Astrolabe Awatere Valley
I have been fascinated by the qualities of the Marlborough sub-regions ever since I arrived as a young winemaker in 1994. I first released my Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc in 2005. As my winemaking style has evolved, I have also moved towards an Awatere-dominant blend for my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Most of Marlborough’s sauvignon blanc is planted in the northerly Wairau Valley, and the distinct sub-regional character of the southerly Awatere valley sauvignon blanc may surprise those who are more familiar with the Wairau fruit profile. The smaller Awatere valley was planted later and is distinguished by its clay soils, cooler, windier and drier climate and later harvest. We generally think of the Wairau as having more thiol-driven tropical passionfruit and ripe citrus flavours, while the Awatere is more focused around herbal, leafy methoxypyrazine flavours.
When I put this wine together, I really try to showcase parcels of fruit that I think are uber-Awatere, expressing the essence of the Awatere region. I always blend from Awatere valley vineyards on the north and south of the river to reflect the different soil fertility and flavour these sites contribute. Even though this wine is all about the Awatere, I am trying to show the Awatere as a whole, rather than just a single vineyard site.
The clay in the soils provides a nice mouth-coating texture. It has all those cedar and tobacco notes we get in the Awatere as well as all those green spectrum flavours we get across the board. This wine is a little more mineral than my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a little more singular, because it’s blended from only two or three sites every year. It doesn’t have the vineyard complexity of our Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but it has a lovely sense of place localised to the Awatere sub-region.
My Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc is dry and has an emphasis on aromatic herbs and fresh, green fruits, with a full and lingering mouthfeel, balanced acidity and a savoury, almost saline finish. The winemaking techniques are identical to my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and the differences entirely come from site selection and blending.
Simon Waghorn — Winemaker
Pale straw with green highlights.
Focused aromas of jalapeño, nettle, lime zest, lemongrass and fresh herbs.
A linear, pure wine with clean flavours of currants, gooseberry and citrus. Finishes savoury, crisp and dry.
Very enjoyable when young and fresh; will age gracefully with careful cellaring.
Green-lipped mussels, goat’s cheese, tabbouleh, fresh herbs and peppery leaves.
SAUVIGNON BLANC SERVING TEMPERATURE
“Fragrant and exacting bouquet, savoury, and fresh. Citrus and white stone fruits, salty air, fresh and dried herbs with a rocky mineral complexity. On the palate - delicious, tense and youthful, a core of fruit with flavours of lemon and grapefruit, white fleshed stone fruits, a savoury dried herb complexity and lengthy salivating salty finish. A delicious and vivacious wine with a core of fruit and varietal power. Best drinking from purchase and through 2025.” JUL 21
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier
“Showing clear sub-regional characteristics, the 2021 vintage (5*) was grown at three sites in the Awatere Valley. Bright, light lemon/green, it is full-bodied and herbaceous, with melon and green capsicum flavours, revealing excellent purity and delicacy, balanced acidity and a long, fully dry finish.” AUG 21
New Zealand Wines: Michael Coopers Buyer’s Guide 2022
“A ripe example of Awatere Valley sauvignon blanc, with underlying cut grass, saline-mineral and tomato leaf flavours. Flavoursome wine with fruity, mouth-watering acidity. A delicious wine. ” DEC 20
Bob Campbell, Master of Wine
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