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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

September 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 - 28 Sep 2011
Stoneleigh with Jamie Marfell and more gold medal winners
Only the Stoneleigh wines were not tasted blind.

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Central Otago Rose 2011
This palest rose pink-coloured tipple has a subtle floral aroma and the flavour has a grapey vinosity with an earthy nuance, a touch of fresh strawberry, a hint of pepper and a zing of citrus. Light and delicate but the finish is refreshing and juicy.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99.

Mumm Champagne Vintage 2002 Reims, France
Golden yellow with a fine bead and a foamy mouse, this full-bodied vintage Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend has a deep sensuous aroma loaded with malt and brioche and the flavours are rich and creamy with a spicy savoury depth, well balanced acidity and a long lasting finish. Gold NZIWS.
12.5% alc. Cork. $139.99.

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
This restrained smelling Sauvignon Blanc is a pallid straw gold and tastes dry, flinty and steely but with a viscosity that adds richness and warmth, and the tangy finish is sustained and long with typical herb, grass and tropical fruit flavours emerging to linger. Described as almost a little Sancerre in style.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
Pale gold-coloured with aromas of spiced apple and pear and a touch of sweetness to the flavour. Wild ferment adds a funky savoury nuance and there's an earthy depth to the backbone. Fruit evolves in the pear/apple/stonefruit spectrum and strudel spices add character.
13% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Bright gold and tantalisingly aromatic with a hint of bubble gum-scented magnolia infusing the bouquet. A bold-tasting wine with toasty oak, caramel and wild yeast, well-defined fig and stonefruit and a long, creamy finish. Well-liked on the night and a cellaring proposition too.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
With a deeply translucent ruby garnet colour, an attractive wild raspberry/strawberry perfume and a fine silky texture, it initially seems quite light but the wine compounds in richness and mouthfeel. There's a floral prettiness layered into the earth and the red berry fruit flavours and while not a blockbuster, it will have wide appeal.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Church Road Cuve Series Hawkes Bay Merlot 2008
Dark red-black coloured, with a leathery nuance to the rich winey scent and ripe plummy and currant fruit flavours with a succulent infusion to the savoury backbone, touches of vanilla and chocolate, a seam of acidity and a flourish of spice. A deep, rich wine with soft, pillowy tannins. A benchmark for the variety. Several gold medals. Trophy Royal Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Chateau Pesquie Terrasses 2009 Rhone, France
This bright boysenberry red-coloured wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. It smells earthy and leathery and tastes spicy and peppery with bright red fruits, succulent blackberries and a vanillin oak depth. Although muscular, it's quite modern in style.
14% alc. Cork. $24.99.

Piano del Cerro Aglianico del Vulture Riserva 2005 Basilicata, Italy
Dark red, emphatically opaque. There's a 'cherry ripe' sweetness to the scent and that intriguing sweetness comes through in the palate that's choc with raisins and succulent red berry fruit. The chewy tannins are plush, but more resolved than the blockbuster 2004, there's a leathery undercurrent, a touch of mint and violet and liquorice nuances linger. Already six years old but will continue to evolve with cellaring.
14.5% alc. Cork. $38.99.

Gotham Regional Vineyard Series Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Black red-coloured with a chocolate biscuit aroma, this is a blockbuster with heady alcohol, succulent black and red fruits, a savoury tarry backbone and the classic peppery characters of Syrah coming through.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

De Bortoli 8 Year Old Tawny Port - NSW, Australia
Dark copper brown with yellow edges, a wonderfully seductive spirituous aroma and warm-textured, spicy flavours with the rancio characters of old barrels coming through. Rich, sweet, nutty and raisiny a dynamite end to the evening. Gold Medal NZIWS.
18.5% alc. Cork. $44.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 Sep 2011
Sacred Hill wines with winemaker Tony Bish
Wines were not tasted blind tonight.

