Vergelegen, the 321-year-old wine estate in Somerset West, has launched its very first rosé, named ‘Florence’ after Florence, Lady Phillips, chatelaine of the estate from 1917-1941.
The label on the bottle, sports a sprig of pale pink camellias, both buds and full blooms, referencing the estate’s status as the home of one of only two International Camellia Gardens of Excellence in the Southern Hemisphere.
Lady Phillips, a noted hostess and arts patron, acquired the estate when it had become sadly neglected. It was described as “almost an uninhabitable ruin”.
Consulting with Percy Walgate, an architect of the Herbert Baker school, she transformed Vergelegen over five years into a glorious architectural and horticultural treasure.
Under the new Vergelegen management of managing director Wayne Coetzer, together with André van Rensburg, long-established winemaker since 1998, the two developed the concept of creating a wine that would be innovative and exciting for the grand old estate, and would rival the best rosés in the world.
The grapes were selected from Vergelegen’s Stonepine vineyards (Malbec) and Rooiland vineyards (Shiraz). They were hand-picked and whole bunch-pressed to limit colour and phenolic extraction, says van Rensburg.
“The grapes were very carefully pressed until a recovery of around 500 L/ton. After that you have to press too hard and the juice becomes too dark and phenolic.”
Mr Van Rensburg also insisted on the grape juice being stored for 24 hours at 10˚C, which lowered the colour phenolic content to reach the perfect hue. It was cold fermented and stored for two weeks before stabilisation and bottling.
“The trick was to attain the perfect colour that would enhance the wine’s appeal, and complement the pink colour of the camellia garden blooms,” notes Mr Coetzer.
Florence rosé costs R120/bottle and is currently available only from the estate. “Fresh and fruity rosé wine is well-known for being incredibly food-friendly as it pairs well with so many dishes. For the best enjoyment of this extraordinary wine, share it with the ‘Florrie’ in your life. Cheers,” says Mr Coetzer.
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