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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2012 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

April 2012
[ 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 Apr 2012
Wines with Buildings on the label
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Coupers Shed Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2010
Light gold, aromatic but not definitive, the oily fragrance is oily and floral with hints of apricot. Lovely lift and brightness to palate with moderate acidity and textural richness. There are hints of viognier-like apricots and nuts and exotic gewurz-like musky floral nuances and 5-spice, but the lingering finish is typical pinot gris apple strudel.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99.

Black Barn Barrel Fermented Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Moderate gold coloured with a crème brulee and citrus aroma and a big, rich, ripe toasty palate with a creamy malo influence and a lovely seam of orange zest, building to a smooth, seamless and spicy oak finish. Long and luscious with increasing caramel richness. 4 stars Cuisine. Silver Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2008
Lemon gold coloured, youthful in appearance with a nutty and elegantly restrained bouquet. Grapefruit, fig and wine biscuits dominate the dry, ripe, sophisticated and silky palate with a flourish of nectarine on the full-bodied savoury finish. Has bottle age yet is youthful and impressive. Gold Medal Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Schoffit Cuvee Caroline Gewurztraminer 2009 - Alsace, France
Yellow gold with a charismatic perfume that's reminiscent of candied violets, rose water and exotic spices but it is the restraint of the bouquet that whisks you from New Zealand to Alsace. Texturally luscious with moderate sweetness, soft acidity, honey, 5-spices and a long lasting finish, this heady wine is drinking beautifully now, just don't over chill.
13% alc. Cork. $32.99 special.

Kerpen Wehlenher Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling 2004 - Mosel, Germany
The bouquet of this golden yellow Riesling indicates some age and the mellow taste confirms this. There's the slightest hint of kero to the citrus blossom scent and a surprisingly smooth, almost oily texture even though the acidity, that perfectly balances the sweetness, has a bright fresh zing. The taste is lovely sweet citrus with a savoury complexity and a juiciness to the lingering finish that lasts and lasts. Terrific to be able to buy aged Riesling of this quality and experience the glorious evolution. 8% alc. Cork. $43.99.

Frascole Chianti Rufina 2008 - Florence, Italy
Orange-tinged translucent red coloured with a chocolate richness to the smoky aroma that leads into an initially earthy savoury firm textured palate that parts to reveal an underlying, softness and fruitcake-like sweetness. With nut, cherries, cake spice, bacon fat and leather, this approachable Chianti would be best accompanied with antipasto or pizza.
14% alc. Cork. $21.99 special.

Vina Herminia Tempranillo 2010 - Rioja, Spain
Dark purple black-red with aromas of allspice and berries and concentrated, spicy flavours full of red and black berries, plums and black pepper (reminding me a little of NZ Syrah). A fruit forward wine with integrated tannins and a creamy veneer to the savoury finish, this is Rioja made in a thoroughly approachable New World way.
14% alc. Cork. $21.99 special.

Xavier Cotes Du Rhone 2009 - France
This bright and densely coloured black-red wine is creamy textured on entry with flavours of freshly picked brambles, blackcurrant and pepper. Concentrated and very impressive with firm tannins, juicy blackcurrant and cherry, and a touch of chocolate that adds a modern edge. If you are a fan of the colour orange you will love this label, but the wine inside the bottle represents 5 star value.
14% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Chateau de Sours Bordeaux 2009 - France
Concentrated black red with a rich ripe berry fruit and sweet oak scent and fruit sweetness to the meaty palate too. The finely structured tannins are firm and dry and the initial taste is coffee and chicory until the juicy fruit takes over. There's underlying acidity, hints of tobacco leaf, lovely cedar complexities and a sensationally long finish. A brilliant and affordable Bordeaux made from 100% Merlot, to cellar or to decant for drinking right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2009 - Italy
Deep dark red coloured with a savoury, earthy, iodine-like, medicinal pungency to the scent. In the medium-bodied palate the tannins are fine and not too grippy with raspberry-like fruit, underlying acidity and a short, pongy finish. If you like a wine that whisks you to the stockyards, this will be for you.
13% alc. Cork. $18.99 special.

Xavier La Vue du Chai Chateauneuf Du Pape 2009 - Rhone, France
This deep, lustrous, dark red-coloured wine smells concentrated, impressive and evocative in every way. With fine silky tannins, hints of spice and liquorice, tar, smoke, dried herbs, just enough red fruit and a long mouthfilling finish, it's as absolute pleasure to taste and a cellaring investment too. Made from 55% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah, this was the star European red of the night. 5 star quality.
14.5% alc. Cork. $50.99 special.

