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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

July 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 Jul 2011
Yalumba Wines hosted by Andy La Nauze
Wines were not tasted blind.

Jansz Tasmania Brut Cuvee NV
Lemon coloured. Slightly toasted nut bouquet. Lots of fizz and apple bread flavours. Dry, citrussy, clean with a delicate sweetness as it lingers. Refreshing.
12.5% alc. Cork. $23.99 special.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2009
Straw gold. Aromatic with warm nut and delicate stone fruit scents. Lovely roundness and textural richness in the palate. Flavours of stone fruit, a delicate hint of anise-like spice and a long warm finish. Bright, lifted. Nice.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
Blackberry red. Dark berry scent with some floral Viognier perfume coming through. Juicy red and black fruit flavours, Shrewsbury biscuits, a hint of chocolate and eucalypt, perhaps subtle apricot notes too. Smooth tannins make the mouthfeel rounded and the finish is long and juicy. Cuisine Magazine Top 10, #3.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba Patchwork Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Blackcurrant red. Liquorice, cake spice and sweet smoky oak scents. Immediately generous and supple; a bounty of blackberry and cherry fruit with a perfect seasoning of pepper. Underlying earthiness, liquorice and tar and a long, dry, rich finish. A juicy, generous wine. A crowd pleaser.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba 'The Scribbler' Cabernet Shiraz 2008
Dark red, a little blacker perhaps. Enticing French and American oak scents. Full-bodied yet supple with mint a striking feature. The stature of Cabernet comes through with a deep blackcurrant richness then a lovely infusion of Shiraz generosity and sweetness with spice and a finish of chocolate mint creams. Hints of cigar box as the wine lingers. Often referred to as 'Son of Signature', this is an outstanding buy.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Dark red coloured with an aroma that has a deep sense of blackcurrant and leather. Seemingly more 'Bordeaux' in style than the Barossa wines, it's earthy and savoury with firm tannins, a minty inflection, dried herbs and leather, then the brightness of red fruits come through and the dry finish is persistent and long. Ringbolt is in the extended Yalumba family.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Yalumba 'The Cigar' Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Perhaps not as densely opaque as the others, this the aroma is distinct. It has the purity of cassis with an infusion of French oak to the scent. Fine tannins impress the palate. Seems much sweeter, wine gums, liquorice, spice and 'cigar'. A ripe wine with a long finish and very good.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Yalumba 'The Menzies' Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Dark red. Deeply scented and aromatic. Full-bodied with flavours of mint, deep smoky oak, black fruits, blackberry. Despite being six years of age it still seems very youthful. It's rich and long with tannins that are quite firm yet have a juicy suppleness like tender rare meat.
14.5% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Yalumba 'The Menzies' Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Impenetrable black red. Quite tight in comparison to the '05 and could be very long-lived. Concentrated, rich and savoury with firm and slightly grippy tannins, the sweetness of the blackcurrant fruit comes through with dried herbs, leather, mint, chocolate, cigar box and cedar. Focused with a persistent finish. Gold Medal & Trophy NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Yalumba FDR1a Barossa Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2008
Dark red with a sweet smoky oak scent, this is amazingly intense and concentrated - like a more powerful rendition of the Scribbler. The smoky character carries through to the palate with cigar box and black currants. Initially quite Cabernet dominant then the suppleness and spiciness of the plummy Shiraz comes through. A stellar wine with a meaty depth. FDR stands for 'Fine Dry Red'.
13.5% alc. Cork. $39.99.

Yalumba 'The Signature' Barossa Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2006
Deep dark red with a sweet, mealy, smoky oak bouquet; this serious, concentrated, powerful red is full of ripe black and red fruit, hints of mint, cherries, vanilla and cedar and tannins that are supple and seamless. Like the other Cabernet Shirazes tasted tonight, the Cabernet is initially dominant then the supple and generous Shiraz adds spice to the finish. Evolving beautifully, a seriously fantastic wine.
14% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Yalumba 'The Octavius' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005
Dark blackberry red with a mint nuance to the concentrated scent; the fine tannins are a very attractive feature of this rich dry red. Hinting of some evolution since tasting last year, there's great depth of flavour with vanilla, pepper, liquorice, allspice and some floral notes as well. But it is not really fruity any more. Just a beautiful, sumptuous, elegant, red.
14% alc. Cork. $99.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 Jul 2011
Seriously Wine
Wines were tasted blind.

