An evening with Framingham

New Zealand Pinot Noir wine by Framingham

A chance to spend the evening with the good people from Framingham was far too good an opportunity to pass up. I’ve gradually become more and more of a fan of these edgy rock ‘n’ roll wines from Marlborough – starting, of course with their wealth of Rieslings but also the Pinot Noir, rosé and even, goodness, the sauvignon blanc!

Chief goodness-creator Dr Andrew Hedley was in the house, assisted by star sidekick James Bowskill, and the evening actually held together by Marketing Guru Bridget Glackin. To say the evening started well and got better is my quick summary, but read on if you want an actual review.

Served a Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2019 straight off, I was a tad taken aback by the smokey, juicy, vibrant wine – and may have blurted this out as Andrew passed by “Did you bring it with you?” he asked. Errr, no. “Then it must one of ours”. Big smile.

I get the impression (they told me actually, to be fair) that Framingham doesn’t do ‘rules’ too well, or ‘boring’. As the night crashed on, the wines had a uniqueness as well as a sort of ‘fingerprint’ to them. I posted “live” from the event these three words: Individual, Balanced, yum. I can stand by that.

Second wine up was the 2018 F-Series Framingham Sauvignon Blanc. An estate-grown Sav of smooth,barrel-aged juiciness. Some wild ferment at the tip, a wad of oakiness through the middle and a hint of botrytis sweetened the finish. Loving this style. Something in here for everyone – will go on for years. Next comes a cheeky small-run F-Series Montepulciano Rosé 2019 – no Pinot-Noir-rosés for them. This one comes from 3 different picks, and is a dry style; ripe and vibrant, but super textural. Now, a Chardonnay… the 2018 Framinghan Chardonnay to be exact. Now, readers will know I love a good Chardy more than most. This… Didn’t blow me away. Made 50/50 tank and barrel with full lees, in what I’d unhelpfully call a ‘modern’ style. Nice oatmeal characters and that good nectarine and melon fruit that tells of ripe picks and careful hands-off winemaking. But I already preferred preceding wines, and, stay tuned – there is much more on level 2 of this store.

So, hands up who was here (just) for the Riesling? – you have arrived at your destination. A 2019 F-series Old Vine Riesling was possibly the white wine star turn tonight. Gleaned from half a hectare of stony ground with fruit given a long hang time. Results are a wine with a generous crunchy ripeness, balanced with a big rich complexity. Again, texture and grip are all here, sweetened by that plump flavour. I’m always greedy for more Riesling – so on to the 2019 Framingham Classic Riesling we trot, and it’s another great textural beauty of a thing. Showing a little skin contact influence and great intensity of citrus flavours in around 8 g/l of sugar – but with the acidity as the light shining through the wine.

We have time for two more Rieslings – the Framingham Select Riesling 2019 – a lower alcohol (9%) hand-harvested wine of width and detail – great food wine, with flavour to burn. And, a 2019 Framingham Noble Riesling is a superb example of this type of wine that a few key players are doing so well in NZ. A good pick is key; and the reward is the mango, apricot and ginger flavours that gleam in this viscous honey of a wine (not made of dead mice). Obviously, aromatics are in careful hands here, and the F-Series Gewurtztraminer 2019 completes that part of the set. A Classic-hits-segue of sorts. A lot goes on in this ‘gift shop’ of a wine. Some mandarin is on sale, with a savoury herbal tonic snifter, and some waxy floral scents from old barrels are hanging about by the till.

I have a sit down. The knee is playing up in this cooler-than-recent evening. I’I could go a red wine now, thanks. Yes, I’m happy to try the 2018 Framingham Pinot Noir – shamefaced to say this is the first time for me. This is a wine with soul. A glassful of savoury, woody character in total balance, Tannins, yes; but lighter acidity lends a softer, gently spicy edge to this very elegant and feminine Pinot. Revived, the chatter is flowing now, and I meet a couple of fellow wine writers, and talk ‘real’ music with Bridget as the room is now half empty.

We’ve time for one more. There’s no recipe followed here, but the final 2018 F-Series Pinot Noir is another one from the Framingham album titled ‘Greatest Hits’. I’d go for the more restrained remix of the previous wine, but this meaty, confident Pinot with mossy florals and spiced Ribena palate is definitely a crowd pleaser, kept back for the encore.

I’ll be down in Marlborough in the New Year, and will for sure be dropping in to see the Framingham crowd again, and taste more – yes – there is at least double figures that we didn’t try tonight – from this rule-defying riot of a winery.

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