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 levels of rainfall during January and February, resulted in a healthy vibrant canopy. The autumn weather in 2016 was warm during the day and cooler during the evenings, providing excellent ripening conditions for Pinot Noir. Vineyard The fruit was harvested from the single vineyard ‘The Barn’. The vineyard is situated at the foot of the Wither Hills in the Dry Hills Estate, south east of Blenheim. The site is flat and even with deep, vigour-moderating clay soils. It is a relatively warm site with high diurnal temperature change. The nightly cooling-off extends the ripening period, allowing the grapes to develop rich varietal characteristics while retaining balancing acidity. The vines are trained to the Vertical Shoot Positon (VSP) system. The fruit was carefully monitored during ripening and harvested in the cool of the evening at maximum flavour maturity and physiological ripeness. The grapes harvested for this wine were 100% clone 667. The vineyard is certified sustainable under the guidelines of Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand.
The fruit underwent a cold maceration for five days to extract maximum flavours and to enhance colour stability. Fermentation was started using a carefully selected yeast. The fermenting must was hand plunged up to six times daily at the peak of fermentation. The young wine was pressed and racked off the gross lees to 50% new French oak and 50% older, seasoned 225 litre oak barriques; where it completed malolactic fermentation. During the maturation period, the barrels were regularly tasted until the right balance was achieved, after approximately 10 months.
Aromas of ripe dark forest fruits are complemented by hints of cedar and dark roasted coffee oak. Rich, with a velvety structure and fine grained silky tannins; this is a delicious full-bodied Pinot Noir.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians.