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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

November 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 - 28 Nov 2007
Burgundy and Burgundy varieties and Bordeaux and Bordeaux varieties
Wines were tasted blind

Wynns Coonawarra Chardonnay 2005 - South Australia Light gold with greeny-gold tints, toasty oak aromas and creamy bright-fruited flavours, it could even be considered a little brash. Crammed with stone fruit and tropical fruit, there's a yeast lees toastiness, a raisin bread sweetness and a grilled pineapple / caramelised pineapple finish. Perhaps not as big as vintages past, but still a distinctive cool climate and very tasty drop. $14.99 special. Screwcap.

J. Moreau & Fils Chablis 2005 - Burgundy, France With hints of lanolin and gunflint aromas, this pale-coloured wine is oily textured, earthy, leesy and lemony. Like a typical Chablis it seems quite steely and lean to start but increases in richness and finishes with a pleasing fruit sweetness. A perfect style to sip with bread and cheese. Good buying at the price. $19.99 special.

Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran 2006 - Burgundy, France Pale straw lemon, star bright, it smells smoky, savoury and creamy mellow even though there is no oak - it's more of a gun-smoke smokiness. Spicy to the taste, spicy and earthy with apple the dominant fruit, there’s a leesy lemon richness and a zesty lift to the almost peachy finish. It's steely and clean with a savoury aftertaste but the refined textural complexity and excellent length of this wine are the outstanding features. It would be absolutely beaut with white flesh fish fillets or shellfish. $29.99.

Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Chardonnay 2006 Totally irresistible with rich sweet fruit and gorgeous barrel fermented oak scents, it's full-bodied and powerful to the taste with spicy, toasty French oak, citrus, melon, juicy stonefruit and a mealy complexity. A wine with balance and precision and though quite tight-grained and urging for time in the cellar, it's so tempting, you just want to drink it now. Gold & Trophy Air New Zealand Wine Awards $45.99 special. Screwcap.

Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 2005 - Burgundy, France Garnet red with hints of purple, not opaque but deeply translucent. Smoked deli meats and spiced macerated cherries emit an alluring scent. Seemingly light and tangy with a savoury backbone to the tart cherry fruit and intriguing, slightly salty, dried herb flavours, the underlying richness of the wines emerges to expand on the palate and persist magnificently. Savoury and smoky with dry gravelly tannins and a cherry and strawberry fruit sweetness, this wine is a real treat. $87.00.

Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 Deep ruby garnet coloured with an intriguing, rich, complex truffle-like aroma that has floral musky overtones and hints of vanilla, this generous wine is immediately appealing with its sweet cherry fruit, funky savoury undertones and gorgeous silky-tannined flow. It's soft and sweet when compared to the Burgundy tasted before it, but still undeniably Pinot Noir with a spicy richness, earthy mushroom notes and a long, succulent, savoury finish. $35.99 special. Screwcap.

Chateau Montrose 2001 - St Estephe, Bordeaux, France Deep dark red and opaque with a little fading on the rim, this wine opens with a seriously stinky aroma, which quickly blows off to reveal concentrated cassis, powerful nutty oak, smoke, leather and tar. Savoury to the taste with a seemingly ‘spritzy’ texture on the first taste, this rich, meaty wine is full of concentrated blackcurrant fruit, roast coffee, dried herbs and smoky cedar supported by a gorgeous flowing, fine-grained tannin structure. A wine of amazing length and totally dry. 2nd Growth classification. $129.00.

Chateau Leoville-Barton 2002 - St Julien, Bordeaux, France Very deep black red, opaque right to the crimson edges, this 'new world' look-alike is dark, savoury, succulent and juicy with concentrated depth and power. It's smoky and savoury on the nose with powerful flavours of cigar box-like oak, succulent red fruit, roasted dried herbs that have a salty rosemary-like tang, leather and earth supported by a powerful grainy tannin structure. But the most amazing thing about this wine is the unexpected juiciness that fills the mouth on the finish with a gorgeous sweetness. Nevertheless, this is a wine that definitely needs more time for utmost appreciation. 2nd Growth classification. $125.00.

