“This is what we do, how we do it, and we really don’t care what others say” could be the underlying attitude of Marlborough’s Framingham winemaker Andrew Hedley, but of course he’d never say it, at least in public. But there is a certain individualism, confidence and self-belief that comes from a very precise mind – Andrew is a PhD of course – along with over 10 years of winemaking experience at Framingham, and a palate that has gained from exposure to a very varied range of wine varieties and styles. Working closely with viticulturist Anton Groffen, Andrew has taken Framingham to the edge of style with his ‘F-Series’ wines, and has maintained wonderful consistency with the mainstream wines by careful and calculated risk and management.
Andrew and Anton showed a selection of Framingham wines, all finished, some available now, and some yet to be released. The ‘F-Series’ Old Vine Riesling2010 dry, tight and seriously textured, surprisingly 9 g/L rs, and 12.3% alc., and only 120 cases made. This will be an ageworthy one. Also looking good is the ‘Classic’ Riesling 2009, at 12.0% alc., but carrying 18 g/L rs. A beautiful wine with minerals, a twist of toast and slippery mouthfeel. This is what Framingham does best, I reckon. Then onto a delicate, subtle and ultra-refined ‘Select’ Riesling 2009, with 8.5% alc., 70 g/L rs, and a copycat of the best Mosel kabinetts. The ‘Select’ Riesling 2010 with the same technical specs as the previous vintage is more backward, rawer, a little reductive and carried some phenolic texture, but as previous vintages have done, should emerge from its shell given time.
Another tightly bound wine is the ‘F-Series’ Viognier 2010, the barrel-ferment, wild yeast and full MLF brooding and backing the steely apricot and citrus zest fruit flavours. The Framingham team are pretty excited about this one. Only 60 cases were made. Andrew and Anton are absolutely delighted with their Gewurztraminer 2009, a wine with restraint rather than blowsiness, and with gorgeous oily textures balanced with freshness and cut. 14.0% alc., and 16 g/L rs, and stylish with it. As it warmed up, hints of smoke from the 50% wild yeast barrel-ferment were revealed. Progress with their reds can be seen in the Pinot Noir 2010, elegant, but vibrantly fruity with excellent tension from good acidity.
The Framingham wines flirt with risky complexities and take a step in the direction that more conservative wine producers would not dare to tread. It takes a bit of attitude, fire and flair to do this, and the ‘F-Series’ wines showcase it, and the regular wines include it. And they do so successfully