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Wine of the Week for week ending 30 June 2002
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Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2001
Marlborough, New Zealand

If you like bone dry austere chardonnay, you won't like the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2001. Not that the wine is 'sweet', it's just full of ripe fruit and has been matured in American oak, which generally gives a sweeter impression to me - plus there's a tad residual sugar too.

Whether bone dry or off dry is your preference, my preference depends on my mood and the time of day. So I'm sipping on the straw-gold coloured Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2001 in the process of tuning up my taste buds for dinner. It definitely suits my mood and the time of day.

First of all there's the mellow oak and orange citrus aromas. Then in the mouth there's sweet peach and melon with a hint of musk and spicy oak, then mealy barrel ferment flavours of figs and creamed hazel nuts. Pineapple emerges to linger on the smoky finish. The fruit is juicy and ripe.

Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay has traditionally been too oaky in its youth for my taste. Well the 2000 vintage wine was anyway. I loved the '99 (as did heaps of others) but the 2000 went on to sweep all before it on the Show circuit, winning a trophy for Champion Chardonnay at the Liquorland Top 100 last year. Will the 2001 do the same? Based on this sample I wouldn't be surprised.

The perfect match for this wine - or my perfect match for this particular bottle of wine - is a rolled and tied belly, or was it a loin, of pork. It was roasted in the oven and served with a spiced apple and beetroot accompaniment that was cooked with a dash of chardonnay instead of a squeeze of lemon juice. (I'll post the recipe soon). The meat came from 'Pyrenees', a new 'Bucherie and Charcuterie' in Vauxhall Road, Devonport. I'm sure all the famous food writers will find this fantastic little shop soon.

But I digress.

So I tasted the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2001 in the company of several other chardonnays, many well-known with an illustrious career, but the Saint Clair stood rungs above the others.

Leave it for a few days to develop and the wine becomes quite toasty and deliciously creamy and warm and mealy with toasted melon and fig and a sweetish ripe peach finish with flavours of buttered popcorn. Yum, just delicious!

So what do the winemaking notes say?
Omaka Valley Mendoza chardonnay (70%) and Awatere Valley Clone 6 (30%) were fermented in a mixture of new and old American oak barriques and aged for 10 months before blending and bottling. The alcohol is 13.5%, titratable acidity 6.2g/litre and residual sugar 5.3g/litre.

It has a recommended retail of $27.50.

Find out more about Saint Clair from

© Sue Courtney

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