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.
Pinotage is a classic South African variety and originates from a 1925 cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (known as Hermitage in South Africa). The Fairview Pinotage was harvested from older bush vines in the Agter- Paarl and from trellised vineyards on the Fairview farm in Paarl. These older bush vines are dry farmed and grown on deep, Malmesbury Shales soils, whilst the trellised vines are drip irrigated.
The grapes were picked over a number of days to ensure perfect maturity of each block. The bunches were destalked and lightly crushed before fermentation in stainless steel tanks and open top foudres. After malolactic fermentation was completed, the wine spent 10 months in 15% new French and American oak barrels, before blending and bottling.
This Pinotage is bright ruby red in colour. On the nose, it has blueberries, violets and plum aromas with a hint of dark chocolate. It has a full bodied palate, with flavours of plums and dark fruit, subtle oak with elegant tannin structure on the finish.