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Featured Reviews

Saint Clair Hawke’s Bay 2016 ‘Premium’ Syrah and 2014 ‘Pioneer Block 17’ Merlot

19 September,2017
In 2013, Saint Clair purchased the ‘Plateau’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels from where they had been sourcing some of their Hawke’s Bay fruit to supplement their portfolio of Marlborough wines. The 10.4 ha vineyard, off Omahu Road, Twyford has Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier, the vines between 12-17 y.o. and the Saint Clair team are now beginning to realise the potential of the vineyard as they have become more familiar with the fruit and the growing seasons. In total, Saint Clair wines from the ‘Plateau’ vineyard have won 25 gold medals and two trophies to date. Here, I review wines from the vineyard, the new release 2016 ‘Premium’ Syrah, and have a re-look at the 2014 ‘Pioneer Block’ Merlot which I rated as a silver medal equivalent, but won the Champion Merlot Trophy at the 2015 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. This time the wine appears more robust with black fruits, grip and some secondary development appearing.


Saint Clair ‘Premium’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

Syrah from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay

Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with light purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh, and elegant in proportion with bright, aromatic fruit flavours of blackberries and raspberries, along with black and white pepper and subtle notes of spices, unfolding dark-red floral elements. Medium-bodied, the palate is moderately concentrated with flavours of dark raspberries and black fruits, along with an amalgam of spices, red florals and subtle pepper nuances. The fruit is bright, vibrant and primary in expression and enlivened by softly fresh acidity, and supported by light, supple tannin extraction. The mouthfeel I fresh, juicy and fruit focussed, and flows with good energy along a light-structured line, leading to a finish with raspberry and spice notes. This is a bright, lively, fruit-focussed Syrah with raspberry fruit, spice and floral elements, and a light, supple palate. Match with pasta, pizza and barbecued fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from a single site in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.0% alc., and aged in tank with a small portion in French oak. 16.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $26.50

Saint Clair ‘Pioneer Block 17 – Plateau’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2014

Merlot from New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay


Full, dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. This has a full and deeply packed nose with aromas of ripe black plums, blackberry and blue fruits, along with black ink, nuances of dark herbs, unfolding spices, and nutty, cedary oak. Full-bodied, the palate is rich with solid and dense flavours of savoury black plums, black berried fruits, nuances of blue fruits, entwined with black ink and secondary earthy notes, revealing spice elements and cedary oak. The flavours are rich and fulsome, and carried by grainy tannin structure and grip. The palate is solid and robust, and carries to a full, black-fruited, earthy, cedary finish. This is a fulsome and rich, robust Merlot with savoury black plum and berried fruits with ink, earth and spicy oak, on a well-structured palate. Serve with roasted and grilled game meat dishes over the next 6-8 yeas. Fruit from the ‘Plateau’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in American oak, 43% new. 18.0+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $37.90

Full, very dark, black-hued ruby-red with light purple on the rim. This has a full and softly packed nose with aromas of mulberries, blackberries and dark plums unfolding deep notes of liquorice, curranty fruit and nutty oak. Medium-full bodied, this is fulsome on the palate with mouthfilling flavours of ripe dark plums, mulberries and blackberry fruit along with a layering of nutty and spicy oak, unfolding nuances of herbs and currants. The sweet fruit is underlined by fine-grained, dry, mouthcoating, soft-textured tannins providing balance, with integrate, softly ripe acidity. The wine leads to a juicy, plush and textured finish with notes of mulberries, plums and oak. This is a rich, mouthfilling Merlot with mulberry, plum, herb and spicy oak flavours on a soft, grainy-textured palate. Match with slow cooked game meat dishes over the next 5-7+ years. Fruit from the ‘Plateau’ vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in American oak, 43% new. 17.5+/20 Sep 2016 RRP $37.90
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