Olivedale Mysteries of nature Roobernet 2019
If wine was Rock n Roll, Abraham Perold would be SoftCell’s Tainted Love; a one-hit wonder blessed with the legs to keep going, seemingly into perpetuity; even if new renditions shift genre from time to time.
Prof Chris Orffer, on the other hand…he’s more like the Ramones; with an entire discography of seemingly forgettable creations… yet carrying a spirit of innovation that has the power to fascinate and inspire fanboys and -girls to this very day.
During his tenure as Professor of Vini-viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, Orffer oversaw the cross breeding of at least six wine cultivars that are still in use today.
Nouvelle is a white cultivar born out of the crossing of Trebbiano and Cape Riesling. Boland Cellars managed to win a gold medal or two with their straight Nouvelle bottling back in 2005/2006.
Chenel is another white cultivar that is the result of a crossing of Chenin Blanc and Trebbiano. There are a few lovely examples out there (not least of all the bottling produced by the students at Elsenburg College each vintage).
But Roobernet is by far the most promising of his red cultivars. Which is what what we’re drinking today.
Roobernet is a cross between Cabernet Sauvginon and Alicante Bouschet. Like Alicante Bouschet, Roobernet is a teinturier grape (red skins AND red flesh) and delivers more colour than a Gay Pride march.
Olivedale are the first estate in the world to bottle a straight Roobernet. Snide wine purists may suggest that the reason that Olivedale is first to achieve this is because no one else has bothered. After all, why would you set your mind to drinking a Roober-net when you could instead be enjoying a Caber-net. And, I guess, if you are comprehensively bereft of any sense of adventure whatsoever, then this question makes perfect sense. But to everyone else, it’s a silly. Because the mind that sneers at an attempt to produce something beautiful from an unusual source is the same sort of mind that categorically stated, “South African Chenin Blanc will never be a serious contender.”
Also, in a time where Pontac is making a covert comeback in the Swartland, and Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira are both enjoying fledgling romances with some of South Africa’s more progressive winemakers, the timing of this Roobernet bottling just seems right.
Am I saying that the Olivedale Roobernet is a world-winning, medal-worthy wine. No. No, I’m not. Not yet, at least.
Am I saying that this unusual bottling is a chance for open-minded wine lovers to experience a broader and richer expression of what South African wine can be? Yes. Absolutely.
👃🏼 Vanguard carries notes of fennel, salted olives, blackberry fruit, red cherry, and a subtle hint of rubber (which may – or may not – blow off in time).
👄 The palate displays an unexpectedly bright red cherry acidity, given the somewhat more brooding mood of the vanguard. Palate is medium-full, with firm tannins couching juicy red cherry and pomegranate notes, set against slightly riper blackberry elements
🔬 Wine of Origin Swellendam. As per the other wines in the Mysteries of Nature range, the vines are farmed according to organic principles, even if they are not certified as such.
Grapes are picked at 22.5 balling and cold macerated for three days prior to fermentation. After fermentation, the wine is transferred into 500l and 600l third-fill oak barrels, and allowed to go through malolactic conversion. The wine is racked, and returned to oak barrels for further maturation.