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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

January 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 - 26 Jan 2011
Summer Nights
Wines were tasted blind.

Montana 'Showcase Series' Stuart Block Gisborne Chardonnay 2008
Bright light gold with lemon-infused toasty oak scents, this is quite tight on entry when served chilled but opens up nicely to reveal a creamy backbone to the citrus flavours with juicy melon and a tropical depth to the full-flavoured, creamy, toasty oak finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Light lemon gold with creamy oak and butterscotch aromas, this is smooth and seamless in the palate with a suggestion of spiced peaches and cream and a toasty richness to the juicy finish. Very smart. Gold medal Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2010.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Light golden yellow with a tantalising toasty, smoky, savoury bouquet and smooth, creamy, spicy, savoury and deeply malty flavours with apricot and nectarine fruit and butter caramel surging on the finish. With classy oak, malolactic, wild yeast nuances and finesse to the texture, the 'house style' of this premium Hawkes Bay label comes through. A gold medal contender for sure. We rate it 5 stars.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Coopers Creek 'The Little Rascal' Gisborne Arneis 2008
Pale straw gold with a juicy, fruit-driven aroma, this full-bodied, unoaked white has a fruity flavour reminiscent of pineapple jubes with soft acidity and a slight salty tang to the heady finish. While still quite fresh, there's a pleasing textural richness and served chilled, it's delicious summer drinking now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Cave des Vines Les Lys Vouvray 2009 – Loire Valley, France
Now this is different. It's pale straw in colour with a bittersweet lemon, apple and gooseberry aroma and a fine thread of acidity weaving through the oily-textured palate. There are definite European-like lanolin nuances and all kinds of apple flavours abound. Made from Chenin Blanc, it is very very dry, but has the most outstanding potential to age.
12.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Kuehn Lieu Dit Vogelgarten Pinot Gris 2008 – Alsace, France
Pale gold in colour with scents of apples stewed in butter with spice, the honeyed sweetness of this luscious wine is immediately apparent on the taste. But racy acidity balances the sweetness to perfection. With hints of orange blossom on the finish, it's an outstanding example of Pinot Gris.
12.5% alc. Cork. $19.99.

Gabriel Liogier 'La Taladette' Cote Du Rhone 2009 – Rhone, France
Burgundy red with a youthful appearance to the hue, there's a Grenache-like confectionery overtone to strawberry and raspberry scent. In the palate it's medium-bodied and smooth in texture. A plummy sweetness balances the earthy savouriness well and there's a nice touch of pepper spice on the smoky finish. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, it's a value-packed example of CdR.
13.5% alc. Cork. $14.99 special.

Mission Estate Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Deep maroon red in colour with a vibrant, floral, rose petal, cherry and 'framboise' perfume, this is classic savoury Pinot Noir with a 'crushed velvet' texture and supple tannins. Made from fruit grown in Pisa (80%) and Bendigo (20%), it has deep flavours of black cherry and plum with dried woody herbs and a fine flourish of acidity adding brightness to the lasting finish, which has very good length. A very good buy.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Auka Malbec 2008 – Mendoza, Argentina
Deep crimson red. Quite savoury on the nose with an alluring oak, dark red fruit and floral perfume, this is lovely and juicy but also profoundly savoury and meaty – a big wine with initially firm tannins yet a supple wine with lots of plum, creamy oak, liquorice and spice flavours. Ready to drink now.
13.9% alc. Cork. $16.99 special.

Brown Brothers Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Victoria
Deep dark red, hardly showing any age at all, this smells like a classic Australian with American oak, spice, chocolate, leather and dried mint. Full-bodied and powerful, crammed with sweet juicy fruit, blackcurrants, cherries and chocolate with fine firm tannins holding everything together nicely and the earthy, savoury, spicy undercurrent bringing everything into balance. Outstanding.
13.5% alc. Cork. $53.99.

