#352 Pilgrim Viura 2023


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Pilgrim or pioneer?

Pilgrim wines is the side project of pioneering winemaker Henry Kotze. Henry’s day job is as the cellar master for the Stellenbosch estate of Mulderbosch, but Pilgrim is the label where he gets to freely express is more adventurous approach to winemaking.
When one takes time to look at Henry’s career, it becomes clear that he has been a high impact figure on the South African wine industry; not least of all because of his pioneering work with unusual cultivars.

Breaking new ground

Henry was also the first person to vinify and bottle a Bastardo do Castello (or Trusseau) in South Africa, and was ALSO the first person to Vermentino in South Africa (under the Ayama label). Today’s wine of the day – the Pilgrim Wines Viura 2022 is also descended from a trailblazxer, as the Pilgrim Viura 2020 was also South Africa’s very first bottling of the cultivar.  

Rolling Henry gathers no moss

Almost predictably, Henry’s insatiable thirst for the novel has shown no signs of being sated. During the 2024 vintage he vinified Pilgrim’s first Carmenere, released Pilgrim’s first Riesling, and joined forces with the Samesyn team to vinify an absolutely impeccable barrel-fermented Verdelho! Fans of the label have got a lot of catching up to do! 
If you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you’ll have to hunt this wine down in your own time. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs.


👃🏼 The vanguard is delicate, but not shy. Which I think is a distinction worth making. SO it doesn’t leap out of the glass, like a riesling of sauvignon might, but it does have some lovely facets to it: Lemon zest, apple skin, dusty gravel, a hint of nectarine.
👄 But the palate is a whole different ball game! Such an intense burst of sweet tropical pineapple slams up against laser-like juicy naartjie (or tsatsuma) citrus. It’s both arresting AND smashable simultaneously. I guess another way of saying that would that if you gulp this down, it is remarkably pleasing… BUT…if you sip it slowly, as I suggest, there is an impressive amount of details and dynamism to it all.


🔬 Wine of Origin Breedekloof. 100% Viura. 200 vines sit on ancient riverbed of about 4 meters deep. Combined with the rich, fertile silt deposits laid down during a previous era, when the Breedekloof Valley was a flood plain.
Fruit was hand-harvested, and crushed before being cold macerated for 12 hours. Fermentation took place in a combination of of 225- and 500-litre older barrels. Only native yeasts were used. The wine was matured for a further 3 months in barrel.
Alc 12.5% | Sugar 5.8g/L | pH 3.38 | TA 5.8g/L | Volatile Acidity 0.41g/L |
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