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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

May 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 - 25 May 2011
Master of Wine Series with Stephen Bennett MW
Wines were not tasted blind.

Discovery Point 'Fleur' 2009 - Marlborough
A blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, it's hard to pinpoint the dominant variety when you first taste this wine. Served quite chillled, it had a lanolin character that made med think Europe, but becomes more fruity and familiar as the chill is chased away with floral nuances together with apricot, honey, citrus and flint and more and more yellow fruit and spicy Gewurztraminer characters coming through. When it's not so cold the perfume becomes more alluring too. It's a dry wine with a savoury richness and the finish is long and satisfying. Followers of Alsace style wines will like this. I did.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Discovery Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Tangy and rich with a pungent aroma and a savouriness to the flavour from partial wild yeast fermentation and extended yeast lees aging. It's rich and dry with grapefruit, apple and lime and a stonefruit richness to the full, fat finish. A very enjoyable full-bodied style.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Discovery Point 'Rich Dry' Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010
The 100% wild yeast ferment (in tank) imparts a funky character to the scent like hops or malt or, as Stephen alluded to, 'dack'. Extended aging on yeast lees is very obvious to the taste, adding a brew-like character to the predominant apple and pear. A full-bodied wine, it finishes dry and savoury with a mouth-coating vinous richness.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Kairos Wild Barrique Ferment Pinot Gris 2009
100% wild ferment in old oak barrels for 9 months creates a rich, textural, golden-coloured, full-bodied wine with a bready / biscuity aroma. A sliver of hokey-pokey sweetness and a touch of stonefruit joins rich apple and pear flavours, the backbone is flinty and the oak adds complexity and a subtle smokiness and the finish is full and long.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Discovery Point Lowburn Vineyard Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Dark garnet red, translucent in appearance, this has a sweet / smoky aroma and a very savoury, earthy, truffle-like palate with smoky oak, nutmeg, a touch of tomato stalk, ripe black cherry and finally chocolate adding an impression of sweetness. Underlying acidity leaves the mouth with a tingle of brightness. Not your typical CO pinot noir, but there's a wonderful savoury complexity that many people will like.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Discovery Point Gravels Selections Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec 2009
This 60/40 blend has a vivid, bright black/crimson red hue and smells smooth, succulent and a little cedary with an abundance of dark fruit. The aromatic impression follows through to the rounded palate, which is deep and savoury with nuances of smoky oak, cassis and blackberry fruit, milk chocolate, leather and dried herbs, and the finish is long and fine with a touch of anise lifting the finish. Gold NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2009
Gutsy deep red colour. The aroma is a little floral with mushrooms, spice and a touch of barnyard. The taste is savoury, meaty and leathery with a mushroom earthiness and fruit expressive of brambly berries. Very expansive in the mouth, it's finely structured with underlying acidity and a long lasting finish. "A food wine," says Stephen.
13% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Rojo Garnacha 2010 Valdepenas, Spain
Dark plummy red with pinky/purple edges. Strawberries, redcurrants and dried herbs fill the bouquet and the flavour is juicy and spicy with strawberries, rose hips, soft smooth tannins and some very appealing tarragon nuances coming through. Unoaked and a little confectionery, but who cares because it so deliciously juicy and easy to drink.
13% alc. Cork. $11.99 special.

E Tempranillo 2010 Valencia, Spain
Deep plummy red with a pink/purple hue. Raisin and liquorice aromas carry through to the luscious palate. This is a juicy, jammy blockbuster made in a modern style with hints of tobacco inherent to Tempranillo, together with a touch of mint on the finish. Fruit is the hero in this unoaked red.
13.5% alc. Cork. $15.99.

Papa Luna GSM 2008 Calatayud, Spain
Dark red with pinky rims. Quite cedary with vanilla, leather and peppery spice scents. A dry modern wine that makes you think hot climate, but it's so dry! Amazing depth and concentration with strawberry, blackcurrant, liquorice and spice, and a fine firm structure. Rich, powerful and simply outstanding.
14.5% alc. Cork. $28.99.

Lar de Paula Rioja Tempranillo Reserva 2005 Rioja, Spain
Deep red in colour with lashings of coconut-like American oak scents, hints of jaffa and sweet juicy flavours. A voluptuous and very ripe blockbuster with a succulence to the firm dry tannins, and pepper, rose hip, chocolate and jaffa filling out the delicious palate. Some savoury funk keeps the ripe raisin fruit in check.
18 months in French and American oak, then bottle-aged 18 months before release. At six years old this is incredible wine.
14% alc. Cork. $42.99.

