Astrolabe wines are out of this world

February 9, 2022
2 mins read

Witchdoctor’s wine guru PHIL PARKER has a sneaky taste of some wines from Marlborough’s Astrolabe family winery.

Maybe like me, you have 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).

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 from their website:

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.”


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Astrolabe Discovery Kekerengu? Coast Marlborough Pinot Gris 2021 $30
Grown on a low river terrace of free-draining limestone loam above the Kekerengu River. Elegant and just nudging dry on the palate, this wine has spiced Nashi pear, apple and a hint of quinine with soft acids and a clean, crisp finish. Great with seafood.

Astrolabe Grovetown Marlborough Spätlese Riesling 2020 $30
Medium sweet and could pass for a quality German riesling. Flavours of lemon sherbet, beeswax, and clear apple juice, with a hint of toffee apple. Crisp clean finish. 9% alcohol. Great with Thai or Malaysian food.
Available: and possibly New World.

Astrolabe Marlborough Chardonnay 2019 $24
Mouth-filling and rich with lovely balanced flavours. Toasty buttery oak and hazelnut with canned peach, stone fruit, grapefruit and mandarin citrus. Good food match for a rich and creamy chicken, seafood or pasta dish.

Astrolabe Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018 $27
A classical Burgundian take on the pinot noir variety. Light-bodied yet packed with flavour and nuance, from funky, earthy and savoury through to cherry and red berry fruits. Soft tannins and low acids make for a very approachable wine, drinking perfectly right now. Food match: pasta with truffle and mushroom sauce.
Available: Caro’s,

Astrolabe Comelybank Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2020 $50
As a youngster, it’s a little bit edgy and showing more tannin compared to the 2018 model. But very savoury and lean with flavours of soy, spice and earthiness. Definitely one to put away for a year or two. Shows good cherry and dark fruit with a dry finish. Match with rare eye fillet, slow-cooked lamb shanks or a rich ratatouille.

Available: Caro’s, 

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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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