A highly regarded winery, Astrolabe Wines produce some of the best tasting wines in the Marlborough region. Founded in 1996, the winery prides itself as putting family first above everything. Exquisite Taste was delighted to have the chance to talk with Simon Waghorn, founder and winemaker of this New Zealand-based winery, to understand more about his brand.
Q: Would you share how your passion for wine came about?
A: As a university student, I belonged to the university wine club, and I also worked between lectures and on weekends at a wine retail store. I was able to taste some lovely wines from around the world, including New Zealand. I became very fond of wine’s limitless variations and felt excited enough to seek a career in winemaking.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a winemaker?
A: Knowing that you are creating a wine that speaks of where it is grown, and that will enhance the lives of the drinker. Every season is different, with its own set of challenges, and every year you are trying to make better wines than the year before.
Q: The Marlborough region is famous for crisp, clean tasting wine, but what makes Astrolabe different from other wineries in the region?
A: We source our fruit from a wider geographical spread than other wineries, and we are the only company with sources of fruit in the exciting Kekerengu district, where we find limestone soils and a very maritime climate. Most of all, we are a family-owned and managed winery, and all the winemaking decisions are mine – and are based on my very long experience of making and drinking wine. We have a great reputation for the style, quality and consistency of our wines.
Q: Astrolabe has just gone through a major rebranding, what is the reason for this?
A: We have the second generation of the family coming through into senior management roles and they are bringing a fresh eye to things like branding. They are helping to shape our look, with respect for the past branding but revitalizing the image to fit more closely with our storytelling and the backstories of each wine.
Q: If you could share a bottle of Astrolabe with someone special or who you most respect, what would it be, and why?
A: My Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – this is my most important wine and the wine that truly taps into my 38 years of accumulated winemaking and wine drinking wisdom. It is a beautifully crafted and harmonious wine that reflects a vision of Marlborough’s vineyard diversity that no other winemaker can match.
Q: Can you share your biggest pet-peeves when it comes to drinking wine?
A: Worst of all is cork taint, when the chemical TCA destroys the integrity of the wine, fortunately, we left corks behind many years ago! Red wines served too warm, and white wines too cool, would be my next biggest issue.
Q: What are your top three picks of Astrolabe wines and why?
A: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for the sheer depth and breadth of the flavours, and the refreshing and lingering aftertaste. Marlborough Pinot Noir for the svelte palate structure, intriguing cherry-berry nose and ability to pair well with food. Marlborough Chardonnay – the variety I established my reputation on in the early 90s and the most textural and complex of white wines.