Wirra Wirra Church Block 2005 - McLaren Vale, South Australia Purple black with a vivid brightness to the inky hue this succulent wine has smoky aromas and tastes sweet and juicy with vanilla oak, pepper, musk, blackberries, chocolate, dried herbs, leather and tar. It's supported by fine-grained velvety tannins and has a long, complex satisfying finish but after two serious Bordeaux’s this is definitely 'the big easy'. A blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Shiraz and 18% Malbec. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. $21.99 special. Screwcap.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - South Australia Deep in colour, almost black, it's spicy, smoky and savoury with juicy blackcurrants and brambly fruit and just a moderate touch of sweetness to balance the grippy tannins and savoury oak. Smoky and cedary with richness and structure, a touch of mint emerges with rosemary and liquorice on the full-bodied lingering finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. $32.99. Screwcap.

Viu Manent Secreto Carmenere 2006 - Colchagua Valley, Chile Shiny red black with cigar box scents, this tastes succulent and juicy with plums, redcurrant, liquorice, tobacco and tar. It's creamy and spicy with beautifully rounded tannins and a long velvety finish with a hint of violet as the delicious aftertaste lingers. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show. $23.99.

Taltarni Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia Purple black with incredible concentration, this powerful wine has an aura of sweetness with chocolatey oak and juicy red and black currant fruit. Yet despite that illusion, it's tightly structured, smoky, savoury and long with the slightest hint of mint and even a suggestion of violets as the purity of the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit shines through. Gold Medal & Trophy – NZ International Wine Show. $32.99.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 21 Nov 2007
Gold Medal Wines from the Air NZ Wine Awards 2007
Wines were tasted blind

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Sauvignon Blanc 2007 - Marlborough
From a distance, there's a hint of sweat amongst the vibrant tropical fruit aromas, but nuzzle closer and it's just so tantalising fresh, rich and juicy with tangelo to the fore. Lightly oily in texture with a vivacious citrussy backbone, tropical fruit abounds with a herbaceous flourish to the finish and a delicious pungency to the aftertaste. Outstandingly good with texture plus. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
13% alc. $26.99. Screwcap.

Montana Stuart Block Chardonnay 2006 - Patutahi, Gisborne
Light green gold in colour with a fragrant, toasty, mealy scent, this is a big toasty style - spicy and toasty with loads of tropical fruit and citrussy zest melding into the beautifully rounded, harmonious mealy palate with fleshy concentrated nectarine and peach on the lasting, sweet-oaked finish. If you loved the gold-bestowed 2004 Stuart Block, you'll love this too. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
14% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Montana Waihirere Chardonnay 2005 - Ormond, Gisborne
Far more Burgundian in style with nutty oak, figs and nougat, it's rich, creamy and savoury with a grapefruit nuance to the barrel-fermented oak aromas and a toastiness to the nutty, mealy flavours with Gisborne's signature tropical fruit on the long, dry, savoury, full-bodied finish. Elegance and class. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
13.5% alc. $25.99. Screwcap.

Camshorn Classic Riesling 2007 - Waipara
Fresh, juicy and lightly sherbetty with a delicate hint of muskiness, this sweeter style of Riesling is sure to appeal to fans of the Melness style. There's tropical guava, passionfruit and hints of rose petal on the nose and a deliciously fruity, slightly viscous palate that is perfectly balanced by the underlying zesty acidity. Incredibly appealing with its abundant fruitiness, and it can be served well chilled. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
11.5% alc. $23.99. Screwcap.

Waipara Springs Riesling 2006 - Waipara
Fragrantly scented with a talcum powder, rose petal and lime zest perfume, it tastes bright and zesty with an abundance of tangy, lip-smacking orange, lemon and lime and a ginger-like tingling spiciness to the racy finish. Slightly richer with a suggestion of oiliness to the texture and just the merest hint of honey, this is another gorgeous medium-sweet Waipara Riesling that can be served well chilled. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
10.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

Forrest The Doctors’ Riesling 2006 - Marlborough
Pure and delicate yet intense at the same time, there's refreshing racy acidity in the form of apple, lime and mandarin balancing the delicate honeyed sweetness, and a Mosel-like earthy, stony, slatey character adding extra complexity and intrigue. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007. Gold Medal NZIWS 2007.
8.5% alc. $19.99. Screwcap.

