I have not visited South Africa since February 2020, though this is about to be remedied very soon. But on my last trip, I found most of the best wine shops festooned with bottles of the Vilafonte Seriously Old Dirt red blend, which admittedly, is one of my favourite premium second wines from South Africa along with the export-only version of Meerlust Red.
Well priced, always over-delivering and increasingly available in the correct off-trade and on-trade retail channels, I have long punted this wine to be one of South Africa’s best global ambassadors for premium red offerings making every new release highly anticipated.
The post 2019 harvest rains marked the onset of a more traditionally wet, cold winter in the Cape after 4 to 5 years of drought and abnormal seasonal rainfall. But with Spring, fair weather beckoned healthy, homogenous vine growth in the early season. Windy conditions during flowering might have threatened fruit set but generally yielded looser clusters and smaller berries. Temperatures during ripening were moderate without the usual heatwaves which led to a long, calm, measured picking season overall.
Vilafonte Serious Old Dirt 2020, WO Western Cape, 13.5% Abv.
This is another serious effort from the Vilafonte team after last year’s award winning 2019 release. The 2020 blend consists of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc and was matured for 18 months in older French oak barriques. Moving more towards a distinctly Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend compared to earlier editions which often featured more Merlot and Malbec, this rich ruby red coloured wine shows all the classic aromatics of black currant, strawberry shortbread, gingerbread cookie dough, cherry tobacco and hints of vanilla pod spice. Always a wine that unashamedly aspires to a higher, more hedonistic mantra, like the 2019, this 2020 exhibits a supremely well-honed, polished, elegant textural mouthfeel with effortlessly friendly tannins, an intense but weightless black and red berry fruit concentration and a plush, long, tightly focused finished. Knowing that this wine traditionally holds a lot of secrets, I reviewed it over two consecutive night’s tasting but came to the same conclusion in the end – that this is yet another very polished wine with age-worthy credentials that will appeal to seasoned collectors and the man in the street alike. A serious wine that is also seriously delicious! Drink from release and over the next 10 to 15 years.
(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)