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Pioneering Change for Chardonnay

03 May 2007

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Chardonnay Introducing Three Exciting New Chardonnay Small Parcel Wines

Award-winning winery, Saint Clair Estate Wines, is helping to keep New Zealand at the forefront of worldwide trends, by adding more varieties to its succesful and exclusive small parcel wine label - Pioneer Block.

Since the Marlborough-based vineyard released its first Pioneer Block wines, in late 2005, the range has won five trophies and 20 gold medals at local and international wine shows. The latest accolade is being placed in the final ten out of 4260 entrants from around the world, in the Europe Wine Label of the Year 2007.

Saint Clair is also creating ripples within the circles of Chardonnay, an area which, up until now, has been declining in New Zealand, falling from first to third in plantation behind Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

The three new additions to the Pioneer Block range are all Chardonnays, and showcase Saint Clair’s ability to push the boundaries, creating excitement and interest within the “tired” classic area. Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 ‘Sawcut’ Chardonnay 2006 is the first Chardonnay released in the range and is the second vintage for this wine. Previous vintages of the wine have won three gold medals and this vintage is not expected to disappoint.

The second new wine, Saint Clair Pioneer Block 10 ‘Twin Hills’ uses 100 percent French oak from the excellent and proven Chardonnay fruit from Saint Clair’s own Omaka vineyards.

Finally, the third wine released is Saint Clair Pioneer Block 11 ‘Cell Block’ Chardonnay, from Dillion’s Point area and has a strong mineral/salty character on the palate. The wine is named after one of Saint Clair’s growers, Colin MacKay, an ex Detective with the NZ Police.

“The philosophy behind the Pioneer Range is to identify small parcels of outstanding fruit from specialist vineyard sites throughout Marlborough that have a unique terrior. The winemakers then experiment with different winemaking methods. The range gives us a fantastic opportunity to ‘explore’ with the fruit, terrior and process so we can continue to create excellent and consistent wines “ says Neal Ibbotson.

The increase in boutique ranges reflects world trends and the demand is so strong for Saint Clair that in less than two years since the first Pioneer Block was produced, it has developed export markets in over 20 countries around the world.

“We are delighted that Claridges in the UK and a leading specialist upmarket fine wine retail outlet in New York each stock one of the Saint Clair Pioneer Block Sauvignon Blanc 2006 from the range,” says Ibbotson.

The three new Chardonnays are available through leading fine wine stores nationwide and the Saint Clair Cellar Door, retailing at approximately $26.95 per bottle.

Prepared on behalf of Saint Clair Estate Wines by the pr shop. For further information please contact Pippa Lekner on (09) 368 1078, 021 500 760 or email