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The single vineyard ‘Pioneer Block’ wines of Saint Clair require separate handling, the winery using 250 small tanks to manage this. The amount of detail for winemakers Matt Thomson and Hamish Clark and their team is considerable, but the result is a fascinating range of wines that express their origin and site. In essence Saint Clair is bottling ‘terroir’ for keen wine enthusiasts to ponder and enjoy. The quality per se of the ‘Pioneer Block’ wines has been extremely high as well, reflecting the identification of superior as well as individual vineyards by Saint Clair’s owner Neal Ibbotson.
Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Chardonnay
The Sawcut vineyard, is located in a pioneering grape-growing region, the Ure Valley, about 50 km south of the Blenheim town ship (or half way between Kaikoura and Blenheim). It has exceptionally high limestone soils, which reflect in a chalky, mineral character to the wine. The vineyard has a unique microclimate with the number of degree growing days equivalent to if not higher than Blenheim in most years.
The three Pioneer Block 4 wines from the Ure Valley (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir) carry the name, Sawcut.
About 8km up the Ure Valley is the world renowned Sawcut Gorge walk, (included in the "100 Best Walks in New Zealand"). The walk is up the bed of the Ure River, which is narrow and ends up with walls up to 50 metres high on either side. You then walk through the "Sawcut" out onto another large open area. A fabulous display of native flora and fauna, and a variety of geological structures are to be seen on this walk.
Pioneer Block 10 Twin Hills Chardonnay
This vineyard is in Falveys Road, the Omaka Valley. The Maori translation of Omaka is river between two hills which is where the name Twin Hills originates from.
Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block Chardonnay
This vineyard is located in the Dillon’s Point area, in the lower Wairau Valley and bounders the Opawa river. The soils are fertile and deep and the area has cooler climate, compared to most of the Wairau Plain which provides a longer growing season.
The wine is named after one of Saint Clair’s growers, Colin MacKay, an ex Detective with the NZ Police.
Pioneer Block 13 B&B Block Chardonnay
This fruit is sourced from a single vineyard at Saint Clair’s Cellar Door. Made from 100 per cent Clone 95 the grapes, the dominant fruit flavor is grapefruit. The soils are even, fertile and shallow silt loam. This block is named after Bruce and Bridget Crawford who own and manage the Saint Clair Cellar Door and Café and surrounding vineyard.