Mission Estate Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Dark red coloured with flashes of black, this has a fragrant scent of plums and vanillin oak and the creamy oak is an upfront feature in the plush, velvety textured, nicely seasoned palate. The plummy fruit is lifted and bright and the savoury elements bring everything into balance. A star when tasted at First Glass 10 months, this continues to evolve and deliver. Gold Medal NZIWS, 5 Stars Winestate Magazine.
13.5% alc. Diam. $19.99 special.

Mamre Brook Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Bright black red with the slightest suggestion of age on the starting-to-fade rims. The bouquet has a vanillin oak opulence with tobacco, cassis and cedar and the taste is incredibly lush, plush and delicious with hallmark cassis, cedar, chocolate and just a touch of mint. Firm yet succulent, it has the structure to last and last. Champion Cabernet Trophy NZIWS 2011.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18 Apr 2012
Cuisine Top 10 Chardonnays
All but the last two wines were were tasted blind.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2009
The bouquet is lightly toasty with melon and nuts, but oak is the hero in the palate of this golden-hued First Glass favourite. Full and rich with an oily texture, a mealy richness and a nutty nuance to the smooth butter-caramel finish, it's spicy with lifted citrus, apricots, peach and lots of oak. The pretaster.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Black Barn Vineyards Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Light gold with a hauntingly smoky bouquet infused with grilled stonefruit, this tastes warm, rich, nutty, mealy and malty, the savoury components a harmonious contrast to the juicy Golden Queen peach flavours. It's focussed and long with caramel cream accenting the finish. 5 stars & No. 6 in Cuisine. Gold Easter Show.
14% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
Light gold coloured with creamy, leesy, nutty scents and subtle savoury smoky oak wafting through. A lovely nougat style of Chardonnay, lifted and creamy with expansive stonefruit flavours and a long, full, fresh finish. 5 stars & No. 8 in Cuisine plus another 5 gold medals.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $26.99 special.

Craggy Range Chardonnay Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Hawkes Bay 2010
Fresh and fruity on the nose with a subtle smoky perfume. A mealy, savoury wine with a touch of spice, freshness of zest and a nutty, malty, almost salty undercurrent that underpins the stonefruit and citrus flavours. The smoky character found on the bouquet takes over the finish, which is surprisingly lean and dry. 5 stars & No. 7 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Vidal Legacy Series Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
A characterful wine with a tantalising bouquet of grapefruit, toasty French oak and caramel cream. A lovely rich, full, mouthfilling wine with flavours of citrus, stonefruits and oak spice balanced by a creamy savouriness. Terrific wine. 5 stars & No. 9 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $54.99.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Light lemon gold with fragrant nutty scents. A rich wine in the palate with an opulent and vibrant presence. Spiced stonefruit, honeyed oak and full-bodied mealy savoury flavours too. A big wine, balanced by fresh acidity with great delivery and length. The Best Buy of the Cuisine line-up tonight. 5 stars & No. 5 in Cuisine. Gold Easter Show. Sue's pick for favourite wine on the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $23.99 special.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2010
Light gold coloured with an opulent savoury, mealy aroma and some subtle smoke, stonefruit and butterscotch perfumes too. Leesy, mealy, savoury and toasty tasting with ripe tropical and stonefruit flavours and a full-bodied, mouthfilling, long rich finish. Almost luscious, it seems. 5 stars & No. 3 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Corbans Cottage Block Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Citrine gold coloured. The bouquet offers grapefruit, baked yellow fruit, nuts and an intriguingly funky, gun smoke nuance too. While quite dry, lean and flinty to start this wine evolves beautifully in the palate to reveal nuts, stonefruit and melons layered with toasty oak and savoury characters with underlying acidity adding freshness. The fruit is ripe and sweet but the wine is most definitely dry. A big glass is needed to let this wine open up and to let the complexity sing. 5 stars & No. 1 in Cuisine.
13% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Auckland Chardonnay 2010
This is instantly appealing with its subtle smoke and stonefruit scents infused with grapefruit and tantalising nougat and caramel cream flavours. Seamless in its flow with lovely fruit and mealy characters and juicy fruit sweetness to the finish, this was the overwhelming crowd favourite, attracting over a quarter of the votes. 5 stars & No. 2 in Cuisine and multiple gold medals. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Man O War Valhalla Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2010
Light gold coloured with subtle mellow oak scents, the first taste impression is spicy vanillin oak with nectarine and a subtle underpinning of zest. It's mealy, nutty and savoury with gunflint and struck match and nothing like the big opulent butterscotch-rich wine we tasted on 7/3/12. Obviously some bottle variation with Kingsley saying he has tasted it six times - and every time it has been different! 5 stars & No. 4 in Cuisine.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Chardonnay 2007
Bright lemon gold. Big, ripe, rich and buttery with a creamy, almost buttery backbone to the silky textured flavours. Tropical fruit, stonefruit, melon and custard powder infiltrate the palate with a lovely citrus zest brightness and the lasting flavour is rich, nutty, luscious and long. 5 stars & No. 10 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $39.99 special.

