The Date and Time: Friday September 15, 2017 12:30 PM – 2:30
The Event: A Master Wine tasting lunch with Thys Lombard, International Sales Consultant for Oldenburg Vineyards, Stellenbosch South Africa.
The Venue: Biff's Bistro
The Target Audience: wine writer Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
The Availability/Catalogue: Oldenburg Chardonnay 2011 and 2012 WO Stellenbosch, +374645 were once available in Ontario, priced at just over $20. Today we tasted a Chenin Blanc 2015 ($19.95) and a Rhodium Red Blend 2013 ($34.95, Bordeaux-style). The wines are repped by www.winemoves.com and David Litner. Both wines will be available next year through the LCBO, but everything from the winery can now be a private order "in the meantime".
The Quote/Background: Founder Adrian Vanderspuy (who is originally from this area and returned home) bought Oldenburg farm in Stellenbosch's Banhoek Valley in 2003 and planted typical varietals. Oldenburg Wines only makes one level of wine, a varietal series of Chenin Blanc ($19.95), Chardonnay ($19.95), Merlot ($27.95), Syrah ($34.95), Cabernet Franc ($27.95), Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.95), and Viognier ($19.95). But the firm today is now expanding to incorporate a series of blends such as the Rhodium 2013, and these will be their "premium" line at $34.95 CAN. Next up is a Rhone blend along the lines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, similarly priced. This strategy certainly sounds feasible after a decade of operation. Twist tops are used for the varietals; corks are used for the blends. 10K cases seems to be an optimum level, but the blends may push that level up.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2015 WO Stellenbosch, $19.95 release TBD: blend of 69% tank fermented and 31% barrel fermented wine, eight months in 300 litre French oak barrels (50% new). 13% ABV. Lime, lemon and other citrus tones dominate at first entry, replaced by Granny Smith (what else?) tones and light oaking in a sort-of sweet-sour embrace on the mid-palate. There is elegance, body and even some stuffing to accommodate food. This is a top savoury wine with a long lingering ending, not your uncle's Loire CB. Best with food.
-Oldenburg Vineyard Rhodium 2013 WO Stellenbosch, $34.95 release TBD: named after a rare metal produced for premium jewelry, and most of the world's production coming from South Africa, this is indeed a rare gem. A blend of merlot (75%), cabernet franc (15%), petit verdot and malbec (5% each). 14% ABV. And very Right Bank (think St Emilion or Pomerol) in its voluptuousness. It has spent 19 months in 300 litre French oak, 50% new. Again, because of the franc, it is a bit on the herbal-savoury side, and ideal for food. Still youthful with a long way to go, give it ten more years. I re-corked it and tasted it over the next few days after a double decant. More fruit elegance and balance emerged as well as wood tones. It became more juicy with lots of quality black fruit showing. And it is very well-priced.
The Food: we ordered off the menu. I had cream of mushroom soup (which goes with all wines) and a pork schnitzel on the bone, complete with chouxcroute, potatoes and mustard sauce. Others in the party had mussels and lamb merguez burger.
The Downside: I had been overheated all this hot week, and was thankful to arrive early at Biff's so that I could cool down. [Does this make me a dog?]
The Upside: a chance to explore the international wine scene vis-a-vis South Africa with Thys Lombard who covers a lot of territory.
The Contact Person: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93.