Regions > New Zealand > Marlborough region

: St. Clair

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St. Clair Family Estate

www.saintclair.co.nz

13 Selmes Rd, RD3, Bleneim (cellar door); Postal: PO Box 970, Blenheim, 7240

Cellar Door: Daily (10-5)

Ph: (0)3 570 5280 (Cellar Door)

outside
Outside view of cellar door (photo courtesy: St. Clair)

Saint Clair Family Estate is a prestigious family owned winery established by Neal and Judy Ibbotson back in the early days of the contemporary wine industry in 1978.

There were initially grape suppliers to wine companies; however a desire to extend the quality achieved in the vineyard through to the finished wine led to the establishment of Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994.

A string of early Gold Medals put the winery in forefront of the national wine scene, a positon it has maintained. Winestate magazine awarded them the 2010 New Zealand Winery of the Year.

The Saint Clair name originates from the vineyard property, first settled by the pioneering Sinclair family.

Neil and Judy continue as Directors while their children, Tony, Sarina and Julie, work on the promotional and marketing side of the business. The long term winemakers are Matt Thompson and Hamish Clark.

Saint Clair has developed six vineyards in different sites in Marlborough, including the Rapaura, Awatere, Waihopai and Omaka Valleys. In 2001 Saint Clair introduced a ‘grading system’ for all its vineyards different wine batches and marks them out of 10 for quality each year. In 2007 they acquired the Strip Block Vineyard from Delta which is dedicated to Pinot Noir.

The extensive portfolio come in four ranges: the Reserve (super-premium), Pioneer Block (very good parcels from single vineyards), Premium (blended from across region) and the budget Vicar’s Choice.

Varieties used include: Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Viognier.

The cellar door is located in Blenheim and features a café serving seasonal food.

family
The Ibbotson family (photo courtesy: St. Clair)
Inside
Inside the St. Clair cellar door in Blenheim (photo: Hannah for genxywines)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Sauvignon Block 2015

Purchased: Not ($A28/$26)

Drink:  2017

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, Gold Medal at Royal Easter Wine Show 2016, aromatic and flinty lime, passionfruit and green melon with blackcurrant notes, grassy with quinine-like minerality and vibrant pink grapefruit acidity (****)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block Pinot Noir 2012

Purchased: Not ($A35)

Drink:  2020

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, Gold Medals at Bragato 2014 and Air NZ Wine Awards 2013, 10/5 clone, Omaka Valley vineyard, floral and intensely flavoured red cherry and blackberry with thyme and sarsaparilla notes, earthy and medium bodied with fine tannins, focussed with balanced toasty and spicy French barriques (****)

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($A46)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, from a hot, dry vintage, small whole cluster input, glossy and quite concentrated black cherry and blackberry essence with some violet florals and a dusting of dried herbs, earthy with some flat sarsaparilla, fine and persistent tannins with overt chary mocha-cedar oak (***1/2)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 16 Awatere Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($NZ37)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, from a cooler Awatere Valley vineyard, floral red cherry and raspberry with minty aspects and touch of dried thyme and pepper, plumpish mid-palate with a mineral streak, firmish tannins and roast coffee/cedar oak (***1/2)

St. Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Purchased:  Not ($A32)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2014, Pure Gold at Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2014, stainless steel ferment of best parcel, flinty and intense passionfruit, cut grass and blackcurrant with modest basil and tobacco notes, slightly briny minerality on the finish, good length with nervy grapefruit acidity, polarising intense, sweaty style but is a quintessential regional expression  (****1/2)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum Pinot Noir 2012

Purchased: Not ($A30)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2014, from the clay rich soils at the mouth of the Omaka River, clone 10/5, perfumed and fleshy blackcurrant and boysenberry with violet and notes, plump and juicy with some underling dark earthiness, spicy coffee oak (***1/2)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ26)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, quite aromatic, flinty lychee, passionfruit and lime with orange blossom and blackcurrant notes, some snowpea and lemon grass in there as well but the warm vintage has lessened the grassines, refreshing quinine-like minerality, crunchy pink grapefruit acidity (****1/2)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Purchased: Not ($A28/$26)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, fuller bodied but a little softer than the Block 3, passionfruit, nectarine and lime zest with some flintiness, lots of chalky minerality with a hint of brine on the phenolics, lively grapefruit acidity, good line and length (****)

St. Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Purchased: Not ($A32)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Gold Medal at Air NZ Wine Awards 2013, intense but rounded passionfruit, guava and blackcurrant with some leesy creaminess, some capsicum/basil notes but not very herbaceous, chalky phenolics wrapped around the tangy grapefruit acidity (****)

St. Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2012

Purchased: Not ($A55)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, fairly concentrated, medium-full bodied black cherry and blackcurrant with violet, dried thyme and toasty spice notes, some flat sarsparilla on the back end, slinky tannins with mocha coffee oak (***1/2)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 2 Swamp Block Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Purchased: Not ($A28/$N26)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013, from an alluvial coastal vineyard close to Cloudy Bay, concentrated and moderately intense passionfruit, blackcurrant and lime with nettle, red capsicum and snowpea aspects, very good line with racy grapefruit acidity, while I’m rather over the pungent, vegetal style of Marlborough Savvie Blanc this has such delicious purity and complex minerality that even a jaded wine writer like myself would be happy to pour a second glass (****1/2)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ26)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013, name refers to the unusual orientation of the vine rows that increase the shade on the grapes,  rather intense passionfruit, yellow peach and blackcurrant with green capsicum, nettle and snow pea, firm crunchy grapefruit pith acidity on the flinty finish, precise with good length and minerality although too herbaceous for me to give a higher score (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($A32/$NZ34)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013, north-facing vineyard near Blenheim, grafted vines, mix of 5, 115, 777 and 667 Dijon clones, smooth and fleshy boysenberry, black cherry and blackcurrant with a sprinkle of dried thyme and rose petal florals, medium bodied and earthy with some toasty cedar spice on the finish, a touch more mid-palate concentration would lift the score (***1/2)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 16 Awatere Pinot Noir 2010

Purchased: Not ($A32/$NZ34)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013, from a north-facing vineyard overlooking the southern Awatere Valley, tangy red cherry, plum and boysenberry with some dried thyme and asian spice notes, nervy acidity, the wine, at least in the bottle I tried, seemed to have a rather compressed, angular structure, other reviewers have praised the wine’s length so this could be a bottle variation aspect (***)

St. Clair Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Vintage Cellars, Toorak, Vic ($20)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: July 2012, supple with slightly sour but well defined redcurrant, blackcurrant and raspberry with a touch of spice and pepper, evenly weighted and medium bodied palate, tightens up on the finish with a light touch of tannin and dark chocolate/coffee oak, missing the regional cherry sarsparilla aspect which is a positive thing (***1/2)

St. Clair Premium Gruner Veltliner 2011

Purchased: Cellarbrations, St. Kilda ($A20)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, creamy and rounded nectarine, peach and apple with nougat and varietal pepper, good length with chalky phenolics, a touch more acid will lift this but a commendable effort with this Austrian variety (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Purchased: Not ($A28)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Gold at NZ International Wine show 2011, vineyard is situated at lower Wairau, intense passionfruit, blackcurrant and lime with nettles and green capsicum, sweaty and minerally with zingy grapefruit acidity, very long with chalky phenolics, powerful expression of the regional style (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Purchased: Not ($A32)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, intense and well defined passionfruit, blackcurrant, grass and lime, sweaty and minerally with green capsicum and grapefruit on the flinty finish, very good length (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2010

Purchased: Not ($A32)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir at Marlborough Wine Show 2011, 115, 777 and 667 clones, aromatic and bright raspberry, red cherry and blackberry with dried herb, asian spice and savoury meat notes, medium bodied, long, evenly weighted and minerally with powdery tannins, toasty vanilla-cedar oak (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($A32)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Silver Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2011, Omaka Valley vineyard, 10/5 clone, supple and spicy boysenberry, cherry and dark plum with meat, violet and flat sarsparilla nuances, minerally and medium bodied web of fine tannins with the spicy and toasty French oak in a support role (****)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 21 Bell Block Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Purchased: Not ($A28)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Silver Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2011, more herbaceous than the Block 18, sweaty passionfruit, mango and lime with green capsicum and basil aspects, good length, minerally with zesty passionfruit-infused acidity (***1/2)

St. Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Purchased: Not ($NZ32)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: May 2011, single vineyard release from lower Rapaura, tightly wound, tangy intensely flavoured passionfruit, cut grass and blackcurrant with fleshy tropical fruit aspects, some dried herb and lemon grass complexity, racy grapefruit acidity, very long minerally finish, pungent take no prisoners style (****1/2)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ26)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2011, grafted Dijon 115, 114, 777, 667 clones, aromatic, tangy and intense blackcurrant and raspberry, medium-full bodied with a light dusting of asian spice and dried herb, very good line and focus with supple fine tannins and well judged acidity (****)

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 19 Bird Block Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ26)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2011, from a single vineyard owned by Bob and Gill Bird in lower Rapaura, grassy passionfruit and blackcurrant with basil and lemon grass notes, the long palate shows tightly wound grapefruit acidity and pronounced minerality, leads to a flinty finish with zesty acidity, a lively wine with plenty of drive and focus (****)

Saint Clair Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($A22)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2011, silky with slightly sour but well defined redcurrant, blackcurrant and raspberry with gentle warm oak spice, evenly weighted medium bodied palate, tightens up on the finish with a light touch of tannin and sarsparilla/dark chocolate (***1/2)