Sacred Hill Halo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Aromatic and vibrant, fresh, grassy and edgy with unmistakable varietal green-coloured fruit characters such as feijoa, gooseberry and lime joining juicy pineapple and an underlying classical herbaceousness. Gold Medal Royal Easter Show. 13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Marlborough Pinot Gris 2010
Lightly perfumed with strudel spice, apple and pear, this is dry and tangy with grape and Nashi pear flavours, a steely backbone, warmth and richness to the mid-palate and length to the finish. 14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Light gold coloured with smoky oak aromas infused with nuts and grilled peach. The texture is smooth and rounded with a touch of viscosity, peaches, butterscotch, nutty oak, a savoury mealy richness and fabulous length.
100% barrel fermented in older oak. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show. 13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Wine Thief Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Class and sophistication are the hallmarks of this powerful Chardonnay. Aromas of nuts and figs with a hint of nougat are tantalising and the flavours are rich and savoury with a creamy subtlety. Dry, rich and still a little tight, with citrus and stonefruit, a mealy mouth coating richness and butterscotch nuances developing, the overall consensus was excellent.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Sacred Hill Riflemans Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
There's a more mealy nuance to the scent with citrus and fine French oak and a much tighter corset to the palate. Finesse perfectly describes this wine - fine oak, fine texture, fine mealy and malo characters with tropical fruit, citrus, stone fruit, a nutty nougat richness and depth and intensity as the fabulous flavours linger. Shows excellent potential for long term development. Top wine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $67.99.

Sacred Hill Halo Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009
Translucent garnet coloured, with cherry aromas and savoury flavours. Silky, rounded and juicy with bittersweet cherry and strawberry fruit and an earthy depth, an easy style to drink and enjoy in a social situation.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Prospector Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Dark rich ruby red with a deep brooding plummy aroma that has a vanillin oak nuance and a succulent sexy savoury depth. Tasting quite youthful with a firm, muscular tannin structure balanced by vinous sweetness, this powerful wine made from Bannockburn fruit is quite different to the controversial 2006, which was from Lowburn. Spicy, concentrated and intense with black fruit, dried herbs and quintessential savouriness, it begs cellaring right now.
14% alc. Screwcap. $54.99.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet 2010
The colour of blackberries with aromas of blackberry, cassis and leather and also a kind of green herbal edge. Tannins are firmly structured and flavours evoke milk chocolate, red and black brambly fruit and black currants. A dry wine that needs food for utmost enjoyment right now - an earthy, gamey dish such as lamb.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Purple red, deep, shiny and inky. Fragrantly scented with an enticing floral allure to the vanillin oak, black pepper and black fruit scent. In the palate there's lovely ripeness to the fruit and roundness to the spicy flavours with a deep brooding backbone and brightness to the finish. Firm tannins can be tamed with cheese. Very impressive.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Halo Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2009
As dark as the Syrah - purple purple, purple. Gosh, what a gorgeous succulent wine, especially compared to the Merlot Cabernet 2010, this beauty is perfumed with violets and chocolate and the palate is layered with juicy red and black fruits and chocolate with firm tannins holding it all together. There's a subtle spicy infusion to the flavour and violets and lead pencils linger. A top wine and outstanding value for money.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Sacred Hill Helmsman Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot 2009
Black purple coloured, shiny and dense. The tantalising perfume has a savoury depth with chocolate box, violet, earth and cassis. An opulent tasting red, it's juicy, biscuity, chocolatey and creamy, with a touch of chicory too. So much succulence, yet so much finesse. The tannins are fine and the finish is dry with a vanillin blackberry impression pushing through and excellent length. A long term proposition from an excellent vintage.
14% alc. Screwcap. $79.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14 Sep 2011
More Gold Medals from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were tasted blind tonight.

