A significant voor Paardeberg winery: South Africa revisited part 7

Website: www.vondelingwines.co.za

Vondeling, a new name to me, is one of the new wave of Voor Paardeberg/Swartland producers who are establishing this region as one of South Africa’s most interesting. I visited on a beautiful November day, with just a light breeze moderating the heat of the sun.

The property was purchased by Anthony Ward and Richard Gower in 2002, and has 40 hectares of vines. Matthew Copeland, the Vondeling winemaker since 2007 (below), took me for a quick tour of the property. It's backing onto the Paarderberg mountain, with granite soils further up the mountain and shale lower down. This diversity of soil types is handy, because the terroir influence adds interest to the wines.

Granite is a key factor, because Matthew maintains that the wines from granite soils show freshness and minerality, which are welcome in this otherwise warm-climate region. Vondeling’s experience is that the best wines are made from the south-facing vineyards, which are a bit cooler.

With regard to vineyard aspect, sun in the morning is more desirable than sun in the afternoon (which can lead to jamminess in the fruit). The Vondeling vineyards are hard up against the mountain, so they don't get direct sun in the afternoon, and the area they are located in is 5 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas.

The most interesting block I saw was a vineyard of bush vine Carignan. You’d expect them to be old vines: bush vine training is old fashioned, and Carignan a less fashionable variety. But these vines are just six years old.

Matthew had some interesting things to say about the current trend to sort fruit, just using the very best. 'I worry that berry sorting might hamper quality,' he claims. 'The most attractive berry is not necessarily the best one for making wine. I worry that we are taking away a couple of layers from the final product.'


Vondeling Chardonnay 2008
13.5% alcohol. Very fresh fruity and expressive on the nose: lemony, bright, hint of tropical fruit and some toastiness. The palate is fresh and focused with lovely nutty fruit and nice acidity. Brilliant effort. (The fermentation was stuck in one barrel leaving 5-6 g/l residual sugar, which Matthew balanced by adding acid.) 90/100

Vondeling Babiana 2007
Fresh, taut, mineral, herby nose with some flinty notes. A little closed. The palate has a nutty character with taut herby notes and some tight-wound fruit. Quite herbal and almost structured, with some minerality. One for holding on to for a few years. 91/100

Vondeling Erica Shiraz 2007
Dense, meaty and spicy on the nose with some robust tarry notes. The palate is dense and fresh with a meaty, spicy personality and dark savouriness. A bit earthy, too. 90/100

Vondeling Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005
Aromatic plummy, earthy, spicy nose. Some evolution, but also quite expressive and elegant. The palate shows subtle earthy, spicy notes and has a classic sort of feel to it. Very stylish. 91/100

Part 1, Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards
Part 2, Cape Point Vineyards
Part 3, AA Badenhorst Family Wines
Part 4, Eben Sadie: Sadie Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
Part 5, Paul Kretzel of Lammershoek
Part 6, Mullineux Family Wines
Part 7, Vondeling
Part 8, Scali
Part 9, Sterhuis
Part 10, Raats
Part 11, Migliarina
Part 12, Charles Back and Fairview
Part 13, Hermit on the Hill
Part 14, Klein Constantia
Part 15, Iona, Elgin
Part 16, Paul Cluver, Elgin
Part 17, Eagles' Nest, Constantia
Part 18, Anthonij Rupert
Part 19, Oak Valley, Elgin
Part 20, Shannon, Elgin

see also: Photos of Swartland

Wines tasted 11/09  
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