Neal Martin - Wine Advocate #209 Oct 2013
Berry Bros. & Rudd wines featured in The Wall Street Journal by Will Lyons
Will Lyons writes a weekly column for The Wall Street Journal. His humorous, informed, down-to-earth writing has been recognized in both the Glenfiddich and Roederer wine writing Awards. He began his career in London, as a wine merchant in St. James’s where he developed a love for the classic wines of Europe. He has written for a variety of publications including The Scotsman, Reader’s Digest, The Spectator and Decanter.
About this WINE
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.
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.
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.