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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

January 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 Jan 2012
A Summer Theme
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Invivo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Full of flavour and pungency with mouthfilling green apples, juicy grapes, tomato, capsicum, lime, gooseberry and passionfruit, a bright tangy finish and a toasty richness to the lingering aftertaste. A terrific wine. Gold Medal & Trophy Marlborough Wine Show.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Spinyback Nelson Chardonnay 2009
Smoky with creamed nuts and oatmeal on the nose and nutty and savoury in the palate with polished lemony oak, a touch of butterscotch and yellow peach. Drinking at its best and you can't complain about the price.
13.8% alc. Screwcap. $10.99 special.

Seresin Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
This is more my style and it's much more Burgundian too. A rich powerful golden Chardonnay with lovely balance and harmony. Funky wild yeast and savoury smoky French oak aromas carry through to the full-bodied palate with melon, nectarine, lemon oil, allspice and nutmeg. The oak is integrating beautifully and there's a touch of caramel to the finish. Class all the way through and quite delicious. This showed the best of the three Chardonnays on the night. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Neudorf Moutere Nelson Chardonnay 2010
The aroma and flavours are so much more nutty, and while the aroma seems a little restrained, the smooth, creamy flavours are rich and full and beautifully expansive in the palate. With nuts, figs, lots of acidity and yeast lees characters, it just needs more time to evolve, but Neudorf's Moutere Chardonnays are incredibly long-lived and reward cellaring upon release.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $69.99.

Sherwood Estate Waipara Riesling 2009
Rich gold coloured with tantalising aromatics of honeysuckle and mandarin and honeyed and sweet to the taste with juicy sweet citrus and a nice touch of viscosity it's clean, fresh, zingy and zesty despite the 'medium' sweetness. A touch of Botrytis adds lusciousness. Chill to the bones for the utmost enjoyment. I enjoyed it more this time than the last. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $9.99 special.

Menhir No Zero Negroamaro 2008 - Salento, Italy
Impenetrable black red with a perfume of rose petals, black cherries and hot tar, this tastes sweet and juicy with liquorice and rich berry flavours. It's more fruity than oaky with firm tannins, underlying savouriness and a ripe, juicy, lingering aftertaste. 13% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Muriel Rioja Seleccion 2009 - Spain
Blackcurrant red with a hint of chocolate and cherry on the nose, sweet vanillin oak wells through the palate and the initially dry tannins dissolve into the deliciously juicy red fruit flavours. Nice touch of dusty, rustic savouriness too. Good value medium-bodied Spanish Rioja. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Sleeping Dogs Estate Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
Light garnet red with a kind of a bath salts perfume, this is not a big fruity wine, in fact quite light in the realm of Central Otago Pinot Noir. It's very savoury, a little reminiscent of Beaujolais and perhaps reflective of the difficult vintage. Soft, smooth and drinkable now. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Dark purplish red with a full aroma of nuts and cassis, it's full-bodied in the palate with mint, chicory, dried herbs, nut chocolate, firm tannins, a little touch of cake spice, lots of berry flavours and a long savoury finish. Delivers exceptional value. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Grant Burge Cameron Vale Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
A blockbuster of a wine, both in colour and flavour, it's opulently scented with sweet oak, spice and chocolate and oozes berry fruit flavours that are layered with creamy American oak, chocolate and hints of tobacco. Big, rich, soft and juicy with a deep full-bodied finish and a smidgen of mint on the lingering aftertaste. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Vasse Felix Margaret River Shiraz 2007
Black red, inky. This has an OMG sumptuous aroma of vanillin oak, dark fruit and sweet spices. Full-bodied, juicy and spicy, balanced and harmonious with a sensual tannin structure, ripe berry fruit, a touch of the quintessential mint and subtle pepper notes. Fantastic cool climate Shiraz and my top red wine on the night. 14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Beach House Noble Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Radiant yellow gold, emanating nectar-like scents and delectable sweet flavours balanced by a zingy undercurrent. There's lots of honey, apricot, candied fennel and candied oranges quite delicious for sweet wine lovers and still remarkably fresh. Gold Medal NZ International Wine Show. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 / 375ml.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 18 Jan 2012
A Summer Theme
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2008
Dazzling lemon gold in the glass with a tantalising tropical fruit, melon and dried hay aroma. There's a lovely weighty richness to the beautifully clean, rich palate with concentrated fruit purity to the fore. Bone dry with a racy citrus zest backbone, a smooth almost oily texture and just a hint of kero starting to creep in, it's refreshing and delicious and can be well chilled.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Ngatarawa Silks Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Light gold coloured with a sizzled butter and grilled peach aroma, it tastes abundantly fruity with exotic tropical fruits like cherimoya and pawpaw. Medium bodied with lovely harmony of oak and fruit, drinking beautifully on the night, juicy fruit is the hero, yet there's a well-balanced savoury backbone. Very good indeed.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Nga Waka Martinborough Chardonnay 2010
Chardonnay more as we know it, golden coloured with lots of delicious toasty oak, stonefruit, butter, sizzled nuts and a little hint of salinity. A full-bodied style with lovely fruit intensity and well balanced citrussy tones, building in the palate to a long lasting finish. Can be well chilled and drinking beautifully right now.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Ngatarawa Glazebrook Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010
More of a mealy, dry, barrel-fermented style with stonefruit, spicy oak and a hint of malt in the background. While golden in colour it's tighter than the Nga Waka, but more winemaker influenced than it stablemate, the Silks. A serious wine that's still evolving and best as a 'main course wine' or laid down in the cellar for a while.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Man O War Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2011
Straw coloured with fresh orchard fruit aromas and a juicy, mouth-tickling spritzy taste. It's a light fresh fruity wine with lots of fresh fruit salad and citrus flavours and just a touch of sweetness. Takes chilling well a perfect summer drink.
12% alc. Screwcap. $29.99.