Felton Road Dry Central Otago Riesling 2010
This straw lemon coloured wine is delicately scented in the Spiegelau glass and tastes dry, almost bone dry, with great acid tension. It has a mouth-filling richness with concentrated lime and mandarin, and a hint of pineapple coming through too. It's bright and refreshing, the fresh citrussy flavour lasts and lasts and the wine in the bottle will too.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Milton Te Arai Vineyard Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2008
Rich golden yellow, like daffodil reflections, this is a fruity wine, tropical scented with a waxy overtone and a sweet nutty richness to the melon and apricot flavours. It's rich and dry and flavours coming are reminiscent of custard and apple pie. Acidity provides length and focus and there's a spicy nuance too. With time in the bottle it has become flirtingly full-bodied and curvaceous, but drink in the next couple of years before the wrinkles set in.
1.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

William Fevre Chablis 2009 – Burgundy
Light yellow gold-coloured with a flinty nuance to the honey-edged, tropical fruit scent. It's impressively dry, taut and flinty with a chalky impression on first tasting but then a tropical fruit richness comes through with a touch of butterscotch emerging on the salty, citrussy finish. An archetypal seafood wine with excellent length.
12.5% alc. Cork. $42.99.

Moss Wood 'Moss Wood Vineyard' Margaret River Chardonnay 2007
Decadence all the way through from the golden colour to the inviting rich mealy scent and the toasted nut sweetness that fills the palate, integrating with oak spice, stonefruit and white raisins. A very dry wine, yet it is the generosity of this wine that is so gratifying, and the mouth-filling flavours linger for ages.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $76.99.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Yellow gold coloured with a smoky, butterscotch-coated scent, on first tasting it seems so dry, but it is so salivating. It’s nutty and creamy, almost biscuity, with toasty oak, grilled peaches and melons, and developing beautifully in the bottle to become complex and multi-layered. Harmonious as it crosses the palate, with a lasting finish; it's developing everything that First Glass looks for in Chardonnay.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Swallows Crossing Central Otago Pinot Gris 2010
This light lemon gold wine is ultra-fruity on the nose, giving up citrus, lemon grass and a touch of port wine magnolia. It seems moderately dry when served well chilled, and while tight on entry to the palate, it opens up beautifully to show the purity of fruit, and it becomes more textured and creamy and spicy as the wine warms up. From a vineyard in Tarras.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Youthful, ruby garnet with some opacity to the hue. Perfumed with dry thyme and smoky oak, it's a dry wine with cake spices, bittersweet cherry and chocolate that adds generosity to the flavour. It's silky-textured, savoury and intense with great focus and drive through the palate and lovely dried herb notes coming through as the wine lingers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Mondillo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
This intense black cherry coloured wine has a beguiling perfume of wild thyme, fruits of the forest and cherry. Concentrated and powerful in it’s youth, the taste is spicy with underlying acidity adding zest to the blackcurrant and bittersweet cherry fruit. A structured wine with firm tannins yet to resolve, but they will and lingering, it has a savoury depth and lingering flavours of mocha, cherry and red berries.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $37.99 special.

Canada Negra Tempranillo Syrah 2008 – Valencia, Spain
A pinky red, moderately opaque, the perfume of this wine is intriguing and reminiscent of strawberry, marzipan-iced fruitcake, sweet spices and chocolate. Sweet oak fills the creamy palate that has fine yet slightly grippy tannins, juicy red fruits and a savoury smoky backbone with a touch of cocoa on the finish. Organic.
13.5% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Vivid shiny purple-black with a dark fruit, violet, cedar and cake spice-infused aroma. From the concentrated appearance, the palate impression is intense and concentrated too. With blackcurrant, black plum, blackberry, chocolate box and smoke, this is serious wine with seriously dry tannins and a finish that's phenomenal – the flavours enriching as they linger. A seriously 'wow' wine that's will turn heads, but needs to be decanted right now.
14% alc. Cork. $53.99.

Jim Barry The Cover Drive South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
"Rowntrees black fruit gums," says another wine taster in reference to the scent. It’s aromatic, concentrated and savoury with dark fruits, mint and cedar. Classically Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, this full-bodied blend of Clare Valley and Coonawarra fruit fills the palate with flavours of mint, cedar and cassis. There's a biscuity oak sweetness and the soft-edged tannins are firm yet fine, making it a pleasure to drink now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Schild Estate Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Dark red coloured, hinting of some development, there's chocolatey oak on the nose and a mellow impression to the sweet-fruited palate. Smooth as it traverses the palate with red fruits – cherries to the fore - and a chocolate creaminess coming through. Yet spicy and savoury with dried herbs adding intrigue. So nicely balanced and comforting at this time of year.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 Jul 2011
The A to Z of Wine: Part 2
Wines were tasted blind.

