Sawubona chats to Oldenburg Vineyard‘s Winemaker, Philip Costandius, about what makes Oldenburg unique and how to identify a good wine.
How did you discover your passion for the wine industry?
My passion for wine comes from a love of all things sensual. I love aromas, tastes and flavours. The smell of rain on dry earth, freshly baked bread, a ripe fig, fermenting wine and a good cigar. I love to cook and eat good food, and I make sure to drink good wine when I do this.
What does being a winemaker entail?
Being a winemaker entails firstly being in touch with nature and the vine. There is a whole spectrum of data that you need to use which will enable you to understand what is happening in a vineyard. Climate, soils and vigour are all part of the details. Once the winemaking starts, you need a firm grasp of the chemistry, microbiology and metabolic reactions that make a successful fermentation. Finally, an enquiring mind and a creative spirit are essential to be a great winemaker. I didn’t fall into this career – it found me.
How did you find yourself at Oldenburg and what makes this farm stand out from others?
I was involved with Oldenburg as a Winemaking Consultant from 2009 to 2011. During this period I saw the potential of the farm so when I was offered the management position in 2014, I didn’t have to think long before accepting it. Oldenburg is unique in the sense that it has a hill, Rondkop, as a centrepiece protruding from the surrounding landscape. This leads to constant movement of air through the vineyards creating the correct conditions for heat dissipation and the slow, regular ripening of the grapes.
Oldenburg has just launched its first ever Grenache Noir. What can we expect?
Our 2014 Grenache Noir is a medium-bodied, savoury wine with delicious elegance. It’s one of those wines that you can easily serve chilled on a hot summer’s day. The variation shows some spice and has great finesse on the palate. It’s to be enjoyed with game or charcuterie.
What are some of your favourite wines?
For an everyday white, I prefer a Chenin Blanc, but I often change to more aromatic cultivars like Viognier or Rhine Riesling. As far as red goes, my favourite is Syrah, but I do enjoy a good Pinot Noir or a well-aged Bordeaux-style blend.
What should we be looking for in a good wine?
I always look for harmony and balance between the primary fruit flavours, the fermentation aromas and any tertiary components like oak. A good wine is like a great symphony where all the instruments play in unison and there is nothing jarring or intrusive.
How can we learn more about wine and refine our palates?
Drink different wines regularly, especially with your meals. Attend wine shows or join a wine-tasting club. Visit the many wineries on the different wine routes. Taste, taste, taste!