Saturday, August 10, 2013

Vilafonté rocks Wine Spectator

Not bad - our 2010 Vilafonté 'Series M' Merlot/Malbec/Cab blend got 93 points from Wine Spectator 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Vilafonté & Klein Constantia

Last night the Vilafonté team played nicely with Klein Constantia Vin de Constance winemaker Matthew Day. Thanks Waterfall Estate for a spectacular wine dinner.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Zelma Long, Vilafonte winemaking partner interviewed in Wine Style magazine

Wine Style was fortunate to secure an interview with one of the iconic women in winemaking on one of her recent trips back to South Africa to finalise the blending of the Vilafonté 2012 vintage of Series M and Series C.  Looking at her impressive CV you know that you will be meeting one of the most respected women in wine-making.

Vilafonté winemaking partner - Zelma Long
Last year, Zelma was voted “The Drinks Business” Top 50 Most Influential Women in the Wine World and can count former CEO of Simi (while it was owned by LVMH and Chief Enologist at the Robert Mondavi Winery as part of her winemaking past.

We asked her: 

Why Vilafonté?

In 3 words, geology, geography, and site. Phil (husband Dr Phil Freese, Wine Growing Partner at Vilafonté) liked the soils he saw; old clays suffused with small pebbles. This combination would restrain the vines from excess growth and the clay would provide a source of moisture for the vines, but they would have to “work” to get it.  After looking deep into the soils – physically, through soil pits throughout the site, he felt he could grow small vines that would each carry restricted but intensely flavoured fruit.  Our 40 hectare site has a diversity of aspects, elevations, and soils, plus our four red varieties and all taken together gives diversity of flavors, very “layered” wines.
 Finally, we have the cooling breezes of the maritime climate of the Cape.  People ask how we chose to grow wines in the Cape; we say, “the Cape chose us” – after visiting it seemed that the confluence of characteristics were perfect for growing the great wines we hoped to achieve.

What is the best way to express the Vilafonté site in your 2 wines?
Several years of winemaking each individual hectare as a “stand alone” revealed the diversity of expression of the Bordeaux varietals on our property. The Cabernet and the Merlot each expressed two different styles:  deep, concentrated wines, and opulent showy wines. I was concerned that blending them together, we would achive an “average” and lose the specific personality, so I suggested two wines, each highlighting a single style, and the Vilafonté Series wines were born.
Vilafonté Series C - all lined up
Series M showcases the wines with forward fruit, expressive, engaging aromas and fleshy textures. Experience has shown Series M is generally made from our Malbec, the fleshy Merlot, with some structured Merlot, and the Cabernet blocks that tend to be more open and opulent.
Its “alter ego”, Series C, draws together the Cabernet blocks with deep, complex aromas, potent flavors and rich but firm tannins.  Our powerful Merlots add some flesh, and elegant Cabernet Franc, finesse and fragrance.

What is your philosophy behind blending these two wines?
The site was chosen to grow wines of power and finesse. We attend to each hectare block of wine grapes as an individual, and due to differences of soil, aspect, etc, they are indeed each a specific personality. Then the challenge has been to tailor the winegrowing and winemaking to each to bring out its best qualities; I think of them like children in a classroom…helping each to reach its potential.
The job of blending is to find how they fit together to enhance, rather than overwhelm, or overlay, each other.  We are looking for complementarity among the wines, not competition…using each to create a seamless, harmonious whole.  I know from many years of blending that I favor wines that have a purity, a seamlessness, combined with a sense of depth; deep flavors that I can sense, and that over time will emerge, and hopefully explode into a mouthful of sensations.  The blends when young, especially the Series C, have an underlying intensity that makes them restrained, with delicious fruit, but still restained, like a runner at the blocks, waiting for the signal to race forward…intense, powerful.  And we want them to run the long race….provide pleasure over many years.

What is the most odd thing you have ever eaten?

In Spain, tiny braised baby eels, each with 2 eyes looking at me.  I couldn’t finish them.

Best place you’ve travelled to in the last 5 years

The Vilafonté vineyards
South Africa; it is extraordinary, as travelers around the world are discovering and we spend 2-3 months a year here.

Last wine you drank

A Chene Bleu 2007 Abelard, from a 60 year old Grenache and Syrah vineyard , belonging to a client of mine in the Rhone Valley of southern France.

Favourite musical artist? 

In South Africa, artist Johann Louw….art is music to me
Elsewhere, David Hockney, for the same reason

You can have one date with anyone in the world, anywhere – who, where, and what will you be drinking?

I would like to have had a date with Linus Pauling, the great American scientist  who won two Nobel prizes, one for science and one for peace.  I would have met him in central Oregon where he was born, near my birthplace, to find out how he came to be who he was, and to do what he did.   We would have met in his hometown, in a bar (cowboy country) probably over steak and beer.

Continue the sentence:     


Cats or dogs?    
Both, and horses too.

