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Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Mar 25, 2015
Vino Fino

From The Tastings Saint Clair

Saint Clair with Hamish Clark   
After growing grapes in Marlborough since 1978, Neil & Judy Ibbotson established Saint Clair in 1994. Since then they have grown into one of Marlborough's top and most awarded wineries and still family owned. Tonight we had Chief wine-maker Hamish Clark present wines from the Pioneer Block and Reserve ranges. Hamish gave us some rare insights into the background of these wines; the challenges and solutions required to produce both large quantity and high-end low volume wines. Hamish has been with Saint Clair since 2001 and has been responsible (along with Consultant Matt Thomson) for producing the most awarded Sauvignon Blancs in the world. And although obviously best know for their Sauvignon Blancs, they produce a wide and varied range as we discovered tonight.

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Saint Clair with Hamish Clark   
After growing grapes in Marlborough since 1978, Neil & Judy Ibbotson established Saint Clair in 1994. Since then they have grown into one of Marlborough's top and most awarded wineries and still family owned. Tonight we had Chief wine-maker Hamish Clark present wines from the Pioneer Block and Reserve ranges. Hamish gave us some rare insights into the background of these wines; the challenges and solutions required to produce both large quantity and high-end low volume wines. Hamish has been with Saint Clair since 2001 and has been responsible (along with Consultant Matt Thomson) for producing the most awarded Sauvignon Blancs in the world. And although obviously best know for their Sauvignon Blancs, they produce a wide and varied range as we discovered tonight.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 ‘Foundation Block’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
From the original block that provided fruit for the first Wairau Reserve, this has long been a source of top quality fruit. This displays the ripe tropical fruit flavours that Saint Clair are so renown. 
Gold Easter Show
Retail $27.99    Special $22.99

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 Sauvignon Blanc 2014
 Although this vineyard is relatively close to the Pioneer Block, the big difference is that the vines are planted in a 43 degree north-east to south-west aspect. This means the grapes on the south side don't ripen as much as the north facing ones, resulting in a wider range of flavours. This shows ripe herbal and green fruit flavours. Gold Easter Show, Trophy Sydney Top 100
Retail $27.99    Special $22.99

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
This really is a 'wow' wine and certainly the best Wairau reserve for a few years. It is the subtle power that is the winner on the day. It seems to contain all the flavour descriptors you could think of for Sauvignon Blanc, wrapped in a full blown, yet balanced palate. Sourced from the 'best fo the best' batches. Two gold medals and the Air NZ Wine Awards trophy.
Retail $36.99    Special $29.99

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Gruner Veltliner 2012 
From its home in Austria, a number of New Zealand producers have taken the Gruner Veltliner variety on board.  However it would be fair to say that is still a work in progress as far as a variety for New Zealand goes. Stylistically it sits in the Riesling/Pinot Gris spectrum. Saint Clair have produced a style that could become a benchmark. This Pioneer Block comes from a devigorating vineyard, naturally reducing the high yields. Using only gentle pressed, free-run juice and fermented in older oak, this has green fruited, citrus flavours and a slight oiliness. This would be a fantastic food wine.
Retail $25.99    Special $20.99

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 'Twin Hills' Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Two Chardonnays from the same vineyard; made the same way but the big difference is the oak. This Block 10 Chardonnay is all French oak. Creamy, toasty, vanillin flavours abound.
Retail $33.99    Special $26.99
 
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
This one is fermented and aged in 100% American oak. This results in a much more coconutty, caramel cream, spiced nut character and more of what I would call "old school" full-on, characters. Gold Easter Show.
We asked for a preference between these two Chardonnays and the room was evenly divided. Two excellent Chardonnays. 
Retail $35.99    Special $30.99
 
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 9 Big John Marlborough Riesling 2013
This is a sweeter style (34gms/rs) made in the German Spatese style with just 9% alcohol. A wine of delicate power. Floral and citrus flavours abound with a fine acidity cutting through the sweetness. Winner of 4 Gold medals and Riesling Trophy at the Easter Show 2015
Retail $25.99    Special $20.99

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 15 'Strip Block' Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012
And two Pinot Noirs that both add to the argument of how good Marlborough Pinot Noirs can be. This vineyard is located to the West of Renwick (The Old Delta vineyard) on clay based soils. And it deliciously displays the silkiness and suppleness that clay provides.  Plums and sweet, dark red fruits.
Retail $37.99    Special $28.99
 
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
The Omaka Reserve is from the best fruit selected from various vineyards. A portion of whole bunch grapes were included in the fermentation, adding spiciness and savouriness. 50% new oak also adds structure to this powerful wine. Seriously good
Retail $46.99    Special $37.99

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Merlot 2013
In 2013 Saint Clair purchased the old Bridge Pa Gimblett vineyard in Hawkes Bay to provide a quality Bordeaux red variety source to their range. They had been sourcing fruit from here previously. This shows how determined Saint Clair are to produce quality Hawkes Bay red. This was quite the suprise package of the night. Dense and dark, meaty blood & bone savouriness and a thick, juicy texture. ​
Retail $27.99    Special $22.99