Sierra Cantabria Coleccion Rivada 2008 Rioja, Spain
Dark purple red with a bouquet of plums and blackberries infused with tar, spice, coconut and jaffa. An immense wine with fabulous concentration of fruit, oak and spice with liquorice/anise notes coming through together with mouth-watering jaffa and Tempranillo's characteristic acidity and tobacco. A super Rioja, which the producers make from the blend of their best fruit in any one year.
14.5% alc. Cork. $89.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18 May 2011
Wine Pairs
Wines were tasted blind.

Lawsons Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010
Shiny gold. Hints of butterscotch on the nose with oak adding savouriness to the orchard fruit scent. It smells a little like Chardonnay but the moderate sweetness in palate says no. A textural, Pinot Gris with subtle oak and loads of apple strudel flavours, finishing with a hint of vanilla and lemon chantilly cream. Gold NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Albert Mann Pinot Gris 2009 Alsace, France
Light gold with a neutral aroma but sweet, juicy, rich, heady flavours. Autumn fruit, honey, strudel spices and raisins with a hint of pineapple sage and savoury mealy undertones from the maturation on yeast lees. The finish is textural and long with a fruity brightness.
14% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Reine Pedauque Pouilly Fuisse 2006 Burgundy, France
Moderately dense gold with a mealy aroma and lanolin coating to the lemon butter lolly and hazelnut flavours. There's indication of full malolactic fermentation, the texture is silky smooth and savoury nuances with spicy oak kick in on the hot, dry, flinty finish.
13% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Seifried Barrique Ferment Nelson Chardonnay 2009
Golden hued, shiny. Big, bold, creamy smelling, powerful in its presence both aromatically and in the mouth. It has lots of smoky oak with toasted brazils, grapefruit, stonefruit and malt and a citrus brightness to the full-bodied finish. Smooth and rich, it shows maturity for its age. If you liked the blockbuster 2006, you will like this.
14% alc. Screwcap. $22.99 special.

West Brook Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Pale lemon with heady scents of Turkish delight, rose oil, flowers and spice. It's seems quite luscious with its low acidity and moderate sweetness, there's a lovely slipperiness to the texture and the flavours are packed with lychees, rose musk, violets and a refreshing zing of ginger-like spice. Gold Medal.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Joseph Cattin Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace, France
Golden in hue with delicate but beguiling scents of rose oil, this spectacular wine is medium sweet but seems much drier. It has an exquisite, almost oily texture with a soft, smooth, silky veneer and tastes spicy with a tingle of zest, orange pomander, juicy exotic fruits, subtle anise and white pepper. A truly hedonistic experience.
13% alc. Cork. $49.99.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2008
Bright boysenberry red in hue, this Hawkes Bay red tricks most of the tasters into opting for a Northern Hemisphere wine. The aromas are quite tarry and earthy with a blackcurrant fruitiness pushing through and it's tarry and savoury to the taste with firm but fine tannins, fruitcake cherries, peppery spice and a vanillin sweetness. Medium to full bodied in style. Four gold medals and AirNZ Trophy.
13% alc. Screwcap. $35.99.

Condado de Haza Tempranillo 2006 - Ribero del Duero, Spain Dark garnet red with American oak permeating the red-fruited scent and the vanilla and cedar quite obvious in the palate. A soft, creamy wine with supple velvety tannins, chocolate, fruitcake spices, juicy blackberries, cherries, pepper and underlying notes of tobacco. It's full-bodied and dense in texture with an underlying gaminess too.
14% alc. Cork. $44.99.

Rockbare Mojo Barossa Shiraz 2009
Dark in colour with an aroma of cherry, mocha and vanillin oak and a savoury, gamey undercurrent to the juicy, ripe red fruit flavours. It's smooth in texture with silk-edged, velvety tannins, tobacco, vanillin oak and a fine layer of chocolate coating the peppery finish. Approachable and drinkable with the savouriness keeping the fruitiness in check. Very easy to enjoy.
15% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Vidal Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007
Dense purple red with a dark, savoury aroma that has a spicy inflection, the savouriness carrying through to the concentrated palate. Seemingly youthful with fine firm tannins, this evolves beautifully in the glass to revealing red fruits, liquorice, anise, vanilla, cigar box, cedar and pepper. Winner of innumerable gold medals and trophies, the most emphatic being the award of the Overall Champion at the Tri-Nations Challenge last year.
14% alc. Screwcap. $59.99.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Dark blackish red in colour, this wine immediately whisks us to the hot climate of Australia. Aromas of redcurrant, cassis, cherry and cedar and flavours of juicy blackberries and cassis with savoury oak, hints of leather and thick textured, velvety tannins. Very nice drinking right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Mudbrick Reserve Waiheke Island Cabernet Merlot 2009 Purple black, youthful and deep. Aromas of marmite on toast, blackcurrant and cedar. Spicy to the taste with underlying acidity adding brightness to the savoury, earthy, leathery flavours and while a little jammy on the finish, the tannins are firm and the wine is dry. Full-bodied in style. Gold Medal @ Bragato.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11 May 2011
All New to First Glass
Wines were tasted blind.

