After a five-day cold peeling, fermentation takes place to obtain colour and taste. Also during fermentation, everything is done to increase concentration. The ‘hat’ (the little peels that float to the top) is re-immersed eight times a day. After fermentation, part of the wine matures for several months in new and used oak wood.
Saint Clair is named after James Sinclair, who was responsible for the first settlements in Blenheim, New Zealand, the home of the South Island winery. Founded in 1978, the family business is one of the pioneers of winemaking in Marlborough. Hence, the link with pioneer James Sinclair was quickly made. Saint Clair owns over 270 hectares of vineyards in Marlborough on the South Island, and in Hawke’s Bay on the North Island.
The founders of the winery are Neil and Judy Ibbotson. Both are still fully involved in the business. Saint Clair is hugely popular among wine critics for their terroir wine series ‘Pioneer Block’ followed by a vineyard number. With this, Saint Clair has put New Zealand’s terroir on the map.
Saint Clair has a total of 14 vineyards in different locations, allowing the micro-climatic conditions to be reflected in the wines as much as possible. The winery is represented in the sub-regions of Rapaura, Awatere, Omaka and Hawke’s Bay. Under the leadership of winemaker Hamish Clark, the team works with a wide range of grape varieties.
Due to its popularity in the international market, Saint Clair’s focus is mainly on Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With the different terroirs, it is the mission of Hamish and his team to bring out the primary character of these grapes in the wines as much as possible. To this end, he uses a very modern style of winemaking, in which the quality of the fruit is guaranteed at every stage of the process. Important pillars are the hygienic cellar conditions, the temperature-controlled harvest and various advanced measuring devices to monitor the vineyards and vinification.
Saint Clair’s mission is to make world-class wines that meet consumer expectations at all times. Saint Clair uses 250 small stainless steel tanks. This enables them to follow the development of each individual parcel and thus decide which wines go into which cuvée. A time-consuming task, but it makes the difference between ordinary and special.
Apart from the modern style of winemaking, New Zealand is known as the most sustainable wine country in the world, where 94% of all wineries operate sustainably. Saint Clair, too, is committed to sustainable viticulture in all respects. They are accredited ‘sustainable winegrower’ in New Zealand. To obtain this label, more than 40% of all glass waste and 60% of all packaging waste is recycled annually. In addition, measurements are taken annually to reduce water waste and all contracted bottlers are certified sustainable.