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south african wine, part 16

PO Box 66, Koelenhof, 7605, South Africa
E-mail: wine@villiera.com
Website: www.villiera.com

Vineyards at Villiera

My final visit on this trip was a good one: it was Villiera, a producer whose wines I’ve enjoyed in the past. The Grier family, perviously chicken farmers, purchased the wine estate in 1983. It’s a sizeable property of 240 hectares, although recent work aimed at improving quality in the vineyards has brought the area under vine down to about 100 hectares.

Simon and Jeff Grier know how to show their property to journalists. They combined a tour of the vineyards with three different tasting spots, the final one being back at the winery, where we were joined by Cathy Grier who heads up the sales team. It’s a family business. 

Jeff and Simon Grier

Tasting in situ has a lot to be said for it. We began with some fizz. Cap classique, the South African equivalent of Champagne, is one of the specialties of Villiera—they make four of them. I was thoroughly impressed by the two fizzes I tried, but the other wines in the portfolio also stand out as being very high quality.

Villiera Brut Natural Chardonnay 2003
Made without sulfur in a natural style, using wild yeasts and no dosage. This is really interesting. It’s bone dry with complex yeasty, savoury notes. Rich bakery and cured meat flavours and good complexity on the palate, showing some evolution. Very good/excellent 92/100

Villiera Monro Brut 1999
This has spent 5 years on lees in bottle. Very crisp and bright with lovely complex flavours as well as nice high acidity. Some warm straw and toasty character, too. Quite complex. Very good/excellent 91/100

Villiera Crow’s Fountain Sauvignon Blanc 2005
This is made for UK supermarket Marks & Spencer. Really nice rounded fruity Sauvignon with no rough edges. Nice freshness to the fruit. This is made from duplex soil, with sand over clay over gravel. Very good+ 86/100

Villiera Cellar Door Chenin Blanc 2004
Barrel fermented. Super-rich exotic lush fruit with lots of complex straw, vanilla, cream and herb flavours. Very lush textured. It’s really compelling with some smoky notes and rich, viscous, seamless fruit. There’s about 5 g/litre residual sugar here. Very good/excellent 93/100

Villiera Crow’s Fountain Red 2004
A blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Pinotage made for UK supermarket Marks & Spencer. Retail is GBP£6.99. Nice sweet fruit here with a meaty sort of complexion. The palate is open and rounded with spicy, slightly medicinal red fruits and a smooth texture. Supple and tasty. Made from sandy soils which give fresher, lighter reds. Very good+ 85/100

Villiera Shiraz 2003
Barrel matured with 70% American oak. Full, fresh, spicy dark fruits nose is brooding and expressive. The palate shows lots of expressive fruitiness with moderate concentration and nice, spicy structure. Fresh and tasty – a good drinking wine. Very good+ 88/100

Villiera Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Fresh, bright and slightly minerally blackcurrant fruit. The palate is midweight, fresh and expressive with a nice savoury twist to the bright blackcurrant fruit. Delicious stuff: an expressive wine style. Very good+ 89/100

Villiera Cellar Door Merlot Reserve 2003
Smooth, sweet nose with a subtle green edge and some chocolatey notes, but not over-ripe. The palate is savoury and supple with midweight, spicy fruit. It’s quite expressive with a light-ish sort of character but plenty of structure. Very good+ 88/100

Villiera Monro 2002
A lovely expressive red wine with sweet red and black fruits plus some richness of texture, all backed up by spicy oak. It is generous and rich but still quite precise with lovely tannic structure that’s almost velvety. A bit fuller and riper than other reds. Plenty of density but still retains a sense of lightness. Very good/excellent 92/100

Villiera Cellar Door Noble Late Harvest Rhine Riesling 2005
Light, fresh and complex. Open flowery, grapey, delicate nose leads to a palate that is fresh, lemony and sweet with a nice spiciness. Very expressive wine that needs time. 9.5 g/litre acid and 110 g/litre residual sugar. Very good/excellent 92/100

Villiera Fired Earth 2000 Vintage Late Bottled Fortified Red Table Wine
This spends just over three years in the barrel. It’s a nice, spicy Port-styled wine with earthy, spicy, herby aromas. Quite open and tannic on the palate. Interesting.

Wines tasted 12/05
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