Seppelt Fleur de Lys Pinot Noir / Chardonnay NV - Australia
Straw gold colour with fine bubbles and condensation quickly forming on the glass. Nut and lemon aromas. Lots of fizz when first tasted, subsiding to reveal quite a savoury bubbles with a nutty backbone, a touch of vinous sweetness and a dry, fresh, steely finish. Classy presentation at a party price.
12.5% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Dusky Sounds Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Light gold coloured with tantalising passionfruit, gooseberry and lime aromas. Powerfully flavoured with loads of juiciness, it's classic sauv with gooseberry, grass and fleshy ripe tropical fruit balanced by racy acidity. Undeniably good. Gold Royal Easter Show.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $9.99 special.

Marisco 'Kings Bastard' Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Light gold coloured with aromas of freshly picked orchard fruit, hints of peach and a subtle suggestion of smoke. Served chilled it's flinty, tight and citrussy with the fruit fleshing out towards stonefruit as the wine warms up. With hints of tobacco and hair oil, it's quite different from the big, bold, creamy 2009. This wine shoud not be overchileld and will probably improve with more time in the bottle.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Spy Valley Envoy Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Light citrine, looking very youthful for its age. This has an appealing aroma of smoky oak and caramel cream and the win is packed with flavour even though it has been well chilled. Smooth, malty and creamy with oak spice and underlying citrus. A lovely, rounded, mouthfilling Chardonnay with a long lasting finish. Classy, Sophisticated. Stylish both in taste and presentation.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $41.99.

Wooing Tree Beetlejuice Pinot Noir 2009
Saturated deep ruby, bright in appearance. Aromas radiate smoky, savoury oak and ripe cherry. A lovely, ripe, juicy pinot with succulent cherry and plum fruit, plush velvety tannins, oak spice and well-balanced smoky savouriness. Another star from this Cromwell vineyard and drinking beautifully right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Carmina Luna Monastrell Cabernet - Spain
Dark violet red with ripe plum aromas instilled with chocolate overtones. Full-bodied, smooth and velvety textured with sweet American oak and a spicy, almost peppery disposition. It's very juicy, yet has savoury, gamey nuances and a touch of mint too. A great quaffing price for this little Spanish beauty.
15% alc. Cork. $11.99 special.

Da Vinci Chianti 2009 Vinci, Italy
Deep red with medium saturation. Smoky on the nose with redcurrants and tar. It's dry and herbal with tobacco-like oak and redcurrant fruit, a creaminess to the backbone and a salty savouriness as it lingers. This new vintage seems quite linear and one dimensional - perhaps because of its place in the lineup tonight. It lacks the excitement of the gold-medal winning 2008.
13% alc. Cork. $14.99.

Balatasar Tempranillo 2008 Calatayud, Spain
Dark black red with a smoky, polished oak scent. Smoky bacon springs to mind and carries through to the juicy palate that's laden with red fruits, tobacco, leather and liquorice. Tannins are fine in their structure and the finish is long. Very good.
13.5% alc. Cork. $30.99.

Luzon Tellus Reserva Monastrell Tempranillo Cabernet 2005 Jumilla, Spain
Moderately saturated dark red with some development starting to show. The aroma is meaty and jammy with a suggestion of raisins. Age becomes this wine it's smooth and almost seamless in the mouth, with savoury oak, mushrooms, a touch of tobacco and an underlying juicy sweetness that lingers harmoniously. It's been matured for you and is now ready to drink.
13.5% alc. Cork. $18.99.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2008
Saturated black red with engaging aromas of chocolate, vanilla and smoky cedar. The flavours are spicy and creamy with chocolate and pepper and tannins that are structured but seamless with a savoury smokiness keeping the succulent plum and blackberry fruit in balance.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Gotham McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
Shiny purple black dark and deep. Aromas radiate sweet, vanillin American oak it's quite a lifted aroma with smoky notes too. This is heading towards monumental in the palate. It's full of plump juicy plums and succulent black fruits with hints of eucalypt, an underlying mushroom earthiness, loads of sweet spices and smoke and the finish is long, juicy and succulent. Very appealing.
14.9% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Langmeil Hangin' Snakes Barossa Shiraz 2009
Deep red in colour with a juicy red fruit scent that hints towards cassis and a touch of orange zest too. Bright fruited in the palate, with red fruits and quite lifted compared to the previous wines perhaps because of the small portion of Viognier in the blend. Tannins are smooth, there's a savoury undercurrent and the finish is long and spicy. A departure from the typical Barossa style.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4 May 2011
Master of Wine Series with Bob Campbell MW
Wines were tasted blind - unless stated.

Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Marlborough Riesling 2010
Vanilla biscuit and citrus aromas and a zesty undercurrent to the apple and tropical fruit flavours. Fresh when chilled to the bone, like it was when tasted, with a touch of lemon pith and a lingering crisp dry finish. Champion Riesling Air NZ Wine Awards 2010. (Not tasted blind).
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.999 special.

Misha's Vineyard Limelight Riesling 2010 Bannockburn, Central Otago
This water pale, medium-dry Riesling has a beguilingly aromatic citrus blossom and honeysuckle perfume and tastes mouth-wateringly juicy with edgy acidity to balance the grapey, red apple sweetness, an infusion of spice, and a seamless, silky texture. It's just delicious! 11.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99.

Pyramid Valley Lebecca Vineyard Marlborough Riesling 2007
Light gold in colour with an unusual smoky nuance to the scent, then marmalade, melon jam, flint and cheese. Fleshy tasting with peach underpinned by grapefruit, funky wild yeasts and a toasty richness that has accrued with age. A meal of a Riesling with a full-bodied finish and layers of honeycomb as it lingers. It's very different and perhaps a 'love it' or 'hate it' wine but I think it is very very good. It has 34 grams per litre of residual sugar although it doesn't seem this sweet.
11% alc. Screwcap. $37.99.

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Light gold in colour with a fragrant perfume of musk, Turkish delight and Thai Basil, this tastes quite dry when chilled but there's a sliver of sweetness as well. Full of varietal expression with a soft, pleasing, almost oily texture, the captivating flavours are reminiscent of lychees, cardamons, rose musk and candied spiced orange zest. Cuisine magazine's 'White Wine of the Year'.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Man O War Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2010
Very pale in appearance with an intriguing scent reminiscent of apple strudel and mineral bath salts and a warm, bready undercurrent to the rich, rounded flavours of apple and pear with an infusion of anisey herbs, a touch of honey and a subtle hint of tangelo zest. Just off dry in sweetness level, it showed very well tonight and we thought deserving of its Cuisine top rating.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 2003 Bordeaux, France
Like a gold topaz gem set in 24-carat gold, this stunning Sauternes made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes has a smoky nuance to the brown sugar and hokey-pokey scent. It's warm and rounded in the mouth with a nectar-like texture, orange honey, lanolin, a touch of spice, melted toffee and raisin toast. The pungency of the Sauv pulsates through the intense, seductive finish that has layers of flavour. From a heatwave year and fermented in old oak, it's a special treat. Not tasted blind.
14% alc. Cork. $149.99 special.

Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2009 Ortona, Italy
Dark red, moderately dense, with chocolate, prune and boot leather aromas seemingly a little jammy tonight. This is a dry, rich, earthy red with smooth velvety tannins, cherry and prune fruit, a touch of orange peel acidity and an expansive savoury finish. Gold NZIWS.
13% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Valli Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Ruby and bright with a perfumed, sweet-fruited aroma that's infused with subtle floral and musk and promises much. Juicy and flavoursome with black cherries, spicy oak, silky tannins, forest floor, mushrooms and a chocolatey richness, it has developed some lovely characters with time in bottle. It's soft, subtle, silky and very clean with the juiciness well balanced to the underlying acidity. Outstanding expression from the difficult 2008 season.
14% alc. Screwcap. $56.99.

Julicher '99 Rows' Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009
Ruby-garnet in hue, quite translucent in appearance. Immediately the smoky, savoury, plum-like aromas make you think further north. A savoury, structured wine and though light in colour, it has considerable depth with firmness to the tannins, plum and ripe cherry-guava fruit and a pleasing spice and anise-like herb infusion. Long-lasting with a seemingly luscious finish, it's easy to see why it's a gold medal winner. Gold NZIWS 2010.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Cien y Pico 'Doble Pasta' 2007 - Manchuela, Spain
Striking black/red with a floral nuance to the slightly peppery / red berry perfume, this is a big, thick, deep, meaty wine with powerful drying tannins and flavours of mocha, mulberry and peppery spice. Sumptuous, a meal on its own, with a fascinating, slightly oxidative old-world character underpinning the modern fruity veneer. Labelled Tintorera , and sometimes called Tintorera Garnacha or Alicante Bouschet, this is a grape with red flesh, not clear.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Mitolo 'The Jester' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008
Bright black red with vanillin oak and cameo cream biscuit scents, it hot and spicy to the taste with sensuous but powerful tannins, creamy vanillin oak, chocolate, mocha, liquorice, plums and berries. Shiraz as we like it. This could cellar for 5-10 years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

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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