Vin de Classique, producer of the premium Vrede range of wines, has launched a rare collection of wines crafted exclusively from a 1975 Pinotage block and made to mature for a further 20 to 25 years.
The Perron X collection vintage 2021, of which there are only 452 units available, comprises of four 750ml bottles and one Magnum or 1.5 l bottle, intended for aging and to be enjoyed over a period of five years – the ultimate experience for any wine enthusiast. Each bottle is numbered individually, hand-labelled, waxed sealed by hand, and beautifully presented in a wooden case.
The 1975 vineyard block is located on the farm Skoonheid along the Polkadraai Hills surrounded by panoramic views of Table Mountain, Stellenbosch, and the Cape Peninsula, and exposed to cool ocean breezes blowing in from False Bay. The block, certified with the Old Vine Project, was planted in rich decomposed granite soils at 240m above sea level on a cool southwest hillside slope which provided elegance and sheer complexity to the final wine.
Vin de Classique Managing Director, Andrea Lubbe, says they endeavoured to release a wine that celebrates the exceptional quality that an older vineyard delivers.
“Most wine enthusiasts would agree that there is an enchantment in drinking a wine made from an old vine. The viticulturist and winemaker are not only tending to the vineyard, but they are also preserving heritage.”
“Older vines have stories to tell of decades in harsh climatic conditions, rooting themselves deeper into the earth, increasing the expression of terroir with every passing year. They say if wine can truly express a point and place, then an old vine will certainly be one that expresses its story best. And we believe that the 1975 vineyard block delivers a remarkable wine.”
The collection’s name, Perron X, pays tribute to the cross (‘X’) of cultivars Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut) in creating the uniquely South African cultivar and a play on the surnames of the men who created a lasting legacy for South African winemaking: Prof Abraham Izak Perold who created the cross, Prof. CJ Theron succeeded in rescuing and reproducing the original seedlings, of which there were only four and winemaker Charl Theron de Waal who produced the first barrel of Pinotage in 1941.
Winemaker Guillaume Nell together with Skoonheid farm manager, Marais Joubert, nurtured and manicured the vines to perfection over the past few years with additional irrigation and fertiliser to revive the quality of the harvest.
Guillaume says it has been an incredible journey to make a wine from such an old vine.
“The lower-yielding older vines transport all their energy into the smaller berries, increasing the quality of the wine. But it is a slow, languid process with minimal interference required. My approach from the outset was to express the characteristics of the vineyard, and not focus on colour or tannin extraction but rather witness over a period of time how the vineyard naturally reveals its multitude of flavours.”
The best grapes were identified by Marais and hand-harvested early morning following a sprout of cooler conditions in the lead-up to harvest. In the cellar, after a period of skin contact, 75% of the juice was naturally fermented (no yeast added) in open-top concrete tanks with the balance fermented in 500l new oak barrels.
“I aimed to introduce wood early on to ensure a well-balanced integration of wood and wine tannins in protecting the natural flavour and colour of the grapes. The open-top fermenter provided a larger surface area for easier extraction of colour and aromas and with only two punch downs per day, the extraction was soft and minimal,” says Guillaume.
The wine was matured for 14 months in 40% new and 60% older tight-grain French oak barrels, delivering a slow extraction to avoid the barrels masking the natural fruit flavours of the wine. The colour is deep ruby garnet with tomato leaves, red berries, and cassis on the nose. The palate is full and rich with well-integrated wood, firm acidity, and lingering pencil shavings, dark fruit, and savouriness on the lengthy finish.
The wine is made to last and in optimal storing conditions can be aged for up to 25 years. Those purchasing the collection will automatically join the Perron X wine club whereby members can join an annual virtual tasting with the winemaker and well-known sommeliers, tasting one of the uniquely named and individually numbered 750 ml bottles (one per year for 4 years) to uncover the evolution of the wine over time. The final tasting will be of the Magnum bottle in year five. A Magnum bottle is the ideal wine aging vessel for its subtle maturation influence and reduced exposure to oxidation.
Each member of the Perron X wine club will form part of Vin de Classique’s drive in strengthening the South African Sommeliers Association by sponsoring 100 introductory Sommelier course certificates, aimed at any service professional looking to learn the basic skills of professional beverage service. The case design alludes to the enjoyment of aged wine as if it is a symphony with the first bottle to be tasted in the first year, referencing Allegro – the first fast movement one hears indicated by a tempo marking such as Allegro – meaning cheerful in Italian.
The second bottle to be tasted in year two is referred to as Adagio, with slower and much gentler, introspective notes. The Minuet to be tasted in year three is the third movement of a symphony that comes in the form of scherzo with dance-like qualities.
The wine to be tasted in year four is called the Finale. In a Symphony this is the last movement in Rondo form or Sonata – lively and brilliant but somewhat lighter in mood than the opening movement. The Magnum, named Symphony Magnum Opus (meaning ‘best work’) is reserved for tasting the wine after five years of maturation. The sheer power, scale and complexity of a Symphony surpass the previous 4 movements or works, and in the case of this wine collection, the Magnum should be superior to the 750ml bottles tasted the previous four years.
Members will have the first opportunity to purchase each year’s newly released vintage of the 1975 Vineyard Perron X to add to their collection and continue the journey of tasting the extraordinary aging potential of these remarkable wines. Vin de Classique has documented the crafting of Perron X in a series called “Grape to Glass” following the journey of the wine: from the vine to the cellar, glass and cork selection, to insight into the Old Vine Project and winemaker barrel tastings at various intervals of barrel maturation. The series is available to view on YouTubeunder Vin de Classique’s channel.
The Perron X wine collection and club membership retailing at R4 500, is available to purchase online (the team will discuss delivery options direct for international buyers) and locally exclusively from selected Makro stores.