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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Vondeling Wines at Cambridge Wine Merchants‏

A tasting of South African estate Vondeling with winemaker Matt Copeland at Cambridge Wine Merchants' Cherry Hinton Road Wine Bar.

Vondeling Estate dates back to 1703, but its recent history begins in 1999 when it was bought and modernised by a British couple.

Based in Paarl in the Western Cape, it is around 20km from the ocean on a low mountain with the vineyards on slopes at altitudes of 230m - 360m.

Winemaker Matt Copeland aims to balance New World vibrancy with a classic well-structured style.

The estate uses a range of production methods from modern, temperature-controlled steel fermentation, to more serious oak-fermentation and even a quasi-natural wine.

Overall, I found the whites to be most consistent - the reds had something of a rustic edge and a tendency for drying, grippy, grainy tannins.

Where quoted, prices are retail at Cambridge Wine Merchants.

The accompanying food included artisan scotch eggs from Gog Magog Farm Shop.

Signal Cannon Chenin Blanc 2012 from 50yo vines, sandy golden yellow, herbaceous and aromatic, fresh yet mouthfilling and rounded. It has the look and structural feel of an oaked wine, but actually gets its character from extended lees ageing and gravity settling. Good.

Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from 30yo vines, temperature-controlled fermentation to preserve aromatics. Zesty, flinty, aromatic with ripe citrus; minerality and old-vine depth. Somewhere between Marlborough lushness and Loire steeliness.

Vondeling Petit Blanc 2012 65% Chenin / 20% Viognier / 15% Chardonnay; unoaked, aromatic and herbaceous; fresh acidity, well-structured floral lift from the Viognier, linear acidity on the finish from the Chardonnay.

Vondeling Chardonnay 2009 (£11.99) spontaneous fermentation in oak, wild yeasts and extended lees ageing - a bearded, sandal wearer. Earthy, musky nose, touch of pungent, wild funkiness. Creamy brazil nut, layered texture, waxiness and a touch of tannic buzz. Mouthfilling with a savoury, persistent finish. Good.

Vondeling Babiana approximately 50% Chenin / 20% Viognier / 20% Chardonnay / 10% Grenache Blanc fermented separately in oak and then blended.

2008 (£12.99) golden yellow, melon skin and musk, ripe tropical citrus, freshness and savoury persistence, spicy nutty oaky depth.

2009 (£12.99) a more balanced year than 2008, a touch more freshness on the nose, the palate is more viscous, balanced and fuller. Good.

Signal Cannon Rose 2012 Pinotage rose, a pale salmon pink with a whiff of burnt rubber. Ripe red berry fruit, custardy texture.

Signal Cannon Merlot 2011 ruby colour, fresh red fruits, coffee grounds and mintiness. Fresh and juicy with vibrant raw fruit.

Vondeling Petit Rouge 2011 Cab / Merlot blend, fermented in old French oak; black fruit, blackcurrant, liquorice mintiness and spice. Pure fruit expression, fresh acidity but tannins overly firm and grippy. Not entirely harmonious.

Vondeling Baldrick Shiraz 2011 (£10.99) fermented at a cooler temperature for more aromatic freshness. Viognier adds florality, also some Mourvedre. Pure sweet ripe dark fruit, spiciness, floral, vibrant. Drying, rather grainy tannins, especially on the finish.

Vondeling Erica Shiraz 2009 (£13.99) some Carignan and Grenache in the blend. Fresher on the nose with a touch of sulphuriness. Spicier than Baldrick, black cherry fruit and sweet vanilla. Tannins feel drying again.

Vondeling Cabernet Merlot 2007 a more ambitious Bordeaux blend; ripe dark fruit, spice, tobacco leaf and sweet cedar wood. Nicely mellow and complex - but grainy tannins. Well-made Bordeaux look-alike otherwise.

Vondeling Sweet Carolyn 2009 (£20) a straw wine from Muscat de Frontignan (aka Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains). Amber in the glass, aromas of roasted peaches and nectarines. Intensely sweet and mouthfilling but with fresh acidity; tastes like peaches roasted in caramelised butter. Slight hint of harsh bitterness.

Recommended Wine
The whites were the best here; of those available from Cambridge Wine Merchants, try the Chardonnay for some pagan earthiness or the '09 Babiana for more sophisticated elegance.

I attended as a guest of Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Other related articles

Vondeling - website, twitter
Cambridge Wine Merchants - website, twitter
Wines of South Africa - website, twitter
Gog Magog - website, twitter

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