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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

June 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 - 29 Jun 2011
Taylors Wines with Helen McCarthy
Wines were not tasted blind.

Taylors Chardonnay 2009 – Clare Valley
Golden in colour and rich and toasty in flavour, this is a lovely rounded Chardonnay with spicy oak, tropical fruit and bright citrussy zest. It has layers of flavour and a creamy finish with an apricot flourish as it lingers.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Taylors Jaraman Riesling 2009 – Clare & Eden Valleys
Straw gold with a classic Clare Valley talc and lime bouquet infused with a delicate hint of delicate hint of honeysuckle. Although very dry the fruit is juicy, ripe and fleshy with tarragon adding a lovely tang of anise and a salty / sherbet nuance too. A salivating wine that compounds in flavour.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $28.99.

Taylors St Andrews Riesling 2005 – Clare Valley
The richness of this lemon gold-coloured wine is testament to how beautifully Clare Valley Riesling can age. This orange blossom-scented Riesling is bone dry but has garnered some toast and honey nuances that give an impression of sweetness. Like the Jaraman before it, a salty nuance comes through leaving the mouth salivating for more. A touch of grapefruit emerges as the wine lingers. Helen predicts that, if properly stored, this sensational Riesling will go for another 20 years.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $43.99.

Taylors St Andrews Chardonnay 2008 – Clare Valley
Green-tinged gold colour, a bouquet of sweet toasty oak, citrus, creme brulee, and impressions of nougat in the palate with a lovely savoury undercurrent bringing it all into balance. The texture is warm, smooth and harmonious; tropical fruit and mandarin zest add brightness; oak asserts it’s presence on the finish and tantalising butterscotch flavours linger. Barrel aged 12 months, lees stirred for 6 months.
13% alc. Screwcap. $43.99.

Taylors Gewurztraminer 2010 – Clare Valley
Very pale gold yet with a brightness to the hue, the aromas of violets, Turkish delight, lychees and orange water are distinctive and varietal. There’s a savoury character to the wine together with orange water, five spice, ginger, lychees and smoker lollies – everything is there. . Made in a bone dry style it's a great expression of gewurz from the Clare Valley. A humdinger wine to take to the Thai BYO.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Taylors Merlot 2009 – Clare Valley
Inky blackberry red in colour with plum, leather and vanillin oak aromas and jammy plum and boysenberry fruit filling the palate. A dark wine with a minty undercurrent, a chocolate richness, a succulent mid palate and a firm dry smoky finish where the classic sweet leathery character of merlot comes through. The merlot is sourced from the iconic St Andrews vineyard.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Taylors 80 Acres Shiraz Viognier 2008 – Clare Valley
This supple wine is impenetrable black-red in colour with a sweetish, chocolate-coated cherry-plum aroma and an upfront fruity succulence to the flavour with a pleasing touch of pepper and all spice, a wonderfully smooth warm texture and chocolate again on the finish. Then, rather intriguingly, some apricot nuances, from the 6% Viognier, seem to push their way through. Made to be an ‘accessible’ wine, it achieves this on all points.
14% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – Clare Valley
Blackberry red with a brooding, dark berry fruit aroma, this wine is characterised by firm tannins, smoke, blackcurrant, chocolate raisins, dried herbs, graphite and a touch of mint. Tannins are supple yet fine and dry yet surreptitiously provide the structure and the fruit is magnificently pristine (a good options practice wine!). From a year Helen considers magnificent for Cabernet Sauvignon in Clare Valley, this wine is remarkable quality for the price.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Taylors Shiraz 2009 – Clare Valley
Vivid black purple colour, aromas of ripe berry fruits infused cake spice and pepper and bright and juicy flavours with plum jam and a freshly baked biscuit note too. It’s a lifted, full-bodied red with hints of liquorice, mochaccino, vanilla and loads of spice complementing the fruit. The tannins are fine and supple throughout, then that distinctive Clare Valley mintiness comes through and the finish is mouth-puckery dry. Blue Gold medal winner.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2008 – Clare Valley & McLaren Vale
Black red coloured with primary red berry scents, a chocolatey oak depth and some earthy notes too. The flavours seem perfumed, a little floral, some violets perhaps, then more classic chocolate, allspice and cherries with hints of liquorice and tobacco coming through. As the wine finishes, the berry fruit integrates beautifully. A silky textured wine with a fine tannin structure – the whole experience is harmonious and pleasing. My favourite so far. Gold @ the Decanter World Wine Awards.
14.5% alc. Cork. $25.99 special.

