Marlborough, New Zealand, is one of the wine world’s sweet spots. One of the sweetest spots in fact, famed in particular for its spectacular, world-beating Sauvignon Blancs. But there’s much more to this beautiful region than just Savvy Blanc, and in the right hands other varieties thrive here too, positively beaming with delight in the Kiwi climate and conditions.
Wheeler & Fromm are most certainly a pair — or, rather, two pairs — of such hands. A joint venture between Johnny Wheeler, chairman of Mr. Wheeler (formerly MD of Lay & Wheeler), and Swiss winemaker Georg Fromm, Wheeler & Fromm are famed for the extremely high quality and the sheer sophistication of their wines. They are grown-up wines for sure, resolutely European in style but with a thrilling New Zealand edge to them and a noticeable softness thanks to the long growing season. Because of the wines’ resulting need to age, Wheeler & Fromm have a policy of only releasing them a minimum of five years after the vintage, and so it is that these three wines are all from 2012, the first time they have been on the market.
The Clayvin vineyard was first planted in 1991 and comprises 15 hectares of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a small amount of Syrah planted in the warmest parts. The 2012 Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay (1) is an absolute peach of a wine, being rounded and supple, with zesty citrus fruit, hints of nuts and a long creamy finish. If you like fine white burgundy, you will definitely like this. £23.60 down from £29.50.
The 2012 Clayvin Vineyard Grand Vin Pinot Noir (2) is equally sophisticated. Made from old vine fruit, it’s beautifully structured with vibrant, spicy red and dark berry fruit wrapped up in silky smooth tannins. It has both weight and style. £25.60 down from £32.
Finally, the 2012 Clayvin Vineyard Syrah (3) — a big, butch wine and no mistake. It’s crammed full of dark, peppery, brooding, concentrated fruit — mulberries, blackberries, damsons, sloes — with hints of liquorice too. It’s powerful stuff all right, but tightly reined in and firmly controlled. £23.60 down from £29.50.
New Zealand’s wines have come a long way fast. Heavens, barely 40 years ago all you could find here was dreary white wine made from bland, boring Muller Thurgau. These days, New Zealand boasts some of the most exciting wines in all the world and I reckon Clayvin Vineyard’s wines are right up there with the country’s best. Try them and see what you reckon and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
The six-bottle mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.