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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

June 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 - 27 Jun 2012
Wines from Cuisine's Top 10 Shiraz/Syrah tasting plus others
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Ass Kisser Barossa Shiraz 2010
Blackcurrant red. Smoky spices and bramble berries fill the bouquet and the taste is packed with chocolate and spiced plums with the lovely lift of cherry over a savoury backbone. Developing vinous sweetness and intensity, it has smooth velvety tannins and a bright lifted finish with a nice hit of peppery spice and vanillin oak at the end. A new vintage of a First Glass favourite, it delivers.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Church Road Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009
Purple red coloured with liquorice (molasses) and rose pepper filling the savoury bouquet of this deep, brooding, savoury, leathery, firm tannined wine. There's the classic pepper of the variety, a herbal undercurrrent and lovely black fruit intensity at the end. Gold Air NZ. 4½ stars & No.5 in Cuisine.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

Bilancia Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Purple red with attractive rose musk nuances to the vanillin oak and red cherry bouquet, yet quite meaty in the palate with a touch of chicory and mocha. Toasty oak joins red fruits – there's even a smidgen of strawberry and firm tannins that integrate nicely leaving a fantastically long silky finish with a flourish of pepper and spiced cherry at the end. Champion Shiraz at Air NZ 2011. 5 stars and No.1 in Cuisine.
14% alc. Screwcap. $34.99.

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2009 - Hawkes Bay
Deep purple red with a beefy aroma and again a nuance of rose petal to the bouquet, this is a rich, deep, sumptuous wine; a beefy, meaty, full-bodied wine with a supple velvety texture and for many better than its Cuisine No.1 sibling. Beautifully balanced red and black fruit, beautifully balanced toasty oak, beautifully balanced peppery savouriness and a fantastically long finish and all the while that deep meaty undercurrent offset by the beguiling florals that linger. A gorgeous wine and a treat to try. A wine you can enjoy now if you want to, or confidently cellar.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $93.99 special.

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2010 - Hawkes Bay
Deep dark red with purple hues. Sweet smoky vanillin oak, violets and brambles fill the bouquet of this seemingly more immediately approachable, soft, sweet wine but that's in comparison to La Collina. It is in fact a rich, meaty full-bodied wine with a chocolate layer over a savoury earthy layer, chicory and allspice, brambly berries, luxurious tannins and a deep intensity to the long juicy finish.
13.5% alc. Cork. $93.99 special.

Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
Dark red with perfumed aromatics from the viognier component, there's a touch of mint running through this sweet berried chocolatey wine with biscuity oak and soft easy tannins. Terrific value. 5 stars & Cuisine No. 3=.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Cookoothama Darlington Point Shiraz 2009 – Riverina, NSW
A deeper dark red colour than the Yalumba, this smells so tantalising with a scent of sweet vanillin oak infused with Black Forest chocolate. In the palate it's quite savoury and intense with black bramble fruit, fine tannins, vanillin oak, leather and a long smooth finish. It is the structure of this wine that makes it stand out. I thought it could be cooler climate, but it's probably the regional difference coming through. 4½ stars. Cuisine No.7.
14% alc. Screwcap. $15.99 special.

Sandalford Margaret River Shiraz 2010
Dark purple red. The scent is a little meaty with mint chocolate and it is savoury and spicy to the taste with a slight earthy, herbal and perhaps minty note that adds intrigue. It has moderately firm tannins and jubey red fruit flavours to the expansive finish that lingers with vanillin oak and spice.
14% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Gotham Barossa Regional Series Shiraz 2008
Lovely sweet vanillin oak aromas with anise-like spices and rich berry fruit, this smooth, sumptuous, full-bodied, deeply coloured Shiraz has supple yet emphatic tannins, juicy red and black fruit, warm spicy nuances and a long full finish. Easy to like. Not in the Cuisine Top 10 but a winner on the night.
14.3% alc. Screwcap. $18.99 special.

Grant Burge Miamba Barossa Shiraz 2010
This attractively perfumed Shiraz is a lovely sweet juicy wine that shows the excellence of this lower priced wine in the Grant Burge family of labels. Smooth and supple with spiced cherries, chocolate and a sweet vanillin deliciousness to the mouthcoating finish and a well balanced savouriness, it's like a mini Filsell in some ways. Delivers quality at an attractive price. 4½ stars. Cuisine No.10.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $27.99 special.

