Astrolabe Voyage Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008: Medium ruby color; cherry, dried lavender-herbs on the nose; cherry, plum, raspberry on the palate; medium body, medium tannin, supple in the mouth, nicely delicious and politely approachable.
Astrolabe Winery is the effort of Simon Waghorn and wife Jane Forrest-Waghorn, their family, and a heart-warming, close-knit group of loyal associates. The Astrolabe story is emblematic of why Marlborough wines have stormed the world stage, first with dramatically cutting, distinctive, and superb sauvignon blancs, and now with extraordinarily great value pinot noir. You must give the New Zealanders credit: their country is not on the route to anywhere—people only go there because they want to do so. Clever, far-thinking entrepreneur-farmer-wine makers perceived that this far away land could become a world-class wine region. And they made it so. The Waghorns are a chapter in the story, and their wines are worth navigating through the rocks and shoals of arcane distribution to discover. The winery’s name is a reference to the navigational instrument and to the name of the ship of French explorer Dumont d’Urville’s, the first to explore the Marlborough coast in 1827. Ancient star-fixing technology, French explorer, English-colonial institutions, super wines at superb price points. The wine world hardly gets better than this. $26-27
Second photo: Simon Waghorn