Look, swirl, sniff, sip, spit, review, rinse and repeat.
Our winemaking team have waded through more than 130 samples of 2014-vintage Sauvignon Blanc wine, before deciding on the very best which are destined for the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Pioneer Block ranges.
Saint Clair senior winemaker Hamish Clark says a team of 12 spent three days tasting, discussing and scoring the samples.
“We go through the wines in flights of five at a time, and spend a good deal of time, tasting and discussing each wine before revealing the grower and location of the vineyard the fruit was grown in.”
This enables the team to gain a deeper understanding of the quality and composition of the wines from specific vineyards, reflecting on and adjusting viticultural management as required.
Each of the wines are given a score out of 20, the very top scoring samples are carefully re-examined to establish the very best expression that will eventually be Saint Clair’s most awarded wine, the Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
Usually, one parcel of fruit will constitute the backbone of the Wairau Reserve, with a small addition of one or two other blocks to fill any “gaps”, but occasionally one vineyard is so complete we cannot find any ways to improve on it.
While no two vintages will ever be the same, the aim is to consistently produce high-quality wines, Hamish says.
Fruit grown in the O’Dwyer Rd sub-region, for example, has a distinct and powerfully expressive ‘sweaty’ style of Sauvignon, while fruit from the Dillon’s Point Rd area ranges from powerful passion fruit to capsicum, and even jalapeno ‘green’ characteristics.
“While there are recognisable differences in the flavours and characteristics of each block, the Wairau Reserve itself is similar from year-to-year in terms of complexity, mouthfeel and palate weight. “It’s what we consider to be the best expression of Sauvignon Blanc for that vintage from the parcels of fruit we vinify.”
With the Sauvignon Blanc Pioneer Blocks getting ready to head to bottle, the team have also graded the 2014 Pinot Gris’, Rieslings and Gewürztraminers which are in the process of being blended and stabilised.