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2013 Oldenburg Vineyards, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Scores and Reviews
Located in the Banghoek Valley eight kilometres from Stellenbosch, Oldenburg Winery was established in its current format in 2003 by Adrian Vanderspuy, who grew up in the Cape but had spent most of his life abroad, building a career in financial services. Adrian set out to make premium wines, capitalising on the favourable location of the vines, which, at 300-450 metres above sea-level, benefit from a cooler climate than vineyards lower down, and yet are sufficiently high to benefit from more sunlight than those which lie in the shadow of the mountains.
After totally replanting the vineyard, Adrian’s maiden vintage was 2007. His goal is to make high-quality, limited production wines from French varietals, primarily Cabernet and Syrah. The Rhodium is Oldenburg’s prestige cuvée and their wonderful 2012 vintage is a blend of 53 percent Merlot, 40 percent Cabernet Franc and 7 percent Malbec.
Yields are kept extremely low to maximise concentration of fruit, and crop-thinning takes place to further ensure that only perfect grapes make it to the winery. Once there, they are hand-sorted, cooled and then crushed. After fermentation the wines are aged in French barriques prior to bottling.
In 2013, Philip Costandius, who has been consulting at Oldenburg since 2009, was persuaded to become the Managing Director and Winemaker for the estate. Philip has been Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild and is a highly respected figure in the industry. He firmly believes that “Oldenburg has magnificent terroir”; this will be an exciting estate to watch over the next few years.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s best-known wine region, producing a wide variety of wines from leading estates, even though it accounts for less than 20 per cent of the country’s total production. Designated wards within the wine region are Jonkershoek Valley, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Bottelary, Devon Valley and Papegaaiberg.
At 17,500 hectares, Stellenbosch remains the Cape's most famous and important fine wine district, thanks to its proximity to Cape Town, to the cooling influences of False Bay, its mountainous (ie Helderberg, Simonsberg), granitic topography and its centres of learning such as Elsenburg Agricultural College.