The 2008 G-String has a particularly unique bouquet

January 21, 2009

The hospital was my first clue.

“We’re lost,” I say.

Viking Woman stares at me from the driver’s seat.

“Ya think?”

It isn’t supposed to be this difficult. We’re taking Brenda, a friend visiting from Canada, on a tour of Hawke’s Bay wineries and have headed to the same general area — Bridge Pa — where, two months earlier, my sister and I conducted our On Yer Bike Winery Tour. So I should know where we ‘re going. And I thought I did, right up to the part where we drive past the hospital in Hastings, with not a single grape in sight.

The problem, I eventually surmise, is my reliance on the Hawke’s Bay Winery Guide rather than a standard map. The Winery Guide does a really nice job of putting white numbers in blue squares to mark the location of various wineries and vineyards. Where the guide falls down is in the minor details, little things like showing roads connecting when, in reality, they never do intersect.

“It’s the map’s fault,” I say.

Viking Woman: “You’re always blaming your tools.”

Me: “I have a lot of tools.”

Viking Woman: “You are a tool.”

And so it comes as a relief when we stumble across the Triangle Red Tasting Centre. Not because Sis recommends the wine here (the only thing interesting about its Drama Queen rose is the name) but because it allows me to swallow my Planet Man pride and ask where the hell we are.

The Tasting Centre does have a new product from when Sis and I were here in November: a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc with a French name (Flying Mouton) made in New Zealand for an Asian company (Ohsawa Wines). As the song notes, it is indeed a small world.

According to Viking Woman, this vintage needs to age a bit longer. “It’s still got too much of a bite,” she says.

As a non-drinker and soon-to-be designated driver, I sniff at the liquid in her glass and nod knowingly at the bouquet.

We meet Gordon Hall at Alpha Domus. Gordon is working at the cellar door because his regular employment — that of a touring storyteller — has suffered from the country’s overall stagnant economy. We don’t ask for a story, but Gordon tells us one anyway, after determining we are Canadian rather than American.

He does all the voices as he describes the very real nightmare of crossing the border into the U.S., where an ill-timed blink is all it takes to have you bent over a table, cheeks spread, while a burly guard snaps on the latex gloves and calls you Sugar Bitch.

In stark contrast, Gordon tells how crossing into Canada was like being greeted by a neighbour at the back fence — he was practically invited home for a meal.

It is a good story and we are feeling so proud of our home country and all it stands for that we promptly buy three bottles of wine. Call me a cynic, but I can’t help wondering if that border crossing story changes depending on the nationality of Gordon’s customers.

It’s at this point Viking Woman hands me the keys. “I’m feeling a bit fuzzy around the edges,” she says.

That much was evident two stops later at Ngatarawa. (Maoris are going to wince at this, but visitors here are told that the “g” is silent. Viking Woman and I have enough experience with the language to know that isn’t case. The “ng” is pronounced, just as it is in English with a words like “song.”)

Neither Viking Woman nor Brenda are pronouncing anything correctly — in any language — by this time, having swallowed every sample to date. Frank, the fellow behind the counter, seems to enjoy their giddy banter. He eagerly poses for photos and later, when Brenda waves off a sample, saying she is finished, he continues to pour while informing her, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

What Frank has doled out is a Gewurztraminer but, because customers tend not to order this wine lest they stumble over their tongues, Frank winks and tells us to refer to it as G-String.

When I ask Brenda to describe the G-String’s bouquet, she leans in close and whispers, “Fishy.”

OK, then. I’ll just be biting back my laughter over here. Oh, look, something to photograph.

I wander back to Frank and the ladies a few minutes later, just in time to hear some wine’s bouquet being compared to “dirty old man’s socks.” Later still, I glance over to find Frank has invited Viking Woman behind the counter where they are both staring at the computer screen that doubles as the display for the cash register.

It’s just about this time Frank’s co-worker marches over, uses her best stage-whisper voice and informs him there are other customers to be served. We buy a bottle of wine, if only to save Frank’s job. At least I hope he still has a job.

We finish our tour at Trinity Hill where John, one of the trinity of owners, is also charmed by the ladies. So much so he digs around and produces an opened bottle of 2004 Homage Syrah, a red which sells for $120 a pop.

John explains the three-pronged assault good wine has on your senses — the initial burst in your sinus cavity, followed quickly by a full-bodied sensation on your palate, and rounded off by a long finish.

When I ask Viking Woman if there really is a difference between a $120 bottle and a $20 bottle, she nods enthusiastically.

Too bad we don’t have $120. And we don’t need it today because, when John is momentarily distracted, we make a hasty exit and head home. This time, I let someone else read the map.

Oh, and just for the record, it’s pronounced Gah-vertz-tra-me-nur. Somehow, I still prefer G-String.

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One Response to “The 2008 G-String has a particularly unique bouquet”

  1. Megan said

    Great story. I feel your embarrassment.

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