Martinborough Vineyard Manu Riesling 2010
Aromatic and delicately scented with a suggestion of lime juice, yet a surprisingly weighty palate with great intensity of flavour. Crisp and clean with lime and apple, an aura of liquid honey and a pineapple tropical fruit sweetness to the lingering finish, the key to the excellence of this wine is the balance of acidity to sweetness. M was for Martinborough & Manu.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Nobilo Methode Traditionelle 2005
The aroma is baked apple and lemon bread and the taste is fizzy at first but the bubbles also make it seem quite creamy and rounded. A full-bodied, slightly oxidative style with flavours of apple and honey and a touch of citrus on the lingering dry finish. A blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Meunier, N was for Nobilo.
14% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Light gold coloured with a bold, rich, creamy scent, this young wine is delicious already. It's creamy and malty with loads and loads of refined American oak, a lovely infusion of orange zest and biscuit spices combining with butterscotch on the lasting finish. A stylish wine that can only get better as the oak integrates and mellows. O for Omaka.
14% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Gris 2010
Pale gold coloured with a citrus fragrance, in the mouth it initially gives the impression of soft acidity with sweet citrus, orange blossom, honeysuckle and tropical fruit. But there's a zesty tickle to the finish and a savouriness emerging as the flavours linger. P for Peregrine and Pinot Gris.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99.

Rafa Vineyards Running with Bulls Barossa Valley Tempranillo 2009
Dark cherry red coloured with a smoky, sweet/savoury scent, it's thick textured with flavours of chocolate-coated cherry with the fruity sweetness well balanced to the smoky savouriness. Plush and velvety, it tastes a little like a full-bodied new world Pinot Noir (I wouldn't have ever picked Tempranillo) and the finish is spicy, savoury, succulent and long. A very tasty wine. R is for Rafa and Running.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Saint Clair Pioneer Series Block 4 Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008
After thinking the previous wine was Pinot Noir, there's no doubt that this is made from the heartbreak grape. It's a dark garnet red with some translucency to its appearance. The bouquet is fragrant, spicy and earthy and while initially the texture seems a little hard – typical of Burgundy – it softens as the wine traverses the palate. It has the characteristic savouriness of the variety and is drinking beautifully right now. S for Saint Clair.
13.5% alc. Screwcap.

Clearview Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Impenetrable purple black coloured with a rich meaty, pepper-infused scent that has a charming fragrance to it too. Dry, savoury and quite peppery but a big burst of sweetness pushes through. Firmly structured with chocolate, spiced plum, liquorice and leather, this opulent and rippling muscular wine has a succulent finish and is deserving of its recent 5-star Cuisine rating and Top Five NZ Syrah listing. T is for Tim Turvey, the winemaker.
14% alc. Cork. $54.99.

Rockbare Mojo Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010
Shiny black red with a perfume that is lifted and floral and a spicy, bright taste that is moderately high toned. It's rich and creamy with abundant sweet vanillin oak, a blueberry richness, an earthy backbone, loads of chocolate and biscuit spice too. Brand new into the store and has immediate appeal. Have you got your Mojo? V was for Valley.
15% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Wirra Wirra Church Block McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz 2008
Dark red with a concentrated aroma, it tastes dry with a touch of tobacco joining spice and cedar. Oak is nicely integrated and a creamy texture and supple tannins give the wine a juicy impression. The blackcurrant of the Cabernet comes nicely through. Made from 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz and 15% Merlot, a terrific example of how Cab and Shiraz complement each other in a blend. W was for Wirra.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $N/A.

Xabregas Show Reserve Western Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Dense in colour but a little bricking hints of some age, and the beautifully integrated mellow, cedary aroma with hints of earth and leather confirms that. Incredibly structured in the palate with firm mouth-coating tannins, cigar box, leather, dried herbs and cedar, there is no distinctive fruitiness just a pleasing mellow winey disposition. X is for Xabregas, a winery in Mt Barker.
14.6% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Ravenswood Vintners Blend California Zinfandel 2008
Dark red in colour, the scent evokes childhood memories - it's smells slightly confectionery with a menthol nuance and ripe currants. There's a profound richness to the flavour and a smooth impression across the palate with peppery, tobacco, red fruits and integrated vanillin oak. A very smart wine and terrifically priced for a California wine – the exchange rate helps, I guess. Z was for Zin.
13.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Yalumba Museum Eden Valley Muscat NV
Dark amber / tawny with yellow-gold edges. The bouquet is heady with sweet muscatels and the flavour is intensely sweet and delicious with richness from the alcohol and spirit. There's a brightness to the wine and additional flavours of candied orange zest and liquid toffee. A beautiful, sweet, after dinner treat. Y is for Yalumba and Yum!
18% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 Jul 2011
The A to Z of Wine: Part 1
Wines were tasted blind.

