I remember attending the release of the maiden 2003 Vilafonté Series C at a Heritage Square lunch back in 2005. The ground-breaking project saw the very best wine producers in California, Zelma Long and Phil Freese, partner with Mike Ratcliffe, the ex-owner of Warwick. Apart from the new international perspective, attention to detail was of the highest priority to push the boundaries of red wine quality in South Africa.
Fifteen vintages later and Vilafonté is South Africa’s most important luxury wine. Although produced in meaningful volumes, the demand continues to grow and we are delighted to be the first, worldwide, to offer the 2018 on pre-release!
2018 was regarded as a more varied vintage and yields were down 25% after 3 heavily affected drought vintages. The smaller berries led to more concentration, along with fresh acidity and remarkably fine tannins. The style is more classic than you may think and reminds me of young Bordeaux on the nose. The deep aromatics and pure fruit lead on to a taut and powerful palate that offers superior persistence. It is one of Vilafonté’s finest vintages to date.
Comprising of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 14% Malbec and 11% Cabernet Franc, it was aged in 69% new French oak for 22 months. It needs some time to knit together and will drink well from 2023-35+.
Please note, this is a pre-release offer and delivery will take place from 1 November 2020.
Vilafonté, Series C 2018
Following in the footsteps of three fantastic vintages in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the 2018 boldly asserts its own character and persona not wanting to live in the shadow of any of its predecessors. The aromatics are opulent and richly fruited with extroverted, evocative notes of violets and black cherry kirsch liquor, crème de cassis, ripe sloes and fresh juniper berries. The youthful fruit brightness is gently caressed by a creamy, seductive veil of subtle vanilla oak spice, cocoa powder, warm brown toast and lightly roasted coffee bean nuances. What many of the very best red 2018 blends show in glimpses, this wine reveals with generous excess.
Softly textured and impressively suave and harmonious, the palate is filled with a piercing black currant concentration, salty black liquorice and an attractive vanilla pod spice complexity that coats the palate and grows slowly and persistently in volume, depth and breadth. Not only is one of the true signs of great winemaking marked by allowing a wine to express its terroir, but this must inevitably go hand in hand with the ability of a wine to truly illustrate its vintage in as many vivid colours and flavours as possible. 2018 reds have always shown an incredible translucent purity and sweet fruited concentration, extreme elegance with a compact core of power from day one with the more detailed finery never being obscured by any one single component in the glass. This beautiful Series C is a tremendous piece of winemaking resulting from an ongoing mission of vinous refinement. When all is said and done and we eventually look back on the 2018 wines objectively, I predict that this Series C will stand amongst the top wines of the vintage. Drink on release or cellar with confidence for another 10 to 15+ years. – Greg Sherwood MW, 96/100