Arrogant Frog Ribet Pink Rose 2010 - Languedoc, France
Salmon / light ruby coloured, clear as can be. Aromas of cherry and strawberry continue through to the almost bone dry palate where the texture is slightly oily and there's a pleasing touch of spice. Made from 100% Syrah, it must be served well chilled on a hot summer afternoon.
13% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Mills Reef Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Vibrant purple red with smoky vanillin oak, juicy red fruits and liquorice aromas. Crammed full of blackberry fruit with a savoury backbone, it's soft smooth and creamy with well rounded tannins and a spicy infusion. The pepper is there but it's not intrusive. Harmonious throughout and just so easy to enjoy.
13.5%alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Antinori Santa Cristina 2009 - Tuscany, Italy
This blackcurrant red coloured wine is different on the nose and in the palate. It's earthy and savoury with fine firm tannins and a meaty backbone, yet the brambly fruit is juicy and ripe. More of a food wine with a lingering finish, it makes a nice change if you are looking for savouriness over fruitiness. Made from 60% Sangiovese with 40% Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah.
13% alc. Cork. $20.99.

Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2008 - South Australia
Inky black red with tantalising sweet vanillin oak, spice and chocolate biscuit aromas, this is straight up and down South Australia. It's rich, ripe, sweet and juicy with cherries and chocolate, spicy savoury flavours, soft tannins and a slightly tarry backbone. From the beautiful rich, ripe 2008 vintage, it's smooth and generous and succulent and delicious drinking right now.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $25.99 special.

Torres Ibericos Tempranillo Crianza 2008 - Rioja, Spain
Dark red coloured with a lovely deep dense aroma, this is a savoury, fine tannined wine with vanillin oak sweetness, creamy texture and juicy fruit. With the American oak and its rounded, supple smoothness, it's easy to think Australia yet the slightly oily earthy character could be a clue to Spain. A terrific food wine, it has lots of pepper well balanced to the fruit and oak. Good wine.
14% alc. Cork. $27.99.

