It is in Darling, Darling!
Imagine being a rock on a hill outside Darling on the West Coast of South Africa.
The heat and force from the core of the earth has bruted you onward and upward for around 600 million years, moving you from deep below the surface of the Ceres district to bulge out as a hill more than a hundred kilometers farther South-West.
After centuries of unrelenting darkness and pressure, your ancient head finally brims into the cool sea-breeze and the delightful light of the sun just outside Darling.
Maybe that is why there hovers such a general aura of gratitude and tranquility on the vast horizons surrounding Darling.
The fight is over. The job of creating the best ancient soil for vineyards to frolic and fruit in is done.
It is no wonder then that the Darling district is world renowned for its wines and that the Ormonde, Ondine and Alexanderfontein wines show so much unique character and win so many awards. Just look at the impressive list of recent accolades! Click on the images below to enlarge and read. You can also click here to read more about many, many previous awards.
Back to being human. We arrived at the Ormonde Private Cellars tasting room. The inimitable Eddie (Kwagga) Boucher came to greet us and despite his short-sleeved summer shirt, on a véry cold winter’s day, he radiated an endearing warmth, pride and excitement to share Ormonde’s greatness with us. He had to hear how pleased we all were to be there. None of us had any idea of just how pleased we were still going to get.
We were eager to meet our host, Adré Rheeder General Manager of Ormonde, who welcomed us in the tasting room and proceeded to unabashedly enchant us with his energetic passion for excellence and riveting knowledge about wine-farming, management and the chemistry and soul of the soil and wine.
Visiting the farm
We were introduced to different blocks of single harvest wine vines, touched it, smelt it, played with the soil and bonded with it. I am convinced that it influenced the intensity with which we related to the wines at the tasting later. A little like respectfully nodding at the wine and thinking “I knÓw where yÓu come from, Sir.”
It was the most intense wine farm tour I have ever experienced and the most informative and wonderful! We hopped in and out of the vehicle, stopped at various spots, walked over a hill to see the breath-taking view spanning from Table Mountain to what felt like Namibia, all the time peppering our host with questions. Every question, no matter how mundane or ill-informed, was met with a gracious, informative and relatable answer. It was such an honour to spend time at and to fall in love with Ormonde and the Darling District through the eyes and knowledge of the beholder. #NoteToSelf: I wonder how many farm workers and colleagues can keep up with the precision and stamina of the delightful and impressive Mr. Rheeder!
Frankly, by the time we reached the cellar I was quite giddy with all the very fresh Darling air, and trying to keep up with taking notes, -photos and my expanding awe of what it takes to become and remain an award-winning wine producer.
After the cellar tour and learning about the care and gentility observed in the pressing to avoid extracting unwanted flavours from the skins and pips, we had the great honour of being the first visitors to taste Ormonde’s first divine Noble Late Harvest from botrytis rot Chenin Blanc grapes straight from the barrel. Magnifique! An award waiting to be bestowed! I could have quite happily stayed right there and nobly rotted with it but the tasting room treat was awaiting!
On arrival, I looked at the wall of fame and the award-bestickered bottles with a whole new, and very deep, respect.
Please click on the images to enlarge.
It was time for tasting the wine and initially we were all trying to think of clever things to say but
the wine spoke for itself, beguiling our palettes and earning our amorous surrender.
Adré enriched and enlightened us with information specific to each wine and we proudly participated – trying out some of our newly acquired knowledge – to pair each wine with possible spices, foods and flavours, guessing soil types its vines grew in, musing about whether it came from Bush vines etc. We all felt very empowered – especially when we got it right.
We tasted the berries, spices and pepper in the Chip of the old block Shiraz 2013, the vanilla and caramel in the Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (find this wine under the Top 100 & 2015 Decanter awards), banana in the Chardonnay and caught subtle whiffs and evasive hints or dominant whispers of unique flavours in each wine. We got carried away with lovely quotes like: “A complex wine will stand up to strong food”, “This wine has long legs”, about the Ondine Chenin Blanc 2013, and “It is always a good practice to expect longevity from wines from a cool climate”. “Well-made white wines can age for up to and more than 10 years, and on opening it will show aging on the nose, soon to disappear because the long ripening causes good natural acidity as preservative”, about the Ondine Chardonnay 2013.
Please click on the images to enlarge.
It was a superbly splendid way to spend a Sunday and the beautifully told and mystifying story of Ondine is now forever a part of my heart and wine appreciation.
The Marmelade Cat
We were very happy to see that some bottles of Ormonde Wines were scooped up on our way to lunch at The Marmelade Cat.
The staff was friendly and accommodating and …and shé was there – to nÓt entertain us!
My head and notebook were both too full for more notes, now it was time for a lovely meal and some more fantastic Ormonde wines and like the cherry on the top of a toppling cake – for perfect balance – Adré read a brilliant and bemusing article written by one of his daughters. Few things choke me up with joy as much as to regard a lovingly proud father.
Thank you to Ormonde Private Cellar, Adré Rheeder, Eddie Boucher and Shiva for sharing your magnificence with us. It was a day that will not allow itself to be forgotten.
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