Vondeling Babiana: A Wine That Honours a Heritage of Rich Biodiversity
Excitement overload! One of the many ways in describing my emotions at the moment!! Just seems as if I can’t type fast enough or in all honesty my biggest problem is to sit long enough to write. All I want to do, is to share with you the newly vintage release of Vondelings Babiana 2017. This wine is EXCEPTIONAL!! True to its character, one that is creamy, tons of layers, well balanced and a focused! – It is a true delight for the palette.
The other day I received this gorgeous media kit. As you can see it comes in this beautiful box. Inside contains a wonderful selection of goodies, including a bottle of Vondeling 2017 Babiana. The remaining goodies in the box, you will have to stay posted as I will discuss this a little later this week. Best you don’t go anywhere! 🙂
What makes the Babiana so special?
Heritage & Conservation
You see my boozy friends, Vondeling is rich in heritage. This year (2019) the Babiana Wine is celebrating 360 years in the winemaking industry! Yes folks, this dates way, way, way back…. all the way to 1659, when the first wine was made at the Cape of Good Hope. (Click here for more on the South African Winemaking history)
Vondeling also embraces the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is one of the world’s greatest centres of biodiversity. Why? Well, simple, the Cape Floral Kingdom is globally seen as the most special place for plants! This is in terms of diversity, density and number of endemic species. It is one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots.
Although the Cape Floral Kingdom only covers about 0,5% of the area of Africa, it is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora!! Now this is spectacular! Would you not agree and see the importance of preserving our unique diversity?
You see my wine loving friends, the plant species the Babiana Noctiflora is an endangered plant species and is only found on the Paardeberg Mountain! Sadly though, due to development of vineyards and fruit orchards this plant is losing its habitat. 🙁 Thankfully Vondeling (Voor-Paardeberg in Paarl) is doing everything in their power to save this endangered plant.
How? Well, Vondelling’s wine producers are working hard and closely with the WWF in being 100% committed in preserving the Cape’s unique biodiversity.
This is why Vondeling is proud to be part of ONE of only 38 wine farms that is a “stamped” as ‘Conservation Champion’ wine farm.
Do you see why this calls for a celebration! We can only wish and hope that one day there will be more than 38 wine farms working hard in conserving our one and only Cape Floral Kingdom.
The Plant: Babiana Noctiflora
The name Babiana Noctiflora is derived from the Dutch word “baviaantjie“ which means “little baboon“. This serves as a food source for baboons, as they were often seen eating the bulbs of these plants.
This plant species, belongs to the Iris Family. It has a delicate, pale creamy-yellow tubular flower with sky-blue stamen. It just completely bamboozles me how animals and plants work in such harmony with each other. (A lesson for us humans…) You see folks, the Babiana has a wonderful symbiotic relationship with a moth. This plant releases its scent in the evenings to attract the Syngrapha Circumflexa, (the scientific name for this extraordinary and RARE moth) for pollination.
The Wine: Babiana 2017
My personal experience:
I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this wine! Chenin Blanc and Viognier is one of my favourite cultivars. On the nose it has a lovely delicate aroma but not so delicate that you can’t smell anything. I picked up toastiness from the oak, deep rich fruitiness of pineapple and a hint of marmalade.
On the palate bursts with honey and a creamy butteriness (no idea if that is a word, but I am using it) and we definitely picked up floral notes of Jasmine. It pairs perfectly with a Tagine. When you had a bite of the food and then a sip of wine, you really got a wishing of toasted almonds. It actually has layers of flavours that hit every time you took a sip. What I love the most about this wine, the oak from the barrels does not come across very strong.
I struggle with a white wine that is heavily oaked. I hate strong over powering way over-ripe banana taste. Luckily this wine does not have it! So well done team Vondeling! This wine has the perfect balance of acidity, oak and fruitiness.
Just like the plant, the Babiana wine has a perfect symbiotic relationship with food. It is very important to get this right, you must get the two to balance each other, not dominating over each other.
The only negative thing I can say about this wine is: I HAD TO SHARE IT!
Oh boy I am going off topic again…
A little about the wine:
As you may have guess, this white wine blend pays homage to the Babiana Noctiflora plant. If you didn’t… well now you know! 🙂
Vondeling’s Babiana embraces our wine heritage and has taken the Chenin Blanc (64%) and blended it with three Rhône varieties: 19% Viognier (19%); Rousanne ( 8.5%) and Grenache Blanc ( 8.5% )
Chenin blanc is one of South Africa’s most iconic wines which is evolving from a reliable and highly versatile “workhorse” to a cultivar that is a true thoroughbred, capable of producing wines of distinction.
As we have learnt in the pass, Chenin Blanc was one of the first wine cultivars (called Steen) planted in South Africa. Today, this cultivar continues to grow from strength to strength.
The Babiana white blend is made from Old Chenin Blanc vines, which was planted in 1986!! (Yoh, almost as old as me!!) MD – Julian Johnsen says that using old vines ensures a low yield that presents a consistency in quality and concentration. This creates the backbone of this gorgeous blend. You get the full ripeness of a Chenin Blanc but tempered by the high aromatics of the grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne.
The Winemaking Process:
All grapes – picked by hand, for optimum ripeness, which then goes into a refrigerator for 24 hours.
The Chenin Blanc undergoes a whole bunched pressing process. It is interesting to see that Vondeling does not add any sulphur to the wine. This is to encourage a wild yeast development. