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edited by Sue Courtney

Wednesday Round-up - the 2007 edition
Sue Courtney's tasting notes from the First Glass Fine Wine Wednesday $15 tastings

December 2007
[ 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 - 19 Dec 2007
Favourite Wines of the Year
All but the last of the wines were were tasted blind

Orlando St. Helga Eden Valley Riesling 2004
This light golden coloured, dry Riesling, with its powerful lime and subtle kero aromas, immediately whisks you to a classic Australian winemaking region, in this case not the Clare Valley but the Eden Valley further south. It's rich and weighty with hints of honeysuckle, loads of toasty lime, talc, marmalade notes and nuances of pineapple too. An outstanding Aussie Riesling with a little bit of age, and can take some chilling too. Gold & Trophy – New Zealand International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Sileni The Lodge Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
Light golden coloured, with rich, toasty, creamy and subtle stonefruit aromas, but so abundantly fruity to the taste with stonefruit and tropical fruit layered over a mealy-rich, classy French oak backbone with a long and increasingly powerful aftertaste. Enjoy in a big glass now, or cellar until next Christmas.
14% alc. $35.99. Screwcap.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2006 (Sharon's pick)
Lime-tinged bright lemon/gold, this wine emanates aromas of smoke, creamy oak, vanilla and lanolin and it's big, fat, broad and lucious to the with a forest of brand new oak, creamed nuts, smoky bacon, spice and tropical fruit. Barrel-fermented in American oak, it's vibrant and lifted with hints of lime on the long, rich finish and an intriguing salty tang.
14.5% alc. $29.99 special. Screwcap.

Church Road Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2005 (Kingsley's pick)
Light yellow gold, this wine seems a little restrained on the nose but is all decadence and opulence with its smoky, savoury, toasty and mealy, barrel-fermented French oak flavours with the wild yeast used in the fermentation adding to the overall nutty complexity. Melon and stonefruit come into play with spice and a buttery nuance to the lasting finish. Gold & Trophy – New Zealand International Wine Show.
13.5% alc. $30.99 special. Screwcap.

Forrest Estate The Doctors' Marlborough Riesling 2006 (Tony's pick)
Served lightly chilled, this pale straw coloured Riesling smells like freshly squeezed lemon and honey and tastes even more so in the bright, fresh, enlivening palate. An exemplary example of perfection of balance with screechingly high apple and citrus acidity to balance the floral sweetness and juicy fruit. It's a summer orchard of vigour and liveliness. Multiple Golds.
8.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2006 (Sue's pick)
Light buttery yellow in colour, this enchanting, floral and spice-scented Gewurztraminer tantalises the palate with it's soft, pungent flavours of violets, rose petals, Turkish delight and musk with Asian fruit, five spice and a tingle of ginger on the lasting finish. Served slightly chilled on the night, it's long and luscious and a real treat for lovers of the style. . Multiple Gold medals.
13% alc. $29.99. Diam.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005 (Sam's pick)
Medium Burgundy-red, not quite opaque, it's smoky, savoury and a little earthy on the nose and has an increasing vinous richness and power to the fine-textured palate with bitter cherry and cranberry fruit, hints of chocolate, earth and spice and a persistence of savoury cherry flavour. “Charming, seductive and silky,” says Sam.
13.9% alc. $45.99. Screwcap.

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2005 (Kingsley's pick)
Deep black purple/crimson, this inky coloured wine is delightfully fragrant, even a little floral with smoke, leather, tar and iodine. The fragrance carries through to the full-bodied, powerful and firm-tannined palate to be joined by bright black and red fruits, black forest chocolate, peppery spices and gorgeous sweet, smoky, cedary French oak with a fruit cake richness and hints of liquorice on the powerfully long finish. A stunning wine that is concentration and power. 14% alc. $25.99 special. Cork.

Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Shiraz 2004 (Sharon's pick)
Big deep dark blackberry red with a gorgeous nose of eucalypt, American oak and blackcurrant fruit and super ripe flavours of mint, spice, boysenberry ice cream and chocolate with the huge grunty tannins balanced by the vibrantly sweet fruit. Long and succulent with loads and loads of flavour, Sharon described this as, "a big blokey wine that the girls will also love". Double Gold Medal winner.
15% alc. $18.99 special. Cork.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 (Sam's pick)
Deep dark red, this fragrant, spicy Shiraz is full of chocolate and juicy ripe mulberries and plums with dense chewy tannins, loads of mint and a long, creamy, smoky oak finish. With a couple years more under its belt, it is drinking just beautifully right now. Multiple Golds and Trophy.
14.5% alc. $19.99.

d'Arenberg The Laughing Magpie McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 (Tony's pick)
Deep purple black and inky, this fragrantly perfumed, sweet-oaked Shiraz is full of mocha, chocolate, plum jam and allspice with an earthy richness to the long, full-bodied and concentrated finish with hints of fruit cake on the lingering aftertaste. 10% Viognier in the blend adds the highlighted fragrance and a gorgeous slipperiness to the seductive texture, which makes it deliciously approachable despite its massive power.
14.5% alc. $33.99. Cork.

Waimea Reserve Bolitho Noble Riesling 2003 (Sue's pick)
Bright citrine gold, like a brilliant gemstone with it's clear, glinting appearance, this luscious sweetie smells just gorgeous with apricot, candied orange peel, honey and toffee scents that carry through to the creamy, nectar-like palate. A totally decadent wine with extra complexity from barrel fermentation, a touch of beeswax and spicy citrus balancing the sweetness, it has 181 grams per litre of residual sugar. A totally delicious treat. Three trophies. Winestate NZ Wine of the Year.
375ml. 11% alc. $43.99. Cork.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 12 Dec 2007
Rieslings and Grunty Reds
Wines were tasted blind

Saint Clair Marlborough Pinot Gris 2007
Lightly chilled, this clear, pale wine is fragrantly perfumed with delicate floral scents and musky florals amongst the apple and juicy pear fruits. It's fairly dry yet soft and creamy with a warm strudel spiciness to the bright zesty lingering finish. Gold & Trophy Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2007. 13.5% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Charles Wiffen Marlborough Riesling 2006
Straw gold and star bright, it's slightly petrolly on the nose with a touch of oiliness to the texture and a weighty mid palate filled with lemon, limes, apples and sherbet. A classy, powerful dry Riesling with a definite juicy factor and a touch of honeyed sweetness but the racy acidity makes it seem dry. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
11.5% alc. $18.99. Screwcap.

Whitehaven Marlborough Riesling 2007
Light lemon gold with floral aromas and apples and citrus flavours, this seems fairly dry but the 7.4g/l residual sugar content places it on the cusp of medium and once again it is the racy acidity, accentuated by chilling, that makes the wine seems dry. It's lightly oily and viscous with a marmalade richness and simply begging for food. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
12.5% alc. $20.99. Screwcap.

Neudorf Moutere Riesling 2006 - Nelson
Pale straw in colour, this smells reasonably dry with it rich, kero-like scents and hints of florals but it is surprisingly much sweeter to the juicy, crisp taste with tropical fruit, passionfruit, tangelo and honeysuckle and underlying pure seam of lime. A lower alcohol 'Germanic' style, this has a gorgeous long finish and it's still superb drinking when totally chilled. 36 g/l rs.
9.5% alc. $35.99. Screwcap.

The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2006
With gorgeously tempting aromas and flavours of honeysuckle, orange blossom, mandarin, tropical fruit, spice, musk and zesty sherbet, no wonder 90% of the room picked this wine as Waipara because this region is leading the country with this style. Wonderfully reminiscent of the previous vintage's stunning Melness Riesling, it's clear, fresh and vibrantly juicy with beautifully balanced sweetness to fine acidity and low alcohol as well. Can be served well chilled and simply fantastic for summer. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
9.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

The Crater Rim Marlborough/Akaroa Riesling 2005
A little oily and petrolly on the nose at first with rich lime and toasted raisin bread aromas joining in, this smooth, slick concentrated, light gold coloured riesling is powerful and concentrated with a touch of viscosity adding richness to the mouthfeel. A sweeter 'Germanic' style with a steely, stony backbone to the sweet citrus and stone fruit that's accentuated with wild flower honey and lemon biscuits, tangelo peel and marmalade on the ultra long finish, even though a year older than it's sibling, it's still very fresh.
8% alc. $24.99. Screwcap.