De Vine Pinot Noir 2006 - Central Otago
Deep black red with earthy, smoky, leathery, funky scents joining chocolate, black cherries and plums, this powerful, firm tannined wine tastes spicy and savoury with deep, earthy, brooding complex flavours. It's funky and intriguing with anise-like spices, black cherries, plums and a chocolatey richness to the lingering aftertaste. The vibrant fruit perfectly offsets the dark, funky savouriness. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007. Gold Medal NZIWS 2007.
13.5% alc. $35.99 special. Screwcap.

The Crater Rim Omihi Rise Pinot Noir 2006 - Waipara
Deep in colour with a black core and purple-red edges, this is fragrantly scented with savouriness winning over fruitiness on the day. It's rich and creamy with firm tannins, smoky oak, hints of tar, sweet leather, earth, game, nutmeg and exotic spices and plummy fruit and fills out with a black cherry sweetness on the fragrant finish. This powerful pinot noir has so much richness and complexity that even non-pinot noir drinkers (eg Kingsley) will love it. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007. Gold Medal NZIWS 2007.
14.5% alc. $42.99. Diam.

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2006 - Central Otago
Deep black garnet / ruby in colour, this is perfumed with wild herbs, black cherries and spicy smoky oak and tastes spicy and savoury with concentrated cherry and plum fruit, creamy oak and that intrinsic Central Otago wild thyme. It's underpinned by a tarry, savoury undercurrent and gravelly tannins and finishes with a gorgeous sweet fruit flourish. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007. Five stars Cuisine.
13.7% alc. $34.99 special. Screwcap.

Mills Reef Reserve Merlot 2006 - Hawkes Bay
Deep red black, opaque to the core, there's smoky sweet oak and concentrated brambles and plums fruit on the nose and a berry fruit succulence to the medium to full-bodied cedary taste. Smooth in texture with velvety tannins, hints of tobacco and underlying acidity adding brightness and lift, the pleasing finish is long, spicy and savoury. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
14% alc. $20.99 special. Screwcap.

Church Road Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2005 - Hawkes Bay
With seductively fragrant smoky cedar on the nose and gorgeously balanced, rich, ripe and creamy flavours this deep, rich, full-boded red sings of its Cabernet character with its jam-packed blackcurrant fruit while Merlot adds softness, hints of chocolate and a plummy mid palate. Firmly structured, robust and fragrantly spicy, it's quite outstanding. Matured in French oak for 20 months. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007. Gold Medal NZIWS 2007.
13.5% alc. $31.99. Diam.

Esk Valley Reserve Syrah 2005 - Hawkes Bay
Deep in its purple black colour with black pepper grind scents and red berry fruits on the nose, it's spicy, savoury, meaty and initially earthy to the taste. Concentrated purple fruits, spice and tar then lavender and dried herbs adding a floral allure, it seems Rhonish in style but this savoury, complex and concentrated beast morphs into a beauty on the finish where peppered chocolate infused with a cherry sweetness lingers minutes after the wine is swallowed. Matured in French oak for 18 months. Gold Medal AirNZ Wine Awards 2007.
14.5% alc. $49.99. Screwcap.

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 14 Nov 2007
Not So Common
Wines were tasted blind

Taylors Eighty Acres Chardonnay Viognier 2007 - Clare Valley, Australia
Greeny gold with pear-like scents and spicy flavours, it’ slightly sweetish with a hint of oiliness and bright, fresh juicy tropical fruit and finishes dry with strudel spices.
13.5% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Simonnet-Febvre 'Millesime' Chablis 2005
Oily and rich with a hint of lanolin and baked apple, it fleshes out with richness and weight. It’s quite dry with flint and nuts, a fruit sweet finish and excellent length. Will be fabulous with oysters or cheese fondue.
13% alc. $33.99.

Lurton Pinot Gris Reserva 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina
Pale in colour, shy on the nose, spicy and delicately zesty to the taste with apple, melon and white peach fruit brightness, a touch of spice and lasting vinous flavour with textural richness and weight.
13% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Willm Reserve Gewurztraminer 2006 - Alsace, France
Bright gold coloured with perfumed, spicy aromas and rich, creamy flavours that are floral and juicy with peach, orange water and delicate spices. It’s dry and rich with an oily undercurrent and a sweet impression to the soft, lasting finish.
13% alc. $24.99.

