There can’t have been a single delegate at Pinot17 who wasn’t charmed by Hatsch Kalberer’s gentle speech praising Central Otago’s wines and its winemakers. But though he mentioned being envious of his more southerly brethren, surely there is no better advocate for Marlborough than this talented Swiss born winemaker who has steered the ship at Fromm for over 25 years.
Because Kalberer pulls off that rare feat of making wines that are never flamboyant but instead thoughtful and intricate. Wines that remain in one’s memory long after the bottle is finished. It is easy sometimes to overlook them in a world of flamboyance and pomp but Fromm is one of the few wineries that every time I have a glass of the wine think “I really should drink these much more often”.
In 2017 Fromm decided to release a couple of new single site pinot noir, in addition to its long-established Fromm and Clayvin wines. Plus a special Cuvée H, honouring Hatsch’s 25 year career. (Though apparently he didn’t want it to have his name of the label so the H is a compromise). An opportunity to taste such a range of carefully crafted wines is a treat indeed and each wine showed a true sense of place rather than the hand of man.
Usually we wouldn’t list all the technical details but Adam Balasoglou (in charge of Sales and Marketing) went to all the trouble of typing it out in his email so though we should share. Rather than amalgamate our notes, the wines are described individually.
2015 Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir rrp $40.00
Wairau Valley, Brancott Valley, Waihopai Valley, a blend of fruit from Fromm Vineyard, Quarters Vineyard, Churton Vineyard, Yarrum Vineyard. Soil: mix of clay, silt, alluvial gravel.
Clones: Dijon 115, 667, 777, 114 (tiny amount), 113(tiny amount), Abel, UCD5, UCD6, UCD13 (tiny amount), 10/5, 2/10
4000-4700 plants per hectare. Vine age: 14 – 25 years
Bright ruby. Lifted fresh cranberry and raspberry fruit. Juicy and vivid, touch of dried herbs on the finish. Very little by way of tannin but with enough complexity to engage the mind. The only wine sealed under screw cap. Super approachable.
2015 Fromm Pinot Noir Cuvée “H” rrp $65.00
Blend of five completed single vineyard wines – 2015 Fromm PN Clayvin Vineyard, 2015 Fromm PN Fromm Vineyard, 2015 Fromm PN Quarters Vineyard, 2015 Fromm PN Churton Vineyard, 2015 Fromm PN Yarrum Vineyard. Soil: mainly (4 of the 5 vineyards) clay vineyards in the Southern Valleys + alluvial gravel and silt (Fromm Vineyard component).
Clones: mainly Dijon 115, 667, 777 (over 80%), balance UCD 5 and Abel with a small amount of UCD 6
4000-5000 plants per hectare
Deep ruby. Lovely exotic, almost opulent nose; sweetly fruited with a touch of blueberry creeping in. Soft and supple with a thread of acidity running down the spine of the palate. There is a definite note of new oak but it is well judged and doesn’t overwhelm. Would expect this to cellar well though pretty delicious right now.
2015 Fromm Pinot Noir Quarters Vineyard rrp $55.00
Brancott Valley, Soil: clay & silt. Clones: mainly Dijon 115, 777, Abel with balance UCD5
4350 plants per hectare. Average vine age: 16-18 years
Nose is edging towards rich, ripe spectrum, blueberry and wild raspberry. Bigger framed; glossy and polished with an almost decadent edge. Again, has the concentration for cellar development but gloriously attractive now.
2015 Fromm Pinot Noir Churton Vineyard rrp $55.00
Waihopai Valley. Soil: thick layer of Loess (approx. 17% clay) over alluvial gravel. Clones: mainly Dijon 115, 667, Abel and UCD5
4350 plants per hectare. Average vine age: 14 years
Fruit sits firmly in the red spectrum; strawberry and cranberry. Open textured, bright and vivid. Attractive density with tannins just biting at the end of the palate. Maybe not quite as exotic as some in the range but promises good things.
2015 Fromm Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyard rrp $85.00
Brancott Valley. Soil: heavy clay. Clones: Dijon 115, 667, 777 + very small amounts of UCD 5 & 6
5000 plants per hectare. Average vine age: 18 years
More buttoned down than the rest. Tight and restrained with cinnamon and nutmeg oak overlaying the fruit. Excellent density and concentration with acidity and finely grained tannin harnessing the palate. Definitely one for the cellar.
2015 Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard rrp $85.00
Wairau Valley. Soil: alluvial gravel & silt. Clones: Dijon 115, 667, 777 + small amounts of Abel & UD5
4700 plants per hectare. Average vine age: 18 – 23 years
Obviously vine age is a huge positive here. Fairly pale in colour, the wine has plenty of mid palate concentration with plenty of wild strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit. Tightly focussed, with acidity playing a definite part. Densely fruited but very reined in right now. Great length. Needs time.