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Wine of the Week for weeks ending 13 & 20 March 2005
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Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc 2000
Auckland, New Zealand

"I stand here naked before you. My life is on the table," said Kim Goldwater, proprietor and founder of Goldwater Estate on Waiheke Island, the island of wine in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

Fortunately Kim was only figuratively naked at this unique occasion on the 1st March 2005 to mark the 20th anniversary release of his Bordeaux-styled wine, made in the first years from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon then later with Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the blend.

It was a grand tasting, a tasting of 23 wines, one from every vintage since Kim's first release from the 1982 vintage. In two of the years more than one blend was made and in two of the years the wine was declassified - but they were still put on the table before us. Twenty-three wines from 1982 right up to the brand new anniversary release from the 2002 vintage.

But it was not only the grandest of vertical tastings, it was also the unveiling of the new label.

"It has taken 20 years to find this name and there were many contenders, all of which were appropriate in some way or other," said Kim. "It is like choosing a name for a child. You have many options on the table but you wait and see what they are like, then you give them the name."

Kim says the name reflects him. Passionate, some might say stupid, definitely obstinate, as well as cantankerous, but if it wasn't for these traits, Waiheke Island's wine industry may never have developed to the extent it has now.

And so the wine was unveiled, Jeanette lifting the drapes covering the imperials and the dwarf-like 750ml bottles beside them, and dropping it with a flourish.

The name of the new wine was "Goldie".

Then we embarked on a journey that had never been done before, we tasted the wines, starting at the 2002 vintage and working back in time.

I like the "Goldie" very much, giving it equal highest ranking, but it is an extremely youthful wine and after the tasting and lunch I sat with this wine and compared it another favourite.

Goldwater "Goldie" Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc 2002 is tight and bound up, linear, Bordeaux-like. It needs to work with the mouth to yield and loosens its straps to reveal its rich, vinous deliciousness. We have to remember that wine is not to be quaffed, but to be savoured in good company. So this was the wine that accompanied lunch . It worked a treat with the steak and later the creamy cheeses.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc 2000 is a deep garnet colour with a blackish depth to the centre and a red cherry colour on the rims. I poured two samples side by side in designer Bordeaux-style glasses. One had been opened for the tasting and had a couple of centimetres of wine left in the bottle. The other was opened in case it was needed, but only had a couple of centimetres out of the bottle. With its initial leathery palate it needs to open up in the glass - or bottle - to show its rich, concentrated delicious amalgam of deliciousness. Red fruits, cedary oak and silky tannins with hints of liquorice, spice and rose hips build on the palate to a beautifully balanced finish while the aftertaste has a berry fruit lusciousness with a liquorice intensity and hints of cigar.

This therefore, has to be the Wine of the Week. And it is still available too. Glengarry Hancocks is the distributor in New Zealand while overseas wine collectors can find their source from the Goldwater Estate website. It clocks in around NZ$70 a bottle.

Notes on all the wines follow -

Goldwater Estate - 1982 to 2002

These notes were taken at the formal tasting. Wines were poured into XL5 tasting glasses and two designer Bordeaux-style glasses were also supplied. I tasted the wines first from youngest to oldest in the small glasses, then tasted them again, oldest to youngest in the big glasses.

The wines from 2002 to 1991 show incredible colour, deep with good red hues, some more than I would have expected for their age.

Goldwater Waiheke Island "Goldie" Cabernet/Merlot/Franc 2002
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc.
A deep red-black garnet hue of intense depth with a strongly varietal cassis and leather aroma. Youthful and firm in the mouth with velvety tannins and lovely fruit that has a strong influence of blackcurrant-like Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolatey Merlot lifted by the charming fragrance of the Cabernet Franc.
Ripe and full-bodied with spicy oak and a long, clean finish. 13% alc. 17 months in predominantly French oak.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Wood's Hill Cabernet/Merlot 2001
61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc.
A 'second' label in this declassified year with no 'first' label being produced. You can understand why when you taste the more tobacco like flavours and not so generous fruit but that said, it has quite a plumy merlot influence and nice vinosity carries the finish with though the tannins are rather firm as it lingers. 13% alc.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2000
69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc.
Good intensity of crimson red/black colour. Slightly chocolatey aromas over leather and berries, it seems the Merlot influences the nose. A lovely rich mouthfilling wine with a generous flavour of sweet fruit and vanillin oak with a creamy texture and a long finish with leather and cigar on the silky aftertaste. Delicious. 13% alc. 17 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc.
Start to show a little development to the nose and to the dense garnet red colour with slightly fading rims. The Cabernet Sauvignon seems more dominant in this wine with sweet currant fruit, quite firm tannins, sweet leather and currants again on the long elegant finish.
There was discussion about this wine in which I picked up low level Brettanomyces rather than cork taint. A second bottle was opened and to me was very similar with the sweet ripe fruit to the fore. Overall this is what I would call Bordeaux-like. 13% alc. 15 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 1998
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.
Still good colour, more than the 99, mellow cedar aromas and cedar dominated flavours, though the oak is beautifully integrated. Big tannins, ripe blackcurrant and plum fruit that is entering its secondary phase, and a good dollop of tar and tobacco on the finish. Better in big glass, where a juicy richness comes forth. It just needs to open up. 13.3% alc. 15 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1997
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc.
Really good dense colour, with fading rims. Ripe curranty aromas, quite earthy leathery flavours, firm tannins, savoury finish, long and lingering with currants and sweet leather on the aftertaste. Still a long way to go. I'd like to see the tannins soften. 13.1% alc. 15 months in French oak, 50% new.

