Sunday, 15 January 2012

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with a twist

It was a pleasant surprise to have tasted this wine at a recent tasting organised by Sogrape. I was expecting the overtly pungent fruit driven Sauvignon Blanc that is typical of Marlborough, but Framingham’s is more subtle. It still has all the characters of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc but they are toned down, and with added complexity and creamy mouthfeel. A chat with winemaker Andrew Hedley revealed that the grapes were sourced from eight different sites and were fermented in batches, some in stainless steel at cool rather than cold temperature to avoid the estery characters, and some in barrels at even higher temperature. The finished wine was left on lees for a few months with partial malo-lactic fermentation before final blending. No wonder it has such a nice texture and subtlety. Andrew explained that most of their sales come from restaurants and therefore they have to make food-friendly wine. Typical Sauvignon Blanc tends to be too pungent and overpowers the food. He certainly has a point!

I also tried his Classic Riesling, an off dry style again fermented at cool temperature and left on lees for a few months. I liked the wide spectrum of flavours, the firm structure and the nicely balanced residual sugar. Framingham was among the second generation of producers in Marlborough and one of the first to have planted Riesling. They make a range of Rieslings from dry and off-dry to botrytis infected sweet wine, all in relative small volumes. Framingham has ten wines under the label and an experimental F-series that uses different winemaking techniques.

I like their philosophy of trying different varieties (they have a Montepulciano) and have adopted both New and Old World winemaking techniques rather than joining the bandwagon to make standardised Sauvignon Blanc. I wish more wineries could be as daring. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc may have put New Zealand on the wine map, but it’s time to move on.

By the way, Framingham Point Noir 2009 was a double trophy winner at the 2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition, snatching both Best Pinot Noir and Best New World Pinot Noir. Their wines are available from Leung Yick Co Ltd.

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