Muddy Water Riesling Unplugged 2006 - Waipara
A little green gold in colour, it's mellow on the nose and though it tastes quite sweet, the balancing acidity is exquisite. This is a gorgeous opulent style full of honeysuckle, lime, mandarin and marmalade with palate richness and power and brightness of length and flavour. More in the 'Alsace style' with moderately high alcohol for Riesling, and high residual sugar (58 g/l rs) too.
13% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Grant Burge Barossa Vines Cabernet Merlot 2005 - South Australia
Black red, opaque with tempting aromas of sweet biscuity oak, smoke, wild berries and red currants and ripe, sweet-fruited and savoury flavours full of mocha, leather, cedar, red berries and plum. Flavoursome and immediately appealing with reasonable tannin structure and excellent value too. 14.5% alc. $14.99 special. Screwcap.

Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centanaria 2005 - Campo de Borja, Spain
Fine and light in appearance with a black-red centre and pink-purple rims, the fragrant perfume is tarry and savoury and infused with black cherries. It smells sweetish but it's very dry to the taste, dry and slightly peppery with blackberry fruit, and a juicy flourish to the spicy aftertaste. Try it with cheese to cut through the tannins and bring out the creamy richness of the wine.
13.5% alc. $27.99. Cork.

Murray Street Cabernets 2004 - South Australia
Deep black red with a dense core with fading blood red rims, this gorgeously fragrant, sweet-fruited wine is rich, spicy and almost spiritous. Full of fruit cake spices, red and black fruit, soft acidity, smooth tannins, hints of tar and chocolate liquorice, it's long and succulent and totally drinkable. Made from a blend of 56% Barossa Valley Cab Sauv and 44% Adelaide Hills Cab Franc and matured for just 8 months in French and American oak. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show
14.6% alc. $19.99 special. Screwcap.

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - South Australia
Dense black red with sweet oak, vanilla and cedar on the nose and a concentrated, powerful palate is crammed with blackcurrants, cedar, smoke and spice with mint chocolate creams and mocha on the finish. A gorgeous, rich, opulent and serious style with powerful tannins balanced to the succulent fruit, it's a blend of Clare Valley and Coonawarra fruit.
15% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Saltram Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Barossa Valley
Dense black red with a shiny appearance, this is full of fragrant, smoky, cedar with creamy coconut nuances from the American oak component. It's juicy and concentrated with succulent berry fruit, rich, creamy chocolatey oak, peppery spice and even some florals and while it's delicious already, the firm-structured tannins indicate this wine has longevity. A beautiful wine, perhaps even better than the super 2004.
15% alc. $18.99. Cork.

Yellow Tail Premium McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003
Deep, inky red black in colour, it's so intense and youthful looking, it's hard to believe this wine is four years old. Smoky, savoury, tarry, intense aromas and spicy, savoury flavour with plush lush tannins, cameo creme biscuits, pepper, spice, liquorice and chocolate, it's quite dry, yet long, luscious and juicy with amazing length and power. Perhaps the only thing that hints of its age is that the fruit is now integrated rather than primary. Don't confuse this with the everyday Yellowtail Shiraz because this 'premium' wine was the winner of the Stoddart Trophy at the Queensland Wine Show, 2005.
13.5% alc. $51.99. Cork.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 5 Dec 2007
No Set Theme
Wines were tasted blind

Seaview Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Vintage 1999
Light pale gold, this tasty bubbles has become savoury, creamy and toasty with a little bit of age. It has lots of bready flavours with a delicate hint of lanolin, tropical fruit, a citrus zestiness and a fine attack of bubbles. A multi regional, cool climate, Australian blend and at $9.99 on the night, it 's a smart buy for festive entertaining. Probably sold out now. 12% alc.

