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 perfect for Sauvignon Blanc, 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.
The Maori word Omaka means ‘place of the stream’. The grapes are sourced from a single vineyard in the Delta region within the Southern Valleys subregion, where the vines are grown in clay soils. A naturally low cropping vineyard that produces tight bunches with small berries, which intensifies the wine’s flavour and concentration. Some of the grapes come from the Burgundian clone 115. The fruit was harvested when it had reached full physiological ripeness and maximum flavour maturity.
The fruit was cold soaked for five days prior to fermentation to help extract maximum flavour and to enhance colour stability. 18% whole cluster bunches were added to the fermentation to add a stems component and another layer of complexity. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts; the fermenting must was hand plunged up to six times daily at the peak of fermentation. At dryness the wine was pressed, then racked off the gross lees to a mixture of 40% new French oak and older seasoned 225 litre oak barriques. The wine was aged for 10 months during which time it underwent malolactic conversion. The wine was then carefully extracted from oak, blended and prepared for bottling.
Concentrated flavours of black cherry, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive, and perfumed wild flowers, lead to an elegant palate with a structure reminiscent of finely powdered cocoa. The finish is long incorporating freshly roasted coffee beans, toasty oak and spice.
Pinot Noir 100%.