The remarkable F series wines from Framingham

framingham

I recently had the chance to try a series of utterly remarkable New Zealand wines.

They’re from Framingham in Marlborough, a producer whose points of difference are that they are experts in Riesling, and also in sweet wines.

As a set of wines, these were quite stunning. The Pinot Noir is one of New Zealand’s best, and I’d really like to try it again: I get nervous about dishing out such a high score. But this wasn’t just a quick taste, so I am happy to go high.

For the sweet wines, I kept returning to them over the course of several days, and they held up beautifully (I’d not been able to attend the lunch at these were shown, but I swung by the restaurant later and picked up the bottles with a little taken out from each—this gave me the opportunity to taste at leisure).

The wines are made in small quantities; catch them if you can. UK agent is Les Caves de Pyrene, but I’m not sure that many of these bottles will be coming to the UK. Expect the scores for the sweet wines to increase with age – these were just babies.

Framingham F-Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
13% alcohol. Powerful, taut aromatic nose with grapefruit, spice, smoke and some herbal notes. The palate is dense and quite powerful with grassy green notes and some rich herbal characters. Quince and grapefruit, too. Odd but nice. 91/100

Framingham F-Series Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
14.5% alcohol. Aromatically thrilling: sweet cherry fruit with complex herb and spice elements. Pure, elegant and beguiling. The palate is superbly poised and elegant with sweet cherry fruit offset with a mineral/spice dimension and subtle green notes. A really beautiful wine that’s quite profound. 96/100

Framingham F-Series Riesling Auslese 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
8.5% alcohol. Fine, lemony, grapey, melony aromatics. Real finesse. The palate is very sweet and richly textured, showing lovely balance and poise. Refined sweet lemon and melon fruit here. Nicely complex and subtly spicy. 94/100

Framingham F-Series Pinot Gris VT 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
8.5% alcohol. Varietally true grapey, spicy nose is fine and expressive. The palate is richly textured and fully sweet with a lingering, spicy finish. Pear, grape and melon fruit characters with nice balancing acidity. 93/100

Framingham F-Series Gewürztraminer VT 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
8.5% alcohol. Lovely open lychee, rose petal and grape nose is very expressive with some tea-like complexity. The palate is textured and sweet with rich lychee character. Beautifully balanced with good acidity and spiciness. Thought-provoking. 94/100

Framingham F-Series Riesling Beerenauslese 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
9% alcohol. Concentrated, rich and dense with lovely sweet, viscous grape and lemon fruit and a really long finish. Massive power here: the intense sweetness is balanced by the acidity. Remarkable wine of great potential longevity. 95/100

Framingham F-Series Riesling TBA 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
7.5% alcohol. A really viscous liquid. Sweet lemon, honey, spice and apricot nose. The palate is incredibly concentrated with fresh lemony high tones and super-sweet apricotty depth. Powerful, incredibly concentrated and yet beautifully focused and with some delicacy. Precise and pure, and will outlive most of us. 97/100

Framingham F-Series Gewürxtraminer SGN 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
7.5% alcohol. Viscous and concentrated. Engrossing nose of sweet lychee, rose petals and herbs. The palate is incredibly sweet and intense with honeyed Turkish delight characters. Opulent, smooth, viscous and delicious. 94/100

7 comments to The remarkable F series wines from Framingham

  • Andre

    These sound like they’ll be difficult to come by ….. Jamie why do you tantalise with the unobtainable like this…??!! Still their Ribbonwood range (Riesling & Pinot Noir) are excellent at around £13 / btl – used to be available at Oddbins but not sure if they still are on their stock list ( which is unreliable at best at the moment). ribbonwood was the label that originally switched me onto wine, so has a particular place in my affections. Please share any retail knowledge of the F range if anyone gets it..

  • James Spooner

    Having been first introduced to Burgundy on our wedding trip over 50 years ago, I am a fan of the wine. I have tried the California and Oregon Pinots and have been consistently disappointed and have not found a satisfying one yet. But then I classify myself as a wine drinker not a taster. On my drinker scale of 0-5 where 0 is “I had to spit it out”, and 1 is “it was too expensive to spit out”, US pinots will maybe rate a 3, very seldom a 4. So I am trying to find the Framingham ’09 to see if it will fare better.

    Just an question about the decay of quality. When we came back to St. Louis after our honeymoon, where we had learned to enjoy wine, I found a delightful beaujolais in the non-wine-drinking middle of he US. It was a Chateau de Lacarelle with distinctive character of burgundy that I admire and desire. I was light but totally saisfying. 50 years later I bought another case, probably a 2003-4, that earned a 0 on my drinkers scale, but I reluctantly settled on a 1.

    Did the attention to quality disapper, was the vintage that bad, was the winery sold, did the winery fall into corporate hands. Whatever happened, my confidence has been shattered.

  • It turns out that CdP don’t bring the pinot noir in, and are not allowed to import those wines below 8% alc (they’re not allowed in the EU)

  • Jamie been reading your blog for a while lots of really good tips for the wine drinkers. Personal I have enjoyed the F-Series, the Framingham F-Series Riesling TBA 2011 I find very honey tasting, I can’t taste the lemon it. I think its me.

  • Strange that Australian Moscato at 5.5% can be imported into the EU but not these at 8% (just needs re-labelling as “partially fermented grape must” I think). I wonder if the use of terms usually associated with Germany like ‘Auslese’ and ‘Beerenauslese’ have upset the Customs officials?

  • Geordie

    The regulations for wines being imported into the EU, centred around potential alcohol, were changed a little while ago. Before the changes, any wine with a potential alcohol (that’s actual alcohol content plus any extra alcohol that could be derived from the fermentation of any residual sugar in the wine) of greater than 15% vol were effectively excluded from being imported into the EU, unless the originating country had an agreement with the EU that this could be waived, eg Australian wines with potential alcohol > 15% could be brought in to the EU because Australia had a trade agreement with the EU to waive the rule.

    The new rules gaveth, and then partly tooketh away, the ability for wines of potential alcohol > 15% to come into the EU. For ‘normal” wines, the ceiling was raised to 20% potential alcohol, but a caveat was added that stipulated that the wine must have a minimum actual alcoholic strength of 8.5%, not 8.0% as mentioned above. This is a little strange when it’s set alongside the beaurocratic mania to reduce the alcohol consumption of the individual(that’s actual alcohol, not potential alcohol of course …).

    The rules are enhanced by having 2 further categories for “wines from overripe grapes” and “wines from raisined grapes”, in addition to the rules applying to “normal” wines above. “Wines from overripe grapes” must have a potential alcohol of at least 15%, and an actual alcohol content of at least 12%. “Wines from raisined grapes” must have a potential alcohol of at least 16% and an actual alcohol content of at least 9%.

    The above regulations are the reason for the fact that some of the wines mentioned above are excluded from import into the EU. They show that any “wine”, “normal” or otherwise, with an actual alcohol content of less than 8.5% is out. There are other rules around sparkling and semi sparkling wines, partially fermented musts etc, which the moscato mentioned must presumably satisfy.

  • Thanks for the clarification Andrew

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