Vavasour Redwood Pass Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Lovely lime, herb, capsicum, dried grass and tropical fruit aromas and loads of juicy fruit flavours in the sweet-fruited palate that's crammed with lime, green melon, spice, tropical fruit and a powerfully long, toasty finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. 13.5% alc. $14.99 special. Screwcap.

Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Juicy, vibrant and punchy with musk, sweat pea and sweet citrus aromas and a grassy, herbaceous undercurrent to the tropical fruit, lime and grapefruit flavours. Intense and zesty with a powerfully long finish and fabulous length. Gold & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards. 13% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Askerne Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2006
Sweet toasty French oak with a buttery overlay tempts the nose while spicy toasty oak and peachy flavours fulfil the palate. Soft and creamy with a zesty flourish to the frisky finish, it's beaut summer drinking on its own or a perfect accompaniment to the catch of the day. 13% alc. $16.99 special. Diam.

Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico 2005
Red-black with a violet tint to the hue, this dry, medium-bodied, distinctly European red is a blend of 90% Sangiovese (90%), Merlot (5%) and Canaiolo(5%). It's earthy and savoury with firm tea-like tannins, light cherry fruit and a peppery bite to the finish. 13% alc. $19.99 special.

Rose Tree Marlborough Cottage Pinot Noir 2005
Dark cherry red with moderate depth of colour, this easy going, juicy pinot has a sweet fruit aroma and tangy tamarillo, cranberry and morello cherry flavours with smoky oak, a touch of vanilla and an increasing velvety richness to the chocolatey finish. 13.5% alc. $20.99 special. Screwcap.

Kim Crawford SP Rise-and-Shine Creek Pinot Noir 2006
Deeply coloured black red with purple tints, this big, juicy wine has a smooth, rich taste. Full of sweet chocolatey oak and cherries with soft acidity and velvety tannins, it's layered and complex with cigar smoke, earth and funk and a spicy flourish to the savoury finish with hints of dried herb and tar coming through too. You need to savour a big glass of this to discover all its fascinating intricacies. Bendigo region, Central Otago. Gold & Trophy – Air New Zealand Wine Awards. 14.5% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Vina Vilano Roble 2005
Deep purple red with crimson hues, this full-bodied red is a dry, earthy, savoury 'old world' style with a touch of barnyard and salty, dried herb nuances. But wait for the underlying juicy fruit red fruit sweetness that lingers deliciously with vanillin oak and hints of liquorice on the long, spicy finish. 100% Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero in Spain with 6 months in American oak. 13.5% alc. $18.99.

Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot Malbec Franc 2004
Deep red and opaque, this opulent full-bodied red is full of smoke, musk, toasted nut and berry scents. The nut and berry nuances carry through to the cedary palate which still has seriously big tannins at this stage of its life together with spice, earth, leather, tobacco, red liquorice and loads of juicy cassis and black fruit with the Malbec adding intriguing floral nuances to the lasting finish. Another 'big glass' wine to savour. 14% alc. $39.99. Screwcap.

Hobeck Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006
Soft, sweet and juicy with jube-like blackberry and raspberries on the nose and in the palate, this dark, dusky, mocha-oaked, peppery red has a bright, vibrant finish and excellent length. It's so easy to appreciate and enjoy. 14% alc. $15.99 special. Screwcap.

Murray Street The Barossa 2005
A blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsault and Mataro, this concentrated, powerful and opulent red has spicy red fruits, vanillin oak, beautifully integrated tannins and a juicy, jammy, plummy fruit sweetness. It's multi-layered in its vibrant spice and pepper flavours with a savoury, earthy, leathery depth and just a suggestion of mint. Gold & Trophy – NZ International Wine Show. 14.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Barossa Shiraz 2006
Deep and inky with purple black tints and vivid violet edges, this fragrant, sweet-oaked, smooth textured, slightly minty red is full of juicy boysenberries and mulberries with tar, toast, rich tannins and plenty of spice. It's a great follow-on to the gold medal winning 2005. 14% alc. $16.99 special. Screwcap.

Note: The New Zealand wines listed on this page have been cross-catalogued to my wine reviews by grape variety - check out my Wine Review Index.

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