Print & Press
Skin Contact Pinot Gris
There is a lot of confusion about the terms natural wine or orange wine, both of which could be used to describe a wine like this. As winemakers, we feel more comfortable talking about what this individual wine is, rather than thinking about where it fits into a category. It was important to us that this wine expressed terroir and retained strong varietal character, not allowing the fruit to be overshadowed by winemaking technique.
Firstly, we should be clear that we have used a crown seal cap even though this wine is not sparkling or pétillant natural. This is to leave minimal metal on the bottle for better recycling. The style of the wine is driven by skin contact. The grape is pinot gris, which has golden-purple skins that have lent a beautiful shade of orange to this wine. Hand-picked fruit from Marlborough's Awatere valley, 30% left as whole bunches and 70% destemmed, was fermented with wild yeast on skins for 18 days. The wine was pressed off its skins and transferred to an old barrel, where it underwent malolactic fermentation and matured until spring. We made a minimal addition of sulphur before bottling unfiltered and unfined.
The Astrolabe Marlborough Pinot Gris is all about purity, longevity and as little skin contact character as possible, with all the flavour coming from the juice and pulp, giving a delicate, mineral wine with minimal phenolic extraction. For the Print & Press Skin Contact Pinot Gris, the winemaking challenge was in maintaining varietal character and avoiding harsh phenolics while still achieving the desired structure and body. We have pushed towards an increasingly textural rosé with a high solids ferment, and it may be better to think of this as a robust wine similar in style to a textural rosé.
Labels are individually hand printed, woodblock prints carved from Japanese cherry wood and printed on Italian art paper. The labels are applied as a sleeve and sealed with beeswax so they can be removed from the bottle for reuse and recycling. There are three different designs, which are printed in different colours, so a case of 12 will have an assortment of colours and designs, with up to 12 variations. 600 bottles made.
Simon Waghorn and Arabella Waghorn