Whitebox Heathcote Shiraz 2007 - Victoria
Shiny blackberry red in colour, with spicy, savoury aromas that hint of tar and leather, this full-bodied red has a delicious juiciness to the flavour. There's a deep savouriness to balance the foremost chocolate and cherry flavours with hints of liquorice, cigar box, herbs and leather and some concentrated port-like notes coming through. Very approachable with fine tannins and a powerful finish.
4.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Two Hands 'Angels Share' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009 – South Australia
Shiny purple black with sweet smoky oak and deep berry fruit scents., the concentrated, full-bodied palate is characterised by the fine but tight, youthful tannins offset by concentrated sweet, juicy blueberry and cherry fruit with chocolate, vanilla and plenty of pepper. A bit of a blockbuster, it just needs a little more time.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 19 Jan 2011
Even More Summer Nights
Wines were tasted blind.

Brown Brothers 'Patricia' Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut 2005
A light gold colour with a fine stream of bubbles, this classy Australian methode has a Champagne-like aroma of nuts and savoury yeast lees. Full-bodied with lemon bread, nuts, zest and a fresh tangy finish, the lively lemon and apple acidity is tempered by the creamy, mouthfilling richness. 5 stars Cuisine.
13% alc. Cork. $33.99.

Wingspan Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Light straw gold in colour with apple, pear and a floral sweetness to the scent – a little restrained for Sauv but bright and tangy to the taste with capsicum, honey, gooseberry, bean and plenty of juicy citrus-like acidity. With its rounded mouthfeel and long fruity finish, it should have wide appeal.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Onyx Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
Bright light gold with malt, toast, caramel cream and grilled stonefruit scents, this wine tastes just superb after 90 minutes chilling. It's soft, rounded and creamy with intense stonefruit and citrus that really stands up to the full-flavoured spicy oak, while the butterscotch on the finish is long and lingering.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
This is a glorious, finely polished, smooth-textured Chardonnay that's powerful in stature. Grapefruit, nuts and subtle smoke on the nose, the grapefruit more dominant in the palate with peach, malt and crθme brulee. Moderate chilling becomes this spicy mouthful and as it starts to warm up, nectarines come through too. Gold Air NZ Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Olssens 'Annieburn' Central Otago Riesling 2010
Pale straw with a 'white diamond' edge - ever so slightly oily in appearance. Taut acidity tempers the sweetness, which makes it seem of the dry side of medium in style. Served chilled it is hugely refreshing with flavours of heritage apples, a slither of lime and a long tangy finish. 9.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Mt Hector Wairarapa Pinot Gris 2010
White gold hue. Floral aromas with a flinty edge and flavours of juicy apple, sweet pear, fleshy white peach and an infusion of flower nectar. With subtle spice, a smooth texture, soft acidity and a touch of sweetness, it really is quite appealing.
13% alc. Screwcap. $11.99 special.

Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 – Italy
Inky in colour, shiny black cherry red. Aromas of plum jam, woodsmoke, salami and melting tar join super-ripe concentrated prune and berry flavours with vanilla, pepper and liquorice. A juicy, medium-bodied wine that's velvety smooth in texture with a dry rich finish and hints of tobacco.
13.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Mt Hillary McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
Inky black-purple. Concentrated redcurrant, spice, cedar and vanilla scent. Full-bodied in stature with ripe, smooth, creamy flavours of vanillin oak, chocolate and cherry with a meaty cedary undercurrent. An opulent spicy wine with ultra-easy drinkability, it should have wide appeal.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Seghesio Sonoma Country Zinfandel 2008 – California
Inky blackberry red. Lavish and tantalisingly scented with plum, back cherry, vanilla, spice and cedar. Spice is upfront in palate with fruitcake, currants, blackberries and cherries. A sumptuous, heady wine with plush velvety tannins, a savoury oak backbone, vanilla and chocolate and a lasting finish.
15.5% alc. Cork. $54.99.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Inky black red. On the nose there's concentrated blackcurrant, marmite, leather and cedar with a herbal edge to help pinpoint the variety. In the mouth it's medium to full-bodied with silky tannins, blackcurrant and plum fruit and spicy cedar. In the context of the wines tasted before it, it's elegant and dry.
14% alc. Cork. $35.99.

