balm and passionfruit with a pleasing amount of spritz and edgy acidity to balance the sweetness to perfection. Deliciously fruity with complexity and richness from a couple of years bottle age. Made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes, hence the name 'Lexia'. Serve well chilled as an aperitif or match to fresh fruit desserts.
11% alc. Screwcap. $N/A.

Carlos Serres Crianza Tempranillo/Garnacha 2007 – Rioja, Spain
Dark red black with garnet edges. The aromas are a little stinky and rustic with leather and dark fruits and the taste of this medium-bodied wine is savoury and earthy with meaty tannins, nugget and succulent black cherry and plums. Acidity, typical of Rioja, hums through the finish that lingers with a spicy sweetness.
13% alc. Cork. $18.99.

Main Divide Canterbury Pinot Noir 2008
Dark burgundy red in colour, the ripe, appealing bouquet suggests chocolate, leather and spice. In the palate there's chocolate, red fruits, sweet sappy smoky oak, velvet-edged silky tannins and herb infusion to the savoury, earthy depth. It's juicy, succulent and easy drinking with underlying acidity lifting the finish and extending the length.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Ermita De San Lorenzo Gran Reserva Garnacha 2001 – Campo De Borja, Spain
A fading dark red, showing some age but hard to believe that age is ten years. The aromas are meaty and savoury with cigar box, barnyard and leather carrying through to the dark, savoury palate where a spicy sweetness wells up from within. Made from 100% Garnacha, it's not really fruity, but deliciously vinous and complex from bottle age. American oak adds sweetness and hints of strawberry jam emerge on the lasting finish.
14% alc. Cork. $20.99.

Menhir Quota 29 Primitivo 2008 – Salento, Italy
Dark purple black red. Quite a floral bouquet, violets perhaps, with hints of sweet leather, pepper, black fruit and spice. The sweet leather savouriness combines beautifully with the jammy fruit sweetness supported by succulent well-structured tannins and spice, chocolate, vanilla and chicory. It's a rich meaty wine with a juicy finish and savoury intrigue and the label suggests a 29th birthday or anniversary present.
14% alc. Diam. $20.99.

K1 Silver Label Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2007
Dark black crimson red and inky in colour, this big, rich, ripe Aussie shiraz that's co-fermented with Viognier radiates an American oak coconut-like sweetness with chocolate, cherry and spice adding to the luxurious scent. It's a big, rich, gutsy wine with succulent tannins, a well-balanced savoury backbone, sweet oak, chocolate, cherry, black fruit, spice and lots of pepper. As our K1 (ie Kingsley) says, "It has to be Shiraz because it bounces flavour at you." Great packaging too.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Rockford Basket Press Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005
Dark red black with still some crimson to the hue, this has a deep, rich 'Shiraz bouquet' with plums, liquorice, allspice and some slight pencil and leather scents coming through too. In the palate the tannins are silky smooth and the flavours are deep and complex with chocolate, mint, concentrated juicy black fruits, smoky French oak, pencil shavings, graphite and more chocolate with chocolate-coated raisin on the finish. Definitely the best Rockford I've tasted for a while and everyone agreed it was quite 'yum'. Worthy of it iconic status.
14.5% alc. Cork. $87.99.

Yalumba Museum Muscat NV – South Australia
Clear dark amber with a greenish tinge. Heady, tantalising, muscatel raisin and orange peel aromas and deep, rich, Muscatel raisin flavours with caramel, honey, golden syrup and orange liqueur. It's complex and sweet with a thick, tongue-coating texture and a long rich finish, but a delightful salty rancio character keeps it in balance.
18% alc. Cork. 34.99. 375 ml bottle.

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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