Boutique Wine Co. McLaren Vale Old Vine Shiraz 2009
A dark rich red, full of chocolatey oak and berry fruit flavours. There's an immediate upfront blackberry jam sweetness tamed a little by black pepper spiciness with slightly grippy tannins and chicory on the finish. Smells good but tastes quite sweet and leaves behind a bitter aftertaste.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11 Apr 2012
Critter Labels Mainly
Wines were tasted blind.

Taylors Clare Valley Chardonnay 2009
Light yellow gold with an apricot and sappy sweet oak scent, the oak theme carrying through to the palate. Nutty and toasty with stonefruit, candied pineapple and toffee, mid-palate richness and a finishing citrussy tang. Chilled for 2 hours when tasted.
14% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Riverby Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
This golden coloured wine is a more creamy, mealy, nougat style with smoky nuances to the scent, a lovely citrus brightness to the flavour and a spicy mellow oak backbone that indicates a little maturity. A rich, juicy mouthfilling wine with a long toasty finish. Gold Medal NZIWS.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Vavasour Anna’s Vineyard Awatere Valley Chardonnay 2010
Light yellow gold in colour and while a little restrained on the nose., it's full of flavour. Mealy and savoury with nut bread, stonefruit, an orange zest brightness and a long, rich finish with classy French oak and a slight milky edge to the expansive mouthfilling end.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Millton Te Arai Vineyard Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2010
Yellow gold coloured, rich and voluptuous smelling and mouthfilling flavours of apricots, nuts and nougat with a savoury depth. There's a sweetness to the wine and roundness to the texture with a floral brightness, a touch of spice and a long, juicy finish with a smoky aura as it lingers. A left field style of Chenin Blanc.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99.

Thornbury Waipara Pinot Gris 2011
Pale lemon with ripe apple and pear aromas. In the palate a thread of fine spice runs through the wine to complement the luscious fruit and there's a exhilarating flourish of orange on the finish. Bright and clean and very nice. Gold Medal Royal Easter Wine Show, recommended by Cuisine. Five star quality, Five star value.
13% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Farnese Sangiovese IGT 2009 – Abruzzo, Italy
Dark red with a black core to the hue. Savoury and tarry smelling with a creamy veneer and even more savoury in the palate with a stalky, leathery edge and jube-like blackberry and raspberry fruit pushing through. Has depth and length with a supple tannin structure making it a comfort red. Trophy and Gold Medal NZIWS 2010.
12.5% alc. Cork. $15.99 special.

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010
Translucent burgundy/dark ruby red. Quite smoky with bittersweet cherry and herbs filling out the bouquet. A medium-boded, fine textured wine with juicy guava and cranberry fruit, smoky savoury nuances, rosemary and tarragon in the background and a touch of acidity giving the oft-talked about 'peacock tail' flare.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Matua Valley Reserve Release Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Blackberry purple red coloured with an attractively creamy, meaty, sweet vanilla and spicy oak scent. A ripe, fleshy, supple-textured wine that's medium to full-bodied, creamy and juicy with a lovely plum and black cherry fruit sweetness. A touch of chocolate, chicory, mocha adds to its appeal with a well-balanced sprinkling of red pepper and spice. Approachable wine with a firm full finish. Five star quality. Five star value. Gold &Trophy Easter Show 2012.
14% alc. Screwcap. $16.99 special. Limited stock.

Tormaresca Neprica 2009 – Puglia, Italy
Medium dark red with a savoury inflection to the juicy blackberry scent. Fine textured yet intriguingly grippy in the palate with a raspberry jube sweetness and a herbaceous tarry finish. A blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet, it's an oak-free zone and quite dry on its own, best accompanied with the Italian food it was made for.
13.5% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Bird In Hand Two In The Bush Mt Lofty Ranges Shiraz 2008
Dark black red with a juicy fruit scent of blackberry and spiced boysenberry jam and spicy, chocolatey flavours with a raisin-like sweetness. A ripe ,juicy, full-bodied wine with fine dry tannins, sweet oak, chocolate, cake spice and herbs de Provence at the end. Drinking well now. Gold Medal NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Kilikanoon Killerman's Run South Australia Shiraz 2010
Opaque purple in appearance with a chocolate biscuit and concentrated berry fruit scent. A very structured classy wine with ample dry extract, peppery spice, firm tannins, blackberries, plums and cherries and a long fine savoury finish with a vanillin oak edge. A concentrated full-bodied Shiraz and well liked on the night.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Jim Barry McRae Wood Clare Valley Shiraz 2006
Opaque dark red black, no at all indicative of its age, with a sweet vanillin oak scent infused with spice and black cherries. Vanillin oak is a feature of the smooth textured palate that's crammed with red berry fruits, dark chocolate, cake spice and subtle smoky nuances with some lovely earthy, leathery bottle age characters coming through. A lovely wine now yet still offers promise from the cellar. Five star quality. 15.5% alc. Screwcap. $64.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4 Apr 2012
Red Red Wine
Wines were tasted blind.

