Just after I opened the shop today, I had Thys Lombard from Oldenburg Vineyards and Tom from the UK importer swing by for a very impromptu tasting, and I'm rather glad they did. I've tasted several of the Oldenburg wines before at previous tastings but never the range from start to finish as I got to today.
They are a small family owned winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The estate was originally a fruit farm with some small vineyard holdings dotted around, then in 1993 the previous owner unfortunately passed away and the estate went into a trust and the vineyard sites were left to decline. Then in 2003 the current owner Adrian Vanderspuy , who had been born on the neighbouring property, decided to replant the vineyards and let the estate recognise its full potential, with there maiden vintage coming in 2007. On the estate they grow a number of different varieties including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a few other.
On tasting today Thys had brought on the white front the Chenin Blanc and the Chardonnay. Now both of these wines have about 30% fermented in 2 - 3 year old barrels with the rest fermented in stainless steel, and the 30% that is in barrel is also allowed to go through Maloctic Fermentation, which helps to soften the overall acidity of the wine. The Chenin, on the nose had plenty of lovely fresh green fruit aromas then from the background you got little nutty hints coming through, on the palate these came through with a lovely balanced and rounder acidity perfectly. The Chardonnay had the real new world fruit characters, but hints of butterscotch coming through from the background, and again the plentiful but slightly softer acidity just worked perfectly together.
On the red front we started with the Syrah, which is far more Francophile than new world, soft and elegant with the tannins, lovely fresh red and dark fruit both on the nose and palate combine with some gentle hints of spice, minerality and acidity perfectly. We then moved onto the Grenache Noir, very pale in colour and full of red berry fruit, soft and silky tannins and just a touch of acidty to make your mouth water and help the flavour to hang around. The Cabernet Franc was not what I had expected, not as rustic as many others, much more fresh fruit characters and hints of spice, it did have more tannins than the Grenache but they were still very fine and a lovely acidity all combine perfectly. We then moved onto the Cabernet, and this was exactly what it said in the tin, as it were, loads of big dark berry fruit, lovely juicy tannins and again a balanced acidity. Finally we moved onto their flagship wine the Rhodium, now this is a blend of 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot, a real homage to Bordeaux, and they did not disappoint. Full of big dark juicy berry fruit, plenty of tannins, although this was the 2013 which had softened out considerably, plenty of spice, there was a lot going on on the glass with this wine, and if your a Bordeaux fan you really would not be disappointed.
Now I know I've used perfectly quite a lot, but, and it's rare that I do say this, all the wines in the range we tasted today were just perfect, from the fruit to the spice, the tannins to the acidity they were all so well made and balanced I didn't want to stop drinking any of them, but the real favourite for me was the Grenache Noir, full of bright red berry fruit, perfect for the hot (hopefully) coming months, you could even chill it down slightly.
I think I've managed to twist Thys's arm enough to get him to come and host one of our Supper Club's later in the year and you'll get to taste some of the amazing wines from the Oldenburg Estate, I'll keep you posted once we've got a date confirmed.