Zelma Long, Vilafonte Winemaking Partner

Saturday, July 27, 2013

'Series M' 2005 gets a great review

South African wine guru Christian Eedes recently reviewed the Vilafonté 'Series M' 2005 in this very positive and kind review. This wine gets re-released in August 2013 as part of our celebration of the slow and rewarding maturity developing in our wines.
400 bottles still available.
R1,250 per bottle 
20% discount for 'Members'

Friday, July 19, 2013

Creative energy well spent - Michael Fridjhon's article in Business Day July 19th 2013

THE art of getting people to pay more for a wine than the quality immediately evident from sipping the contents of a glass is the business of the spin doctors. Brand value is the difference between what you taste and what you believe you are tasting.
Any premium extracted from the consumer is largely a measure of the success of the marketing department. If — like me — you are invested in the business of blind tasting, you maintain that stripping away all information except for what is contained in the glass eliminates the marketing message. No brand information means that the encounter is unmediated by spin. However, even the most astute of blind tasters cannot say with certainty how a wine is going to evolve. At best, he may be able to give a calculated guess.
The sumptuous Vilafonté Series M 2005 - by Michael Fridjhon
You need to know who made the wine, where the grapes were grown, and how wines from this particular site evolved in the past to be able to estimate what time has in store. If you know the pedigree, you are better able to predict the potential.
Vilafonté is a property and brand that has been in the market for more than a decade. It was built up by Zelma Long and Phil Freese, Americans who are widely regarded as two of the most influential and technically competent people in the world of wine. They oversaw the preparation of the soil, chose the rootstocks, selected the clones and made the wines. Few projects in South Africa can match the intellectual and creative energy that has gone into its development.
What Vilafonté has not had until recently is a track record — a way of assessing whether this effort has been invested in the right site.
The release from the property of select older vintages will now partly address this — and the 2005 Series M, which I tasted recently, suggests that for those who invested on faith and a close examination of the producers’ track record, the waiting is almost over. The wines have always had polish, but now they are showing enhanced complexity without any loss of detail or freshness.
The inclusion of one of the Vilafonté wines in the New World offering of the White Club (Vergelegen, Epicurean, Waterford, Columella and Compostella are the other South African names being served at this, reputedly the world’s eighth-most-exclusive club) is a further vindication of the project.
In a winery not 100m from the Vilafonté facility in Stellenbosch, another ultra-premium brand — called 4G — is produced under the direction of one of South Africa’s best-known wine makers, Giorgio dalla Cia, previously cellar master at Meerlust.
A preview vintage was made in 2009, with the first official release (priced at R2,999 a bottle) launched more than a year ago and now officially sold out. A second label, Echo, is available at R1,199 and the next 4G (the 2011) is due out shortly.
Despite high scores from the US-based Wine Spectator, there is little to guide the punter (or, more aptly, the investor) other than 4G’s ultra-premium packaging: not an abundance of tasting samples and, as yet, no track record. Its nominal "sold out" status is a tribute to the reputation of Dalla Cia, the presentation, and the drive and energy of the team responsible for marketing the admittedly minuscule quantities.
Is 4G mainly smoke and mirrors? Has Vilafonté’s aged wine release answered the questions about a wine that was launched several years ago at £50 a bottle for the Series C and £30 for the Series M? Don’t look to blind-tasting results for the answer: the wines are immaculately made. Likewise, don’t assume the price premium is only marketing hype. As potential transforms, the hopeful traveller approaches a destination. He has an inkling of a vision largely invisible at the outset, but which now appears to be the place to which he was always heading.

Ten days to go till our official August library re-release of Vilafonte Series M 2005

The inevitable passing of time brings maturity – which can inspire a sense of confidence. The fifteen-year evolution of the Vilafonté story has been characterised by a measured approach. Not slow, not rushed, but deliberate. Each vintage has been a chapter, with a specific truth, but the focus has always been on the bigger narrative.
Work in progress - the captivating Series M 2005. Coming soon ...
It is no revelation that our roots have delved deeper, our efforts more established and that embedded knowledge affords the tools to more successfully navigate each season. The passing of time brings experience - which is everything.
Our wines evolve too. The early character of great wine can be misleading. We are easily seduced by youth. Opulent primal fruit is appealing and by its very nature, we find it difficult to resist. But there is more. As we find ourselves delving into our vintage library, our raison d'être becomes ever more apparent. Bouquets of primary fruit yield to more complex and evolved flavours. The emerging experience becomes more intriguing. More dramatic. The character of our ancient vilafontes soil becomes inevitably imposed on our wines.
And so, the Vilafonté team presents for your consideration our long-term vision to re-release our older vintages. We invite your interest in our first offering, the Vilafonté Series M 2005.
Mike Ratcliffe
For Vilafonté 

Vilafonté Series M 2005
52% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon 17% Malbec
Release date: 1st August 2013
Release limited to 500 bottles
Available in 2 or 6 bottle presentation packs
Price: R1250 incl. vat per bottle 
(Vilafonté Club Members receive preferential pricing)
For further details: 021-8864083