The Independent Republic of Oldenburg

December 8, 2011 in Wine Farms

I had two questions for winemaker Simon Thompson at last week’s launch of Oldenburg Vineyards new tasting centre – why have you planted Chenin Blanc and are we going to see a Bordeaux Blend anytime soon?

It took me some time to get hold of him however, being somewhat distracted by the really very lovely new building which houses the tasting room and offices. Designed by Simon Beerstecher who also did Glen Carlou and Rustenberg with all the furnishings and interiors done by Kelly Hoppen, it’s a great example of how a good building can mirror its surroundings and be part of them, whilst still carrying out its purpose effectively. My husband does some work for the farm and I have now been there twice, and strongly advise you to go and have a look for yourself and see what you think. And don’t miss the funky kangaroo picture in the lounge area on the right – if owner Adrian Vanderspuy ever finds it’s gone missing, it might be worth checking with me first…….

Oldenburg are making some lovely wines at the moment, but the most interesting white is probably the Chenin. I tasted it a while ago and the oak is showing far more prominently at this moment in time than, for example, the Chardonnay, which actually has more oak used in its make-up. This is the only Chenin grown in the Banghoek Valley and – when you’re surrounded by Sauvignon specialists such as Thelema, Tokara, Delaire, Zorgvliet, Bartinney etc etc – why would you eschew everyone’s favourite white grape in favour of Chenin Blanc?

“It’s Adrian’s choice” explains Simon. “He decided when he bought the farm 8 years ago that Sauvignon was just a fad and that Chenin had the better future! And I think he’s right – we are getting amazing fruit and our vines are still young.” He plants them on various different soils, but all generally the cooler ones, lower down on the farm towards the river. The wine is rich and citrussy with good length and backbone and I think it will be extremely interesting to see where it goes from here.

If Adrian has asserted his independence when it comes to planting Chenin, then Simon has rather followed the herd in planting my, and Banghoek’s favourite red, Cabernet Franc. Delicious as a single varietal however, he secretly hopes to be able to make a blend – something which the boss is less keen on. His Cab Franc is delicious, his Cab Sauv very nice, he tells me he has all the other ingredients needed for a Bordeaux blend – what are you waiting for Simon? Go on – make a quick barrel of something fantastic and show Adrian he’s not the only one with good ideas!

PS – there is no food offering planned on the farm owing to a less-than-enthusiastic neighbour, so PR organisers-supreme, Lise and Ian Manley persuaded Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out’s Chef of the Year, to come and give us all a taster of the tapas to come from his new venture, the Pot Luck Club. Lucky for us indeed!

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