2017 Astrolabe Province Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand £16.70, ArmitWines.co.uk
I first met winemaker Simon Waghorn over a decade ago when I was judging wines in New Zealand. A quietly spoken yet impressive figure, I had yet to come across his wines, so I decided to look them up while on tour – and I was moved by every single bottle. Astrolabe has been in the UK for a while, stealthily infiltrating our palates with measured, mineral-soaked wines.
This is not a high street Kiwi savvy. Far from it, because Simon’s wines are all about restraint and composure. This wine does not bash you over the proboscis with a bowl of tropical fruit, nor does it deliver more sugar than a bag of pick ‘n’ mix. This respectful style of sauvignon blanc harks back to the old-style, fine wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé and it does it with a degree of flair and considerable understanding.
The 2016-2017 growing season was relatively warm for Marlborough, with heavy rainfall that increased the size of the grapes. This led to more thiol aromas and minimised methoxypyrazines. In common parlance, this means there is more grapefruit and gooseberry, and less sweat or green pepper notes. Subtle and controlled, with peashoot, citrus and jasmine, this is a stunning wine. My SB-hating neighbour popped when I was tasting this wine and I poured him a sip – “Glorious” was his very first word!
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).