18 Sep 20 Years of Viognier! | Our Heritage Grape
This Sunday, 24th September, marks our National Heritage Day! It is a day when South African’s are encouraged to celebrate their cultural traditions in the wider context of the great diversity of cultures, beliefs, and traditions that make up the nation of South Africa. It is also known as ‘Braai Day’, an initiative by Jan Scannell (otherwise known as ‘Jan Braai’) that calls upon all South Africans to celebrate their common roots by having a braai (barbeque) on Heritage day. At Fairview, we’re celebrating 20 years of our very own heritage this week, which includes being the home to the mother block of a white wine variety called Viognier. We first planted Viognier in 1997.
Fairview was the first to plant and bottle the varietal, and we are now looking back on 20 years of Viognier. Controversial at times, loved, hated or misunderstood; Viognier lends itself beautifully to food pairing, and its’ potential when blended with varietals such as Shiraz, Mourvèdre or certain white varietals, has been influential in the Rhône revolution in the Cape.
Owner of Fairview, Charles Back, reflects on the story:
“I first tasted Viognier in 1989, while travelling in the Rhône. I was immediately struck by the unique nature of the wine, with its intriguing balance of fragrance, deep fruit and austere structure. I knew at once that the terroir of the Cape would be well-suited to Viognier, and as we tasted the wines I was thinking about the soils and sites that I was fortunate enough to have found come across over the years. Upon my return to South Africa, we started the process of sourcing the vines and by the early 1990’s we were harvesting fruit from our Viognier vineyards. Some twenty years later, and looking back on 10 years of bottling this varietal, we are still discovering the grapes’ potential and I am confident that the wines that we are currently bottling are the best that we have made as yet. Viognier is a fantastic food wine, and pairs well with Cape style cooking as well as many of our Fairview handcrafted cheeses.”
Since the introduction of the stunning varietal to our vineyards, our winemaking team have had the fortune and pleasure of working with Viognier regularly, utilising it across a variety of our wines and ranges. We feature it as a single variety in our Fairview Viognier, but it is also used in blends such as the Fairview Nurok and our Fairview Brut MCC.
Anthony de Jager, our Chief Winemaker here at Fairview, shares his thoughts on the French grape:
“The Rhône valley has always intrigued me, and the great wines that the area produces have influenced the direction that my winemaking has taken through my career. Fairview has always embraced innovation and Charles’ perpetual search for new and interesting varietals led us, amongst others, to Viognier. Over the last fifteen years we have been engaging with the complexities of this varietal. While the similarities that the Rhône and the Cape winelands share have provided a successful launch pad, the differences have allowed us to seek out and develop a style that is unique to the Cape. I am proud of what we have achieved to date, and continue to be surprised, inspired and challenged by what emerges each vintage.”
Fairview Viognier is available at our Tasting Room and via our online shop for R100.
SPECIAL: To celebrate 20 years of Viognier, this week we are running a special for R50 a bottle. Click here to buy.