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Tasting Reviews




Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 9 – Big John’ Riesling 2012, 2009 and 2007


02-Oct-2017
The Saint Clair team have a very strong relationship with their growers. There is an aspiration for them to become growers for the ‘Pioneer Block’ range of wines, as this identifies their vineyards as producing fruit that result in wines of high quality and individual style. John and Lynne Walsh have their vineyard in the Brancott area of the Lower Wairau Valley and their site has produced ‘Pioneer Block’ standard Riesling since the 2006 vintage. The vineyard has been given the name of ‘Big John, as John Walsh is a towering 6ft 10in. The ground of the site is made up of even, free-draining alluvial soils of moderate fertility. That and the age of the vines contribute to the fruit weight and mineral notes in the wines. The natural style of the resultant wines is in the German Spatlese category.

Saint Clair white winemaker Stewart Maclennan was in Wellington recently, and he brought with him three samples of cellar-aged ‘Pioneer Block 9 – Big John’ Riesling to show their developing style and longevity. The vintages were 2012, 2009 and 2007. They are a classic example of how Riesling as a variety has the ability among whites to keep best, and grow in complexity. Here are my notes on the wines. www.saintclair.co.nz
Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 9 – Big John’ Marlborough Riesling 2012
Brilliant, even, straw-yellow colour with lemon-green hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is very elegant and tightly bound and lender in presentation, but with intense and penetrating aromas of lime fruit, honey and a fine thread of complexing toast and minerals. This has finesse and detail. Medium-dry to medium in sweetness, and light-bodied, the palate has flavours of lime fruit and savoury honey, with subtle toasty and mineral elements. The fruit is rich with a suggestion of unctuousness, balanced bt fine fruit extract and phenolic textures. The acidity is lacy and refreshing, enlivening the mouthfeel, and the wine carries to an elegant, lingering finish. This is an elegant and finely concentrated medium-sweet Riesling with savoury lime and honey flavours and toasty, minerally complexity on a fine-textured, fresh palate. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 4-5 years. The fruit from vines 14 y.o., pressed with as little skin contact as possible, and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 8.5% alc. and 60.4 g/L RS, TA 9.7 g/L and pH 2.93. 18.5+/20 Oct 2017 RRP $N/A

Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 9 – Big John’ Marlborough Riesling 2009
Brilliant pale golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. The bouquet is soft and full with plenty of volume, showing complex aromas of citrus fruits, honey, toast and notes of nutty oxidation. This is fully mature, and just a bit past that. Medium in sweetness and light-bodied, the palate is broad and mouthfilling with luscious flavours of citrus fruits, honey and toast, entwined with custard and cream, with nutty oxidative elements. The mouthfeel is soft and plush with very fine textures, and the palate possesses good acid liveliness. The flavours form a concentrated core that carries to a full finish of honey, toast and nuts. This is a full, accessible, mature medium Riesling with citrus fruits, honey, toast and some oxidation. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern fare. Drink up over the next 12 months. The fruit from vines 9 y.o., pressed with as little skin contact as possible, and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 9.0% alc. and 61.7 g/L RS, TA 9.7 g/L and pH 2.84. 17.5/20 Oct 2017 RRP $N/A

Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 9 – Big John’ Marlborough Riesling 2007
Bright, golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter edged. This has a softly full bouquet with a complex amalgam of citrus fruits, yellow florals, honey, with toast and kerosene notes, cream custard, and mineral elements. This is on its plateau. Medium in sweetness and light-medium bodied, the palate has a harmoniously melded heart with flavours of citrus fruits, honey and toast, with tertiary kerosene and cream custard elements. The palate has good presence, richness and a degree of unctuousness, balanced by fine, lacy acidity. The palate is rounded, but vibrant, and carries with good energy to a full, soft and rich finish. This is a fully mature medium Riesling with integrated citrus, honey, toast and kerosene flavours on a lush, creamy palate with fine acidity. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 2-3+ years. The fruit from vines 11 y.o., pressed with as little skin contact as possible, and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 10.0% alc. and 49 g/L RS, TA 9.5 g/L and pH 2.92. 19.0/20 Oct 2017 RRP $N/A

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