The following three wines, 1996, 1995 and 1994 all have fantastic succulent fruit.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1996
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc.
There's perhaps a hint of portiness to the ripe liquorice, dominated fruit aromas while in the mouth the integration is perfection. Ripe juicy tannins, some primary aspects still to the fruit and a velvety texture with chocolatey oak, berries, cream and a savoury deliciousness to the finish. Drinking beautifully now but definitely still evolving. 13% alc. 17 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1995
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc.
A little more developed in hue after the 1996 though in the mouth the fruit is primary and the tannins are huge. It charms with its lovely expression of red fruits and chocolatey oak and the finish is great with a long, sweet fruit and mellow oak aftertaste. The only detraction is the slight dryness of the massive tannins.
13% alc. 16 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1994
48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc.
Mix dense rich tannins with succulent sweet fruit. Incredible colour for it's age, red black with a liveliness to the rims. Intensely concentrated cedary nose, hints of rose petal, unfortunately the taste is marginally tainted. A second bottle showed lovely ripe concentrated fruit, lovely fine tannin structure, a leathery note, rose petal and cedar, lots of fragrance, simply a stunning wine with a long elegant finish and a succulent aftertaste. Beautiful now but could easily live 10 years more. 13.6% alc. 17 months in French oak, 50% new.

Goldwater Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1993
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.
Good colour with still hints of purple on the rim. Quite a savoury leathery, sheep poo aroma and a good intensity of currant fruit that sweetens up nicely on the aftertaste and the finish is long and satisfying. There seems to be a lot of cedary oak in the wine and a sense of dry grainy tannins mid palate redeemed nicely by the chocolatey richness. 13.3% alc. 17 months in new French oak.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1992
Most developed so far. Quite savoury with a fine texture but has a slightly oxidized raisiny note to the finish with sweet fruit. The cab is showing it's ripeness and there's cigar-like oak. Nice integration and a good finish. Later, tasted from a big glass, it showed sweet fruit/tobacco nose and no oxidation.
Due to the cooling effects of the Mt Pinotubo eruption on the climate, the grapes were left hanging until the last day of April, which still remains the latest Waiheke Island picking date for Goldwater Estate. (Alcohol and oak regime not available).

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1991
Quite smokey, savoury, a little minty. Tannins are starting to dry out a little. Has a definite herbal character to the wine - dried herbs - first wine to show this trait. Hard on the finish and a little grainy. I should have tried some from a second bottle as the winemaker notes are more positive. 13% alc.

After reading the production notes, I wondered perhaps if I had mixed up the 1991 and the 1992. 1992 was described as a cool herbaceous year while 1991 was described as producing fully ripened fruit after an excellent summer.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Merlot Cabernet Franc 1990
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.
Quite deep fruit, lovely structure and depth. Very approachable with a fine texture and almost a little liquer-ish in its flow. But wait, lovely plumy fruit and good vinosity, some primary red fruits still - heading towards the cherry/strawberry spectrum. Good tannins, still going strong and will continue to do so. Hints of liquorice coming through on the finish with savoury oak. Lovely wine. This was an experimental wine and the forerunner to the Goldwater Esslin Merlot. Easy to see why this has become the estate's flagship style.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Franc 1990
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.
The thicker/brutier structure of cabernet comes through on this grainy bigger textured wine. Once again lots going on, quite luscious but remember the cedary oak and savoury notes on front of palate. Fantastic finish. Let it linger and enjoy! 13.5% alc.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Franc 1989
Quite developed colour, browning orange. Nutty liquerish nose, fading but the vinous traits come through to linger on the finish.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Franc 1988
Quite curranty and raisiny, not showing well in the tasting. This was the year of Cyclone Bola and the fruit was picked two weeks later than normal after drying out from the rains.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Franc 1987
Rich intense, a great step up (several flights) from the disappointing 1989 and 1988. Lovely fruit, beautifully integrated oak and tannins, the 'old rose' thing, a touch of liquorice on the finish indicating concentration. Beautiful texture, flavour and structure. Outstanding. This is an amazing wine. Possibly my wine of the tasting! 13.5% alc.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Nob Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1986
Declassified, and showing it in the class. Past it. Rustic. From a wet year.

The following wines are all exhibit a quite developed tawny colour but like the others, they all have intensity and depth of hue.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Franc 1985
Quite savoury, musty, old wine bottle character. Quite grainy, but it redeems itself on the finish and opens up in the glass. Bottle influence! The first ever crop of Merlot and Cabernet Franc makes this the first blended wine.

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon 1985
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Clean, straight forward, focused. No mustiness as such. Quite meaty in a way with underlying sweet fruit and tobacco with good tannins keep the structure nicely intact. 4

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon 1984
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Savoury and cedary with reasonable tannins for its age, a chocolatey nuance, an underlying richness and a sweet fruit finish. Very good. A big surprise!

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon 1983
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This is old New Zealand wine at its best with still lovely sweet fruit, a hint of mintiness and a hint of liquorice. Deep and sultry with good tannin structure - more than in the 1984 - and a sweet cedary oak finish. 5

Goldwater Estate Waiheke Island Cabernet Sauvignon 1982
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This was the very first vintage of vinifera wine from Waiheke Island and the first red wine made by Kim Goldwater. Twenty three years later it shows a developed tawny colour and a thin textured beef tea, weedy flavour. But for historical reasons it is a wine of special interest and when tasted on its own, rather than as part of a vertical, it has a definite intrigue.

Outstanding wines of the tasting: 2002, 2000, 1996, 1994, 1990 (Merlot dominant), 1987 and 1983.
Most surprising wines of the tasting: 1987 and 1983.
Kim Goldwater has proved without doubt than he can get Cabernet Sauvignon ripe on Waiheke Island, almost every year.

© Sue Courtney
6 March 2005


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