Well, we changed our plans. Instead of heading back to Auckland and then on to Hawke’s Bay, we opted to stay in the north and check out the dozen or so properties that make up the Matakana Wine Trail. The northern wine makers have just done too fine a job.
After a long visit to the Kauri Museum in Matakohe, we came back east to the Matakana area, north of Auckland and visited the Ascension Vineyard. Again, they make a very good syrah, and also grow flora. This is a California creation, a cross between Semillon and Gewurztraminer. The wine is, as its name might suggest, very floral in its bouquet and this particular one was off-dry. It reminded me of the Ironstone Symphony; I wonder if they are related. Colleen was quite taken with it, so a bottle will be making the journey with us down to the south island.
Since we had a late start and arrived later in the afternoon, we missed many of the cellar doors, so had to settle for an hour or so in The Vintry, a great little wine bar in the centre of the town of Matakana. The Vintry is located in the same complex as the local movie theatre, and patrons are allowed to take a glass of wine into the movie – how very civilized!!
On the following day, Brick Bay Vineyard was our first destination, and what a spectacular way to start a day! Their tasting area/cafe is constructed entirely of glass and overlooks a beautiful pond, surrounded by a two kilometre walking trail which is dotted with 40 pieces of local sculpture. And the best part was – their wines were as brilliant as the surrounds. I loved their pinot gris.
Our meanderings took us next to the combined tasting room featuring both Runner Duck and Heron’s Flight wines. Heron’s Flight specializes in Italian red varietals, both the Sangiovese and Dolcetto were good, but the Reserva, which is a 50/50 blend of the two grapes was amazing. Probably the best wine I have tasted since arriving. The Runner Duck Cabernet Franc and Syrah were well-made and tasty, but completely overshadowed in this lineup. Colleen made me buy a bottle of the Heron’s Flight because of its distinctive labelling; I consented only because I loved the wine! Maybe, just maybe, this one will make it back to Canada!
Many of the producers in this area are quite small and charging a premium for their wines. However, the wines are very good and they are located close enough to Auckland to tap into the weekend tourist traffic. Overall, Matakana is another great place to visit.