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Saint Clair's Prime Pinot

31 May 2006

Saint Clairs Prime Pinot Saint Clair Estate Wines has a trio of recent red wine releases to suit every palate this winter.

Saint Clair wines are produced by the owners Neal and Judy Ibbotson, and their winemaker Matt Thomson. The Ibbotsons have been growing grapes for winemaking since about 1978, but in 1992 they set out to make and market their own wine under the Saint Clair label.

The name originates from one of the vineyard properties which was originally settled by the Sinclair family. Pioneer James Sinclair was closely associated with Blenheim's development.

In March, Saint Clair opened its new winery in time to process the first of the 2006 vintage. The first crushing was of pinot noir grapes from the Ure Valley and the company's own Doctors Creek vineyard. The vintage this year was about two weeks earlier than usual, which must have put some pressure on the contractors to get everything finished in time, but reports indicate all systems were ready.

About that time, Saint Clair won a gold medal at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2006 for its recent release of Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2004. This label is usually released about a year later than the other Saint Clair pinot noirs, taking longer to develop in the bottle.

Saint Clair has another reserve pinot noir it releases under the Doctors Creek label, but it develops earlier and is released earlier to the market. You'll find the 2005 vintage on the shelves now, and if you travelled business class on Air New Zealand recently you may well have been offered it with your meal.

To complement the pinot noir range the company has released Saint Clair Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005. It is widely available in supermarkets, wine shops and restaurants. RRP is $21.

Saint Clair Marlborough 04 Pinot Noir Omaka Reserve has bright ruby colour, but quite a light appearance. The aromas are restrained currants and plums. The flavours of the palate are rich and rewarding. There are currants and cherries and some of the plum flavour as well. The wine has a nice balance of fruit and some savoury oaky flavours. Although it's already a year older than others on the market, this wine is young and may well benefit from some time in the cellar.

Saint Clair Marlborough 2005 Pinot Noir has good colour and extract. The nose takes some time to open out, but the palate shows sweet cherry flavours which fill the mouth and then reveal some nice savoury flavours supported by soft oak. It's a wine which opens gradually through the palate to show all its qualities and certainly provides pleasure.

You'll love these pinot noir wines from Marlborough, but for a change why not try Saint Clair 04 Merlot Raupara Reserve? This is produced from Saint Clair's own fruit grown on the Raupara Rd vineyard. It has the extra year in the bottle to develop and is now readily available in supermarkets and wine shops, as well as on the lists at some restaurants and cafes.

It has deep and brilliant colour, and the nose is rich and smooth aromas of plums and other rich fruit. The palate is rich fruit cake flavours of plums, currants and earthy oak. It has very soft tannins and is nicely balanced to linger in the mouth.

By Peter Shaw, Waikato Times