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
Fruity aromas of melon, apples and spiced pears and tasty, juicy flavours with a texture like fruit salad juice the fruit reminiscent of peach and pear with a bright spike of orange juice and zest, and a tickle of gingery of spice. Just off dry and a very appealing starter. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Moderate gold in colour with a tantalising smoky French oak and grapefruit bouquet and butterscotch and toasty oak filling the spicy, savoury palate with the richness of stonefruit, lovely clean-cutting acidity, a rounded mouthfeel and a nice touch of zest on the long lasting finish. Classy. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special

Boundary Vineyards Paper Lane Pinot Gris 2010
Light gold coloured, aromatic and spicy with a hint of orange zest to the scent and flavours that are juicy and intense with concentration, richness and the fruitiness of ripe heritage pears, it finishes dry with lingering flavours of spiced apple and pear. Well-liked after the Chardonnay. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Milcrest Estate Nelson Pinot Noir 2010
Translucent garnet ruby in hue with a perfumed, savoury, smoky aroma and a medium-bodied impression to the palate. It has some grip to the silky-textured tannins with a juicy red fruit sweetness, a hint of cake spice, dried woody herbs and finishes dry. An 'elegant' style. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009
Dark ruby red in colour, much deeper in appearance (than the Milcrest) with a gentle smoky aroma, and so seductive to the taste. Ripe, juicy, fruity, savoury, earthy, spicy and gamey with a smooth, silky texture. A beautiful wine, dare I say sexy! Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Vivid blackberry red with a lovely richness to the scent that's floral, a little earthy and not overly peppery. Smooth and creamy to the taste with a velvety texture, juicy red fruits, chocolate and mocha, a lovely savoury tarry depth and a dry finish where floral nuances come through. Immensely drinkable. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Chateau de Sours Bordeaux 2009
Black red coloured with a tarry nuance to the smoky scent and floral nuances too, the plummy fruit flavours are ripe and juicy and the tannins are fine. A medium-bodied dry red that is surprisingly modern with a smoky cigar box character and a leathery undercurrent. Made from 100% Merlot, it's labelled Grand Vin de Bordeaux and Appellation Bordeaux Controlee. The 'stand up' options wine. Silver NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99 special.

Carchelo C Monastrell Tempranillo Cabernet 2009 Jumilla, Spain
Purple black-coloured with a smoky aroma infused with spice plums and raspberry jam. A rich, ripe red with flavours of raisins, cassis, liquorice and sun-baked tar, a gutsy tannin structure and a long, juicy finish. Made in a modern style. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Cypress Hawkes Bay Merlot 2009
Inky purple black. The aroma is deep, brooding and smoky with cassis, vanilla and leather pushing through. Sweet fruit fills the perfumed palate and there's a deep sense of juiciness with floral intonations, hints of tar and leather, opulent mouth-filling tannins and a dry finish with a very subtle suggestion of mint as the flavours linger. A very impressive Hawkes Bay red. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Newton Forrest Stony Corner Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2009
Dark red with aromas of cherry, creamy oak and dried minty herbs. Quite firm to the taste but there is an aura of succulence. Fine textured and concentrated with hints of cigar box, milk chocolate, cherry and well-balanced oak. Full-bodied, juicy and easy to like. For drinking now or cellaring. 5 stars Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Mission Estate Jewelstone Hawkes Bay Cabernet Merlot 2009
Dark red with tints of black and a perfumed berry and cedar scent to the concentrated full-bodied flavours that have a beautifully balanced fruit / oak / tannin regime. A savoury undercurrent underpins the fruit nicely. Very smooth with lingering leather, cigar box and plum. 5 stars Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Cork. $40.99.

Rocland Ass Kisser Shiraz 2009
Black red. Opulently scented with creamy vanillin oak and chocolate and juicy, full-bodied, gutsy flavours crammed with blackberry and cherry fruit, chocolate, mint and eucalypt and a flourish of spice and pepper. Label is a talking point but the wine is quite delicious for fans of the Aussie blockbuster style. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7 Sep 2011
Trophy Winners from the NZ International Wine Show
Wines were not tasted blind tonight.

