Marlborough is a great area for all those aromatic cool climate wines that we know around the world, like chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and riesling, but in our cool climate, the only red that flourishes reliably every year is pinot noir, which is lucky for me as a winemaker, because it’s the best of them all. If you only had one red wine to be able to make, pinot noir would be the one you’d normally choose as a winemaker.
The powerful fruit expression is the most recognisable feature of a Marlborough pinot noir. Characteristics of red and black cherry dominate the flavour profile. The Astrolabe Marlborough Pinot Noir is made from a variety of pinot noir clones from vines grown across the wider Marlborough wine region: from the Waihopai and Brancott Valleys in the Wairau's Southern Valleys pinot noir region, further south to the blustery Awatere valley and right down to our most coastal vines, on Marlborough's southern Kēkerengū Coast.
The clay soils in the Southern Valleys give us nice fruit weight and density, but we also have a lovely floral aroma profile and mineral structure coming from the fruit from the limestone rich Kēkerengū Coast. The pinot noir grapes are wild fermented in traditional open top vats, with some inclusion of whole bunches, with the aim of increasing structure and complexity in the wine and complementing the natural, pure fruit flavours. I love the nuances we get from wild yeast and hot, fast fermentations.
Maturation occurs in well-seasoned tight-grain French oak barrels, where the wine accumulates texture and interest from the flavours of the oak, char on the barrels and aging on yeast lees. I choose well-seasoned barriques to reduce residual resinous or sappy oak flavour and impart more gentle, harmonious flavours that match the delicacy of the pinot noir. Tannin structure develops over the maturation period as the wine slowly unfurls by virtue of the gentle oxidation through the pores of the wood, and the tight grain slows down this process.
I want to have a complex wine that isn’t just about the beautiful fruit but has added depth through textures and winemaking complexities that give it a bit more intrigue but still leave the wine as a perfect food accompaniment. I seek to maintain svelte plushness and good length in my pinot noir and a natural vibrancy of fruit. I am looking for a brighter and more lively style of pinot noir built around a core of red cherry flavours. It is all about life in the fruit, good acidity and plush drinkability.
When I think about pinot noir and what I want to do with it here in Marlborough, of course, I want all the lovely Marlborough fruit, which comes naturally with our climate, but I also want to fashion a wine that’s svelte and supple and gives people an alternative to the big reds that dominate the world. Pinot noir occupies a special place. It’s a food-friendly red. It’s a red that has vibrancy and life in it. That’s what I’m focusing on — making sure that we don’t lose that sense of vitality from the fruit in the wine and style it in a way that it is long, plush, enjoyable and full without being heavy and muscular.
Simon Waghorn — Winemaker
Bright deep garnet
Ripe dark and red cherry, brambly fruits, spice and leather, with a hint of smoky oak.
A full-bodied wine with round, mouth-filling flavours of plum, brambly fruit, dark cherry and a hint of savoury herbs. The oak integrates nicely with the fruit and the silky and linear tannin structure.
Will reward careful cellaring over several years through the development of bottle age complexities and is already drinking well.
Venison, duck, game, roasted beetroot, rare and tender lamb, and earthy wild mushrooms.
PINOT NOIR SERVING TEMPERATURE
Cool room temperature.
“An attractive, fruity, floral and varietal bouquet with aromas of ripe red berry fruits, red plum and currant wrapped up in a shroud of toasty wood spices. Youthful, tense, fruity and dry on the palate. Dark cherry and baking spices, plum and toasty wood, tart strawberry and stony minerality. Well made, but very youthful and tense with firm tannins and plenty of acidity. Ready now with food, best from 2022 through 2026+.” OCT 20
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier
“A savory and elegant Pinot Noir that fills the mouth with cool, elegant fruit. Hailing predominantly from the richer soils of the region’s Southern Valleys, this midweight example has some additional substance, and the tannins envelop the mouth with a finegrained texture. The finish bursts with freshness and is redolent of damson, raspberries, woodsmoke and spice.” FEB 21
Rebecca Gibb, Master of Wine
4 ½ STARS
“The 2017 vintage was grown in the Southern Valleys (85 per cent) and at Kekerengu (15 per cent), hand-picked, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured for 10 months in French oak barriques. Bright ruby, it is a powerful, full-bodied red, with strong, plummy,
spicy flavours, an earthy streak, good complexity and a fairly firm finish. Best drinking 2021+”
New Zealand Wines: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide 2020
Sustainably certified SWNZ