Featured Reviews

Saint Clair ‘Dawn’ Methode 2013 and ‘Origin’ Pinot Noir 2017

04 October,2018

There are countless ways to create a wine or tier of wines. The method traditionnelle style is one of deliberate intent to make that particular style and it involves a number of unique and committed paths and essentially most of them irreversible. In making the ‘Dawn’ Methode Traditionnelle, the Ibbotson family of Saint Clair needed to decide dedicating resources for it. Once chosen, the fruit and eventual wine must go through a specific blending process and secondary fermentation in bottle on lees for some time. The lengthy time from harvest to selling is extended with sales and profits delayed for an inordinate amount of time. This wine is a tribute to Neal Ibbotson’s mother who celebrated 100 years on 12 December 2012. The first vintage was the 2012 (click here to see my report). Here, I review the new 2013 vintage, which I saw at the Negociants Tour 2018 where I thought it displayed high Chardonnay white florals and citrus character. Here it seems broader and more complex.

A more flexible method of creating a wine range is by selection at assessment time. This is where only the best wine goes into the flagship labels, and there are progressively less strict criteria applied for the selection for lower ranges. A fine degree of discrimination can be employed, with grades and delineation made at distinct levels of character and quality. The parameters can easily be relatively easily changed to suit the vintage, but care must be taken when doing so. Saint Clair’s assessment system gives them the top ‘Reserve’ wines, with the ‘Pioneer Block’ wines under that. The new ‘Origin’ tier sits below the ‘James Sinclair’ brand, but above ‘Premium’ range. The ‘Origin’ wines are focussed vineyard sites for fruit sourcing. Here, I review the ‘Origin’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017. www.saintclair.co.nz


Saint Clair ‘Dawn’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle 2013

Sparkling Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright, clear, golden-hued straw-yellow colour, a little lighter edged, the bubbles very fine with moderate persistence. This has a fresh, open bouquet with well-packed and deep, layered aromas of citrus and apple-like fruit, with an amalgam of bready, doughy and yeasty autolysis with a little nutty, aldehyde nuance. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a rounded but well-concentrated and deep core of presence with flavours of yellow stonefruits and florals, apples and citrus fruit alongside an integrated amalgam of bready-yeasty autolysis and complexing nutty, aldehyde notes. The mouthfeel is fresh with subtle creamy effervescence and fresh acid cut and the wine flows along a soft, phenolic-textured line. The linearity is positive and leads to a complex, nuanced finish. This is a complex and layered method traditionnelle with stonefruit, apple, floral and citrus fruit entwined with bready-yeasty autolysis and some nutty aldehyde on a light-textured, fresh palate with presence. Serve with antipasto and white meat dishes over the next 3+ years, A blend of 67% clone 95 Chardonnay and 33% clone 5 Pinot Noir from and the Pinot Noir in seasoned French oak barriques, to 12.0% alc. and 6.6 g/L RS, the wine tiraged one year later for secondary fermentation in bottle with 35 months on lees. 18.0+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $49.00

Saint Clair ‘Origin’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough


Ruby-red colour with some depth and darkness at the heart, lighter on the edge with slight purple hues. The nose is well-proportioned with a good core of concentrated dark-red cherry and berry fruit and hints of plums harmoniously intermixed with notes of dark herbs and an underlying line of reductive mineral detail, unveiling violet florals. Medium-full bodied, the palate has softly rich and deep flavours of dark-red berry and black cherry fruit with nuances of plums along with notes of herbs and oak and some minerals. The fruit forms a rounded core with fine tannin structure and grip, and some underlying alcoholic power. The acidity is soft and balanced and the wine flows to a solid, rounded finish. This is a softly rounded, dark-red and black-fruited Pinot Noir with a good core and balanced structure and some alcoholic drive. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 3-4 years. Pinot Noir fruit from sites in the Southern Valleys destemmed and fermented to 13.5% alc. with approx. 5% whole bunches, 76% of the wine aged in tank and the remainder for 8 months in French oak with 6% new. 18.0-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $24.90

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