Thursday, February 18, 2010

Goldwater Vineyard – Oldest Winery on Waiheke Island, NZ

(Feb. 10, 2010) Next stop was the Goldwater Vineyard, which is the oldest on the island. Both the viticultralist and winemaker met with us and provided a walk through the vineyards and a tasting of 3 different wines. They have 20 acres on 2 meter by 1 meter spacing primarily with cane pruning. They achieve around 2 tons per acre and produce 2400 cases. They are known for their Bordeaux varietals, but also produce chardonnay, which was my favorite. For the 2008 Goldwater Chardonnay, the winemaker told us she uses natural yeast with barrel ferment and sur lies aging. The results are much more like Burgundy than chardonnay from other New World Countries. They are lighter, delicate, with a very high acid, but good concentration.

We also tasted the 2005 Goldwater Merlot and the 2005 Goldwater Goldie, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cab Franc. This latter wine is their flagship wine, and I preferred it to the merlot, but found both wines had an edge of greenness to them, which was not apparent on the Gimblett Gravels reds from Hawkes Bay. The winemaker said they used a similar process for both wines, with a cold soak of 2 to 3 days, innoculate with selected yeast, and ferment in stainless at 25C. They used a gentle sprinkler type system for pumpovers. Fermentation was followed by a 3 week extended maceration in tank protected by gas. She also did ML in tank, and then transferred to 30% new French oak barrels for 18 months aging; bottled unfiltered.

The winery had a small charming tasting room, a tire swing for kids, and a restaurant/conference center. It was a delightful place to visit, with a great view of the ocean, and friendly service. The wines were rather expensive – around $50 for Goldie – but apparently that is the case of most wines from Waikehe Island.

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