Running with Bulls Barossa Tempranillo 2009 - South Australia
Dark burgundy red with a rich, plummy, chocolate and orange-infused bouquet, this warm, full-bodied red has flavours of chocolate, cherry and cassis, soft tannins, a rounded creamy and approachable structure, a fruity brightness to the savoury finish and a pleasing vanillin edge. Made by Yalumba.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Le Paradou VdP Grenache 2009 - Languedoc, France
A young, fresh, fruity red with a dark red colour, aromas of blackberries and raspberries, firm tannins, underlying acidity and a dry finish with a slightly herbaceous edge and a lingering hint of vanilla.
14% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Browns of Padthaway T-Trellis Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Dark black red with a spicy mint chocolate biscuit scent, and a vibrant fruity taste with a thread of mint / eucalypt running through. Lifted fruit, hot peppery spice, vanilla, tobacco, lots of bright berry flavours and fine tannins hint of the wonderful potential of this new vintage of this favourite First Glass label which is set to unfold beautifully over the next few months, but some 'slosh decanting' for best enjoyment is recommended right now.
15% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

San Marzano Salento Negroamaro 2009 - Puglia, Italy
Dark red with a plum jam aroma infused with scents of musk and cherry. A fleshy tasting wine with soft velvety tannins, plum and cherry fruit, cake spices, a touch of mint and an underlying nuggetty savouriness, finishing dry and leaving behind a long, bright, fruity aftertaste.
13.5% alc. Cork. $17.99 special.

Annie's Lane Clare Valley Shiraz 2009 - South Australia
Deep dark red coloured and fragrantly scented with Shiraz spice, fruit and hints of chocolate - it smells succulent and appealing. The taste is of concentrated red and black fruits, sweet vanillin oak, the slightest hint of chocolate and a smattering of spice. The tannins are finely structured and the savoury earthy backbone brings balance to the long, juicy finish.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Pipoli Aglianico 2009 del Vulture - Puglia, Italy
Dark boysenberry red with an attractive bouquet of violets, chocolate, mint and cassis, but initially seems quite edgy to the taste, like a young wine with unresolved firm dry tannins and quite noticeable acidity. But it improves with every second in the glass to reveals its fruity deliciousness. There's plum, cassis, fruitcake, cedar and mint. A wine to be decanted now, a wine that will age for years.
13% alc. Cork. $19.99.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - Western Australia
Dark red with a touch of bricking to the edges and a warm berry and chocolate scent. A rich, earthy, full-bodied red with warm ripe tannins, bright acidity, chocolate, cedar, mint and cassis and a lovely savoury, slightly herbaceous backbone that ticks all the varietal boxes. Made from 88% Cabernet, 11% Malbec and 1% Merlot, this is an approachable wine with a long succulent finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2007 - Hawkes Bay
Purple red, looking extremely youthful for its age, an appealing bouquet of concentrated purple and black fruit with a fine smoky oak nuance, then in the palate remarkably fine silky tannins that are just so harmonious and pleasing. With sumptuous flavours of vanillin oak, concentrated fruit, a touch of cake spice and an earthy gamey undercurrent, it has a bit of age but doesn't show it. From the remarkable 2007 vintage in Hawkes Bay, it is still youthful and developing. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Malbec, 21% Merlot. 5 star quality.
14% alc. Screwcap. $55.99.

Henry's Drive Padthaway Pillar Box Reserve Shiraz 2009 - South Australia
Dark pinky red with a savoury spicy aroma laced with black pepper and salami, however it tastes sweet, ripe and fruity with soft pillowy tannins, finishing quite savoury with spice and leather. 15% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Henry's Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2008 - South Australia
Dark black red with sweet oak and ripe berry fruit aromas, and rich ripe, creamy flavours with fine silky tannins, concentrated fruit, a hint of mint and a milk chocolate finish. A lovely wine with a well-balanced Shiraz spiciness and a long, full, succulent finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009 - South Australia
Red black with aromas of smoky vanillin oak, cherry and cassis, this rich, full-bodied Shiraz has firm grainy tannins, a biscuity backbone, nuts, chocolate and game and a sweet oak finish.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Yalumba FDR1a Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2008 - South Australia
Black red, perfumed with mocha, musk and cherry, this is a massive, concentrated wine with nut chocolate, big fruit, fine tannins and a fine oak backbone that makes the whole experience seem incredibly harmonious. A stellar blend that reflects the structure of Cabernet and the juicy succulence of Shiraz. Outstanding.
13.5% alc. Cork. $39.99.

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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