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Oldenburg Red Wine Overview

29 May 2019  -  Oldenburg Vineyards

On a regular visit to see Nic in his cellar, the guys were playing a bit of Bob Marley (the team take turns to play DJ every day). I was thinking this would be a good time to share an update on the progress of our 2019 vintage so far - and for some reason I cannot get the song ‘Red Red Wine’ out of my head.
I know what you’re thinking - it’s not a Bob Marley song - it’s UB40. You would be wrong, though! It was first written and performed by Neil Diamond in 1967, and I distinctly remember how my grandfather loved to crank up Neil after a few glasses of (what else?) red wine! Sorry if you, too, now have the ear-worm!
We have now completed a full tasting of the 2019 vintage red wines. These wines are obviously still very young, and for my lesser-trained palate it is always difficult to get a thorough understanding of wines at this early stage. The Cabernet Sauvignon is currently undergoing malo (malolactic fermentation). This is basically a 2nd fermentation (the primary one is where yeasts transform sugars into alcohol) whereby the tart malic acid (think apples) is converted to lactic acid, which is softer and creamier (think milk). This process is needed at a microbiological level to create stability in the wines. It certainly makes tasting them a difficult experience, and one really needs to concentrate to get a true sense of the wine.
So, the question is: why barrels? The idea is that the barrel facilitates micro-oxygenation to occur through allowing very small amounts of air to pass through the wood and interact with the wine. This helps soften the tannins with a process called polymerisation (tannins are a class of biomolecule that are able to polymerise, or link together to form longer chains). Polymerisation creates larger molecules, that are perceived as less bitter - effectively it softens the tannins. The oak slowly integrates with the wine to give it structure, thereby encapsulating the fruit, acids, tannins and alcohol. Ultimately the barrel gives  balance to the wines. The wines are happy, as they will now rest peacefully for the next 14 to 22 months.
What was apparent from the tasting was that despite a challenging harvest (frequent rain and unusually cool conditions), the wines are in great shape. The vineyards on Rondekop are delivering exceptional fruit! We have found that our strategy of opening up the vineyard canopies by removing leaves, and thereby allow sunlight penetration on the bunches, promotes ripening. This also allowed us to pick earlier than previous harvests, which lowered alcohol levels. The wines are already expressing their sense of Place – and in a very distinctive manner. This is excellent news. If we are already seeing these positive attributes in the wines, time in barrel will only further improve them. Nic’s plan is to use less new wood, with older barrels set to play a role in producing more elegant, true to terroir wines. In a nutshell - very exciting. Bravo Nic!
We have also been working on some improvements in and around the Tasting Room. On the outside, we have planted a few new LARGE trees for summer - to give visitors more shade to enjoy. Inside, we have installed a new fireplace - so this winter, come enjoy a tasting with a roaring fire keeping you warm while you enjoy the stunning views. My bet is on a cold winter this year, so you never know - you may just catch some snow on the peaks. Now THAT is a must see!