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Oldenburg Vineyards' Views: Full Speed Ahead!


29 January 2021  -  Oldenburg Vineyards

Undeterred by all that is going on in the world, I am convinced there is only one way to go: forward, and at full speed! It is inescapable that the fog of 2020 will lift, and the sun will shine again.

Here on the farm, we are moments away from the start of Harvest 2021, and the anticipation is already building. The build-up to season has been a cooler one, with a generally wetter Spring compared to previous years. As we entered the New Year, the daytime temperatures climbed over 30°C, and veraison kicked in. Our evening temperatures remain around a pleasant 14°C, putting our diurnal temperature range around 16°C, which is ideal to provide the slow ripening conditions that are so important to achieve perfect physiological ripeness. Everything is falling into place for another great harvest! Be sure to watch this month’s TeleVIEW, where Nic gives his thoughts and predictions on what to expect from the 2021 vintage.

By now, many of you know we have high ambitions for our wines. And it is not purely ambition, for ambition’s sake. Rather, it is from our sustained belief in the uniqueness of Rondekop. Years of hard work and attention to detail will culminate later this year, when we release the red wines from Nic’s first vintage at Oldenburg – 2019. Nic will be the first to say that it has been a team effort to get to this point, and indeed it has been. We are thrilled to see how far Oldenburg Vineyards has come, and in light of that excitement, 2021 can only be a year where the glass isn’t even half-full – it is just full!

As for happenings on the farm in January, we have just bottled the 2020 Oldenburg Vineyards Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier – and the Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are under cork closure for the first time. There are only 1400 bottles of the Viognier 2020 available, and there will be no 2021 Viognier harvest this year, due to vineyard interventions made last year (the vines were taken from trellised to stok-by-paaltjie). The white wines are yet another step forward in our elevation of quality and will be released soon. Watch this space.

While we look forward to our new vintages with great anticipation, I also want to let you in on a little secret: our Library Collection of back vintages. A number of our private clients and wine club members have been purchasing older vintages of our wines – particularly the Rhodium. Some have taken immediate delivery, and others have opted to store the wines with us for a while longer, until they’re aged to perfection. Be sure to check in with Marthélize if you would like to do the same.

On the subject of Rhodium – it was interesting to note that the price of Rhodium (the metal), crossed USD20,000 per ounce this month. That’s about ten times the price of gold. When we chose the name for our Rondekop Rhodium, the choice made a statement of one of our core beliefs: that, in time, this wine too would be seen as something precious, and from South Africa, just as the metal is. I believe we have reached that point in time.

With prohibition back in South Africa (again), you are still welcome to order your wines and we will deliver the moment the ban is lifted. For our international readers, it is business as usual. Follow the link to our price lists (scroll down to the ‘Direct International Orders’ section for individual price lists) and we will soon have your order at your door.

Keeping on the international front, Nic and I will be taking part in a 67 Pall Mall virtual event on the 24th of February 2021. Demetri Walters(MW) will be hosting us, and the event is open for anyone to join via Zoom. It will include a tasting of a very special pre-release line-up. Scroll down to our Bird’s Eye VIEW section below for more details, as well as the link to the event page.

Lastly, we have something new in our newsletter: a new segment, called Point of View. In it, we will bring you our viewpoint on a range of topics; either attempting to uncover some common wine myths, or give our take on the more complex, unknown or controversial aspects of wine and winemaking. In the first Point of View, Nic gives his thoughts on how we decide when to pick - an important decision! 

So, from our side, it is Full Speed Ahead. I trust 2021 will be the same for you.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with questions, or any feedback - they are essential and help us grow.

TeleView

<CL° White Blend 2020

Our <CL° range of wines have proven immensely popular since the release of the first vintage in 2018. We are thrilled to introduce you to the third vintage of this fresh and exciting white blend. The 2020 vintage is made up of 54% Chardonnay and 46% Chenin Blanc. A portion of the components were gently aged in older oak barrels, and the rest from tank ferments. 

Vibrant notes of peach, honeysuckle and apricot on the nose, and a hint of gentle spiciness rounds it off. The Chenin Blanc component provides a zesty side, with the Chardonnay contributing a soft, rounded fulness on the palate.

Did you know that for every bottle of <CL° wine sold, a portion of the proceeds go directly to Aitsa! – an after-care centre that serves our local community. Established in 2014, their goal was to provide children of the local communities with a safe and stimulating after-school environment. Since then, the initiative has grown to offer the children so much more than just after-school care.

To learn more about Aitsa, visit their website or Facebook page. If you want to support this initiative, you can order your <CL° wines online or by contacting orderwine@oldenburgvineyards.com.
 
Point of View
The Precision of Picking
 
Welcome to our new monthly section, where we will be demystifying and explaining some of the more technical aspects of wine and winemaking, all within the context of how we do things here at Oldenburg Vineyards.

As we approached harvest, we sat down with Nic to learn more about exactly how he makes one of the most critical decisions: when do we pick?

To determine the precise time to harvest, the team considers historical data (looking back at past seasons gives a good idea when blocks typically ripen), the climatic conditions of the season (this takes into account the season from bud-break to flowering and into ripening). 

Around two weeks before ripening, the team walks through the blocks doing random sampling: one berry is taken from one row (at the top of the bunch), then further down the row, another berry is taken from the opposite row (from the middle of the bunch), and further down again another berry is taken from the first row (from the bottom of the bunch). They continue until they have about 200 berries picked. The sample is taken back to the cellar, crushed, and the sugar is measured using a density meter (Balling meter). We determine the g/L of sugar in the grapes, which is an indication of ripeness.

Sugar levels are not the only determining factor, though. Nic tastes on a combination of sugar as well as the overall flavours. He can also extrapolate the alcohol percentage based on the sugar levels, to ensure the percentage won’t be too low or too high.

As the grapes approach ideal ripeness, Nic does a lot of tasting as he walks through the vineyards, to evaluate the overall flavour profiles. He also physically examines the grapes, looking for the signs of physiological ripeness. For example, change of colour (for white grapes, yellowing of the green skin; for red grapes, a deep red colour) also, turgidity (defined as “a state of being turgid or swollen” – meaning the berries are plump with water) as well as evaluating the ripeness of the pips. When the berries are not ripe, the pips are green and impart an undesirable astringency. When they are ripe, the pips turn brown and crunchy and lose that overt astringency.

When all the factors align, the grapes are harvested, and a new vintage begins