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
This dark coloured, savoury, leathery wine has aromas of cassis, plums and a hint of mint with an earthy depth to the concentrated flavours of plums and cassis with spice, smoky oak and firm tannins. It shows its varietal character well and there's vinous sweetness to the dry finish.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Jim Barry The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
A deep bricking, russet red, opaque right to the edges, this well-cellared wine is opulent and lavish. Concentrated spicy oak, cedar, vanilla and mint aromas and ultra-ripe flavours with secondary vinous characters rather than primary fruit. It's juicy and spicy with a savoury backbone and firm sensual tannins to temper the voluptuousness, finishing with a slightly herbal, dusty edge. A profound wine to sip and savour.
15% alc. Cork. $64.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12 Jan 2011
More Summer Nights
Wines were tasted blind.

Aperitif - Villa Jolanda Prosecco NV served with Barbieri Aperol
The orange- and herb-flavoured Aperol liqueur completely dominates the refreshing flavours of the Prosecco and adds a dry bitter character to the wine. Aperol is a bittersweet Italian liqueur made from orange, gentian, rhubarb and quinoa and is bright orange in colour. Prosecco $18.99 special. Aperol $39.99.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Punchy tropical fruit and summer herb aromas and bold, full flavours. Quite oily textured, which adds a pleasing lushness to the mouthfeel and fresh, juicy flavours of grass, passionfruit, pineapple and citrus. Quintessential Marlborough. Pure Elite Gold Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special..

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2008
This light-gold coloured, soft, rounded Chardonnay really hits the easy-drinking spot with its mellow toasty oak, caramel and stone fruit scents and savoury, spicy, zesty flavours wrapped up in a smooth creamy texture with a touch of malt and a warm toasty finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special..

Lochiel Estate Mangawhai Chardonnay 2008
There's more gold to the colour of this smoky, savoury, nutty-scented Chardonnay and it's bigger, rich and creamier, yet at the same time a more 'elegant' style. Add caramel corn, peach, nectarine and toasty oak, it really is a very smart drop. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Viognier 2009
On the nose, florals, nuts, and spice and in the palate a full-bodied creamy texture with flavours of vanilla, apricot, lime zest, guava-like fruit and nuts. A powerful wine with a warm whack of oily lusciousness, yet the finish seems dry. A lovely example of the Kiwi style. Trophy New Zealand International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special..

Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Rose 2010
Light cherry / spinel pink. With glace cherry and early season plums on the fruit-forward nose, this seems a little tart and herbal on first tasting but the cherry and plum flavours drive through the wine. It has mid palate richness and when served lightly chilled, it finishes crisp and dry and is very refreshing.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Mount Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Youthful maroon-red. Fragrant, earthy and a little spicy on the nose, this medium-bodied pinot is quite savoury with a leathery undercurrent, sweet cherry and plum fruit, soft supple tannins, and a smooth finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Cono Sur Carmenere 2008 – Colchagua Valley, Chile
This fruit-packed, juicy, medium to full-bodied red is dark crimson-black in colour with a touch of rose petal on the nose and lovely savoury flavours to balance the spicy plum fruit, with an earthy depth and a velvety richness to the smoky finish. Recommended by Cuisine. 4 stars.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99.

Feudi Di San Marzano "F" Negroamaro 2007 – Salento, Italy
From its purple-black impenetrable colour to its ultra-ripe flavours, this is a blockbuster through and through. On the nose there is plum jam, prunes and melting tar and it tastes quite jammy too, and though it seems to lack acidity, it has plenty of flavour. There's chocolate, herbs, tar, leather, savoury oak, allspice, shoe polish and currants. A dark, savoury monster to accompany char-grilled meats.
14.5% alc. Cork. $52.99.

Glaetzer Anaperenna Barossa Shiraz Cabernet 2009
Shiny purple black in colour with tantalising cherry-ripe and voluptuous toasty oak. It's a big, juicy wine with firm fine tannins, savoury oak, pepper and allspice, a fine chocolatey richness and a dark, concentrated, red fruit sweetness. A striking wine with a lovely long finish.
14.5% alc. Cork. $84.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2008
Deep black red with a fragrant rose petal and biscuity oak aroma and earthy savoury flavours with red fruits and black berries, silky tannins, a plush mid-palate juiciness and a long savoury smoky finish. Very impressive!! Two gold medals.
14% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 Jan 2011
Summer Nights
Wines were tasted blind.

