With Cape Bordeaux-style blends globally recognised as one of South Africa’s leading wine categories, Vondeling Wines of the Voor- Paardeberg Region, just outside Paarl has made its mark as one of the leading producers of this revered wine-style. Not only did the Vondeling Philosophie 2019 garner a 97point, five star-rating, but the wine was named Red Wine of the Year in the Cape Bordeaux Blend category of the Platter Wine Guide 2024.
The 2024 Platter’s Guide, now in its 44th year is the most comprehensive precis on South African wines. Over 8 000 wines from some 900 producers were judged, with only 213 wines awarded a five star-rating of 95 points or more.
Matthew Copeland, Vondeling winemaker, says this is a major achievement for Vondeling. “The most iconic South African wines are red Bordeaux-blends and most often from the Stellenbosch region. For a Paarl winery to come out on top is not only a tremendous honour, but it underscores the Voor-Paardeberg’s potential to be the jewel in Paarl’s crown as one of the Cape’s oldest and finest wine producing regions.”
The winning wine, Vondeling Philosophie 2019, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A relatively new wine in their portfolio, Copeland, believes that it’s the overall love of these grape varieties that has made the difference. “Also essential is the wonderfully temperate climate of the Voor-Paardeberg and the abundance of water available to these somewhat thirsty grapes.”
The 2019 is the fifth production-year of this wine and only in superior vintages are a limited number of bottles produced under the Philosophie label. Each vintage has a unique label which celebrates a rare flower from the rich Paardeberg mountain flora and creates a collectable series of wines.
Platter Guide describes the Philosophie 2019 as having, “Massive structure and muscle. Cape Bordeaux tempered by intricately detailed spice and minerals.” The grapes are sourced from a steep, south-facing vineyard on the upper reaches of the farm. The soils are primarily granite, which promotes firm, graphite-like tannins, while a healthy clay component in the soil fleshes out the mid palate. The wine is aged in 300L French (75% new) for 20 months and bottle aged for three years before release.
Julian Johnsen, co-owner and MD of Vondeling says, “We only work with our own grapes and that this is the second consecutive year that Philosophie has been awarded 5 stars (2017 had 96 pts), really shows what we’re capable of. We’re tremendously proud and congratulate our wonderful team on this remarkable achievement.”