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 Saint Clair 2015 harvest started slightly earlier than normal and the yields were moderate to low. However the grapes were harvested in pristine condition, resulting in excellent fruit concentration and a great flavour spectrum.
The grapes come from three rows of vines in one of Saint Clair’s best vineyards in the lower Wairau subregion of Marlborough. The vineyard soils are nutrient rich and free draining. The maritime climate and close proximity to the sea create a high diurnal temperature difference resulting in a long ripening period, concentrating the fruit flavours, while retaining refreshing acidity. The fruit is left to hang a week longer than the fruit for Saint Clair’s traditional Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are hand-harvested, with only the highest quality bunches being selected.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed, briefly settled then racked into seasoned French oak barriques. The juice was inoculated with a selected yeast strain. Post fermentation the wine was aged on its lees for nine months, with twice weekly barrel stirring and underwent spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Each barrel was tasted regularly by the winemaking team and only the very best and most interesting barrels were selected for the final blend. The wine was lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling.
Complex aromas of green coffee bean and vanilla pod are complemented by notes of wild flowers, crushed herbs and just a hint of gunflint. The palate is rich and unctuous with layers of preserved lemon, ripe papaya, cocoa powder and toasted hazelnut with hints of red berry.
With clean bright fruit flavours and a textured palate it complements a variety of food, try with creamy risotto or grilled chicken with a delicate sauce.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.