New Zealand wines are already well known and this time around it was the turn of Sogrape to bring in the popular Framingham range to India. Sogrape was founded in 1942 by Fernando van Zeller Guedes, a very determined entrepreneur. Presently, the third generation of the founding family is handling the company which has over 1200 acres across Chile, Argentina, Portugal, and New Zealand. Amongst the many brands forming the portfolio of Sogrape, a few labels such as Mateus Rose, Gazela, Callabriga, and Finca Flichman already have a strong presence in the country.
Located in the north-east of the South Island with mountains to the west, Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s sunniest areas. The average day temperature ranges from 24 degrees Celcius during summer with cool nights which keeps acidity levels high in the grapes and helps in the concentration of the fruit flavours. Cool climate condition gives the grape a long, slow, flavour-intensifying ripening period. Dominance of stony and sandy top soil makes it tough for the wine makers to grow grapes to the desired condition though these shallow, fast draining, low fertility soils help to produce a lush, aromatic ripe wine because they reduce the vines vigour. Water retentive soils and moderate fertile sites are chosen where an herbaceous style is desired.
It was in the early 1980’s that, Rex Brooke-Taylor, the founder, planted vines. These vines are believed to be the first that were planted on phylloxera-resistant rootstock in Marlborough. With an increase in demand in the domestic as well as the international market, the winery has been able to expand itself and increase the production by sourcing the fruit from a number of key grape producing sites around Marlborough. Currently, Framingham’s core range focuses on the aromatic white varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling (in several styles), Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. These wines are complemented by Pinot Noir, a small quantity of Chardonnay, and a Montepulciano blend. Lucky enough to have an up-close and personal conversation with Mr. Filipe Carvalho, Managing Director Asia Pacific, Sogrape, there was much to learn on why they will be concentrating on bringing in just a few of the above mentioned varieties and not all. Like the humble gentleman told us, “A very big and a new market, which is curious on learning how to drink wine, what to pair the wines with, and not simply buy them for status is surely a good sign to start the project.” Keeping in mind the logistics and the palate of the Indian consumers, one could make out why only these were being launched.
The initial brands under the Framingham label that would be paving their way into India are:
Sauvignon Blanc (White) Marlborough, 2009
Pale straw appearance. Aromas of Green apples, Guava, Capsicum were quite prominent. The distinctive herbaceous and fruit flavours captured on the palate, tells us about the temperature variation in the region. A light bodied dry wine showcasing minerality and medium acidity. Can be had with light food or as an aperitif wine.
The first wine made under the Framingham label, a Riesling, was released in 1994.Pale lemon with fading rims. Complex nose showcasing floral and fruit aromas. Kerosene, Citrusy, Peaches, Grassiness being the dominant ones. On the palate it had an elegant structure. Creamy, high in acidity, earthiness. Long finish leaving hints of citrus and grassiness.
Pinot Noir (Red) Marlborough, 2008
The contrast between day and night also helps to enhance the colour development in the skins of Pinot Noir. Deep Ruby colour with fading rims. Aged in French oak for a period of 10 months. On the nose it had notes of vanilla, spices, vegetables, leather and minerality. A jammy and a complex wine. Dark red fruits. Sandy tannins. Medium bodied. Medium round finish.