Maetierra Spanish White Guerrilla Albarino 2009 - Sadicia, Spain
Bright lemon-gold coloured with a creamy scent and an oily texture to the savoury flavour and a nutty sweetness. It's a dry wine, almost bone dry, with a zesty finish that's surprisingly aromatic but not surprising once you know its Albarino. With a lovely seam of apricot, it's a little like Viognier yet the palate weight has a Chardonnay-like richness. Very appealing. A was for Albarino.
12.5% alc. Cork. $19.99.

Boundary Vineyards Tuki Tuki Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Now this has to be Chardonnay. It's toasty and rich, full-bodied and creamy with a little oak brashness, stonefruit, a tingle of grapefruit and caramel cream coating the finish. B was for Boundary.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Crossroads Vineyards Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Quite golden for such a young wine, it's tight and nutty with a citrussy tang, a buttery nuance and rounded stonefruit flavours on the lightly spicy, full-bodied finish. Served well chilled, it hit the spot. Kingsley said, 'tasty and yum'. C was for Chardonnay.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Main Divide Waipara Pinot Gris 2010
Light gold coloured with an aromatic, citrussy scent, but such a surprise when you taste because it's sprightly, spritzy and zesty. Flavours are apple juice, honeysuckle and ginger with a vanilla pod infusion. Fresh and refreshing, but not what you expect. D was for Divide and Donaldson.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Spy Valley Envoy Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2007
The aromatic perfume is not over powering at the cool temperature this wine was served but there's no doubt as to what the variety is when you taste it. There's a deep violet flavour with a 'five spice' subtlety, soft acidity and a warm finish. The texture is silky and it's just off dry. E was for Envoy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

Forrest The Doctors Marlborough Riesling 2010
Pale lemon with a slight lemonade scent, there's racy acidity and moderate sweetness to the taste. Ultra-juicy, a touch flinty – served chilled it seems so much richer that the 8.5% alcohol hints. Powerful and exciting with apple blossoms, tropical fruit and excellent length. The Doctors' is earning a reputation as one of NZ's top Rieslings. F was for Forrest.
8.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008
Very deep plummy-red coloured with a savoury meaty aroma and a luxurious spiciness to the flavour. It's spicy and peppery, plummy and leathery, juicy and savoury with firm yet supple tannins (still resolving) and the long finish has a nuance of jaffa. Seems like it will be a bit of a keeper. G was for Gimblett Gravels.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Henry's Drive Padthaway Shiraz 2007 - South Australia
Dark red with a smooth chocolate suggestion to the scent and bright spicy flavours of dark red berries, chocolate and cherries. A lavish red with a fine tannin structure, a touch of mint and some pleasing bottle age development creeping in. A beautiful drink right now. H was for Henry.
15% alc. Cork. $25.99 special.

Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 - Italy
Dark red with an earthy, savoury aroma and a savoury meaty flavour with a succulent demeanour. It's juicy and ripe without being distinctly fruity and the tannins are silky and fine. A wine to enjoy with food – the cheese went very well. Gold Medal Spiegelau International Wine Show. I was for Italy 13% alc. Cork. $16.99.

Mission Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Very dark black red with a fragrant bouquet that's an interesting mix of bitter and sweet red fruits, chocolate and cherry. A dense, rich, smooth plummy red a suede-like texture and resolved tannins that make it seem quite rounded. Underlying acidity gives lift to the juicy finish yet there's an earthy depth as it lingers. J was for Jewelstone.
14% alc. Cork. $39.99.

Kaapzicht Stellenbosch Pinotage 2007
Inky dark red with a luxurious vanillin oak scent together with earth, sweet leather, chocolate and cake spice. A plush, generous wine with smoky oak, firm teeth-coating tannins that dissolve into the blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, and a backbone of leather and tobacco. The fruit seems very ripe and the finish is long and supple.K was for Kaapzicht.
14.5% alc. Cork. $29.99.

Lustau East India Solera Sherry – Jerez, Spain Transparent tawny coloured with yellow ochre edges. Intense aromas of raisins and a smooth, warm, viscous texture with distinctive rancio character from years in old oak barrels together with salted almonds, raisins and treacle – an intriguing wine because even though it is sweet, the finish seems dry. Quite heady too – a little goes a long way. L was for Lustau.
20% alc. Cork. $37.99 / 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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