Taylors St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Clare Valley
Shiny dark red with some garnet tints to the edges, this has a thinking aroma, a deep serious aroma, with hints of chocolate, mint and cedar. In the palate there’s chocolate, mocha, mint and well integrated mellow French oak and some secondary earth and dried herb notes have accrued from the bottle age. The tannins are just a little furry, yet fine and the blackcurrant fruit is concentrated - but mellowing rather than forward. Everything is nicely integrated and the finish goes back to the start. 2005 was a warm rather than a hot dry year. It was low cropping and some of the blocks were hand picked.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $59.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 22 Jun 2011
Cusine Magazine's top Shiraz and Syrah
Wines were tasted blind.

Henry's Drive The Scarlet Letter Sparkling Shiraz
Deep boysenberry red with a lacy-edged mousse, this sparkling Shiraz has aromas of plums, fruitcake and blackberry jam, and tastes succulent and savoury with a gutsy richness, a savoury backbone, fruitcake spices and a blackberry ripple ice cream finish. What a great bubbles for a mid winter Xmas dinner.
13.5% alc. Crown Cap. $29.99.

Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
Black red with a fine textured appearance, the aromas are plummy and a bit similar to the bubbles. It's a dry tasting wine in comparison, however. Dry, savoury and leathery with a rich fruity backbone, allspice and fruitcake, it finishes with vanilla and blackcurrant jube sweetness. I thought it a little simple for its star rating. Five stars & No.3 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Arrow Junction Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Vivid purple black with a cracked pepper and dried rose scent, this has a dry peppery taste combining with dry tannins – a combination that has it begging for food. It's dark, savoury and meaty with mocha, chicory and black cherry fruit and chocolate wheaten on the lingering finish. Five stars & No.2 NZ Syrah in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Shiny black with an attractive rose pepper scent, this has lashings of pepper in the palate but there's fruit sweetness too, which harmoniously balances the savouriness and leaves an impression of succulence. The firm tannins have a velvety texture and the lasting finish is creamy and bright. A multi-awarded wine and my New Zealand favourite on the night. Five stars & No.3 NZ Syrah in Cuisine. Overall Champion at the Sydney International with three trophies. Gold at the Royal Easter Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. Not available.

Mt Hillary McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
Perfumed aromas and bright savoury flavours infused with pepper together with floral notes in harmony to the fruity depth. There's blackberry, blueberry, chocolate and pepper with toasty oak and a bay leaf infusion. It's subtle to start but builds in concentration and the finish is long and fulfilling. Five stars & No.6 in Cuisine and Best Buy.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Laplace Madiran 2009
The purplest of black but with a fine textured appearance, and ripe and succulent smelling with concentrated oak, fruit, spice and tar, it's seems quite ripe, almost sweet, to the taste with 'port wine magnolia' (bubblegum flower). Fine tannined with a smooth slippery texture, liquorice and violet jam, it's not Shiraz / Viognier as I thought when we were told, "this is a stand up options" wine. This is a 100% Tannat from Madiran but the tannins are deceptively supple. A very nice wine.
13.5% alc. Cork. $24.99.

Bird in the Hand, Two in the Bush Mt Lofty Ranges Hills Syrah
Dark red, plummy and spice with liquorice and pepper, there's layers of flavours and lots going on here. There's a hint of a slightly cooler climate when rosemary says hello but the overall impression is one of richness and succulence with fine tannins, a chocolatey richness and a bright tang to the lasting finish Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Purple black in colour with a nuance of smoke to the concentrated blackcurrant and jube-like scent, it's dark and savoury tasting with black fruits and marmite. Intensely concentrated with a nice seasoning of pepper and smooth caresses. Five stars & No.1 NZ Syrah in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. Not available.

Rosemount District Release McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Black red, perfumed with vanilla and chocolate, this is a rich, opulent and creamy with well-balanced seasoning, smoky oak, succulent red and black fruits, and a long smooth finish. It ticks all the boxes. No need to say more. Five stars & No.1 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Thorn-Clarke Barossa Shotfire Shiraz 2009
Black red with sumptuous aromas of smoky oak, biscuity spices, black fruits and dried roses, the extravagance carries through to the mouthfilling palate. With chocolate, spice and slightly grainy tannins, it lasts and lasts. A super wine every year. Five stars & No.2 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
This black-red coloured wine has more of a savoury, cocoa-like bittersweet chocolate scent. It's thick textured, spicy, savoury and lifted with a nice touch of pepper coming through on the lush, juicy finish. Five stars & No.5 in Cuisine. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Shingleback D Block Reserve Shiraz 2006
Dark red with a rich, creamy, strawberry-chocolate aroma, this is a full-bodied, textural wine with chocolate and liquorice balancing the profound savouriness. A concentrated blockbuster in the context of the wines tasted tonight, it's spicy and chocolatey with concentrated cherry and blackberry fruit and a firm tannin finish. Gold NZIWS. Five stars & No.4 in Cuisine. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. $58.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 15 Jun 2011
A Mixed Bag
Wines were tasted blind.

