|Astrolabe The Rocks
Pinot Gris – curvy
Astrolabe Experience ‘The Rocks’ Pinot Gris 2008 (Marlborough, NZ)
14.5%, Screwcap, approx $45
I’ve got a lot of time for textural Marlborough Pinot Gris. I think, as a region. Marlborough can do it particularly well, with the wines offering a healthy dollop more complexity than even the best Marlborough Sauv. The appeal is simply one of texture – an element that good Pinot Gris is famous for.
As for this wine, it’s unquestionably been made by someone who’s well versed with Alsace (that’d be Simon Waghorn) and that’s a very good thing in my books. Sourced from the ‘Little Oasis’ vineyard in the Awatere Valley, this was fermented in old oak with full solids and natural fermentation. The wine completed full malolactic fermentation in said barrels and then spent a further 16 months on lees, with frequent battonage along the way. Good recipe for complexity there.
And complexity is what is delivered. What I like most is that it has that lovely musky, old-school Aramis aftershave nose to it that yells clearly ‘I am rich Pinot Gris and I’m booty-licious’, backed up with a little nashi pear and some sweaty lees characters. It’s just a fraction heady, but the richness seems to complement this pretty well. Palate wise it’s slightly off dry (4g/l residual sugar) which again works in the wines favour, the palate full bodied and quite powerful, fully loaded with rich barrel ferment fullness and even a twinkle of nutty spice. It’s just a fraction warm through the finish, but that’s probably the only real detraction.
All in all this is a genuinely drinkable full house Pinot Gris, showing all the good bits of what this maligned variety can do when supported properly. I drank it with Salmon and wasabi mayo and it looked bloody good, if still a bit boozy. Still entirely worthy booze. 17.8/92