May 2012 Vintage Report
Hamish Clark – Saint Clair Family Estate Senior Winemaker
The Saint Clair Family Estate vintage 2012 is complete.
From the outset Marlborough was never going to be an ‘average year’. A brief period of warm days at the start of flowering (early December) saw a relatively rapid onset and completion of flowering in some vineyards. This was only the case in a handful of sites as the Marlborough district went into a prolonged period of cool weather which eventuated in the drawing out of flowering.
The fruit set across all varieties was some of the worst experienced in the brief history of growing here in Marlborough. Early estimates with regards to probable reduction in volume were a conservative 20 per cent. Those that did their research and calculations early quickly realised that the actual deficit was going to be much more significant. As fruit sizing progressed and then into verasion it became readily apparent to all involved that 2012 crops were indeed going to be well and truly lighter than average.
Thankfully Mother Nature has a way of balancing things and these lighter than average crops in this significantly cooler than average year proved to be the key. The vines with strong healthy canopies were able to fully take advantage of the sunnier, warmer weather when it eventually did arrive in mid to late March converting the suns energy into flavour and sugar.
The dedicated vintage team at the winery have worked tirelessly to ensure the juice has been put through its processes in the most pristine condition. The harvest was long in terms of days with a compression of blocks ripening in the latter part of the vintage window.
From a quality aspect 2012 is looking to be an exceptional vintage – why? Lower crops and extended hang time while the fruit was ripening have together contributed to outstanding purity, depth and intensity.
Pinot Noir is looking especially strong at this early stage showing all the potential (and some more) of the highlight 2010 and 2007 vintages. Sauvignon Blanc will be exceptional from the entry level wines through to reserve with all blocks performing well above expectation, albeit significantly lighter in crop.
Although the vintage team are now physically and mentally exhausted they are satisfied that quality is exceptional and the 2012 wines are going to exceed our customer’s expectations.