What to drink this weekend? Regional New Zealand Pinot from a family-owned winery (under $30).

Astrolabe 2014 “Province” Marlborough Pinot Noir ($27.95, LCBO #538918) is available in limited quantities at the LCBO Vintages.

“Elegant and plush, with fresh cherry flavors that are supple and smooth, accented by hints of cream soda and red licorice. Offers bright acidity and lingering clove nuances. Drink now through 2026. ” – 92 points, Mary Ann Worobiec, Wine Spectator, October 2016

Astrolabe stands out as a family-owned winery in Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine region. What started as a “garagiste” side-project for winemaker Simon Waghorn has evolved into one of Marlborough’s leading producers without sacrificing that quiet creativity and hands-on approach. The Waghorn family should be proud of their success: their perseverance and skill result in an impressive array of wildly expressive regional, sub-regional, and vineyard-designate wines year after year. (You may be familiar with Astrolabe’s punchy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The winery’s Pinot Noir doesn’t make it onto LCBO shelves as often. This is a great chance to get acquainted.)

It’s appropriate that the pioneering winery is named after the ship that French explorer Dumont d’Urville manned as he charted the Marlborough coast. After years getting to know Marlborough’s foothills and valleys, Simon works with a number of growers to source fruit from unique sites that bring a real complexity to his wines. Each site is chosen for the distinctive flavour and texture it adds.

This release of Astrolabe’s “Province” Marlborough Pinot sources grapes from vineyards in the lower Waihopai and Wairau Valleys, the upper Brancott Valley, and the Kekerengu Coast. Fruit is picked and sorted by hand, fermented in lots by region, then aged for 11 months in oak. Simon says his goal was to produce a svelte, plush Pinot with good length, built around the naturally vibrant fruit.

Bright garnet in colour, the nose shows ripe cherry, brambly fruits, and a hint of smoke. The palate is nicely rounded with flavours of plum, red berries, and cherry. Oak is well integrated, tannins are silky and linear.

Astrolabe is represented in Ontario by Rogers & Company. If you’re new to Rogers & Company: Welcome! Wines are sold in unmixed cases of 12, 6, or 3, depending on the item. Some wines are available by the bottle at the LCBO. Delivery is easy: We can bring the wine to your door, or you can stop by our office to pick up and meet the crew and the company dog. To learn more about Astrolabe wines, or to place an order: rogcowines.com

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Image credit: Astrolabe