New Zealand wines of genuine distinction and world class status are not legion, but they do exist. Some tick some of the boxes some of the time. A few seem to get it dead right most of the time. Nobody gets it perfect all of the time - Mother Nature plays her part and if the weather patterns deal a cruel hand, no amount of genius and imagination can transform average grapes into sublime wine.
Hats off, then, to Marlborough's Fromm winery, which must surely rank as one of the country's finest, most consistent producers.
With a broad range of styles and price points, since the early 90's Fromm has, since the early 1990s, created an enviable reputation as being solid gold.
The fourth-generation Swiss winemakers Georg and Ruth Fromm have decamped back to Switzerland but left the vineyard in capable hands. Swiss winemaker Hatsch Kalberer and co-worker William Hoare bring a high level of competence and meticulous precision to all levels of the winemaking process.
Kalberer is one of the most respected players in New Zealand's wine industry.
"After 17 years, Fromm is still an exciting place to be a part of," he says. "There are very few wineries that offer the fruit quality I have been privileged to work with. But most importantly, I have never had to compromise the integrity of our style in order to follow fashion trends or chase the trophy-hunting consumer."
Fromm's philosophy has always been to respect and understand the land and the fruit rather than be mesmerised by the technology available.
The closely planted vineyards produce low yields, resulting in fruit with intense concentration, purity and balance. There are no shortcuts throughout the wine-growing process. Keeping it real is the mantra and, ultimately, it shows in the bottle.
La Strada Pinot Noir 2007, $35
The emphasis is on style rather than terroir. Lovely entry-level pinot. Opulent and concentrated, yet elegant. A seductive, savoury texture.
Fromm Chardonnay Brancott Valley 2006, $42
Limited quantity from a single vineyard. More reminiscent of French chablis style than New World. This is big, bold and rich with strong minerality and subtle wood.