Series M 2019 – Vilafonté 
Style: Red
Country: South Africa
Region: Paarl
Grape: Bordeaux Red
Score: 90-94
Price: 50-75 euro

Series M 2019 – Vilafonté.

We mentioned before that South Africa is starting to build an excellent reputation when it comes to Bordeaux inspired blends. One of wineries that has built their core around this is founded by Mike Ratcliffe and named Vilafonté. 

Previously we reviewed their “Seriously Old Dirt” (read this review here) and today we are moving up a level with Vilafonté’s Series M. In this review the 2019 vintage.

About the Winery 

Ran by Mike Ratcliffe Bordeaux red blood runs through this winery’s veins. Built in partnership by 3 key stakeholders from California and South Africa this interesting project started off in 1997 and is now a 42-hectare estate. 

Mike’s mother Norma Ratcliffe introduced Bordeaux blends into South Africa already in 1986, at that time with the famous Warwick Estate. She achieved great success as one of the first female winemakers in South Africa.

The other two founding partners in Vilafonté also have a rich background in the wine industry, Zelma Long (winemaker) and Dr. Phil Freese (viticulturist) who played crucial roles in the success of Robert Mondavi’s famous Opus One estate.

About the Series

Working only with estate grown fruit their vineyards produce two distinctive styles. Both styles are of the highest quality, not one of them better than the other, but simply different. One portion of the vineyard produced a soft, rounded, fleshy and fruit driven style. The other side of the vineyard produces a bolder, more powerful and structured style. Here you find the difference of Series C and Series M.

About the Wine 

First off, a nice touch when it comes to the packaging and label of the wine. At Vilafonté they want you to enjoy the wine in its optimal shape, so they have put some additional background information around the bottle. This also includes a maturation guideline and tells you what the best conditions are to store and drink this wine.

Moving on to what is in the glass. Series M is dominated by the two M’s, Malbec (48%) and Merlot (34%), supplemented by the Cabernet’s (Sauvignon 15% and Franc 3%). The wine has aged for 22 months in barriques (~80/20 split on old and new oak).

The wine displays a beautiful ruby red colour with a soft purple lining. In the nose there is an explosive perfume that boosts fruit (both red and black) and darker notes of cacao, chocolate and liquorice. It is all there and nicely built upon each other. The palette gives you a nice build-up as well, starting like a soft song and growing into a full-sized orchestra with a wide array of instruments. Tannin-wise it is nice to see how the wine colours within the lines, like a fine pencil drawing distinct lines. Its rich body and strong texture end up in a seductive long finish.

This is a young wine but it has all the elements to unfold in many ways in the years to come, and hold its momentum for the next 2 decades. Nice work done in a not so easy vintage, this deserves extra credits. “Effusive and potent” is the headline Vilafonté gives to this wine, and we thoroughly agree on this choice.

Imported in The Netherlands by Vinites and available through associated retailers and restaurants. 

Price:                          ~ €72,50

Taste date:                  June 2022

Score:                           93/100 DWA Score

Website:                      Vilafonté