Torbreck Woodcutter's Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 - South Australia
Impenetrable purple black with a deep and distinctly cassis-like scent, it seems moderately high-toned and heady in the smooth, seamless palate with blackberries and blueberries, dark chocolate, liquorice, black pepper and tar. A juicy wine with firm tannins and a well balanced savoury backbone, there were utters of "yum" all around.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Allan Scott Late Harvest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Apricot abounds in this delectable, sweet, brassy gold-coloured wine. It's very, very sweet with passionfruit, honey and just a touch of VA. Rich and luscious with unbelievable viscosity and a long lasting finish. Trophy Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2010.
9% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 11 Jan 2012
A Summer Theme
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Pale straw. A racy, complex and alternative Sauvignon Blanc style with grapefruit aromatics and fresh acidity humming through the palate, yet a textural softness even though there is no oak. There's a toasty capsicum nuance throughout and the super long finish is infused with passionfruit and peach.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99.

Villa Maria Reserve Barrique Fermented Gisborne Chardonnay 2010 Light gold. Spicy with the merest tantalising nuance of butterscotch and wild yeast funk on the nose and soft and creamy tasting with caramel-coated toasty savoury oak, spiced peaches, citrus and nectarine. It's full and rich with a smooth, easy-going, seamless flow and while delicious already without too much chilling, it will garner more complexity with a couple of years cellaring.
14% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

The Winery of Good Hope Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2010 - South Africa Pale lemon coloured and restrained on the nose, this is a tight-knit and linear style, a dry, nutty, melon and citrus style with the most subtle suggestion of savoury oak, a touch of honey and a long rich textural finish. Super steely, yet doesn't display the characteristic apple we associate with the variety.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Felton Road Dry Central Otago Riesling 2011 Pale straw coloured with a full bouquet of apple and lemon honey, the palate is imbued with crisp dry acidity and lots of zest and pith. Yet it has impeccable fruit balance and a subtle oiliness when served well chilled so it's not at all sharp. A super choice for lovers of dry Riesling because this is a brilliant example.
12.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009 Perfumed with rose oil and violets, this redolent wine is easy to identify. It tastes rich and fresh with spicy ginger-like tingles, juicy lychees, a rounded oiliness to the texture and a honeyed sweetness to the finish. Gold Medal & Trophy Spiegelau International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Domaine de la Pregentiere Rose 2010 - Provence, France Palest of transparent pink with a delicate bouquet of cherry and cherry stones that carries through to the palate. This is an unusually rare, seriously dry Rose. It's subtle yet affirmative, textural and mouthcoating with a lingering rose petal finish.
13% alc. Screwcap. $20.99.

Andeol Salavert 'Reserve des Chapelains' Costieres De Nimes 2010 - Languedoc, France Black red coloured with a savoury, peppery scent and a deep rich spicy peppery savouriness to the taste, the pepperiness well balanced to the black cherry fruit, chocolate, mushrooms and herbs. A dry, firm wine, medium-bodied in style, made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and fabulous value for money.
13% alc. Cork. $15.99.

Kiritea Martinborough Pinot Noir 2010 Lightest Burgundy red, it's earthy and savoury smelling and tasting with plums, cherries, smoky oak, spice and hints of tamarillo on the finish. A soft, juicy, easy drinker with a smooth texture and finishing dry, the general comment around the room was 'very tasty'. Second label of Te Hera.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage 2009 - Rhone, France Vivid black purple red with a funky and reductive scent, and a positively European flavour, it's peppery, spicy, oily, tarry and leathery with smoked meats and woody herbs and the texture is fine. Made from 100% Syrah and evidently a very good vintage for the region, just quite different to what we are used to.
13.5% alc. Cork. $42.99.

Wirra Wirra RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009 - South Australia Black red coloured with a sweet vanillin oak and spiced plum scent, it's soft, ripe, juicy and just so easy to enjoy. "But don't get excited because it's expensive," says Kingsley. Crammed with mouthfilling flavours of vanilla, chocolate, juicy red berries and allspice, it's the smooth, rich, creamy style of full-bodied Shiraz so many of us like to drink. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $59.99.

