Since gaining my first professional WSET qualification in wine, my learning curve has been vertical; soaking up everything I can from wine fairs, magazines, television and from those far more experienced than me kind enough to share their love and knowledge.
On a chilly Tuesday night I found myself in the immensely elegant surroundings of London’s Somerset House to sample the new batch of Oldenburg Wines from South Africa in the prestigious company of almost twenty top wine experts at a private dinner, catered by chef Tom Aikens.
The first part of the evening was hosted at the Oldenburg sponsored contemporary African Art Fair 1:54 in the lower galleries. The bottles of Chenin Blanc 2014 (£15.99) were lying on a bed of ice at the bar appealingly glistening with a mist of condensation. Weighing in at a meaty 14%, a deep inhalation revealed intoxicating aromas of jasmine, honey bush and tea leaf with hints of almonds. Rich and round on the palate with grapefruity citrus and hints of pepper made this a very easy drinking wine. I couldn’t help vocalise an audible mmmm; I knew from the first taste we were in for a night of high quality crafted wines.
From the gallery reception we climbed the wide spiral staircase to an ante room where we were served delightful canapés with the Chenin Blanc 2013 (£15.99). A deep breath revealed complex aromas of green apples and citrus with just a hint of pepper and vanilla. Wood matured in French oak barrels for 10 months adds to its fruitiness and mellows this superb award winning wine. It’s no surprise that it won a well-deserved gold at the IWSC show for the best Chenin Blanc.
Chef Tom Aikens had selected a menu to perfectly compliment and match Oldenburg’s wines. The entrée of roast monkfish with butter bean sauce and crispy chicken skin was served with Chardonnay 2012 (£15.99). An intense golden colour with whiffs of vanilla and light almond along with ripe orange, yellow apple and caramel. It was smooth, rounded and supple in the mouth, without being gloopy or viscous. A long elegant finish with pineapple and light oak spice. A real pleasure.
My colleagues and I were absolutely spoiled with two main courses. The first being wood pigeon breast served with charred carrots and balsamic beetroot. The muscular 15% Cabernet Franc 2009 (£21.00) made every mouthful of the pink gamey meat a pleasure. A wonderful radiant ruby colour with an aroma of deep rich nuttiness and hints of pepper. Smooth tannins and rich juiciness give a long, spicy finish. Although not the most expensive wine in their cellar, this was really my highlight of the evening every mouthful was sheer sensuality, it was almost a shame to swallow, so delectable it was in my mouth.
The second main was seven hour confit lamb with smoked mash and grilled pointed cabbage. This was served with Oldenburg’s only blended wine, Rhodium 2013 (£35.00).
Reminiscent of the finest Bordeaux wines; this is blend of Merlot (75%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (5%). Matured for 19 months in French oak barrels gives this an aroma of intense black fruit with savoury notes and a taste of elegance, minerality and intense juiciness. A most pleasant wine that will become even better over time.
After a night of sheer epicurean indulgence we finished with a cheese board accompanied by the award winning Syrah 2012 (£21.00). Syrah/Shiraz has always been one of my favourite grape varieties, so I was looking forward to this one more than most. Well, I wasn’t disappointed! Opaque Crimson in colour with aromas of ripe red fruit and plump cherry. Rich fruit flavour with a peppery acidity with a long, long velvety finish.
For a relatively young vineyard, Oldenburg has got everything just right. Owned by the Vanderspuy family in the Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch, it is known for making some of the finest and most respected wines from South Africa. Small quantities of red and white wines are handcrafted with meticulous management and attention to detail. Solid in their home market with growing exports Europe and to the growing economies of Africa and Asia.
Oldenburg wines are relatively affordably priced for their high quality and well
worth seeking out. I’ll shortly be taking my next level wine exam; hopefully my learning curve will continue to be steeply vertical.
Oldenburg Vineyards (Pty) Ltd
Imported and Distri
buted in the UK by:
Connoisseur Estates Ltd
The main UK retailer is Berry Bros. See the Oldenburg Website for a full list of stockists.
Berry Bros & Rudd Limited
3 St. James’s Street