Challenge accepted!

At the end of our July TeleView, I threw down the challenge to Christo, to (re)plant the incredibly rocky block adjacent to our Tasting Room. This block had previously been the origin site for some of our best Chardonnay. If you know Christo, you also know that this is the type of challenge he relishes, so – no surprise – he accepted!


Let us turn our thoughts to terroir. It is a French word, derived from the Latin terra, for earth, land and soil. In France, the concept of terroir became popular after the devastating impact of phylloxera (a microscopic aphid that feeds on the roots of vines), which forced the French vignerons to switch to a resistant American rootstock for growing their vines. As terroir relates to the soil, it speaks to a particular ‘sense of place’ and enabled the French to reclaim their local pride, although their plants had been ‘internationalised’.


Whilst soil is a central element of terroir, hydrology is also essential (that is, the relationship between the soil and water). In general, well-drained soils play a critical role in producing quality wines. They force the vine to build a complex and deep root structure as it searches for moisture. This search must also yield just the right amount of water, which allows the vine to survive but not necessarily thrive. Think “tough love”, rather than “abundantly fed”. The tough love prevents excessive vine growth (vigour) and culminates in smaller grapes, with highly concentrated flavours. The Tasting Room adjacent Chardonnay block has these factors in play, although to call the earth ‘soil’ is a massive overstatement – the block is just rocks.


On the subject of challenges, Nic and Thys recently headed off to Still Bay for the 2022 Vintners Classic surf competition. Thys felt that some members of his category (the over 50’s) were considerably younger and, in some cases, had just spent several weeks in Bali practising. Hardly a fair competition! Thys did, however, commit to achieving a podium position next year. Word on the grapevine has it that Nic managed to open a bottle of <CL° and pour himself a glass whilst surfing a 5-metre tube… Bravo guys! The Vintners Classic is one of those great events that bring a large cross-section of the wine industry together for a bit of fun, and also raises funds for the Surf for Life charity.


Shortly after, Nic headed back down the Garden route for a little Oldenburg Vineyards road trip – this time, with Stefan in tow. They had a busy week of events, with stops at Gondwana Reserve, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. In September, the team is travelling again: Thys and Demetri Walters MW will attend the Jeroboams Annual Client Tasting in London. Nic will conduct a Masterclass on September 22nd at 67 Pall Mall in London, and will join Thys for the Global Wines Annual Tasting event in Belgium. Further trips to Germany, Holland and France will also follow at the end of September. Please do get in touch if you would like to meet and taste.


We are happy to announce that our wines are heading to Asia next, with new partnerships concluded with Goedhuis Fine Wine Merchants for Hong Kong, and Vinum Fine Wines for Singapore. I will conduct a Masterclass at 67 Pall Mall Singapore on November 10th and possibly other events around that time. We will keep you updated on dates and details.


After an absence of four years, Cape Wine will be returning to Cape Town 5-7th October this year. Four years is quite an absence, and considering the warp speed with which the quality of Cape wine has been increasing, I predict this year’s event will be a strong catalyst for global wine buyers, searching for something extraordinary. There has been much positive change since 2018, despite the effects of Covid putting the brakes on the message – so it is time for a much needed step-change! Please do get in touch if you are in the Cape for Cape Wine – we would love to show you the farm and everything we are up to. Contact Thys to arrange a meeting.


I am pleased to release our Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2021. Nic has yet again created a wine that speaks to its cooler site, with freshness and clarity of fruit. I am happy about this release as I can also refill my cellar, which has struggled to get an allocation! Contact for more information.


As we move from August to September, the fynbos on the farm begins to show their true beauty – we always say the fynbos is the perfect example of what makes wines from the Cape so remarkable – diversity, beauty and adaptability; in a word – Extraordinary!


I trust we will cross paths over the coming months to show you what we are talking about.

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