Maui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Straw gold coloured with a tangy and distinctly varietal scent and crisp, fresh, grassy herbaceous flavours with gooseberry, pineapple and exotic tropical fruit, a citrussy zing and a deliciously tasty, long powerful finish. Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Coopers Creek Gisborne Viognier 2010
Light in colour with a tantalising fragrant scent as the chill wears off, this is a warm, rich spicy wine with rose petal, lime leaf, apricots, nuts and a seductive, almost ethereal texture. Trophy for Champion Viognier.
13% alc. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
Light gold coloured, creamy and nutty with mouthfilling flavours of citrus, white peach, French oak, caramel and a zing to the savoury malty finish. Very appealing with its fine seamless texture and the flavours flesh out and linger. Trophy for Champion Commercial White Wine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Served chilled there's a captivating aroma of citrus and caramel while a funky savouriness characterises the lemony, leesy palate with sweet spicy oak, a nuance of grapefruit, delicious mealy malty flavours, toast, grilled stonefruit and hazelnut lingering harmoniously. A seamless wine with a golden hue, wonderful mouthfeel and phenomenal length. Trophy for Champion Chardonnay and Champion Wine of the Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Distant Land Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010
Light in colour with a quintessential Turkish delight and rose petal bouquet and classical varietal flavours of lychees, Turkish Delight, musk, orange zest and five-spice. The texture is silky and mouthcoating and everything compounds in deliciousness and intensity. Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer.
13% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Kaimira Estate Iti Selection Brightwater Riesling 2011
Pale in colour with a delicate honeysuckle scent, perfectly balanced acidity hones this medium sweet wine to perfection. It's a juicy, lower alcohol style with zesty apple to the fore, hints of citrus and honeysuckle and a long, refreshing and lingering finish. 'Iti' is Maori for small, in reference to the alcohol. Trophy for Champion Riesling.
10% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Olssens Slapjack Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Opaque ruby red, perfumed and spicy with savoury oak and a brooding earthy, gamey depth. Generous fruit intensity of stewed plums and spiced cherries and a fine edge to the velvety tannins, perhaps the slightest suggestion of grip a hint to its cellaring potential that based on past vintages could go 7 to 10 years. Only made in the best years and this is truly the best. Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $94.99.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels 'The Gimblett' 2009
Striking blackberry-red coloured, this Bordeaux-styled red is made from Merlot (38%), Cabernet Sauvignon (37%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Malbec (8%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Firmly structured yet succulent, it smoky, cedary and spicy with red and black fruits, earth, herbs, hints of chocolate and elusive floral nuances too. Outstanding. Trophy for Champion Merlot and Predominant blends.
14% alc. Cork. $30.99 special.

Weeping Sands Waiheke Island Montepulciano 2010
A shiny and impenetrable black red colour presents this full-bodied savoury and intriguingly fragrant wine. It's creamy, opulent and concentrated with incredible purple fruit intensity, fine but firm tannins, hints of violets and a long finish. Trophy for Champion International and Other Reds.
15% alc. Screwcap. $31.99 special.

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Black red, shiny and bright. A powerful wine with a minty nuance to the chocolate and vanillin oak scent and an array of mouthfilling mint, chocolate, vanilla and cassis with finely structured yet firm powerful tannins, a majestic underpinning of savoury oak and a long juicy finish with a spicy infusion. Trophy for Champion Cabernet Sauvignon and blends.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2009
Vivid purple black. Fragrantly opulent scents of black pepper, dark chocolate and mocha, and concentrated flavours of spice and pepper with well-balanced savouriness to the succulent purple and black fruits, liquorice, vanillin oak, dark chocolate, vanilla and firm yet svelte tannins. Impressive. Trophy For Champion Shiraz and trophy for Champion Commercial Red Wine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Seifried Winemakers Collection Sweet Agnes Nelson Riesling 2011
Golden coloured with a tantalising nectar-like bouquet, this is sweet but not cloying because the refreshing and piercing acidity cuts through the sweetness impressively. Flavours of tropical fruit and nectar are garnished with a flourish of spicy zest. Chilling tones down the sweetness. Gold Medal.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 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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Index to all Wednesday tastings notes.

2011 Tastings
Jan 2011 tasting notes.
Feb 2011 tasting notes.
Mar 2011 tasting notes.
Apr 2011 tasting notes.
May 2011 tasting notes.
Jun 2011 tasting notes.
Jul 2011 tasting notes.
Aug 2011 tasting notes.
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