The South African Vineyard that has hit the market with its irreverently labelled red concept wine ‘Goats do Roam’ ( a play on Côtes du Rhône) is the home of the country's pioneering and best Viognier – Fairview.|
Fairview is owned by Charles Back who by many accounts is unconventional and mercurial ……….. a viticultural entrepreneur, goat keeper and cheese maker and someone tipped by Jancis Robinson as one of the top twenty winemakers of the future.
The Fairview vineyards are situated in the Paarl Valley on the southwest slopes where soils range from granites to sandy loams and on the West Coast at Malmesbury where clay soils predominate.
It is thought to be the leading cultivator of Rhône grape varieties putting it in direct competition with the ‘Rhône Rangers’ of California. The Viogniers are grown on granitic soils and are amongst some of the younger vineyards. Conditions are similar to the Condrieu region in the Northern Rhône and Back claims that his wines rival the great Condrieus.
White grapes account for a little under 20% of the total production. 1998 was the first Viognier harvest when 800 bottles were produced and all exported to the UK. Yields are kept low – preferably below 4 tonnes per hectare. The grapes are picked early in the morning when it is still cool and are whole-bunch pressed before the juice is cooled, settled and fermented in second used French oak barrels.
The 2001 is the fourth vintage and is high in alcohol reaching 14.49% ABV. It has been described as intense apricots and peaches with the addition of a little smokiness – a full-bodied white wine.
Fairview describe this vintage as ‘bright golden yellow’ in colour, ‘intense rounded mouth feel with long concentrated finish’. The aroma of ‘classic white flowers, peach and apricots.’
Our tasting discovered:
A wine with a pale clear, straw hue, with the honeyed smell so typical of Viognier. It is extremely pleasant on the nose and a burst of fruit accompanies the sweetness and initial apricots give way to something closer to pineapple. Incidentally the oakiness isn’t lost and adds a touch of cream to the smell. The taste is initially drier with more acid than expected. We recognised the smokiness others referred to. The taste develops with more fruit appearing and a hint of nuts. There is good long finish to this wine.
You can visit Fairview’s own website on www.fairview.co.za.
For details on where you can buy Fairview Viognier, together with tasting notes, please click here
For previous 'Featured Wines', please click here