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 sourced from a single vineyard in the Delta region within the Southern Valleys subregion, where the vines are grown in clay soils. A naturally low cropping vineyard that produces tight bunches with small berries, which intensifies the wine's flavour and concentration. Some of the grapes come from clone 115. The fruit was harvested when it had reached full physiological ripeness and maximum flavour maturity.
The fruit was cold soaked for five days prior to fermentation to help extract maximum flavour and to enhance colour stability. 27% whole cluster bunches were added to the fermentation to add a stems component and another layer of complexity. Selected cultured yeast were used to carry out the alcoholic fermentation, during which the fermenting must was hand plunged up to six times daily at the peak of fermentation. At dryness the wine was pressed, then racked off the gross lees to a mixture of 32%new French oak and older seasoned 225 litre oak barriques. The wine was aged for 10 months during which time it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was then carefully extracted from oak, blended and prepared for bottling.
Concentrated flavours of black cherry, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive, and perfumed wild flowers, lead to an elegant palate with a structure reminiscent of finely powdered cocoa or dense dark chocolate. The finish is long incorporating freshly roasted coffee beans, toasty oak and spice.