(2018) Sourced from the prime Gimblett Gravels terroir, this deep purple-black wine has a certain inkiness to the aromas, dry, spicy, a touch of graphite to black fruits. In the mouth the oak is a little more prominent, a touch of charriness of quality French oak, a firm strip of liquorice tannin and acidity, quite linear and structured, finishing with some of the black cassis fruit and spice coming through. Just a touch lean perhaps.
(2018) There's also 4% Cabernet Franc joining the 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Sauvignon in this premium wine from Te Awa, fermented with native yeasts then aged for 18 months in French oak. Ripe, dense fruit dominates here. Yes, there's a glossy slick of creamy oak, but it is blackcurrant and black plum, and a touch of balsamic that drives the aromas. On the palate an umami savouriness is nicely done, the foundation for ripe but tangy and tart-edged black fruits, the acidity giving an edge along with a roughening grip of tannin from the fruit and barrel. Quite long, that savoury, meaty character is appealing.
(2018) Another wine that moves the story of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on a page or two, from the organic certified and biodynamic vineyards of Seresin, fermented with wild yeasts and with a small proportion fermented in French oak, as well as having 5% Semillon in the blend. That speaks of an attempt to create a more layered wine with real dimension, and it succeeds. A little wild yeast funky and earthy character lies behind yellow plum and melon aromas, no more than a hint of grassiness. In the mouth the exotic opulence of the fruit shows through a little more, moving into papaya and nectarine, then a fine, racy, driving mineral acidity gives a bit of oomph to the finish. Not a simple quaffer, but not without its approachable charms. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) The Legacy blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, and this wine was the first release in the Legacy series (which was not made again until conditions where right in 2013). The blend changes, and some vintages have been 100% Cabernet. Only 13 barrels, produced, the wine spending 20 months in French oak, around 50% new. Big, rich nose, immediately more plummy, with plenty of spice and tobacco, a gentle earth and leather note, but not dry, the fruit is there and the chocolate depth and plum comes through. Fine tannins, soft and with a raspberry ripple edge of creaminess, but fine acids and balance. This should still age nicely for a few more years too.
(2017) Though Pinot Gris is a grape that can ripen to quite a dark red, and thus could make a rosé on its own, here Saint Clair have blended in some Malbec. The colour is quite a pale salmon pink, and it's very much a dry red berry nose - raspberry, redcurrant, even strawberry - before a palate that has a good core of lemony, zest acidity and quite a full texture, adding up to a pleasing and versatile rosé. On sale at £9.30 from The Drink Shop at time of review.
(2016) A pinot on the strawberry and cherry-scented, creamy side of the equation, with a nicely smoky, incense-like lift. The palate is juicy with red fruit, but has a stripe of beetrooty, earthy vegatility that adds savoury interest. Pretty well balanced, with of acid and tannin just a tiny bit angular against the sweetness of fruit in the finish.
(2015) Fruit is sourced from a number of vineyards in the Awatere and Wairau Valleys for this Pinto, which is partly fermented with wild yeasts, and I suspect sees ageing only in older oak. There's a rosemary, herby lift on the nose, bright cherry fruit, and a sense of sappy freshness. On the palate it is dry and savoury, a medium-bodied style of Pinot yet with a bit of substance and depth of colour (and 13.5% alcohol), it is typically Marlborough, balanced between 'pretty' and 'serious', and very enjoyable if just slightly flat in the finish.