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Goldie Wines – Staying Faithful to Waiheke

By May 11, 2012No Comments

I’m sure a collective sigh of relief issued from the mouths of Waiheke Island wine lovers when Goldie Wines was resurrected from the ashes of Goldwater Estate. Kim and Jeannette Goldwater pioneered wine on Waiheke Island with the release of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1982 vintage. That wine and the subsequent releases inspired many to plant grapes and make wine with the result that Waiheke Island is renowned for world-class Bordeaux-styled reds. The Chardonnays, Syrahs and Viogniers are about to join the club with the number of outstanding wines made growing with every vintage. As a brand Goldwater Estate went through rapid growth and soon, Marlborough wines came under the banner and leading sales. So successful were these that Goldwater merged with Vavasour in 2006 as part of the New Zealand Wine Fund, and this in turn became part of Bill Foley’s wine empire in 2009.

The Waiheke Island fruit from 2008 and 2009 was not utilised under the Goldwater label, but made into wine some of which was picked up by the Fine Wine Delivery Co. (Click here for my review of the wine.) It seemed as if the Goldwater link to Waiheke was destined to be lost. However, while the Goldwater operation and brand were sold, the Goldwater family retained ownership of the original Waiheke Island vineyard in Putiki Bay off Causeway Road. Goldie Wines was established in 2010 by Ken Christie and his wife Gretchen Goldwater, daughter of Kim and Jeannette, based on the family vineyard, with wines being made that year. (Click here to see my reviews of the latest wines.) Then last year, in 2011 came the news that the Goldie Vineyard and Goldie Wines was handed over by the Goldwater family to the University of Auckland so it could operate as a commercial concern to further wine research and education as a Wine Science Centre. Under this new structure, the Goldwater commitment, tradition and dream of making fine Waiheke Island wine has been revitalised and now encompasses a role that will enhance the New Zealand wine industry as a whole. Kim and Jeanette Goldwater and their family must be very satisfied with this outcome.
 
Goldie Wines Today
In its new guise, Goldie Vineyard remains a destination for Waiheke Island wine lovers. It has 14 ha of vineyard land, 5 ha of vines planted out of the 7 ha that forms the ‘home block’, with 2 ha out of 5 ha in vine in a site across the road. The vines at the ‘home block’ lie on slopes that surround the cellar door, function venue and winery facilities, with the iconic pohutakawa standing proud on the highest point overlooking the estate. The original vines have gradually been replaced with newer and better clones, and the oldest plants date from 1990. Included as estate fruit are 2 ha of vines from a 5 ha block just over the road. Ken Christie remains as general manager, his involvement with the vineyard nearing 20 years. Nicki Wellington is the vineyard supervisor and winemaker Heinrich Storm in his role since 2008. Heinrich and his wife Leslie operate the Tasting Room and Goldie Room hospitality facilities. Obsidian winemaker Michael Wood consults at Goldie, so one can see there is plenty of expertise and experience here.
It’s been an exciting year already at Goldie, seeing the first intake of students under the Wine Science programme, 12 students in a post-graduate course, four studying at Masters level and a PhD student. There is a designated area of the winery for the students’ wines to mature in barrel, and it is no surprise that pride of place goes to the new laboratory in which the students work. The laboratory also operates providing technical analyses for the other Waiheke Island wineries, so wine samples are now processed far more quickly than sending them to the mainland. The new Goldie winery is spacious and bright, being built around 10 years ago, and it has plenty of room to handle a projected 50-60 tonne maximum. The reduced yields in 2012 saw an intake of around 30 tonnes of fruit, all of it from the estate vines plus a little from the ‘Fossil Bay’ site which has historical connections with the Goldwaters, and the University has continued with.
 
Tasting a Selection of 2012 Wines
Ken, Heinrich and Michael Wood (who makes his Obsidian whites here) took us through a selection of barrel samples and freshly fermented red wines from the 2012 vintage. Firstly a Viognier from second crop vines, tightly bound but very expressive in aromatic character. Then three Chardonnay samples, a barrel of clone 95 showing richness and power with excellent acid drive, a barrel with a blend of clones 15 and 6 far more soft and round in texture, full of citrus and tropical fruit flavours, then another barrel of clones 15 and 6 sweet and lush, but with real acid zing. The reds were just as interesting, a ‘Kindy’ block Syrah, bright and lively fruited and very fine textured, featuring spices and bacon-like flavours – the wine not yet seeing any oak. A just-pressed ‘Cliff’ block Cabernet Franc already showing raspberry and redcurrant flavours and not overly acidic. And a very attractive Merlot 330 clone, exhibiting purity and fine sweetness, and refined mouthfeel. As winemakers, Heinrich and Michael were particularly delighted with the 2012 fruit and the look and feel of these wines at this stage of the proceedings.

Goldie Wines will no doubt continue to reward those who have faithfully followed the Waiheke Island wine dream. www.goldiewines.co.nz

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