From the Stellenbosch region of South comes this serious and seriously underpriced focused red wine. Pinotage is a vinifera grape variety crafted at Stellenbosch University in 1925. Professor Abraham Izak Perold produced Pinotage by crossing the famous Pinot Noir of Burgundy and the Cinsault of the Rhone. The name, Pinotage, comes from Pinot (Pinot Noir) and Hermitage (as Cinsault was and sometimes still is, incorrectly called). I surmise that the intention was to create a grape, capable of the great quality of Pinot Noir, coupled with the prolific nature and ready adaptation of Cinsault to South African terroirs and climatic conditions. What emerged is Pinotage, a wine that is both darker in color and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage was catapulted to fame when Pinotage wines won the Cape Young Wine Show in 1959 and 1961. Pinotage is easier and less demanding to grow that Pinot Noir but like its Burgundian parent, it does require passion and commitment to be great and defies producing quality in large volumes. Arguably, the best Pinotage wines are grown as bush vines in selected terroirs. There are few grape varieties where the quality levels are so dependent on an almost evangelical commitment to Pinotage!
Pedigree: Villiera is named for a French Huguenot with the last name of de Villiers. A considerable number of French Huguenots, who were Protestants, emigrated to South Africa in the 1680's upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict of Nantes granted religious freedoms to all the French, but with its revocation, Catholicism became the only permissible religion and Protestantism was outlawed. The Huguenots, facing persecution and even death, fled France for religious freedoms.
Villiera is owned by the 4th generation Grier family that arrived in South Africa from the United Kingdom in the 1920's. Today they farm 170 Ha. Villiera is very famous for its bottle fermented sparkling wines (Methode Cap Classique), 40% of production. The rest is split evenly between white and red. Villiera is also famous for its excellent quality / price ratio as you will see. The wine is estate bottled. In 2006 the Griers bought a property in France's Roussillon region and produce wine there too.
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinotage, mainly old vines.
Vinification: Grapes were hand harvested at optimum ripeness to ensure ripe tannins. After crushing and destalking the wine was inoculated with selected yeast and fermented at 28°C. After regular pump overs it was pressed just before dryness and completed malolactic fermentation in tank before being racked into French oak barrels, 25% new.
Ageing: The wine was matured in barrel for 10 months before being prepared for bottling.
Alcohol: 13.75%; Residual Sugar: 2.6 g/l; Total Acid: 6.1 g/l; pH: 3.57
Color: The wine is a confident ruby, not quite opaque. Color shows very little age.
Bouquet: The bouquet is redolent of sweet, ripe plums with just a hint of strawberry, and vanilla from the well-judged oaking regimen.
Palate: The palate is soft though well-structured, again showing ripe plums, perhaps leaning more toward the Pinot Noir parent. The subtle, classy, oak spice is again in evidence. The wine flows over the palate with an effect akin to the opening of a peacock's tail feathers. The finish is authoritative and persistent. Balanced for current consumption, it will also age with benefit for a further 5 years.
When to Drink: Drink now through 2027
Serving Temperature: 58°F - 62°F
Food Pairing: Perfect with barbecued Boerewors (South African tradition 'farmers' sausage'. Also enjoy with medium rare grilled loin lamb chops.