Saint Clair Wines from Marlborough

So what is it about Saint Clair Wines that makes them so special? Why is it that they are ranked amoung the top 100 wineries in the world and have won over 100 trophies in just 10 years. This article will help you to understand a little more about what makes them so a global phenomenon in the wine world.

Saint Clair Winery was established in 1994 under the family team of Neal and Judy ibbotson. Neal is a Marlborough Pioneer with more than 30 years of viticultural knowledge and experience. He and chief winemaker Matt Thompson have identified certain vineyard sites each with their own individual terroir and perfect for producing these many amazing wines.

Part of their amazing success comes from the rigourous quality selection procedure that is applied to all the wines they produce. The vision of Saint Clair is to be recognised as one of the world's leading producers of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and for superior wines of other varieties.

Once the grapes ripen, all vineyards are monitored for flavours and are picked when these flavours are at their optimum.

All batches of grapes are kept seperate in 130 tanks and once fermented they are each assessed by a wine judging panel and given a score for the quality of the wine. This score determines how much the grower is paid. Additional quality blending options are assessed before finalising the bottle blends.

The very best wine, if of high enough quality, becomes the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve. Those wines next in line on a quality basis may become Pioneer Blocks if the quality is considered high enough, if there is something of special merit or something they may learn by bottling this wine under the Pioneer Block label.

Those wines that the panel score the highest invariably achieve trophies, gold medals or equivalent in wine tastings around the world.

Some of the many things that have been learnt from this rigourous Sauvignon Blanc quality assessment system include

Different sub regions of Marlborough produce different quality Sauvignon Blanc in the same way that different parts of New Zealand produce different qualities and flavours.

The system has identified some of the superior sub regions of Marlborough in particular the lower Wairau Plain with its more fertile, deeper, free draining and unifrom soils.

This sub region was first recognised by Matt Thompson in the 2000 vintage when approximately 2000 cases were harvested from this region alone. In 2009 they have now harvested over 100,000 cases from this area.

A system of paying growers based on quality leads to improved awareness of vineyard management and a desire to improve that management to the benefit of all.

Vineyards that vary in soil type, nutritional availability, water holding capacity or topography suffer from uneven ripening which often results in lower quality.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes in particular are affected by any stress such as lack of moisture, fertiltiy or competition from weeds.

Prior to the strict vineyard management system being introduced Saint Clair had only won 3 gold medals, since the introduction of this program they have achieved 47 trophies and 133 gold medals, a true testament to the success of this program.

Since 2001 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc has achieved 26 trophies and 46 gold medals making it one of New Zealands most awarded wines.

So as you can see there are many reasons to buy Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in one of it's many forms whether it is the iconic Saint Clair Wairau Reserve or the Pioneers Block range of Sauvignon's or even the Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

The final word needs to go to Bob Campbell MW who recently remarked "Saint Clair now make the country's and perhaps the world's best Sauvignon Blanc"