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Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2011 vs. Oldenburg Chardonnay 2011

Popular vs. elitist.

Two new releases of 2011 Chardonnay last night, the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection up against the Oldenburg.

The Kleine Zalze is a combination of Stellenbosch and Robertson fruit. Fermentation begun in tank and finished in 300-litre French oak barrels, 30% new, 50% second fill and 20% third fill, where it was matured for seven months. No malolactic fermentation.

It’s styled to have broad appeal with plenty of ripe fruit including lemon, yellow peach and pineapple. The oak’s there but not too prominent and the acidity is nice and tangy. I suspected the residual sugar might be quite high but Kleine Zalze isn’t letting on – a fairly comprehensive fact sheet was supplied but not technical analysis. Price per bottle is R69 a bottle and it scored 15.5/20.

The offering from Oldenburg in the Banghoek ward in Stellenbosch appears to have greater pretentions. No indication of whether the wine went through malolactic although I expect not and it was matured in 300-litre French oak barrels for 11 months, 50% new.

I found the wine technically correct but a bit joyless. In its favour, there’s good fruit concentration and really bright acidity but the oak niggles a bit, not totally excessive but not entirely integrated, at least not yet. The finish meanwhile is long and dry to the point of puckering. Price per bottle is R118 a bottle and it also scored 15.5/20 although to use Platter speak, it “nudges next level”.


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