In a selected vineyard within Wairau, a sub-region of Marlborough, New Zealand, a rather unconventional approach is taken to vine planting. Rows of vines stretch at an angle of 43 degrees, oriented from northeast to southwest. This unique positioning imparts a distinct character to the grapes: those on the southern side tend to exhibit slightly greener nuances, while their northern counterparts boast more pronounced tropical notes. The outcome is a wine of remarkable complexity and dimensionality.
This particular site enjoys a cooler climate compared to some other areas in the valley, which results in a more gradual ripening process. The signature flavors derived from this vineyard are redolent of crushed herbs, a characteristic often associated with the coastal Awatere region, and notably devoid of any off-putting sweaty undertones.
After careful harvesting, the grapes undergo pressing with minimal skin contact. The juice is then cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain the utmost freshness.
Saint Clair, bearing the name of James Sinclair, the visionary behind the earliest settlements in Blenheim, New Zealand, where the winery calls its South Island home, was founded in 1978. As a family-owned establishment, it stands among the pioneering figures in the Marlborough winemaking landscape. The connection to the pioneering spirit of James Sinclair is deeply ingrained in the winery’s identity. Saint Clair boasts an extensive 270-hectare vineyard presence in Marlborough, South Island, as well as in Hawke’s Bay, North Island.
The heart of Saint Clair’s expertise lies in their specialized Pioneer Block range, a collection of small-batch wines meticulously crafted to showcase the distinct influence of terroir on grape varieties cultivated within the same region. Terroir, a concept rooted in French viticulture, encompasses the unique interplay of soil, climate, and vineyard location, all of which play a pivotal role in shaping these exceptional wines. Each Pioneer Block wine is denoted by the vineyard source, accompanied by a label name that narrates its own unique story.
These wines are artfully created from select, high-quality grape parcels, each expressing the essence of its specific Pioneer Block vineyard site. Saint Clair’s winemakers may employ individualized winemaking techniques to optimize the fruit parcels or to craft specialized wine styles. Subtle stylistic variations across these wines reflect the interplay of terroir and the distinct winemaking approach. Pioneer Block wines are only produced during the finest vintage conditions for each grape variety.
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