From the Cellar – Vilafonte Series C 2004

Vilafonte Series C 2004I certainly enjoyed some very nice wines over the holidays, but the one that was the definite hit in my family was Vilafonté Series C 2004 from the Paarl-Simonsberg region of South Africa.  I purchased this wine in December 2009 on sale at the LCBO for about $35, a significant discount from its original price of $64.

The Vilafonte Story

Vilafonté is a joint venture between American and South African wine specialists committed to crafting quality wines specifically for the US market.  It aims to produce the first luxury wine brand from South Africa.  Acclaimed US winemaker Zelma Long is head winemaker; Michael Ratcliffe, a leader in the South African wine industry, is the General Manager; Phillip Freese is head grape-grower; and Bartholomew Broadbent is responsible for distribution to the US market.Vilafonte Vineyards


There are 42 hectares of vineyards, all planted to Bordeaux varieties.  Planting is high density (about 5,208 vines/ha) and there is low production of grapes per vine.  Grapes are picked at around 24 Brix or higher.  Vilafonté Series C 2004 is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec.  The wine was aged for 19 months in 100% French oak barrels, 71% of which were new.

Tasting Note

Vilafonté Series C 2004 is a deep garnet colour.  The extra years of aging has helped this wine develop and mature with complex and intense aromas of dark earth, leather, cassis, chocolate, and brown spice notes.  On the palate, this wine is powerful and full-bodied with ample supple tannins.  The whopping 15.1% alcohol is surprisingly balanced and not overly hot.  Dark fruit, earth and spice flavours gradually melt away on the long finish.  A big, brooding wine to be sure, but certainly delicious and drinking beautifully right now.

I’ve been searching for more recent vintages of this wine for some time now.  It seems that only the Vilafonte Series M (containing more Merlot) is available in Ontario right now.  Contact Hobbs & Co for availability and private orders.

Wednesday’s WoW – Durbanville Hills Shiraz 2008

Great Value  

Durbanville Hills 2008 Shiraz is a great value wine, priced at only $11.95 at the LCBO.  The wine is made in the Durbanville Ward of the Tygerberg District in South Africa, located a mere 15 km from the Atlantic Ocean, and just a 20 minute drive from Cape Town.


The grapes were hand-harvested from low-yielding, well-established vineyards in the last half of March.  Fermentation took place after a 24 hour cold soak, and then the wine was left on the skins for another week in order to soften the texture.  Malolactic fermentation took place in tank, followed by 12 months aging in 300 litre barrels (10% new, 20% second-fill, and 50% third-fill French oak) with 20% aged in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes

The wine is a deep ruby colour with aromas of smoky toast, black pepper, nutmeg, cocoa, ripe plums, black cherry, and an assortment of other black fruit – quite complex for its price.  It’s ripe and velvetty, with spicy fruit flavours on the palate.  The wine has a good length and finishes with toasty caramel.  Fruit-forward and approachable, it’s a great choice when you’re looking for an inexpensive red to pair with robust dishes, such as beef stew, grilled red meat, and game.

(This wine was received as a sample.)
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