Astrolabe wines – Marlborough style

May 19, 2021

PHIL PARKER looks at (well, to be honest, guzzles down) a selection of wine’s from Marlborough’s Astrolabe family winery.


Maybe like me, you’ve seen the Astrolabe brand in the past. Their labels are exquisitely designed and convey a sense of elegance and quality. Shout out to the marketing team! (Well done. Ask for a wage rise).


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Now, my first question is: what does Astrolabe mean?  I tended to imagine an orbiting international space laboratory. Well, here you go for the official version:

“An astrolabe is an ancient astronomical instrument that was used to make a diverse range of calculations. Its name translates as ‘star-taker’. A mariner’s astrolabe, modified for use upon a ship, was used by early navigators to determine latitude by measuring the altitude of a celestial object. French explorer Dumont d’Urville charted the Marlborough coast in 1827 aboard a ship named L’Astrolabe. When career winemaker Simon Waghorn wanted to start his own label in 1996, he chose the name Astrolabe because of the historic ties with Marlborough, and he liked the connotations of exploration and discovery.”

Astrolabe Kekerengu Coast Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 $29.99
Grown south of Kaikoura near Clarence on the east coast of Marlborough. Suitably mineral and with a whiff of salty air. Intense burst of freshly squeezed black currant on the palate, with a bone-dry crisp finish. Goes with seafood or creamy pasta with salty cheese.

Astrolabe Taihoa Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017 $36.99
Softer than the Kekerengu Coast but grown on the same property. More gooseberry and grapefruit, with a hint of creaminess from barrel fermentation and less stirring (yeast residue). A lovely wine by itself as an aperitif style. Lots going on to entertain the palate.

Astrolabe Wrekin Marlborough Chenin Blanc 2018 $31.99
A classical take on chenin blanc, very much in the style of the Loire Valley French chenin wines. At 14% alcohol, it’s an elegant and restrained style, with granny smith apple, clover honey, green capsicum and a dry tangy finish.

Astrolabe Marlborough Chardonnay 2018 $31.99
Pale gold, with a funky nose. Flavours of nectarine, peach and toasted hazelnut. Flinty and funky with heaps of complexity and a lengthy finish. Match with your best take on Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

Astrolabe Sleepers Vineyard Marlborough Albariño 2018 $29.99
Flinty, mineral and bone dry. Subtle hints of apricot with a hint of salty Kekerengu Coast soils. Would appeal to those who love a crisp ‘wake up’ style sauvignon blanc. A great match for oysters.  

Astrolabe Wrekin Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2019 $64.99
From a hot vintage, this pinot is big and bold, with assertive tannins and a dry savoury palate of black tea, cigar smoke and dark chocolate. Would reward cellaring for five years at least. Match with rare eye fillet, slow-cooked lamb shanks or a rich ratatouille.

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland


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Originally a physiotherapist, Phil's fascination with the fermented grape juice led to the launch of his wine tour company Auckland Fine Wine & Food Tours at the turn of the century. A seasoned and well-respected wine writer, Phil's oenophilia led to the publication of his wine region guide to New Zealand, The Mad Keen Wine Buff's Road Trip (Random House).

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