Pepperjack Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - South Australia Vivid purple black red coloured with a chocolatey aroma with Black Forest cake, vinosity, spice and the most subtle suggestion of mint. In the palate it's full-bodied and juicy with a fine firm tannin structure, spiced blackberry fruit and an earthy herbal depth. Matured for 15 months in French and American oak and delicious now or over the next 5 years.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 4 Jan 2012
A Summer Theme
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Selaks Heritage Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 With fresh, ripe, juicy and tantalising aromas of passionfruit and candied herbs, this initially soft gentle style compounds to a long bright tangy finish with lingering flavours of passionfruit and cape gooseberry. Terrific Sauv. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
13% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Astrolabe Province Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Initially restrained on the nose and neutral and flinty in the palate, then it simply gushes with flavours of snow pea, tomato stalk and lime with a zesty infusion to the backbone and sweet summer herbs on the finish. Seems like a beaut style to accompany a tomato and basil salad.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Viognier 2009 Glassy yellow gold with a tempting bouquet of caramel cream, apricot and spicy oak and a rich, smooth, creamy texture layered with tropical fruit and apricot. There's purity of fruit all the way through, this finish is rich and heady and there's a flourish of butterscotch at the end. Trophy New Zealand International Wine Show 2010.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $29.99 special.

Black Estate Waipara Chardonnay 2010 Light gold coloured with a heady citrus blossom scent underpinned with cedary oak, this savoury wild-fermented wine is leesy, lemony and nutty with a spicy oak backbone and citrus-infused white peach. Full, rich, mouth filling and long with lingering caramel, butterscotch and malt.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Crossroads Kereru Road Vineyard Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010 Straw gold coloured with a tropical fruit aroma, this initially seems more of a 'Chablis' style, seemingly lightly oaked with a fresh springy step. Tasting juicy and fresh with a creamy backbone, nectarine, white peach and a touch of caramel, it takes chilling well.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $39.99.

Marsden Estate Black Rocks Bay of Islands Chardonnay 2010 Light gold coloured with a rich, toasty oak aroma, this tasty, full-bodied, mouth coating wine has a deep caramel richness, tropical fruit, grilled peach and a soft creamy backbone. Northland's top Chardonnay, it delivers every vintage. Gold Medal New Zealand International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $32.99. Currently not available.

Luzon Carmina Luna Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon NV - Spain Dark red coloured with concentrated currant-like fruit on the nose, it's medium-bodied in style and tastes dry and savoury with fine tannins, currants, bitter cherries and leather with a lingering finish infused with a juicy ripe fruit sweetness. Great BBQ quaffer.
15% alc. Cork. $9.99 special.

Step By Step Step Two South Australia Shiraz 2008 Black red coloured with inviting scents of mocha and red berries, this tastes full-bodied, ripe, succulent and juicy with a savoury, spicy backbone, dark berry fruit and a creamy oak finish. It's the kind of delicious opulent red we like to drink because it's fantastically priced and so easy to enjoy. Top buy.
13.9% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Vicente Gandia Camboral Reserva Tempranillo 2006 - Cosecha, Spain Bright black red with stewed summer berry scents and a very fine texture with loads of juicy, succulent berry flavours and a beautifully balanced spicy savoury backbone, it's definitely a hot climate wine but is it Australian or Spanish? It's the latter but the succulent American oak is deceptive. Like an old school Rioja love it.
14% alc. Cork. $32.99.

Wirra Wirra Church Block McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2009 Deep black red with vinous complexities to the red berry aroma and tasting of ribena, cigar box and cedar with a creamy richness and thick tannins, this is a brooding wine with a juicy finish. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz and 20% Merlot mature in 70% French oak and 30% American.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99.

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Padthaway Cabernet 2009 Vibrant purple black red. Smoky and peppery with a meaty nuance to the scent, this is a full-bodied, rich, spicy wine with chocolate biscuits, hints of mint and dry extract and an opulence that creeps up on the finish. "Sweet and rich with a herbal edge" says Sam. It's a plush ripe Cabernet with lots of oak and the underlying acidity is probably the best clue to the variety.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $20.99 special.

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 Impenetrable shiny blackberry red. Opulent smelling and sweet-fruited and juicy tasting with ultra-fine tannins, blackberry jubes, mocha, chicory, pepper and a beautifully balanced savoury integrated oak backbone. Fine and long, with a marvellous lasting presence.
14.8% alc. Screwcap. $38.99.

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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