The grapes to produce Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Reserve Saint Clair were pressed immediately to minimise skin contact and to preserve the quality of the juice. After settling, the Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Reserve Saint Clair was fermented in stainless steel using a selected yeast strain. Fermentation was carried out at cool temperatures to retain varietal characters and freshness. This parcel was identified by the winemaking team during comprehensive blind tastings as the very best batch of wine produced for the 2017 vintage and therefore bottled as the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve.
Proximity to the ocean sees stronger maritime influences on the vineyards in the lower Wairau Valley where fruit for the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is grown. The daytime temperatures are warm, facilitating ripening, while the night temperatures are typically cooler than the central and upper parts of the Wairau Valley. This promotes increased hang time and flavour development. Nutrient rich soils deposited over time due to non-erosive flooding (prior to stop bank flood protection being introduced) have formed even and fertile sites. The nutrient-hungry Sauvignon Blanc vines utilise this fertility to produce extremely concentrated flavours and aromas.
The Saint Clair winery is run from Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual “terroir” and ability to produce top-quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand’s leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.