A few weeks ago a courier delivered a box of six wines. (I was going to say there was nothing special about that but I'd be lying because it's always rather exciting when parcels arrive, especially parcels of wine).
The box had "Goldie" stamped on the side in swirling 70s disco lettering and it all looked very groovy and stylish, no doubt because the wines had been produced and marketed by a team of bright young things at Auckland University.
Although the "Goldie" brand may be fresh-faced, the wine boasts a prestigious pedigree.
They are the first wines released since Waiheke Island winemaker Kim Goldwater and his wife Jeanette signed his vineyard and winery operation over to Auckland University to establish a new centre for its wine science programme.
In an article in last year's spring edition of Ingenio, Auckland University's alumni magazine, during the handover ceremony Kim told the crowd, "The University of Auckland is on the cusp of creating one of the greatest schools of wine teaching in the world.
"All you have to do is support your company by buying Goldie wines and, in doing so, you'll ensure future students have a working winery to study in."
Goldwater Wines have been a feature of the New Zealand winescape since 1978 when Kim and Jeanette bought a gently sloping seaside property in Waiheke Island's Putiki Bay. Planting their first .8ha block, they then harvested their first cabernet sauvignon (a whole two barrels worth) in 1982.
Past lives as an engineer and photographer gave way to becoming self-taught, multi-award-winning winemakers who, over the next two decades, expanded their vineyard holdings to Marlborough and Hawke's Bay before selling the "Goldwater" brand to an American wine investor in 2009.
One thing they didn't sell was the original Waiheke vineyard, which sits on 13.9ha of land including winery buildings, a cafe and a function room, all now in the hands of Auckland University, with whom the Goldwater family has strong ties. Kim's daughter Gretchen and her husband, Ken Christie, set that original vineyard up as a new, small wine company called "Goldie".
Since the handover, an established team produces the premium "Goldie" and "Island" brands alongside student interns working on-site. The students also produce their own wines under the university's Ingenio brand. The students will work in all aspects of a boutique wine business, from the vineyard and winery through to interacting with the public in the cellar-door tasting room.
"The students are constantly rubbing shoulders with our Goldie Wines team and, as a result, get a wonderful understanding of, and realistic insight into life in a winery, while Goldie's team also has access to new leading academic thinking," says Goldie Wines' general manager Ken Christie.
So how have the wines been received? "The reception in the trade has been great," says Ken. "People appreciate the point of difference, plus the vineyard has a well-known history and there's a continuity of style with the original Goldwater wines produced by the family, so we have a good starting point."
You can buy the wines from the cellar door, from www.goldiewines.co.nz or www.aucklandcampusstore.com. Auckland alumni can also get discounts of 20 per cent or more when ordering online.
GOLDIE CABERNET FRANC MERLOT 2010, $50
An intensely perfumed blend of 50 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 40 per cent merlot and 10 per cent cabernet franc that has "put away in the cellar" written all over it. Right now, dark cocoa, Christmas pudding spices, dried herbs and smoky flavours merge with solid, chewy tannins to create a long and earthy finish. www.goldiewines.co.nz
CHARD FARM MATA-AU CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR 2010, $45
An intensely fruity pinot that oozes cherry, berry, tea leaf and rhubarb flavours. I love the lushness and crisp acidity all wrapped up in earthy spices. It's a very tasty, tangy, taut example from an expert producer. Another year or three in the cellar and it'll be out of this world. www.chardfarm.co.nz
MILLS REEF HAWKE'S BAY CHARDONNAY 2010, $18
Beautifully golden in the glass and showing creamy, custard-square characters of lemon, coconut and buttery pastry. In the mid-palate there's a burst of peachy sweetness and it finishes with a nice, nougat-like note. Yum. www.millsreef.co.nz
WILD RIVER MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, $14
There's a real mix of both citrus and tangy tropical flavours in this snappy sauvignon.
Expect passionfruit, feijoa and all sorts of herbal goodness. www.finewine delivery.co.nz
FORREST 'THE DOCTORS' MARLBOROUGH GRUNER VELTLINER 2011, $25
Pronounced groo-ner velt-leener, this Kiwi version of the Austrian classic has springtime written all over it.
I love the aromas of summer flowers, green nectarine and hints of white pepper on the nose, while in the mouth it has sleek, silky generosity of flavour, clean, bracing acidity, extended minerality and all-round goodness, especially at a mere 11.5 per cent alcohol.