Friday, November 29, 2013

Villiera Wines Monro Brut 2008 – Highly recommended – Gold Medal

At the 2013 Amorim Tsogo Sun Cap Classique Challenge, Villiera Wines, one of the longest established MCC specialists, located in Stellenbosch, was recognized to be amongst one of the “Highly Recommended” – Gold Medal, for their flagship MCC, Monro 2008 Brut, a focus Chardonnay driven estate blend with both Pinot, lending flesh to the overall structure.
Seek it out during the festive season, it is a fantastic offerings

Besides the extensive range of wines at all price points and great consistent quality, it should be highlighted that Villiera is one of the “Greenest” wineries In the Cape, using extensive solar panels on their roof, to meet their daily electricity requirement.

Below is an exclusive interview with Jeff Grier, cellarmaster since 1983, relating to us his journey through MCC’s

Tell our readers a little more about your winery and how long you have been making wine and why your chosen location to make wine and in particular MCC, what is special about your site?
We began making bottle fermented sparkling wine in 1984 using a Champagne consultant, by the name of Jean Louis Denois. We were the first to focus on bubbly and the first to seek access to generations of know how in Champagne. Since then we have remained pioneers by being the first to launch a Rose Brut, a Brut Natural and a low alcohol bubbly. Our prestige cuvee, Monro Brut was launched in 1993 and has earned numerous important awards. We are also the only family to produce bottle fermented bubbly in the Roussillon, a beautiful region in the South of France.

When embarking on our sparkling wine project 30 years ago we recognised the benefit of our terroir for the style. The soils are light and produce delicate wines. Our early pioneering work established us as leaders in the category and it is a position we still enjoy today.

Explain us your viticultural approach and philosophy, as we all know, it’s all starts in the dirt to make very good to great wines?
We focus on the 3 Champagne varieties but include a bit of Pinotage (SA’S own variety) in our NV blends to ensure uniqueness. We combine bush vines with trellised vineyard to spread out the harvest to facilitate picking everything at optimum ripeness.

Viticulturist are very often the unsung heroes of the South African wine industry and we all know, demanding style such as MCC, needs optimum grape quality, tell us more about your viticulturist?
Simon Grier a family member and Director of Villiera is our viticulturist .He is passionate about the environment and farms in the most environmentally responsible manner possible. We use green energy (solar), offset our carbon footprint by planting indigenous trees, rehabilitate damaged areas, recycle all waste and avoid using insecticides.                                                                                                     
Our fruit is all handpicked which allows quality control and our bubbly grapes are picked early in the season before quality can be negatively affected.

MCC’s will never be Champagne, however the quality are of a very high standards and represents some of the very best value bottle sparkling wine in the world, tell us more about the climate and soil your grapes come from?
The Mediterranean climate, influenced by the prevailing South Easter in summer and North Wester in winter is ideal for viticulture. The influence of the Ocean especially the Atlantic (colder) is critical. Our soil is a light sandy soil ideal for elegant sparkling wines.

Do you have any preferences over site specific, i.e Estate / region/district/ward wine of origin over Western Cape  / Coastal Region blends, if so give us more details?
Bottle fermented bubbly is essentially a blended product which improves complexity. Specific single vineyard or Estate sites are less important. However cooler areas can contribute to freshness and buying in well suited pockets of fruit can be beneficial and improve complexity.

How long you have been making MCC?
Thirty Years (MCC since 1992 and methode champenoise before).

How many styles of MCC’s you produce under your brand?
Including our Cape Winemakers Guild Auction bubbly we make 6 styles of MCC in SA and we make one product in France.

Tell us more about your winning MCC and it’s winemaking process as well as the percentage blends if any making the final wine?
See Monro Brut 2008 fact sheet attached.

What is your view on Reserve wine added prior to dosage, what would be your average percentage, if any use in your house style?
Usage of reserve wine is less important in SA, where the climate is more consistent than in Champagne. Nevertheless we do use some reserve wine to improve complexity - up to 10% in our NV Tradition.

What MCC style are your aiming for?
We are aiming for elegance achieved by balanced acidity, delicate bubble, integrated oak if used. Some richness is required through sufficient ageing on lees.

With the new emerging market locally preferring wines with higher residual sugar, what is your philosophy on dosage and where do you draw the line?
We try to achieve a perfect balance for the international market. Emerging drinkers will quickly take to this style.

What are the source / origin of the grape(s) used in the winning wine?
Our Monro Brut is made exclusively from grapes off Villiera because these are the blocks we understand the most and it is our prestige cuvee.

Stylistically, where do you intend taking the wine in the next 5 to 10 years?
We are happy with our Monro Brut style although, going forward we wish to achieve even more richness to make it stand out more.
How many approximately bottles do you produce per each style?
 Villiera Tradition NV      250 000 btls
 Villiera Tradition Rose   100 000 btls
 Villiera Brut Natural        30 000 btls
 Villiera Starlight                30 000 btls
 Villiera Monro Brut         30 000 btls
Grier Brut (France)          15 000 btls

Countries exported?
We export  to – UK, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, USA, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, China, Hong Kong, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion .
Top local on trade customers supporting the wines or where can your MCC be found to be purchased and enjoy?
Woolworths, Makro, Pick ‘n Pay, Ultra, Picardi, Spar, Wine Concepts, Caroline’s and Norman Goodfellows. We also have listings at numerous restaurants and hotels.

Your favorite food pairings or recommendation to be enjoyed with your winning MCC?
Great aperitif (especially But Natural and Starlight). They combine well with shell fish, delicate line fish and sushi. Oysters/caviar is a treat and some of our products go with pastry/ fruit based deserts as well as Nougat.

Do you have a special cellar door deal for readers of MCWJ to purchase your MCC over the holiday period?
Cellar door visitors quoting MCW will get a special (same as for club members).

What is the average selling of your MCC’s, cellar door / retail?
R90/bottle for NV Blends.
 R150/bottle for Vintage products.

What is approximately Villiera MCC’s productions versus other wines and what experience can visitors expect when visiting the tasting room?

Cap Classique amounts to 40% of our business , so we are focussed and visitors to Villiera can enjoy a Bubbly/Nougat pairing at R50 per person.