Callejo Meses en Barrica 4 2006 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Dense purple red with savoury aromas of black nugget and tar and up-front, juicy, sweet-fruited red berry flavours flushed with spice, creamy oak and seductively smooth tannins. 100% Tempranillo (Tinto Fino) with 4 months in oak.
14% alc. $24.99.

Callejo Crianza Vendimia Seleccionade 2004 - Ribera de Duero, Spain
Purple black and inky with concentrated wild berry aromas and rich, creamy flavours full of opulent oak with hints of anise and juicy red fruits. Velvety in texture with a savoury richness and a full-bodied finish, it’s made from 100% Tempranillo with 12 months in French and American oak.
14% alc. $33.99.

Cono Sur Reserva Carmenere 2006 - Colchagua Valley, Chile
Purple black and shiny with deep vinous concentration to the smoky, savoury, berry-filled aroma. The taste is savoury, earthy, tarry and grainy with meaty tannins and incredible depth to the cassis and juicy plum-like fruit and the deliciously long finish is sweet and creamy with hints of mocha and spice. Gold – Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14% alc. $22.99.

La Multa Syrah 2005 - Calatayud, Spain
Deep pinky black with smoky, savoury, brambly aromas and incredibly sweet, cherry fruit flavours over a savoury, smoky, spicy backbone. A luscious, easy-going wine with a creamy texture and a peppery finish. A bargain for Spanish syrah at the price.
14.5% alc. $17.99 special.

Chanarmuyo Petit Verdot 2006 - La Rioja, Argentina
Dark purple black with a hot red edge, the perfumed fragrance is smoky and savoury with violet florals, and it’s jam-packed with flavour. It’s a deep, intense, concentrated monster with blackberry fruit, robust tannins, savoury nuances and a succulent finish. Gold Medal – NZ International Wine Show.
14.5% alc. $17.99 special.

Pesquera Tinto 2004 - Ribera del Duero, Spain
Purple black, deep and intense. Smoky and savoury, with dried herbs, cow pats and hints of chocolate on the nose, and powerful flavours that are tarry and savoury with a balancing blackberry fruit sweetness. With smoke, tobacco, sweet spices and berry milk chocolate, this robust wine is complex and different.
14% alc. $39.99.

Farnese Cinque Autoctoni Edizione 2006 - Italy
Fantastically appealing and super tasty with an alluring pink-black colour, smoky Christmas cake scents, juicy flavours and a lasting finish. Super ripe fruit is balanced to savoury, spicy, oak with supple tannins that can only be described as ‘easy’. This impressive blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Malvasia is rich, juicy and flavoursome and just so seductively delicious. Impressive bottle too, which weighs 1.2kg when empty.
14.5% alc, $46.99.

Viu Manent Late Harvest Semillon 2005 - Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Bright lemon yellow, delicately smoky and just a little steely with luscious apricot and pineapple, hints of orange peel, with a touch of honey and bees wax. It’s fresh and sweet and nicely balanced to the sweet, candied fruit flavours. Excellent for Xmas Day.
12% alc. $22.99 / 500ml

Fine Wine Wednesday Tasting - 7 Nov 2007
All Brand New
Wines were tasted blind.

Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay Methode Traditionelle NV - South Australia
Pale lemon, hints of onion skin. A little nutty on the nose and rich and bready to the taste with a fine attack of bubbles, a sophisticated nutty richness, a delicate rose floral nuance and a lovely mealy savouriness. A citrussy brightness from the fine acid backbone adds crispness and the more-ish flavours linger with a biscuity sweetness . Greater start for 10 and fabulous presentation too.
12% alc. $21.99 special.

Mount Riley Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
Lemon gold with grapefruit and limes on the nose carrying through to the bright, breezy palate. Rich and oily, yet crisp and dry with sweet oak and a myriad of fruit that becomes quite peachy and fleshy with hints of apricot and passionfruit joining the citrus and buttery oak that is more assertive on the finish.
14% alc. $16.99 special. Screwcap.

