I have a complicated relationship with wine. I probably don’t need to explain why I like it, but the flip-side is more subtle. It’s just that its impossible not to sound like a snotty sophisticate when talking about wine. I feel like every time I open my mouth I’m saying “mmmyes, Alfred, I’ll have the ninety-nine Chateauneuf du-Pape. Post haste!” Why can’t I talk about the way something smells without sounding like an affected debutante? Wine is way too wonderful to have artificial barriers erected around it. Some producers agree with me, and I’ll go out of my way to support them. Goldie Vineyards on Waiheke Island is one of those producers.
Goldie came recommended, and was steps away from our afternoon work at the burger truck. We checked out the website and found they offer tastings for just $5! Giddyup. This was way more our pace than some of the ritzier places on Waiheke.
We coasted down the dirt drive and tossed our bikes against a nearby tree. Hmm, the tasting room was empty. Not just of clientele, but staff too. No problem, we’ll find someone that can help us. We hunted around a bit until we found Heinrich, who greeted us warmly. He was a young man in his early thirties, hair unkempt and wearing a weathered sweatshirt. We felt right at home.
Heinrich, whom we later found out was actually the winemaker at Goldie as well, expertly guided us through four generous tastes of wine, detailed below. More than just a wine tasting though, we got to know him a bit. He and his wife emigrated here and he was interested in our plan, or lack of plan as it were. The conversation veered to and from the wine, and we learned not just about what was in the bottle, but what went into making it.
Chardonnay (2011) – awesome. very smooth, buttery, oaky. High praise from Stina: “There’s no chardonnay I’d rather drink.”
Rosé (2011) – Good. Big strawberry nose. Almost candy-cane on the nose, but not an unpleasantly sweet taste. A totally different rosé.
Syrah (2011) – Delicious. Light bodied, heavy vanilla and smoke nose. Smooth, silky tannins. My favorite.
Cab/Merlot (2010) – Good. Medium/full body. benchmark of the style. Plum and dark berries. Soft and velvety. “Silky.”
Heinrich highlighted the difference in body between the two reds. It turns out 2010 was a very wet year on Waiheke, while 2011 experienced a drought. I prefer lighter reds anyway. I loved the syrah and found the 2010 very good.
The Goldie experience was excellent. We felt welcome and at home. Maybe because it was a weekday in the winter, but it was an uncommonly casual wine tasting experience. Wine shouldn’t always be so stuffy and sophisticated. It’s a beverage, not an investment opportunity. Well, I suppose for some its both. I sincerely hope its not only the latter. But many vineyards strive to achieve a certain caché that drives consumers like me away. I’d rather feel welcomed than part of some exclusive club. Goldie does that perfectly.