Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
An astrolabe is an ancient astronomical calculator with a name that translates as ‘star taker’. In
1996, when respected career winemaker Simon Waghorn started his own label, reaching for the
stars seemed appropriate, and he chose the name Astrolabe. Working in a profession at the conflux
of art and science, there is a certain affinity with the artisans who painstakingly crafted these often
ornate instruments. Simon has since established a benchmark style of Marlborough sauvignon blanc
and has been described by New Zealand’s leading Master of Wine, Bob Campbell, as a ‘Sauvignon
After the international success of his Sauvignon Blanc established Astrolabe’s reputation, Simon gave
up his other winemaking commitments to focus on Astrolabe, which has now become a family
winery. Simon often refers to Marlborough as a winemaker’s paradise for of its ability to produce
world class aromatic white wine and Pinot Noir. Simon has long been an advocate for the recognition
of sub-regional diversity within Marlborough. His convictions are reflected in the wines he makes: a
diverse range of varieties from small plantings around Marlborough with different expressions of
terroir. Simon sources fruit from across the whole Marlborough growing region, pushing as far as the
southern coast, where limestone soils can be found.
Astrolabe is a winemaker brand, and Simon Waghorn makes the wines to suit his personal palate.
Simons crafts his Astrolabe wines with precision and harmony, capturing Marlborough’s intense fruit
and leaving the connoisseur to discover the measured layering of flavors and different dimensions
as they savor each glass.
An icon and leading region of New Zealand's distinctive style of Sauvignon blanc, Marlborough has a unique terroir, making it ideal for high quality grape production (of many varieties). Despite some common generalizations, which could be fairly justified given that Marlborough is responsible for 90% of New Zealand's Sauvignon blanc production, the wines from this region are actually anything but homogenous. At the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, the vineyards of Marlborough benefit from well-draining, stony soils, a dry, sunny climate and wide temperature fluctuations between day and night, a phenomenon that supports a perfect balance between berry ripeness and acidity.
The region’s king variety, Sauvignon blanc, is beloved for its pungent, aromatic character with notes of exotic tropical fruit, freshly cut grass and green bell pepper along with a refreshing streak of stony minerality. These wines are made in a wide range of styles, and winemakers take advantage of various clones, vineyard sites, fermentation styles, lees-stirring and aging regimens to differentiate their bottlings, one from one another.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”