Astrolabe Province Pinot Noir Marlborough (NZ) 2015, 13.5%, €25.45 O’Brien’s
The province of Marlborough has long been recognised as ideal for the growing of Pinot Noir and here winemaker Simon Waghorn takes full advantage of the local advantages: leafy vineyards, ripe fruit and cool climate growing.
“Almost Burgundian Pinot Noir” I read. Why not full Marlborough Pinot Noir? For this is what it is, as it sings its way “across the palate and lingers beautifully”. Conductor Waghorn takes the fruit from his valleys, with the aim of allowing the flavours and aromas of the region come through. “I seek to maintain svelte plushness and good length in my Pinot Noir, built around a natural vibrancy of fruit.”
And, happily, he succeeds with this mid ruby coloured wine (you will see lighter Pinot Noirs). Aromas are cheerful, ripe fruits (cherry and berry). Full bodied, flavours of plum and brambly fruits, well balanced, the oak (11 months of it) harmoniously integrated, supple and silky in a long and totally satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Food pairing suggestions: Venison, lamb, wild game and game fowl, Asian-style duck, seared tuna and swordfish.
And the name? Astrolabe was once a navigational instrument and also the name of the ship in which French adventurer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville explored the province’s coastline in the late 1820s. The Waghorns also produce wines called Durvillea.
Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley (Washington, USA) Dry Riesling 2016, 12.5%, €16.95 O’Brien’s
Dry, with a lime enhanced finish, this American wine is new to O’Brien’s, the fruit sourced from cooler climate sites in the world class vineyards of the Columbia Valley.
It has a light straw colour. Peach, apricot and citrusy aromas. On the palate it is dry and crisp with zesty fresh fruit flavours (lime now in the mix). It has an engaging acidity and a very decent finish indeed. Very refreshing and Highly Recommended.
Wendy Stukey, a winemaker at the chateau says, on a website video, that it is an incredibly versatile food wine, as are most Rieslings, and her favourite pairing is with oysters. They also recommended scallops, mild cheeses, Asian dishes, Indian curries. Chateau Ste Michelle, since 1999, has been involved in a cooperative local venture, Eroica Wines, with famous German winemaker Dr Loosen, a acknowledge master of Riesling.
We don’t get that many US wines here, mainly because they are at quite a high price point (not the case here!). I’m not that familiar with Washington vineyards so did a little research. “Today,” according to World Atlas of Wine (2013), “Washington is the second most important wine-growing state in the US….producing some of America’s most admired Cabernet, Merlot, Riesling, and, especially, Syrah.” And, by the way, O’Brien’s also have the Syrah from Ste Michelle. Must try that!
100% Vinafera Rootstock is printed on the front label. Puzzled? More research: ‘I’ve seen this phrase most often on bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle wines from Washington. Columbia Valley’s dry summers and chilly winters make the region phylloxera-resistant. I asked winemaker Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste. Michelle what makes vinifera rootstock wines so special, and he said, “Having vines on their own roots helps us maintain the health and longevity of our vineyards and preserves the grape variety in its natural state, with no influence from the grafted roots.”’
Read more of what Dr Vinny has to say on the subject here https://www.winespectator.com/drvinny/show/id/Rootstock-Phylloxera-Resistant-Vinny-54401