What makes the wines from New Zealand special?
- The maritime climate plays a major role in defining the NZ wine style, we get beautiful sunshine ripening during the daytime then as the sun dips over the horizon – the ocean, acting like a heat sink, draws the warmth off the land. The cool night time temperatures preserve the acidity and with that the flavours remain crispy and bright. From a geological point of view our soils are young and fertile, typically alluvial in nature, which promotes healthy, vigorous vines that are capable of packing in the flavours.
How was the 2020 vintage?
- 2020 has been an incredible vintage for fruit quality and the relative ease of harvesting this amazing fruit, with ideal weather conditions. The difficulty this year were the challenges the Covid19 pandemic imposed. While this put a strain on all those involved, we were very grateful to have the opportunity to continue to work as part of an essential industry and pull together as a team. This year has been a great year for all varieties which have shown exceptional character and concentration of flavour. We are now starting to bottle some of the Sauvignon Blancs and aromatic varieties, while our red wines are developing in a mixture of oak barrels, along with our Chardonnays. It is always exciting to see the wines develop in their barrels. We cannot wait to blend them once they are ready!
Sauvignon Blanc is a big part of what you do, but Chardonnay is a variety which is making some interesting wines, in some cases with more influence from the winemaker. Tell us about what goes into producing the Block 4 Sawcut Chardonnay?
- The Pioneer Block 4 “Sawcut” is a special little vineyard located almost as far south as you can go and remain in the province of Marlborough. The soils are limestone rich which we do not get in main grape growing valleys of the Wairau and Awatere valley. This high limestone content conveys a finesse and elegance in style. Matured in French oak, we need to be careful in the oak selection, as we want the fruit to be the hero.
As the crayfish season of 2020 is soon ending, what would you be pairing with our traditional dishes and why?
- Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc and seafood is a true ‘Wine and Food’ marriage. The zesty fresh flavours compliment any seafood dish, especially crayfish who sweeter and richer meat can often be harder to pair wines with. Unfortunately, we don’t have a song like ‘Helan går’ to go with our Sauvignon Blanc but ‘cheers’ – I wish I was there for the festival. Look out for our Saint Clair Origin Sauvignon Blanc, or if you are looking for something a little livelier, try our Vicars Choice Bubbles Sauvignon Blanc.
What else should we be looking out for from New Zealand?
- While Marlborough and Sauvignon Blanc are synonymous, the terroir here proves to be suitable for a wide array of varieties found in the ‘cool climate’ grape growing regions around the world. The vineyards are dominated by white varieties, but we also produce some exciting red wines. Marlborough has proven to have the ideal climate and clay-based soils to produce some exciting Pinot Noir.