Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2020 edition panel tasting of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noir (see blue link below).
Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.
The grapes are selected from the single vineyard "Doctor's Creek" block, named after the small stream which runs through the centre. Situated south-west of Blenheim. The soils are made up of clay and are rich, vigour moderating soils.
2017 wines are looking very good, despite Saint Clair navigating challenging weather conditions during véraison and the harvest period. Flavours came into the fruit early and although the wines are a little lighter in alcohol, they are still appreciably full flavoured. 2017 was a good year for the early ripening varieties; Pinot Noir had beautiful small bunches and berries of very good quality and Chardonnay also stands out with full flavours.
The fruit was harvested when it had reached full physiological ripeness and maximum flavour maturity. At the winery the fruit was cold macerated for five days. Cultured yeasts were used to ferment the wine and during fermentation, the must was hand plunged up to six times daily. Once dry, each batch was pressed to tank and then racked off gross lees to a mix of new and used French oak. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 10 months in barrel before being carefully prepared for bottling.
100% Pinot Noir.
A rounded luscious Pinot Noir with a soft full palate and well balanced acidity. Good length of fruit with flavours dominated by redcurrant and cherries, complemented by hints of plums. Oak ageing has lent warm savoury notes to the palate.
This Pioneer Block Pinot Noir is perfectly matched with spring lamb, sweet potatoes and roast vegetables.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians.
ABV = 13.5%.
Anchored in an elegant structure the tannins sit alongside a mid-palate boasting a supple and very intense core of fruit. Aromatically the nose shows delicate red berry fruits while taking in violet and forest floor nuances before finishing with an infusion of darker cherry notes. High toned fruit forms a gateway into a revealing palate and very persistent finish. The palate is rich and unusually mouth filling for an Awatere wine while retaining the taut structure and minerality that typifies the sub region’s fruit.
ABV = 13.0%.