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Featured Reviews

Framingham 2017 Sweet Riesling Wines

12 December,2017

The Framingham Winery is recognised as arguably the best producer of the Riesling variety in the country. This is based on winemaker Dr Andrew Hedley’s obsession with the grape, and his stupendously high quality and fascinating releases based on covering the full range of pradikat levels as employed in grading German wine richness and sweetness. The first release of the full range, from Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese was with the 2011 vintage, with a number of equally stunning releases since. While there are other makers of outstanding Riesling, and some with a longer pedigree, no other maker makes such striking Rieslings of different styles with such quality and consistency. This includes the dry, wild yeast and lees and skin-influenced ‘F-Series’ ‘Old Vine’ Riesling.

Andrew attributes much of the quality and consistency of his Rieslings to the resource of 10.5 ha of mature vines over 35 y.o. And then there’s over 16 years of working specifically with botrytised Riesling fruit that must account for much in the resulting wines. Andrew matter-of-factly says that making such wines is not difficult. It’s all about the balance of fruitiness, alcohol, acidity and phenolics, and only the use of clean noble-botrytised grapes. He surmises that capable winemakers don’t make these wines, as there is a very limited market for them.

2017 was a challenging vintage in Marlborough, and for that matter, most of New Zealand, due to high amounts of rain during the growing season and at harvest. This meant a high risk of disease, and susceptibility to botrytis from soft grapes, a result of low cropping, according to Framingham. A crucial factor was not to pick early, and to allow full ripeness, achieving this enabling the making of the more serious and sophisticated styles of Riesling wine. And also how to select only noble botrytised fruit, this coming from the accumulated experience over time in making these wines. From 2017, there are 9 Riesling wines were made, all but one incorporating various degrees of botrytis infection. Here I review the 7 sweet Rieslings from 2017 bottled to date. They are presented in order of increasing residual sugar.


Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Kabinett 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues, lighter on the rim with green tints. The nose is softly full and gently packed with well-concentrated aromas of pure lime fruit along with subtle notes of white florals and mouthwatering mineral nuances. Some smokiness and honeysuckle elements emerge with aeration. Off-dry to medium in sweetness, and light-bodied, the palate has gently rich fruit flavours of limes and white florals, with honeysuckle and thirst-quenching minerals. The fruit forms a soft-textured core and heart with light phenolic grip. The acidity is soft and lacy, and provides gentle energy, the wine carrying to a rich floral and honied finish. This is a soft, gently concentrated, medium Riesling with lime, floral and honeysuckle flavours and mouthwatering minerals on a fine, textural palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 4-5 years. Selective hand-picked fruit at 20.3 Brix with no botrytis from the ‘Front’ block old vines, given overnight skin contact, 15% skin-fermented over 15 days, 40% fermented in old oak and the remainder in stainless-steel, all by indigenous yeast to 8.5% alc. and 49 g/L RS, the wine in a second-use acacia puncheon on lees for 5 months. 650 bottles made. 18.5/20 Dec 2017 RRP $34.99

Framingham Marlborough ‘Select’ Riesling 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with a firm and intense nose of white florals and subtle lime and citrus fruit notes, along with distinctive saline and mineral notes. This is tightly bound and shows wet-stone minerality at the core. Medium-sweet to taste and light-bodied, the palate has a penetrating and deeply concentrated, but fine core of lime fruit, with floral and honied notes. This has clarity and precision, with the honied flavours building in richness. The mouthfeel has a sleek flow, with brisk, slippery acidity and a very fine-textured line. The wine carries to a long, lingering finish of limes, florals and honey. This is a beautifully pure and precise, medium-sweet Riesling with great clarity and a slippery flow. Serve as an aperitif, or match with mildly spicy Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 5-6+ years. A fruit-pure Spatlese style. Selective hand-picked fruit at 21.3 Brix from the ‘Front’ block old vines with an average of 5% botrytis, WBP and cool-fermented to 8.7% alc. and 62 g/L RS. 1,540 bottles made. 19.0/20 Dec 2017 RRP $35.00

Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Spatlese ‘Gold Capsule’ 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough


Brilliant light straw-yellow colour with lemony hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is soft and gentle in expression with ethereal aromas of white and yellow florals, subtly exotic lime and tropical fruit elements melded with honeysuckle, minerals and musky botrytis. Medium-sweet to taste, the palate is soft and harmoniously integrated with gentle flavours of lime fruit, exotic florals, honey and musk, with underlying mineral notes. The mouthfeel is very soft and smooth in flow with interwoven fruit flavours, refined acidity and very delicate phenolic textures and extract. The wine carries with good underlying drive and linearity, to an exotic, honied, musky finish. This is a very soft, smooth and harmonious medium-sweet Riesling with rich citrus and tropical fruit, and honey with musky botrytis notes. Serve as an aperitif, with fruit and with fruit desserts over the next 5+ years. Selective hand-picked fruit at 23.1 Brix from a plot in the ‘Back’ block of old vines with approx. 10% botrytis, WBP, with 60% tank fermented, 10% fermented in stainless barrel, and 30% indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned acacia wood to 9.5% alc. and 66 g/L RS. The ‘gold capsule’ is used in Germany for wines with higher sugars than the norm for that pradikat. 750 bottles made. 18.5+/20 Dec 2017 RRP $39.99

Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Auslese 2017

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright, light golden-yellow colour with lemon hues, a little lighter on edge. The nose is softly presented with deep and well-packed aromas of considerable presence, showing gentle lime fruit harmoniously melded with honied overtones and soft, musky botrytis. The aromatics reveal some saline and mineral complexities at the core. Sweet to taste and lightish bodied, the palate has a deeply packed, near solid core with underlying drive for the lime and exotic citrus fruit, unfolding a pervading layering of musk with marmalade hints, honey and suggestions of nectar. The palate speaks of decadence and unctuousness, with very refined and smooth textures and underlying acidity. The wine carries with good energy and drive to a soft, lingering finish. This is a soft, but intense and complex detailed sweet Riesling with tropical and citrus fruit, along with rich honey and musk, and impressive vinous presence. Serve as an aperitif, or with fruit desserts over the next 6+ years. Selective hand-picked fruit, from 2 tries, at 26.4 Brix from the ‘Back’ block old vines, with bunches showing early botrytis infection without sporing, and 25% raisined fruit, indigenous yeast fermented, 60% in seasoned oak and 40% stainless barrels to 9% alc. and 112 g/L RS. 581 bottles made. (375 ml) 19.0/20 Dec 2017 RRP $49.99

Framingham Marlborough Noble Riesling 2017

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough


Brilliant light golden-yellow colour with good depth, paler on the edge. The nose is fine and firmly concentrated with deep and intense, piquant aromas of ripe citrus and tropical fruits building with honey and musky botrytis and marmalade richness with nectar elements, in the glass. Very sweet to taste and light-bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion, but very rich and decadent with a deep and rounded core of ripe tropical and citrus fruit, with exotic florals, honey and nectar, musk and raisiny suggestions. The palate has very good intensity with a piquant, poised, refreshing, energetic drive, with underlying acid cut and bite. The wine flows along a very smooth, unctuous line with the residual sugar carrying the honey and musk flavours to a long, soft, gentle finish. This is a very rich and intense, but piquant flavoured, very sweet Riesling with tropical fruit, honey, marmalade and musk notes on a palate with excellent drive and acid cut. Match with baked and caramel desserts over the next 8+ years. Beerenauslese style. Selective hand-picked fruit from 6 tries, at 34.5 Brix, 95% from the ‘Back’ block old vines and the remainder from the ‘Middle’ block, with 100% botrytis infection at the early stages, 55% fermented in stainless and 45% in oak barrels to 9.5% alc. and 185 g/L RS. 6,450 bottles made. (375 ml) 19.5/20 Dec 2017 RRP $39.99

Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Beerenauslese 2017

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright, moderately deep, light golden-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is deeply concentrated with dense and solidly packed aromas of ripe citrus and tropical fruit with honey and nectar, along with marmalade, raisins and musk. This has real opulence, and unveils layers of complexing detail with aeration. Very sweet to taste and light-bodied, The palate has rich and solidly deep flavours of very ripe tropical fruit and citrus fruit, with nectar, honey and marmalade, integrated with raisin notes and a layering of musk. The palate is lush and unctuous with opulence and decadence. The honied and musky botrytis builds in intensity to fill the palate. This oozes succulence, the fruit underlined by fine, bright acidity. The unctuous flavours carry to a very long and sustained decadent finish of nectar. This is a beautifully rich and opulent, fully-sweet Riesling with deeply packed honey and musk flavours along with raisiny suggestions, the botrytis unfolding to fill the mouth. Selective hand-picked fruit from 3 tries, at 36.1 Brix, 95% from ‘Back’ block old vines and 5% from the ‘Middle’ block, with 100% botrytised fruit, but not fully raisined, fermented in stainless barrels to 9.0% alc. and 225 g/L RS. 650 bottles made. (375 ml) 19.5+/20 Dec 2017 RRP $69.99

Framingham ‘F-Series’ Marlborough Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2017

Sweet Wine from New Zealand – Marlborough


Full, bright, moderately deep golden colour with lemon-green hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is bright and vibrant with opulent and decadent aromas of ripe tropical fruit and citrus fruits along with marmalade, honey and nectar, raisins and suggestions of crystallised fruits, musk and a hint of caramel. Very sweet on palate and light-bodied, the palate is incredible richness and opulence, with sensational unctuousness and viscosity. The flavours of ripe tropical and citrus fruit are enriched honey, marmalade, exotic florals, musk and nectar, unfolding the fill the palate. The fruit and richness forms a deep and dense core with great presence, and fine lacy acidity lends cut, energy and tension. The wine carries to a decadently deep and plush, honied finish with crystallised fruits, raisins and hints of caramel. This is an incredibly rich, decadent and opulent, sweet, botrytised Riesling, with nectar, honey, musk and raisiny flavours forming a deep and dense palate core. Serve as a liqueur, and with caramel desserts or blue cheeses over the next 10+ years. Selective hand-picked fruit from 3 tries, at 44.2 Brix, 75% from the ’Middle’ and 25% from the ‘Back’ block old vines, with 100% botrytised, raisined berries, fermented 65% in stainless kegs and barrels and 35% seasoned wood to 9.0% alc. and 315 g/L RS. 650 bottles made. (375 ml) 20.0/20 Dec 2017 RRP $79.99

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