Saint Clair Family Estate Pioneer Pinots Rated ‘Excellent’ by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas

Some know Saint Clair Family Estate due to their reputation for producing high quality Sauvignon Blanc, crafted in small parcels that are unique and expressive to Marlborough. However, it is true to say they are not simply world class Sauvignon Blanc producers, other varietals within their portfolio are also internationally acclaimed. 


Today it is the Saint Clair Pinot Noir that shines bright amongst others from a recent New Zealand Pinot Noir tasting, held by Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. Saint Clair Family Estate is proud to claim an outstanding total of five Marlborough Pinot Noirs rated 90 points or above by Cameron. Three of which were rated with ‘excellence’ by the New Zealand Master Sommelier. Saint Clair Senior Winemaker Kyle Thompson comments, “It's always a boost for our winemaking team when we get positive feedback about our wines, especially with difficult to master varieties like Pinot Noir. We've learnt a lot over the years, and we'll continue to embrace the challenge of making world class Pinot Noir.”

Kyle Thompson- Saint Clair Winemaker 


The Reviews:

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 16 Awatere Pinot Noir 2021 - 94 points (Excellent)

“A bouquet of white smoke and savoury complexity, dark berries and earthy spices, there’s a light sea air quality adding complexity and intrigue. Delicious, varietal, ripe, dry and savoury. Aromas and flavours of dark cherry flesh and black currant skin, a smoky wood quality and associated barrel spices deliver a complete wine. Tannins and acidity frame the whole wine very nicely adding complexity and length.”

The fruit was sourced from a vineyard on the southern side of the Awatere Valley. The sloping site allows each vine to receive maximum exposure to sunlight, while the cooler maritime influence assists with acid and flavour retention. Aged for 9 months in French oak barriques, this wine completed a malolactic fermentation before being carefully extracted from oak and bottled.

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Saint Clair Pioneer Block 15 Strip Block Pinot Noir 2021 - 94 points (Excellence)

“Great colour, intensity and varietal core of black currant and dark cherry, there’s a fine savoury quality and layers of oak and smoke adding complexity and power. Delicious on the palate with a mirror of fruit and wood flavours emerging quickly. Mouthfeel is built around the tannins and acid line with plenty of work for the palate to do to dissolve the tannins and get to the core flavours of fruit and spices with a savoury edge.”

The fruit for this wine was harvested from a single vineyard at the base of the southern foothills of the lower Waihopai Valley. Aged in 17 per cent French oak and older seasoned 225 litre oak barriques, this wine was matured for eleven months before being blended and prepared for bottling.

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Saint Clair Pioneer Block 23 Master Block Pinot Noir 2022 - 93 points (Excellence)

“A lovely expression of red berry fruits and natural earthy stony soil suggestions. Moderately firm tannins and a backbone of acidity deliver a wine of texture and ripeness. Fruit flavours of red and dark cherry, baking spices and some dried herb qualities sit nicely within the structure.”

Named after Les and Sonya Masters who once managed this Saint Clair vineyard, this Pinot Noir comes from the Ben Morven area in the Southern Valleys, planted in clay-based soil with a small amount of light covered gravel.

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Other noteworthy ratings by Cameron Douglas MS: 

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2022, Marlborough - 92+ points

“A bouquet with complexity as well as varietal lift and core aromas of fresh red berries, some black currant and spices from earth and wood. Crisp and dry with core fruit flavours that reflect the bouquet, strawberry in the lead then cherry. Fine tannins dissolve easily on the palate leaving textures from acidity and core fruit with a gentle warmth from the alcohol.”


Saint Clair Origin Pinot Noir 2022, Marlborough - 90 points

“An enticing bouquet of plums and red berry fruits, with some soft brown baking spices from oak and a fine earthy complexity. Red apple skin, cherry, and then plum flavours touch the palate first, followed by textures from finer, easily dissolved tannins. The acid line adds freshness throughout the palate, and the spice flavours deliver breath.”


Saint Clair would like to thank Cameron Douglas MS for taking the time to taste and rate Saint Clair’s Marlborough Pinot Noirs, and thanks to the Saint Clair team for consistently producing high-quality world-class wines to be proud of. 


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