Hunter's MiruMiru Marlborough Sparkling NV
Straw gold in colour with a fine seam of vigorous bubbles, this has a soft bready aroma and delicate lemon and apple flavour with a creamy mousse and a touch of gentle sweetness to the long toasty finish.
12.5% alc. Cork. $22.99 special.

Mt Hillary Barrique Fermented Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Pale in colour, served quite chilled this has a neutral aroma but reveals delicate sweet smoky oak and mealy notes as it warms up. Textural with toasty oak, a buttery nuance, fleshy stonefruit and a long finish, citrus flavours are accentuated by chilling.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Crossroads Winery Kereru Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Again quite neutral on the nose when chilled, but spicier and later hinting of butterscotch, it's fruity and juicy with lovely toasty oatmeal flavours coming through together with a richness of stonefruit and melon with oak spice on the finish. Rounded and full with a seamless impression, but don't over chill.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Waimea Nelson Viognier 2009
Golden yellow with a floral perfume, it tastes very ripe almost tending towards Turkish delight. It has a gloriously smooth slippery texture with flower musk infiltrating the tropical guava and apricot fruit and the delicate spice. Takes chilling well and finishes with heady ethereal notes and even a suggestion of toffee creams. Gold & trophy NZIWS. Gold AirNZ.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Waimea Nelson Classic Riesling 2008
Light yellow with a bouquet of honeysuckle and lime, this is developing some lovely characters even with a short time of bottle age – a nuance of kero comes through. There's richness to the mid-palate, well-balanced honey-edged sweetness and underlying orange marmalade. It's a Riesling you can almost eat.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Artero Tempranillo 2009 – La Mancha, Spain
Deep cherry red with an aroma of smoke and black currant that is concentrated and intense. Fruity tasting with a velvety texture, an underlying wave of tobacco and herbs and raspberry and strawberry jubes with a vanillin sweetness coming through. Lovely drinking.
14% alc. Cork. $16.99.

Luzon Seleccion 21 Crianza 2005 – Jumilla, Spain
Black-cored garnet coloured with an aroma of raisins and macerated grapes with liquorice and port-like notes coming through, this is a slightly oxidative style with an impression of bottle age, filling out in the palate with richness and concentration. Made from a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, it has dry grippy tannins, vanillin oak, cherries, spice and a ripe juicy finish.
14% alc. Cork. $27.99.

