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. 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”.
Short periods of rain during the harvest were followed by brilliant sunshine and mild breezes which helped to dry the berries. Harvest started in earnest on 13th March and continued at a steady and manageable pace with minimal pressure. The vintage proceeded in near perfect conditions, with 2019 producing lower yields of exceptional quality fruit with very concentrated flavours with excellent natural acidity.
Omaka in Maori means the ‘place of the stream’. The grapes were sourced primarily from Saint Clair’s vineyards in Marlborough’s Omaka Valley where a combination of warm days, cool nights and clay based soils contribute to greater retention of fruit flavours. The fruit is a blend of Chardonnay clones, predominantly Mendoza and Burgundian Clone 95. The vines were monitored carefully during ripening and hand harvested at optimum flavour maturity and physiological ripeness.
The fruit was carefully hand-picked and lightly whole bunch pressed. The must was barrel fermented in American oak (50% new, 25% second fill, 25% third fill), using selected yeast strains. The wine went through malolactic conversion in barrel, followed by maturation its lees for 10 months with regular stirring. Only the best barrels from each batch were selected to use in the final blend of the Omaka Reserve Chardonnay.
An elegant and silky wine of great concentration and finesse. Full bodied and generous with layers of ripe charred stone fruits combined with a touch of vanilla. Rich and textured with a smoky oak character on the lingering finish.
• Silver, Decanter World Wine Awards, 2021
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