Fancy a (F)Vondeling?

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A great friend of mine, Bryn Stephens, has recently spent 3 months working in South Africa, in the region of Voor-Paardeberg. He was working as a 'cellar rat', helping with the grape picking and carefully watching and taking part in the wine making process.

Since returning to the bleak UK, Bryn has taken a new role as brand ambassador for the Vondeling winery he worked in and I was lucky enough to taste the full range of their wines recently.

The wines of Vondeling are great value, with all of my favourites being under £10 a bottle. Let's start with the whites.

The Vondeling Petit Blanc 2011 was light in body, with sweet fruits and great racy acidity. Lots of green apple flavours and pear aromas. The wine is a blend of old vine Chenin Blanc with younger vine fruit from Chardonnay and Viognier. 

The Chardonnay was by far my favourite of the line-up. A brilliantly expressive nose of tropical fruit and minerality. It has oak ageing, but it's excellently integrated into the wine. The palate has hints of popcorn, toffee and citrus fruits, as well as that lovely toasted oak.

Vondeling also make a really interesting white oaked blend called Babiana. This blend is Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and a hint of Grenache Blanc. The nose has a complex minerality, with green notes and oaky tones. The palate has loads of honey characters with ripe, tropical fruits and that oak kick. A top wine and once again, a bargain.

South Africa produce some really world class Shiraz. Vondeling are attempting their own with the Erica Shiraz 2007. Jam packed with plums and sweet spices on the nose, blackcurrants and meaty tones on the palate. The length wasn't great but just enough to round off this great wine.

And finally, the second stand out wine was the Bowwood Cabernet-Merlot 2005. A joint venture between Vondeling and outstanding South African winemaker Bruce Jack. This wine, now 7 years old is really starting to show its maturity. The nose has hints of mint, chocolate and vanilla. The palate was laden with sweet, ripe fruit and toasty oak flavours topped off with touches of caramel. The tannins were firm yet receding and the acidity was still present. A really great wine.

I’m pleased that Bryn is representing this winery in the UK and I'm sure he'll be an asset to them. You can get the wines from many UK merchants - just google 'Vondeling'

Cheers!