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 exceptional quality fruit with very concentrated flavours with excellent natural acidity.
The grapes are sourced from the single vineyard “Bull Block” in the Omaka Valley. This flat vineyard site is named after the Jersey Stud bulls that previously grazed here. The vineyard is 100% planted with clone 10/5. Originally imported from Switzerland, this clone was responsible for some of the first vineyard plantings in regions such as Central Otago. It is a late ripening clone, which is ideally suited to this vineyard site and the late-harvesting allows for a greater intensity of flavours to be built, while maintaining acidity for freshness and balance. While much of the region is planted with Burgundy clones, this Swiss clone offers a distinctive expression of Pinot Noir. The soils consist of siltloam over clay-loam subsoils. Warm days give way to cool nights and this diurnal temperature swing, coupled with the clay-rich vigour moderating soils, encourages the vine to produce small berries of concentrated juice.
The grapes underwent a cool, five day pre-fermentation maceration, for optimal flavour extraction and to enhance the colour stability. Fermentation took place with selected yeasts, during which the must was hand plunged up to six times daily. The young wine was pressed and racked off the gross lees into a combination of 33% new French oak and older seasoned 225 litre oak barriques, where malolactic conversion took place. Barrel maturation lasted for 11 months, before being deftly blended and prepared for bottling.
An elegant and aromatic Pinot Noir with ripe dark bramble fruit notes and fine toasty aromas. Fresh red fruits are enveloped by a rounded structure, fine tannins and beautifully balanced acidity which complements the lifted oak spice on the finish.
Pinot Noir 100%.