Oldenburg Vineyards is perched high-up in the scenic Banghoek Valley, just above Stellenbosch. In this impressive natural setting, winemaker Nic van Aarde plies his craft making some of the most captivating wines in Stellenbosch. Nestled within a soaring mountain amphitheatre, cooling ocean winds funnel though the warm valley creating optimal temperatures during both day and night, allowing Oldenburg to grow high quality grapes suitable for a premium selection of both red and white wines.
When current owner Adrian Vanderspuy bought the farm back in 2003, this was already and area he knew well, having been born on an adjacent property in the valley. This long-term project is finally bearing fruit and the red and white wines being produced on the farm are nearing the quality level Adrian knew this unique terroir was capable of reaching. Ahead of the 2022 vintage releases, I caught up in London recently with both Adrian and winemaker Nic van Aarde to run through the current releases from Oldenburg on the market.
The Oldenburg Vineyards wine range currently consists of the more affordable CL white blend and CL red Bordeaux blend, the Oldenburg single varietal range and then the premium Rondekop Reserve wines that include the Stone Axe Syrah, Rhodium Right Bank styled blend (Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and the Per Se Cabernet Sauvignon, all made from 8 hectares of older vines around 14 to 18 years old, and 12 hectares of younger vines planted more recently.
Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Stellenbosch, 13% Abv.
18 year old vines from a single vineyard of 1.5 hectares on sandy black alluvial soils. Slow whole bunch pressed oxidatively then fermented in 300 litre old barrels and 2500 litre Stockinger barrels. Natural slow fermentation with 50% malolactic fermentation, aged 11 months in foudre and bottled in February 2022.
Steely and intense, super focused and energetic, showing white pear, classic straw and dried herbs and peach stone. Seamless purity with bright refreshing acids, effortless concentration and a delightful focus. Really very pure and princely with a wonderfully premium feel.
(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Oldenburg Vineyards Chardonnay 2021, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.
Sourced from two vineyards on alluvial and brown river rock soils. Whole bunch pressed with no SO2 in a more oxidative handling method, then fermented in 228 litre barrels with partial malo with lees stirring during fermentation. Barrels were rolled post-fermentation once a week. Wine saw 11 months oak ageing with light blond toast, 33% new / 33% 2nd / 33% 3rd fill.
Lovely natural purity to the wine with a gentle elegance, supple soft textural breadth, lemon and vanilla pod spice with a mineral note adding extra interest. Acids are glassy and fresh and the mid-palate creamy but crystalline with the signature effortless intensity. Impressively balanced and poised.
(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Oldenburg Vineyards Stone Axe Syrah 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.
Grapes from a vineyard at 410 metres altitude, NE slope on the warmer side. Earlier picked to express the site with 1/3 whole bunch pressed and lightly stomped with destemmed fruit on top. Natural fermentation allowed with 1-2 punch downs per day, wetting the cap gently. Aged in new Stockinger foudre and 5-6 year old 500 litre older foudre for 16 months.
Plenty of tarry, smoky black bramble berry fruits, olive, sweet black peppercorns, grilled herbs, cured meats and saline black berry fruits. Palate is super sleek and elegant with lovely intensity but light touch intensity, pristine purity and a weightless, savoury, spicy concentration with manicured tannins. Wonderfully characterful, classy and pure but beautifully classical. Very impressive.
(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium Red Blend 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.
A blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Shows a classical Stellenbosch nose of sweet cedar, tilled earth, sappy black and blueberry fruits, bouquet garner and dusty graphite hints. The palate is sleek and beautifully polished with a silky texture, bright red and black cherry fruit notes, some iodine and salinity, finishing with a harmonious, effortless intensity but also an understated, compact concentration. Lovely length, elegance and pedigree.
(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Oldenburg Vineyards Per Se Cabernet Sauvignon 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.
NE facing single vineyard with a coffee klip bank of 1.2 hectares. Grapes were crushed and destemmed with strict sorting, 6 days 12 degree C cold soak and then a natural fermentation was allowed to begin. Wine saw a 3-week cold soak post fermentation and was then basket pressed. Aged in 55% new 225 litre French oak barrels and was bottled early Sept 2022 after being aged 19 months.
Show and expressive nose of tilled earth, savoury black berry, tobacco, earthy cassis, black cherry, fynbos, delicate dried herbs and graphite… then cherry and parma violet. A fine sinewy line of tannins is evident with a precise mineral focus supported by fresh glassy acids. Opens and develops beautifully in the glass. A very smart Cabernet Sauvignon indeed.
(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)