I’ve always had a tenuous grasp on reality, I trust my imagination more than my senses. Before I started my sommelier training I used to think that they were mutually exclusive. In the past I’d go to wine tastings and wait for the host to tell me what I was experiencing. I was too afraid of getting it wrong to contribute to the conversation. Forest floor? Oyster shells? Wet rock minerality? I’ve been to enough forests, oceans, and rivers to let my imagination fill the gaps for my senses. I’m familiar with the taste of raspberries, mushrooms and plums; and the smell of violets, leather and tobacco smoke. I just never trusted those sensory notes in the wine unless someone told me they were there.
Cellar Belly. Winery staff often succumb to this dreaded malady when they are overly familiar with their own wine to the exclusion of all others. For just over a year I’d been working at Black Estate in Waipara Valley when I realised I was afflicted. Luckily, there is a cure to this condition. Familiarise yourself with as much wine as you can, from as many different places. With this remedy in mind I headed to Waiheke, New Zealand’s island of wine.