Can Stellenbosch make great Pinot Noir? What became clear at a workshop held yesteday featuring various incarnations of Pinot from Vriesenhof is that it’s probably a life’s work. Jan “Boland” Coetzee started his winemaking career at Kanonkop in 1967 and it was here that he started his dalliance with the variety. Vriesenhof was acquired in 1980 and he’s been contemplating Pinot greatness ever since.
The oldest wine shown yesterday was a never-released 1994 and the youngest was the still unlabelled 2013. The 1994 was essentially a curiosity – plenty of savoury character (tomato cocktail and meat stock) but not without a peculiar charm.
The 2013, meanwhile, was sensational. “The most elegant vintage I’ve ever experienced,” says Jan “Boland” and what’s in the bottle certainly backs this statement up. Also, Nicky Claasens who started as understudy to Coetzee in November 2008, appears to be tempering the veteran’s resolutely anti-modernist approach with the 2013 featuring lower fermentation temperatures, very little punch-down and more lightly toasted oak.
The nose shows red and black cherry, rose petal and gentle spice. What’s particularly striking about the wine is the fruit, which is pure and well delineated. The acidity is nice and fresh and the tannins are fine – the wine moves well in the mouth and the finish is long and savoury.
It’s really delicious now but Vriesenhof have this crazy release policy which sees the 2011 (R250) currently on the market, with the 2009 set to follow and then only the 2013. Coetzee thinks his 2003s are still too young to provide true drinking pleasure…
Provisional score for the 2013: 93/100.