The Fairview estate is one of the oldest properties in South Africa, with vines planted as early as 1699. It is situated approximately 50 kilometres from Cape Town, on the lower slopes of Paarl Mountain.
The property was bought by Charles Back’s grandfather in 1937 and was subsequently run by his father, Cyril, before Charles took charge. Under his guidance, Fairview have been driven by an ethical philosophy based on social commitment, sustainability, and conservation. The estate has a committee comprised of elected farm workers which ensures equal opportunities and invests in education and training for the workers. In addition, it funds a company which allows the farm workers to make their own wine, lending them the use of Fairview’s winemaking facilities.
While all its production is now certified as Fairtrade, Charles doesn’t use the certification as he wants to sell his wines on their quality. The excitement engendered by Fairview was recognised in 2014 when Charles was given the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the International Wine Challenge. Though slightly alarmed at being given this gong when he was only 58, Charles was happy to join the likes of Hugh Johnson, Peter Lehmann and Michael Broadbent as a recipient of such a prestigious award.
Fairview is a true pioneer of the region, credited with bringing Mediterranean varieties to the Cape. The wines continue to evolve in style under winemaker Anthony de Jager. By making small improvements in the vineyard (opening the canopies to allow more light to get to the grapes, for instance) he is getting full ripeness at an earlier stage. This means earlier picking, which in turn means red wines with more vibrancy and freshness.
The grapes for this wine are a blend from two vineyards. The first is a bush-vine vineyard on the west-facing hills outside Darling, at approximately 300 metres above sea level. The vineyard was planted in 2001 on Richter 99 rootstock, which is tolerant to water stress, and is dry farmed. The soil in this vineyard is decomposed granite, differentiating it from the surrounding vineyards which are mainly oakleaf soil, and adding a mineral note to the wines. The second site is a trellised vineyard in Paarl. This vineyard is planted on decomposed granite soils and is irrigated.
The fruit was hand picked in the early hours of the morning and delivered cold to the cellar. It was then destemmed and gently pressed. The free-run juice settled for two days before the clear juice was racked off and cold fermented in tank. After fermentation, the wine was aged on its fine lees for a period before bottling.
This Chenin Blanc is a pale straw colour with tropical aromas of pineapple and hints of citrus on the nose. The palate is fresh and crisp with lively acidity and flavours of lime and mineral hints on the long finish.