Goldwater Marlborough Chardonnay 2006
Straw gold in colour, this smooth, creamy and very stylish chardonnay is immediately appealing with its soft, ripe, rounded flavours. Barrel-ferment aromas and spicy oak flavours with a mealy nutty backbone, juicy white peach and citrus fruit, hints of butterscotch and a lovely mouth coating texture. The style we like to drink.
14% alc. $17.99 special. Screwcap.

Gunn Estate Skeetfield Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2006
This light golden-coloured chardonnay is big, rich and toasty with gorgeous flavours and flow. A full barrel-fermented style with a bright citrussy aroma and savoury oak, spicy yeast lees with mouthfilling, ripe peach and nectarine flavours and a citrus zestiness to the magnificently long finish. This is Class with a capital 'C'.
14% alc. $31.99. Screwcap.

Terrace Heights Estate Marlborough Pinot Gris 2007
Pale straw coloured, with sweet ctirussy aromas, this is fresh and bright with beautifully poised balance and flow. Juicy lemon and tangelo adds zestiness to the tropical fruit and stonefruit with an apple strudel spiciness to the creamy finish. It's delicately oily in texture with low acidity and just off dry.
13.5% alc. $20.99 special. Screwcap.

The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2006
Sweet, floral, juicy and slightly spritzy in texture, there's citrus zest on the nose and a honeyed sweetness to the taste with fruit that's verging on apricot and juicy, freshly squeezed orange and lemon. With a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, the finish is reminiscent of sugared grapefruit that's been in the fridge all night. With its moderately low alcohol, it's simply delicious.
9.5% alc. $22.99. Screwcap.

Ballast Stone Shiraz 2005
Deep purple black, inky and deep. Rich, ripe, spicy, creamy oak aroma and juicy red fruits full of plums, cherry and mulberry with mocha, spice, liquorice, smoke and lingering pepper. Made from a blend of McLaren Vale & Currency Creek fruit, it's gorgeously smooth in texture and rich and deliciously tasty with plenty of 'drink me' appeal.
14% alc. $18.99 special. Screwcap.

Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Deep black red with blackberry and blueberry pie aromas, this impressive Shiraz deceptively hides its underlying power. Full of boysenberry fruit with fine velvety tannins, sweet toasty oak and a lovely balancing savouriness, there's a touch of mint, increasing pepperiness and fruit cake spices on the expansive finish. McLaren Vale & Padthaway fruit.
15% alc. $32.99.

St. Hallett Blackwell Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Deep red black with dense and powerful aromas of concentrated berry fruit, spicy oak and hints of mint, it's full of creamy vanillin oak in the palate with a beautifully fine tannin structure and a savoury complexity. It's a classic, old-fashioned, juicy Barossa style with chocolate, mocha, pepper and a gorgeous sweet-oaked, spicy aftertaste. It's had two years in American oak and is full-bodied, balanced, concentrated and just delish.
14.5% alc. $36.99.

St. Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz 2002 - South Australia
Black red with crimson edges, it looks young for its age. Earthy, smoky and just a little like compost on the nose, it's powerful, spicy and savoury to the taste with a big tannin structure, savoury French oak, pepper, red liquorice, plum, cherries, vanilla and chocolate pudding. ‘Funky’ and earthy, perhaps because of the judicious Brett that adds complexity rather than distraction, this iconic wine is made from 80-year old Barossa and Eden Valley vines. With 28 months in oak and a year in bottle prior to release, it screams longevity and finesse.
14.5% alc. $62.99.

Henry’s Drive McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 - South Australia
Deep purple black with fragrant, spicy aromas and sweet-oaked, creamy flavours, it's a rich, dark, juicy, fruit-forward wine crammed with plum, cherry and blackberry with smoky oak, liquorice and loads of hot, spicy pepper. Fine-grained tannins are meaty and firm, a hint of tar and leather adds savouriness and the powerful finish is luscious, opulent and long.
15% alc. $45.99.

Penfolds Club Reserve Aged Tawny - South Australia
A clear, dark amber colour with a spiritous, rancio, raisiny aroma and lovely Christmas cake, muscatel and nutty flavours with a luscious sweetness to the mid palate and a savoury spicy, long-lasting finish. The mouth-coating viscous texture and the lovely flow and balance throughout makes it smooth and dangerously easy to drink.
18% alc. $26.99/$21.99.

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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