George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz 2008 - Langhorne Creek
Even more opulent in its aromatic expression, this alluring crimson black wine is deep, rich and sumptuous with soft ripe tannins, lashings of mint, chocolate, spice and all things nice. It's Kingsley's style of Shiraz, "Instant gratification," he says and it's easy to see why this has been a winner with First Glass customers for some months now. Pour a big glass and go yum. 5 stars & Cuisine No.2.
14.2% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
After the previous wine, this kind of lacks in the aroma department - maybe because the wine had been decanted into jugs for the blind tasting tonight. Dark red in colour with a chocolate and biscuit oak aroma, it’s very smooth and silky in the palate yet there's understated structure and power and a savoury complexity that sits in nicely with the juicy blackberry and spiced plum fruit. 5 stars & Cuisine No. 1.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 20 Jun 2012
Low Price / High Price with a Wine Options Emphasis
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Waimea Nelson Chardonnay 2010
Light gold. Typically creamy scent with buttery oak and a touch of stonefruit. Creamy and toasty with a smooth texture and plenty of fresh citrus and stonefruit flavours on the lingering finish. Lovely starter wine that really hits the spot and plenty of appreciative comments from around the room.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Mudbrick Reserve Chardonnay 2010 – Waiheke Island
Light gold. Smoky on the nose and quite creamy, mealy, nutty and savoury in the palate with upfront toasty oak, peach pie and a drizzle of caramel. Rich and full-bodied, building in intensity and concentration of flavour with a long, full finish. Engaging wine.
15.2% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
The ripe juicy fruit makes this super smooth wine seem sweeter; it's packed with fruit that sits there nicely with integrated nutty oak and nutmeg, and apple and melons in the background. The lingering finish has an intriguing smokiness to it.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Morton Estate Coniglio Chardonnay 2010
– Hawkes Bay A super smooth smelling caramel cream aroma leads into a full-bodied creamy, mealy palate where rich fruit flavours add to the complexity of this seamless wine. Moderate gold in colour with raisin bread, creamed nuts and concentrated peach, and the rounded finish is intense and long. A class act.
14.5% alc. Cork. $94.99.

Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2008 – Mosel, Germany
There's an exotic and beguiling floral aroma and sweetness to the flavour of this low alcohol, light gold coloured, tantalising expression of the Riesling grape. There's a light viscosity to the texture, a touch of honey, and impeccably balanced sweet citrus marmalade acidity to reign in the sweetness.
8% alc. Vinolok. $41.99 special.

Giesen Marlborough Riesling 2010
This pale straw coloured wine smells a little more tart and definitely more malic with its fresh cut lemon scent, yet the taste surprises with an impeccable touch of honeyed sweetness to balance the racy apple acidity. There's a definite earthy character to the wine that sits in nicely with the style. Tasty and refreshing. Nice contrast of style as well as price.
10.5% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Thornbury Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010
Deep ruby red with vanillin oak and berries on the restrained bouquet. Tasting savoury and just a little smoky, it has a concentrated red berry sweetness, plush mouth-coating tannins and a rounded finish. Medium-bodied in style, an easy-going crowd-pleaser.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $12.99 special.

Cypress Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010
Dense purple red with a hint of vanilla to the plum and cedar scent and a definite herbal undercurrent to the flavours of this more blockbuster style. It's rich and concentrated with velvety tannins, leather, cigar box, blueberries and violets and a mouthfilling and lasting finish. There's lots going on in this wine and it begs to accompany a meal. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Shinas Estate The Guilty Mildura Shiraz 2009
A deep coloured wine with a sweet chocolate oak scent and more chocolate in the ripe, juicy palate together with raspberry, liquorice, plums, cherries and mocha. With a spicy flourish and a hint of rose petals at the end it seems smooth and easy going but has hidden alcoholic power.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Shingleback The Gate McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
Dense, shiny, intense, purple black. A little peppery on the nose together with vanilla and chocolatey oak, and quite meaty, smoky, peppery and leathery in the palate with chocolate brownies on the lasting finish. With its concentration, power and firm mouth-coating tannins, it seems like a cooler climate style. Classy opulence. Gold NZIWS.
14.5% alc. Cork. $42.99.

Passage Rock Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010 - Waiheke Island
Purple red, but not as intense in depth as prev. wine. Lovely vinosity on the nose with integrated fruit and oak. On first tasting this seems like a lovely medium bodied wine that just flows yet there are bountiful tannins that surge and ebb. With red fruits, vanillin oak, a smoky finish and a long savoury aftertaste, this is a very good wine from a terrific vintage. Still evolving with a long life head of it.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $40.99.

Shinas Estate The Verdict Cabernet 2008
Dark red with a savoury nuance to the chocolate bouquet. Firm on entry with savoury oak, a touch of mint and an earthy depth with leather, liquorice and blackcurrant fruit that becomes centre stage. Finishes rich, juicy and concentrated – a satisfying end.
15.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 13 Jun 2012
Peter Lehmann Wines with Malcolm Stopp
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Peter Lehmann Art Series Moscato 2011
This is a delicious fresh fruity aperitif with a lemon colour, a gorgeous floral fragrance and juicy fruit salad flavours. Sweetness is balanced by clean lime curd acidity and there's a sherbet-like spritziness to the tangy finish. Made from Frontignac grapes, it's light crisp and refreshing.
10% alc. 41 g/l RS. Screwcap. $13.99 special.

Peter Lehmann 'Margaret' Barossa Semillon 2006
Radiant green gold colour with a sensationally classic bouquet of lemon zest, orange and dried hay. Acidity presents itself upfront in the warm-toned, honeyed and almost bone dry palate. Apricot and fresh orange linger on the fresh, zesty finish and the lingering aftertaste is a little toasty, even though there is no oak. Named after Peter Lehmann's wife Margaret.
11.5% alc. Screwcap. $33.99 special.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Deep garnet red. Dark fruit cake on the nose with smoky vanillin oak. Mint is upfront in the medium bodied juicy palate where tannins provide firmness to the finish. Red and black fruits, jube-like sweetness to balance the acidity and a touch of chocolate on the smoky finish. The commercial wine in the range aged in older French and American oak.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Peter Lehmann VSV Ruediger Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Shiny black red coloured with a touch of mint infusing the smoky oak scent; this is brimming with red fruit sweetness in the firm yet velvety textured palate. Mint, chocolate, sweet leather, smoky savoury oak and a long lingering finish - a very fine wine indeed. Matured in French oak and named after the grower, Trevor Ruediger, it was chosen for the VSV series due to exceptional fruit in that solid year. Delicious.
13.5% alc. Screwcap. $47.99.

Peter Lehmann Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
With its deep, rich, smoky bouquet, this dark red coloured wine has a fine tannin structure and flavours of blackcurrant, plum, espresso coffee, a touch of bitter chocolate, woody herbs, mint with vinous sweetness to the concentrated finish. The fruit seems quite integrated already plus there is plenty of acidity in this wine that will hold it in there for a while. 18 months in new French oak. The flagship Cabernet of the stable, only made in the best years. 10% Malbec and 5% Shiraz join Cabernet in the Mentor this year.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $45.99 special.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2009
Dark red, translucent rather than richly opaque. A little shy on this nose – vanilla and earthy notes perhaps, this medium bodied wine (in the context of the tasting) is full of juicy plum and black cherry fruit with fine soft tannins, vanilla, black forest chocolate, a smattering of cake spice and a hint of pepper on the dry finish where savoury notes coming through. Lovely drinking now or cellar up to 5 years.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Peter Lehmann 'Futures' Barossa Shiraz 2009
Deep dark red, chocolate biscuits and sweet smoky oak on the nose, this is a firm, full-bodied wine with meaty tannins, concentrated plum and blackberry fruit, chocolate, vanilla, allspice, smoky oak, leather and just a touch of mint on the end. A rich, gutsy wine with a long way to go, it offers very good quality for its value. 15 months in French oak.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $24.99 special.

Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 Shiraz 2009
Concentrated black red colour, perfumed with redcurrant, mocha, sweet oak and savoury things, the first thing you notice in the palate is the mint. This shows exceptionally concentrated fruit, all of those lovely herb and earth notes, mouthcoating velvety tannins, beautifully balanced savoury oak and a light touch of pepper on the end. Terrific wine made from 124-year-old vines. 12 months in French oak.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $47.99.

Peter Lehmann VSV Orrock Shiraz 2009 – Flinders Ranges
Deep black red. Quite minty on the nose with red fruit and cake spices and a hint of rose petal. Earthy and savoury to the taste with pencils shavings and graphite and something reminiscent of still winter nights where you go outside and smell the smoke pumping out from the hearth fire chimneys. Fruit is quite different, almost cranberryish, seemingly a little jammy, but this is a cooler region than the Barossa. Chicory, cake spices, firm and slightly grippy tannins and a touch of mint chocolate on the end. Concentrated and mouthcoating.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $47.99.

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 2007
Dark red with a hint of bricking on the edges. With a bouquet of espresso, leather and savoury oak, this is a very firm wine with youthful tannins that are still a little teeth coating and grippy. All of the savoury leathery Shiraz flavours, some rosemary too and a touch of chocolate, mocha, pepper on the finish and subtle spiced plum fruit coming through. "A lean vintage in the Barossa - drinkability rather than cellaring potential," says Malcolm but the wine in the glass contradicts this.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $45.99 special.

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2007
Purple red with just a modicum of fading on the edges, this 'new release' is quite savoury tasting and this balances the concentrated, juicy, prune and spiced cherry fruit with a touch of chicory joining earth, liquorice, bitter chocolate and vanilla. Tannins are integrated and smooth. "Usually described as a big, bold Barossa Shiraz although 2007 is not so big as the 06 or 08," says Malcolm. Could be a sleeper. Time will tell.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $96.99.

Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon 2008
Yellow gold. Has some of the aromatics seen in the 'Margaret' tasted earlier – lemon with a touch of hay now infused with honey and botrytis, some apricot too. Intensely sweet to the taste yet there are lovely balancing lemon nuances – lemon drop, lemon honey, lemon zest, lemon verbena and white raisins on the end. The finish is clean, tasty and impressive. Good value.
11.55 alc. Screwcap. $21.99 special.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 6 Jun 2012
North Island v The Rest of the World
All of the wines were tasted blind.

Cave de Lugny Macon Villages Chardonnay 2010 – Burgundy, France
Radiant light gold. Warm nutty scent with a hint of apricot. Stonefruit sweetness in the palate with a touch of melon, a creamy nutty richness, a smooth mouthcoating texture and vinous warmth. Very little if any oak. Decanter magazine's best white wine under £10.
13% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Morton Estate Private Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009
Light yellow gold with a hazelnut bouquet, this is a rich, full-bodied, toasty number with a seamless flow, a lovely cashew nut sweetness and tropical fruit perfectly supported by the vanillin oak backbone. Lots of flavour, great drinking on the night and universally preferred to the Macon.
14% alc. Screwcap. $14.99 special.

Kumeu River Kumeu Pinot Gris 2010
Straw gold. Nuts and pears on the bouquet and a hint of butterscotch in the palate, possibly from the wild yeast ferment and partial malo. With mid palate softness, tropical fruit sweetness, a lingering creamed nut finish and a pleasing touch of strudel spice, it is a lovely sophisticated, off dry style.
13% alc. Screwcap. $31.99.

Willy Gisselbrecht Alsace Pinot Gris 2010 - France
Golden in colour, with a spicy fragrance to the bouquet, this wine is crammed with ultra ripe pear-like fruit, a touch of botrytis and lots of ginger-like spices. A touch of citrus peel on the finish brings the toffee like sweetness into check.
13% alc. Cork. $19.99 special.

Corbans Private Bin Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2008
Pale yellow with a bouquet of exotic spices and lychees, after the previous wine this tastes almost perfect. Moderately dry, full of Turkish delight and ginger-like spices, this is a rich mouthfilling wine with a touch of exotic fruit and lovely balance and flow and although some though it was restrained it has the elegance of bottle age it is not overpowering at all. Trophy Air NZ Wines Awards 2011.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve Alsace Gewurztraminer 2009 - France
Light yellow. Crystallised violets bouquet and classically varietal in the palate with beautifully balanced off dry sweetness, lovely viscous texture and a long, full finish. Exquisite! Trophy NZIWS.
13% alc. Cork. $29.99 special.

Burnt Spur Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009
Perfumed on the nose with bittersweet cherry and white mushrooms, this light garnet coloured wine has a touch of chocolate and given the lighter colour, surprisingly firm yet silky tannins. A mouthfilling wine with vinous richness and a savoury depth, a very good example of the region and variety. Gold Easter.
14.5% alc. Screwcap. $36.99 special.

Yerring Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2010 – Victoria, Australia
A dark garnet red with an oaky, savoury bouquet and flavours of chocolate, spiced cherries and herbs on a bed of firm tannins. Youthful, fresh and still a little chunky at this stage, the finish lingers with savoury oak, a touch of chocolate and nicely balanced fruit sweetness.
13% alc. Screwcap. $42.99.

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010
Purple red colour – concentrated and deep. Earthy, savoury and iodine-like on the nose, a little barnyard too, this dry savoury muscular wine has a herbal undercurrent, peppery spices and a plummy sweetness adding succulence to the finish that lingers with a hint of chocolate and vanilla.
13.2% alc. Screwcap. $17.99 special.

Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2010 –South Australia
Concentrated blackberry red, this has a tantalising smoky vanillin oak bouquet infused with dark chocolate and black cherry. A lovely smooth balanced wine in the palate with just impeccable balance of savouriness, spiciness and juicy fruit. Classy wine all round with firm pillowy tannins, biscuity oak, liquorice, mocha, pepper and cake spices. Another stunning Filsell.
14% alc. Screwcap. $40.99 special.

Pepperjack Barossa Cabernet 2010 – South Australia
Dark red. Cedary oak and redcurrant jelly on the nose. A soft, dry, savoury full-bodied with supple tannins, plums, chocolate, herbs and leather with an underpinning of acidity typical of the variety and finishing with classic cassis and cedar.
14% alc. Screwcap. $19.99 special.

Mills Reef Elspeth Trust Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Hawkes Bay
Dark red. Sweeter bouquet of vanillin oak, mint, chocolate and cherry and a velvety textured, full bodied, smoky palate, crammed with juicy berries supported by classy oak. A very succulent, opulent expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bay.
14% alc. Screwcap. $41.99.

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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