It was an unspeakably difficult vintage in many parts of New Zealand this year but, thankfully, not bad at all for the country's biggest wine region, Marlborough, which is beginning to see the release of 2023 white wines.
Two new wines from Saint Clair this week from 2023 are from areas that sound tricky. One of the wines is named Swamp Block after its low lying wetland vineyard site. It won a gold medal at the 2023 New Zealand International Wine Show.
The other newcomer is part of Saint Clair's Pioneer Block wine series and also made from grapes grown on low lying land, in this case just half a metre above sea level. Despite the tricky nature of the low lying vineyards, these two wines put Marlborough's best white wine foot forward with their dry flavours, fruit concentration and depth of taste in the mid palate.
Here are my tasting notes on the two new wines.
2023 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 2 Swamp Block Sauvignon Blanc RRP $39.90
A vineyard in the lower Wairau Valley was named swamp block due to its low lying site on a wetland area. Despite which (or perhaps because of), this wine is a dry, succulent and fleshy Sauvignon Blanc with intense tropical fruit aromas, balanced by bright acidity in a medium bodied wine with texture and weight.
This wine has won 20 gold medals since its first release in 2018.
2023 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 25 Point Five Sauvignon Blanc RRP $39.90
Flinty, perceptibly drier in taste due to less pronounced fruity aromas and juicy acidity. This wine comes from a vineyard that is just half a metre above sea level and has a massive swing in temperature between day and night, making for naturally high acidity which gives this wine its succulence and length of flavour. This extremely fresh Sauvignon Blanc would make a great match with panfried fish, fresh and simply prepared. The vineyard is owned by the Geer and Bennett families, who supply the grapes to Saint Clair Family Estate.