(With apologies to Ian Fleming.) Everything Hatsch Kalberer does is with great thought and inestimable passion. Learning much of his winemaking trade with Denis Irwin in Gisborne in the 1980s he took on the traits of making correct decisions and following his chosen path with care, being driven towards perfection, and arguably above all, showing love of what he does. This took him to Marlborough with the establishment of the Fromm winery.in 1992.
Hatsch’s great desire is to make great Marlborough wine, combining the best of European tradition with the benefits of New World techniques and with an understanding of accepting and following what is truly natural. It doesn’t surprise me that he employs a fully organic regime under BioGro that incorporates some biodynamic practices, and allows wine to make itself, with the reliance on indigenous yeast fermentations and the decreasing use of new oak. The wines made at Fromm are expressions of the vineyard sites, the ‘Clayvin’ and ‘Fromm’ vineyards the flagships for the company.
William Hoare, Hatsch’s winemaking off-sider came for vintage in 1999, then returned permanently from 2000 and has taken on the same love for making fine wine. William’s wife Rachael is also now at Fromm, and the wines are benefitting from the sympathetic attention and philosophy of allowing the vineyard sites grow into themselves. Surely this is love?
Hatsch went through a barrel tasting of some of the 2011 and 2010 vintage wines, focussing on the ‘Fromm’ and ‘Clayvin’ Pinot Noirs. I couldn’t argue with this, as this was my preferred scenario! Though in barrel only a few short months, the wines exhibited the vineyard character that they are renowned for. The ‘Fromm’ Pinot Noir 2011 samples were tight, dense and linear, with great drive and length. The ‘Clayvin’ Pinot Noir 2011 samples were as expected were more fruit expressive and accessible, but also with great underlying structure. The wines have consistently behaved that way, the ‘Fromm’ wine needing more time to show its pedigree, but what pedigree it has; while the ‘Clayvin’ is a little more hedonistic, but that’s only a relative term. Both are particularly taut, fine and very ageworthy, making them favourites for Pinot Noir lovers and winemakers in New Zealand and beyond. The increasing use of whole-berry fermentation will make these wines a little more fruit obvious, which will endear them to even more people.
Finished and awaiting bottling, we looked at the 2010 wines from barrel. The ‘Fromm’ Pinot Noir 2010 showing richness, depth and wonderful spicy notes, the ‘Clayvin’ Pinot Noir 2010 proud of its sweetness and mouthfilling fruit. These 2010 Pinot Noirs are indeed wines worth waiting for. Hatsch was particularly proud of his ‘Fromm’ Syrah 2010, a wine to demonstrate the beauty of the variety that can be achieved in Marlborough. And his stylish, exotic and spicy ‘Fromm’ Malbec 2010.
Though with the next appointment on my itinerary looming, it wasn’t too hard to be tempted by tank samples of the Dry Riesling 2011, a gorgeous infusion of sherbet and lime juice and the beautifully delicate, but luscious Spatlese Riesling 2011, which will weigh in at only 7.0% alc. They were the ultimate palate fresheners!