Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An International perspective from a judge of the Michelangelo International Wine Awards

Excerpt from Indian Wine Academy, posted 13.9.2010

Villafonte Series M and C
Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch
Owner: Mike Ratcliffe, Zelma Long and Phil Freese (USA)
Winemaker- Martin Smith

Mike Ratcliffe, of Warwick Wine Estate has partnered with Napa winemaker Zelma Long (of Robert Mondavi, Simi and Long Vineyards fame) and Dr. Phil Freese (a viticulturist from Napa Valley who has been a consultant to Warwick and many wineries in California and South Africa) to make this boutique winery making bold and beautiful reds.

Tasting Room & Villafonte wines

The winery is in a small building- like Niphad Wine Park in Nashik, adjacent to a couple of other wineries opposite a residential complex. The small winery makes only red wines in two labels- M series and C series-using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec are the only grape varietals used but the yields are kept so low at 1-2 tons/ hA that the wines are really concentrated, full of fruit, a great balance and are priced accordingly.

The winery uses its own grapes from Paarl. It’s new and in only second year in production at this facility. You will find the wines full of ripe tannins and mature phenolics. There are two labels only: Series M (for modern) and Series C (Classic). Both use Cabernets Sauvignon and Merlot as the base blends – Malbec and Cabernet Franc are added in varied percentage depending on the series and vintage.

If you want to know the price, you are not in the league of its buyers who were supposed to be the Americans when it started operations but the rich Chinese and the Brits are drinking it too, besides more of South Africans coming into their fold gradually. One day, some smart Indian hotel chain will perhaps import this luxury brand- duty free, for their high end clients who like California style big wines.

Incidentally, the winemaker partner Zelma Long has been nominated for the Best Winemaker Award for this year by Wine Enthusiast, a respected and one of the top two wine magazines in the US.

Read the full article, South Africa:  Visiting Wineries of Cape Winelands

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