Everybody knows Astrolabe for their revered Sauvignon Blanc but their Chardonnay is yet more proof they do great things across the board. This 2018 vintage is something quite special and for Simon Waghorn whose early career started with making some of those famed Chardonnays for Corbans and Cooks back in the 80's this is a pinnacle. Astrolabe don't enter wine shows – Word of mouth does the advertising and trust us, this is very, very good. You heard it here first.
Simon Waghorn, Winemaker notes (2018 Vintage)
"Chardonnay is all about texture, in my view, but in my Marlborough Chardonnay, I combine texture with a tight structure. This wine is blended from four different clones from grapes grown at my home vineyard in the lower Wairau Valley, Wrekin Vineyard on the clay hillsides of the Southern Valleys and Windmill Block at Dumgree in the Awatere Valley.
The fruit is all hand-picked and whole cluster pressed to reduce phenolic structure and allow attractive grape solids fermentation characters to come through. I use only the free-run juice, also known as cuvée. That cuvée juice is taken down a very traditional Burgundian path: high-solids fermentation with wild yeast, lees aging in French oak and bâtonnage throughout the maturation period.
The wine develops structure and body as it ages in 500 litre oak puncheons, where it undergoes malolactic fermentation, gathers lees complexity from aging on the lees and takes in flavours from the wood and its toast levels. I enjoy complementing the natural stonefruit and citrus flavours of our chardonnay grapes by building aromatic complexity and texture during winemaking to craft an elegant, dry and mouth-filling wine.
My main drive is to make a beautiful food wine that will age with grace, has length and subtle power and will satisfy those who mainly come to the category of chardonnay with a background in drinking white Burgundies. Chardonnay is a winemaker’s favourite — the best white wine for barrel aging and exploring non-fruit complexity. It allows a lot of room for expression of my personal style."
4 Stars Michael Cooper (2018 Vintage)
"The 2018 vintage was hand-picked at two sites, in the lower Wairau Valley and the Southern Valleys, and fermented and matured for 10 months in French oak barriques and puncheons. Fragrant and mouthfilling, it has excellent depth of ripe, peachy, slightly toasty flavours, showing good complexity, gentle acidity and a creamy-smooth finish. It’s already drinking well."
Reviews for the 2017 vintage below…
92/100 Cameron Douglas MS, August 2019 (2017 Vintage)
"Really lovely bouquet of Chardonnay – calm, even, sophisticated and lively with aromas of grapefruit, lemon and apple, some flower suggestions of white blossom, light white baking spices and new wood (spice). Dry with a nutty creamy texture, packed with flavours that reflect the bouquet, medium+ acidity and weight, warm and generous, lengthy balanced finish. A very nice example with immediate enjoyability and through 2024."
92/100 Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review (2017 Vintage)
"Aromatic, high energy chardonnay with apple, citrus, toasty yeast lees and nutty oak flavours. A fruit-focused chardonnay with a suggestion of salty mineral character."