Cantine due Palme Tenuta Albrizzi 2007 – Salento, Italy
While a little earthy and spicy on the nose, it's brimming with fruit in the palate with well-balanced savoury oak, soft smooth tannins and a chocolate raisin sweetness to the finish. Succulent and easy-going with a gentle spiciness lingering. A very impressive blend of 50% Primitivo and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon - probably my favourite red on the night..
13.5% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Mission Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Vivid purple red with aromas of spiced plum, fruit cake and black pepper, it tastes concentrated with succulent fruit, a meaty depth and chocolate box, creamy oak and a gorgeous texture from the integrated tannins. Well seasoned with pepper. Beautiful already. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz 2007 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Deep purple-red in colour, this luxurious red has a deep-seated scent of vanillin oak and tastes distinctly peppery in the palate with toasty oak, vanilla, chocolate, redcurrant and cherry, there's a nice touch of earth and dried herb, a firm tannin backbone and a succulent finish. Gold Medal Perth Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Nugan Estate Manuka Grove Durif 2009 – Riverina, NSW
Impenetrable black red in colour, this is a blockbuster with an aroma that's red-berry jammy with a rustic, earthy, iron-ore edge and cigar box. There's a fruit cake richness to the taste that almost camouflages the underlying herbs and gamey characters. It's high-toned with firm, power-packed tannins that dissolve into the succulent fruit and the finish is dry. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Browns of Padthaway Family Reserve "Myra" Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Padthaway, South Australia
Dark brownish red with chocolate wheaten biscuit aromas joined by a hint of mint and a suggestion of tar. That herbal note carries through to the palate where the tannins are silky and fine. While not really fruity it's structured with vinous depth and a succulence to the lingering finish that leaves memories of chocolate and liquorice. Lovely example of aged Cab that's ready to drink now - I don't think it will improve
14.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 8 Jun 2011
Master of Wine Series with Alastair Maling MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Thornbury Gisborne Chardonnay 2010
From the delicate toasted cashew perfume to the creamy richness of the nutty flavour, this medium to full-bodied Chardonnay has an apricot, nectarine and melon fruit brightness and a smoky finish. Called 'Baby Barrique' by the Villa Maria team, it delivers smooth, easy drinking. Recommended by Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Vidal Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
The bouquet of smoky French oak has a delicate floral nuance that carries through to the palate to join grilled stonefruit, sweet nutty oak and lemon biscuit characters. It's mealy and savoury with a smooth, seamless mouthfeel, classy French oak nuances, a fine seam of acidity and a hint of salted caramel on the finish where nougat flavours linger. Drinking just beautifully right now. 100% natural ferment, 40% new oak. Trophy Royal Easter Wine Show, 5 Stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2009
The delicate nougat scents have a creamy malty inflection and this creamy malty character infiltrates the palate, which is smooth, seamless, nutty and savoury with a spicy lift to the finish. There's 70% natural yeast ferment, but not as noticeable as in the Vidal, and the fruit is rather more restrained, perhaps pear and white peach. 5 Stars Cuisine, Gold @ Air NZ Wine Awards & NZ International Wine Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2009
Immediately the rich, full-bodied flavours excite the mouth. It's bright, clean and lifted with tropical fruit nuances, hints of grapefruit and malty / caramel cream notes supported by toasty oak. It flows seamlessly across the palate and the finish is long with nectarine and tropical fruit lingering in harmony. A beautiful wine with layers of complexity and finesse. 5 Stars Cuisine Magazine, Trophy Gisborne Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Viognier 2010
The heady aroma has an initial whiff of smoke followed by a soft jubey sweetness and floral nuances, perhaps carnation - I detected a hint of white pepper. Full-bodied in the palate with a little tannin grip, it has a rich yet dry mouth feel. Partial malo adds creaminess to the wine and the 15% new oak adds to the texture (and perhaps introduces the tannins). Lime blossoms and apricots float on the ethereal finish. Gold Medal Royal Easter Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Villa Maria Dry Reserve Marlborough Riesling 2009
Water pale in colour with concentrated scents of oyster shell, honeysuckle, lime. Racy acidity infiltrates the palate. There's a salty minerality, and a palate-awakening crispness from the 9 grams of acidity (this is high) and even though it has 8 grams of residual sugar, on the International Riesling Scale it is considered dry. Made to be a serious wine, zingy lemon flavours linger.
11% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Gewurztraminer 2010
The bouquet is concentrated with scents of smoker lollies, Moroccan spices, honey and a nuance of natural yeast funk. It's an off dry style to the taste, not cloying, with a touch of spritzy zest to balance the sweetness. Tasted lightly chilled I found violets, Turkish delight, orange water, anise and coriander seeds, a silky texture and a richness to the lasting finish where a touch of honeycomb comes through. With partial natural ferment in old oak and full malo, it's all about layers and texture.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006
Still quite considerable depth to the brown garnet (pyrope) hue, this five-year-old Pinot has a sensual sexual perfume infused with forest floor, mushrooms and bittersweet fruit. It is this bittersweet fruit that is so exciting in the silky-textured palate – red guava and poached tamarillo join plums, woody herbs mushrooms, forest floor and some wild yeast funk and there's a lovely bright lift to the finish, the 'peacock tail' flare. A gorgeous, earthy, savoury wine, with lovely bottle-age complexities, and still years to go.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $62.99.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec Cabernet 2007
Dark plummy red in colour, the aroma offers up cedar, red fruits, sweet leather, vanilla and later, liquorice. A surprisingly soft, smooth, rounded, velvety textured wine with underlying acidity, concentrated red and black fruits, chocolate biscuits and an earthy depth. Malbec adds floral nuances and the spicy flourish to the finish. It's actually a little tighter than first thought and becomes more aromatically complex with time. It begs decanting right now. Gold Medal Liquorland International Wine Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $59.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2008
Vibrantly intense blackberry red. Tight leathery aroma with chicory, tar, vanilla and blackberry shortcake. A massive wine with huge cellaring potential, it's so tight in the palate – it has acidity, bite and tannin and really needs more time. Finely structured with concentrated berries, currants, cake spices and a profound savoury depth, it has delicious vinous sweetness as it lingers. 3 Gold Medals, 2 Trophies, 5 Stars Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $44.99 special.

Vidal Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007
Dense purple red with a concentrated aroma of red and black berries with subtle cocoa enhancing the bouquet, it's a muscular savoury wine with firm tannins, vibrant black cherry and plum fruit, black olive, tar, liquorice, spice and vanilla. Not overtly peppery on the nose or in the front or middle palate but black and rose pepper notes linger harmoniously on the finish. You could say it is perfectly seasoned. 5 Gold Medals, 4 Trophies.
14% alc. Screwcap. $54.99.

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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