Visiting Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine region



Fromm is one of the leading wineries that I’d classify under ‘interesting Marlborough’. Most people think of this region as the home of Sauvignon Blanc, produced on a grand scale by large wineries. But scratch below the surface and you’ll find producers such as Fromm, who are demonstrating that Marlborough has interesting terroirs, and can make a diverse range of serious wines—including reds.


The winery dates back to the late 1980s when fourth generation Swiss winemaker Georg Fromm journeyed around New Zealand. On his travels he met Swiss winemaker Hätsch Kalberer (above), who was working in Gisborne, and also travelled to Marlborough. He decided to join forces with Hätsch, buy some land, and start a winery. The Fromm vineyard was born in 1992, based on a block of land in the Wairau plains, Marlborough. Fromm has recently changed hands but the Swiss connection remains: it is now owned by Pol Lenzinger, a friend of Georg’s, and his business partner Georg Walliser.


There are now four estate vineyards (Clayvin, Fromm, William Thomas and Quarters), and these make two ranges of wines. Fromm wines are more terroir-based, while La Strada wines are more style-based. Fromm are famous for their wines from the Clayvin Vineyard. Originally planted by Mike Eaton on the north-facing slopes of the Brancott Valley, it has complex clay soils, resulting in distinctive wines. Clayvin has recently been purchased by Giesen, but Fromm still have access to grapes from this site. The Fromm vineyard is the home block where the cellar door is located. It has alluvial valley floor soils, and was the original vineyard planted in 1992. Since 2013 all the Fromm vineyards have been certified organic by BioGro, and many of the vines are now dry grown.


I visited with general manager William Hoare (who joined Fromm in 2000 as assistant winemaker) and winemaker Hätsch Kalberer. Hatsch moved from Switzerland to New Zealand in 1982 to work for Matawhero Wines in Gisborne, and a decade later he joined Georg and Ruth Fromm to help establish the Fromm Winery in Marlborough.

This is a serious winery and I was really impressed with the line-up.



Fromm Riesling Dry 2012 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fine and pure with apple and citrus fruit. Rounded and taut, and a bit limey. Nice finesse here: it's not austere with some nice appley notes. Good precision. 90/100

Fromm La Strada Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough, New Zealand
Precise, lively and taut with high acidity and some pithy grapefruit notes, as well as a bit of mineral. Taut and subtly green but not overtly so. 89/100

Fromm Riesling Spätlese 2012 Marlborough, New Zealand
Just 7.5% alcohol, 94 g/litre residual sugar. Very fine and expressive with citrus, herbs and a hint of melon. Lovely fresh, crisp, taut palate with clean citrus fruit and a bit of sweetness. Very linear. 92/100

Fromm La Strada Chardonnay 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Finely expressive with subtle toast, some bread and white peach fruit. The palate is elegant, taut and fresh with nice nutty notes, some citrus and white peach. Textured. 92/100

Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fine, expressive nose of focused citrus fruit, herbs, peaches and pears. Fresh and textured on the palate with some nuts and toast, made in an elegant style. 93/100

Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh and focused with nice cherry and plum fruit, as well as some softness of structure. There’s also some spicy savouriness. Quite old-world in style with juicy cherries and herbs, and some mineral structure. 92/100

Fromm Brancott Valley Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Real finesse on the nose: fine, expressive cherry and plum fruit. Beautiful, fine textured smooth red cherry fruit palate. Layered with real finesse and purity, as well as some minerality. Thrilling. 95/100

Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Finely aromatic and sophisticated with red cherries and plums. The palate is taut and textured; concentrated yet beautifully integrated, with some structure and minerality. Profound, fine and multi-layered. 94/100

Fromm Fromm Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh, fine, sappy cherry fruit nose. This is a lighter, more elegant expression of Pinot. Great acidity, fresh cherries, a hint of raspberry and some mineral notes. Still quite tight. 94/100

Fromm La Strada Syrah 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Very fine peppery nose with lovely lush black cherry and plum fruit. Very expressive palate with pure fruit and real precision. Lovely edgy black fruits. 93/100

Fromm Vineyard Syrah 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fine, expressive and slightly meaty with peppery black fruits. Lovely pepper and clove notes but also smooth multilayered, textured black cherry and plum fruit. Burgundian and elegant with some peppery notes and beautiful balance. 95/100

Fromm Vineyard Malbec 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh, vivid and a bit meaty with pure, vivid black fruits and some pepperiness. Real depth here as well as freshness with some tar and spice notes and grippy tannins. Firmly structured. 94/100

Fromm Gewurztraminer Late Harvest 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely rounded fruit. Honeyed with some citrus notes. Grapey and sweet with an open texture. Off dry with a delicate personality. 91/100

Lawson's Dry Hills
Villa Maria
Staete Landt
Spy Valley
Cloudy Bay
Te Whare Ra
Dog Point

See also:

Gibbston Valley
Chard Farm
Wooing Tree
Folding Hill
Mount Difficulty
Lowburn Ferry
Grasshopper Rock
Doctors Flat
Two Paddocks
Surveyor Thomson

Wines tasted 01/13  
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