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”.
Good settled weather at flowering was followed by a cooler growing period on average, but dry. Some rain just after véraison and a short period of cooler weather looked likely to delay harvest, but settled warm dry weather through the remaining ripening period sped up the flavour development and ripening and contributed to harvest date comparable to most years.
This outstanding fruit was sourced from a single vineyard within the Gimblett Gravels winegrowing area of Hawkes bay. The vigour moderating, free draining gravel provides a superb base for this low cropping Merlot. The flat vineyard, sits atop a plateau with a gradual slope and is situated in a warm and sheltered site, which has ideal ripening conditions for achieving the full aromatic profile and tannin structure that Merlot can give. The fruit was carefully monitored during ripening and harvested in the cool evening at maximum flavour maturity and physiological ripeness.
The fruit was held cold for four days prior to the fermentation to help extract the maximum flavour and to enhance the colour stability. It was then inoculated to carry out the primary alcoholic fermentation, during which the fermenting must was hand plunged up to four times daily and pumped over the skins to help with extraction. When dry, the young wine was pressed and then racked off the gross lees to 50% new French oak and 50% seasoned French oak. The wine underwent a clean malolactic fermentation while ageing in oak for 11 months. It was then gently extracted from the oak, blended and carefully prepared for bottling.
A rich, full bodied and complex Merlot. Aromas of wild blackberry and ripe plum combine with leather, espresso coffee and a hint of spice. The silky smooth palate is layered with ripe dark berries, damson plums and dark chocolate and leads to a long, persistent finish.
Delicious with lightly spiced exotic dishes.
ABV = 13.5%.