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Pioneers of the Summer Wine

15 October 2007

Big John and Lynn Walsh receiving an award from Neal Ibbotson Introducing Three New Aromatics from Saint Clair

Saint Clair Estate Wines is leading the way again with the release of three new aromatic varieties in its aptly named Pioneer Block range this month.

This Marlborough-based family winery is keeping New Zealand firmly at the forefront of worldwide wine by adding a Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer to this highly awarded and exclusive small parcel wine label.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block Pinot Gris 2007 is made in a Vendange Tardive (late harvest) style, characterised by flavours of fresh pear, bread crusts and almonds. The Omaka Valley vineyard, south-west of Blenheim was originally a paddock for grazing stud Jersey bulls. Loam soils with clay subsoils contribute to the wine’s intense berry flavours.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 9 Big John Riesling 2007 is named after this vineyard’s 6ft 10in owner, John Walsh, affectionately known in viticultural circles as Big John. Consistent soils and older vines contribute to a Riesling made in a Germanic Spätlese style ¬with natural residual grape sugar balanced by firm acidity, creating an off-dry impression. This wine is bursting citrus, apple and honey flavours.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum Gewürztraminer 2007 is named after the solitary tree on the site in Dog Point Rd, south of the small township of Renwick. The Lone Gum Vineyard enjoys free-draining alluvial soils in a slightly warmer part of the Marlborough grape-growing area. This wine is made in a Vendange Tardive style and has with Turkish delight and perfumed rose-petal flavours.

While the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer 2007 are both brand new wines to the Pioneer Block range, the highly successful Riesling is now into its second vintage release. Each of these aromatic wines is an excellent food wine, pairing well with seafood, fresh salads or lightly spiced Asian cuisine, making them ideal to enjoy this summer.

Neal Ibbotson, owner of Saint Clair, believes that aromatic varieties in New Zealand have a strong future, particularly Pinot Gris, which has enjoyed MAT growth of 47 per cent (AC Nielsen data to August 2007) and has the long term potential to become more popular than Chardonnay.

He comments: “While we will always remain devoted to producing top quality Sauvignon Blanc, it’s important for us also to focus on other varieties especially new varieties that could well become the next big thing.”

Saint Clair’s 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 range gives us a fantastic opportunity to ‘explore’ with the fruit, terrior and with our winemaking process so we can continue to create excellent and consistently high quality wines,” says Ibbotson.

Saint Clair has experimented with different winemaking methods with these three new wines.

The three welcome additions to the Pioneer Block range are available through leading fine wine stores nationwide and the Saint Clair Cellar Door and Café, retailing at approximately $24.95 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