Jancis Robinson herself was extremely impressed by the “decidedly off-mainstream winemaker Hätsch Kalberer and his uncompromising drive towards organic farming and extremely pure winemaking” when she visited New Zealand “a very long time ago” – so we’re sure she’ll be more than a little thrilled to see how far he’s come.
The foundation of Hätsch’s wine making career was the love of fine wine. In his native Switzerland he had ample opportunity to indulge this passion and had a very respectable wine cellar before he even had a car, let alone a license to drive it.
In 1982, Hätsch arrived in New Zealand and began what he calls a 10-year apprenticeship at Matawhero Wines in Gisborne, first trying to convince Denis Irwin to use yeasts imported from Switzerland before becoming an equally enthusiastic advocate for the wild yeast that shaped Matawhero’s wines at the time. In 1992, he joined with Georg and Ruth Fromm in establishing Fromm Winery in Marlborough, where he continues today still following the founding beliefs that have served the company so well. Yet back in the mid-nineties Hätsch was sceptical the rest of New Zealand would be able to grasp the concept of what they needed to do to ever reach the pedigree of world class Pinot Noir. “The New World, with few exceptions, is reluctant to put the same viticultural effort in as is standard practice in those regions whose Pinot we admire the most”. Methinks twenty years on, Hätsch is hopefully a little happier about the evolving effort and mindset of our pinot producers.