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”.
The quality of fruit from the 2020 harvest was exceptional. A large stretch of classic stunning Marlborough sunshine, with virtually no rain, hence no disease, ensured the berries reached their full physiological ripeness. Warm weather during November and early December 2019, meant flowering was excellent, leading to average yields for the season. March produced ideal growing conditions with true Marlborough style of warm days and cool nights; the latter producing fruit with the characteristic refreshing acidity.
In 2001 Saint Clair introduced a ‘grading system’ for each of its vineyards and marks them out of 10 for quality each year. This provides valuable information in terms of which vineyards provide the best fruit and which varieties produce the best quality within each of the vineyards. The grading system is also used extensively as a management tool for identifying and improving best vineyard practices. The vineyards are carefully managed, using a sustainable approach with minimal use of vineyard sprays, maintaining an open canopy with good light and airflow, leaf plucking, fruit and shoot thinning and selection.
The fruit was harvested in the cool of the night in order to retain freshness and capture the fruit flavours. The grapes spent only a few hours on skins to extract the delicate flavour, aroma and colour and were then carefully pressed. After settling, the juice was fermented in 100% stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures to retain the pure fruit flavours and freshness. The wine was then stabilised and prepared for bottling. A dash of Gewürtztrminer and Sauvignon Blanc were added to the blend in tiny quantities for complexity.
Watermelon blush with aromas of ripe pears and sun-ripened strawberries. The palate is refreshing and lightly textured showcasing an array of ripe orchard fruits, which merge into a medley of fresh strawberry and raspberry with a hint of cream.
Pinot Gris 96%, Malbec 2%, Pinot Noir 2%.