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”.
Flowering conditions in December were perfect, followed by the hottest temperatures Marlborough has experienced in January. February produced a month of rainfall. Despite these challenging weather conditions, the fruit ripened well, 10 days earlier than usual. Effective methods of canopy management and cropping levels; and extended dry periods in March kept the vines healthy. Lower yields produced ripe and intensely flavoured fruit in 2018.
The fruit for Saint Clair Godfrey’s Creek Noble Reserve Riesling is grown in the heart of the Marlborough Valley. The vineyard is situated on the Wairau Valley floor, where it experiences early morning dew and light afternoon breezes; a successful combination in the production of Noble Riesling. Select grape bunches were left to hang on the vine until late in the season, promoting raisining and botrytis. The grapes were hand harvested once the desired level of sugar had been reached. This wine is only made in vintages when the season facilitates the extra hanging time required for the growth of botrytis on the grapes. The vineyard is cultivated according to sustainable practices and is accredited to Sustainable Wine growing New Zealand.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, with a specially selected yeast strain. Fermentation was arrested at the point where the residual sugar was in perfect balance with the natural acidity. The wine was aged in stainless steel to retain the purity of fruit.
A deliciously complex dessert wine, with a bouquet of clover honey, cinnamon and beeswax. Luscious and silky on the palate with rich orange, apricot and cocoa notes leading to a long, smooth finish.
• Silver, International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2019
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