Sea Level Awatere Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Served well chilled, this is crisp, spicy and pungent with tropical fruit, herbs, citrus, apple and a distinctive grassiness. Long and rich with an oily texture and a juicy aftertaste.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $NA.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 'Twin Hills' Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
The aroma is reminiscent of Macintosh toffees and the taste is smooth and creamy with spice, savoury oak and loads of citrus. Medium to full-bodied in style with a lovely toasty savoury undercurrent and a long-lasting rounded finish. This wine took a while to hit its straps, but it's drinking beautifully now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Marisco The Kings Bastard Chardonnay 2009
A nutty style of Chardonnay with lemon brulee in the background and smoky oak. Stylish and elegant with a hum of citrus, a slightly oily texture and tropical fruit combined with apricot on the sweetish but very juicy finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Wild Earth Central Otago Riesling 2009
This is a pretty little thing. It's off dry to medium in sweetness level with citrus, spice, tropical fruit and plenty of zest. An easy drinking style with floral notes and hints of lime, it takes chilling well and is sure to please.
12% alc. Screwcap. $NA.

Greystone Waipara Valley Gewurztraminer 2009
Richly perfumed and pungently flavoured, this vociferous gewurz has an oily texture and floral, soapy flavours with a clove, ginger and white pepper spiciness and rose petal on the finish. On the dry side of medium in sweetness level. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $NA.

Blind Trail Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Dark maroon in colour with a ruby glow. Aromas of Christmas cake, smoke and game lead into a soft smooth palate full of black cherries and mulled wine spices. An ultra-juicy wine with a genuine smoky, savoury backbone, it gets big ticks for its downright drinkability. Gold NZIWS.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. $NA.

Olssen's Jackson Barry Pinot Noir 2009
A lovely spicy wine, deep in colour, captivatingly aromatic, full-bodied in stature and compounding in flavour with cherry, plum, savoury oak, supple tannins and a long, rich, savoury, gamey finish that has underlying acidity that exudes brightness - expanding like the flare of a peacock's tail. Impeccably refined. Full of class. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $52.99.

Farnese Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 – Italy
A big, juicy chocolatey red that's almost black in colour and is full of spicy vanillin oak and ultra-ripe prune, plum and blackcurrant fruit. The dry rich finish, where savoury tobacco notes come through, artfully balances the fruity succulence.
13.5% alc. $NA.

D'Arenberg The Derelict Vineyards McLaren Vale Grenache 2007
Bricking in colour with a sweet oak and spice aroma and a smooth, seamless texture to the sweet-fruited palate. Creamy vanillin oak plays a prominent role and spice and chocolate appear on the long juicy finish. While it looks like it might have a few years of age, it tastes young and fresh and is an excellent example of full-blooded Aussie Grenache.
14.5% alc. $NA.

Domaine Berthoumieu Cuvee Charles de Batz Tannat 2004 – Madiran, France
A huge wine, both in its shiny black colour and its juicy, spicy and savoury taste. There's a deep plum, prune and currant fruit richness, a whack of power-packed firm dry tannins and a suggestion of tobacco. You know you've had a real grunter when you've swallowed a mouthful of this sumptuous drop.
14% alc. $37.99.

Taylors Clare Valley Shiraz 2009
Smelling ripe, rich and chocolatey sweet and looking young and fresh, there's a spicy disposition to this foremost savoury wine with a fine chocolate infusion, smooth tannins and a succulent fruit finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Mount Pleasant 'Maria' Late Harvest Semillon 2008
Golden coloured with tantalising honey, apricot and orange zest aromas and apricot, orange zest, dried mango and honeysuckle flavours, this luscious sweetie has focussed acidity, which means it's never cloying and the finish actually seems a little dry. Silver NZIWS.
10.5% alc. $NA.

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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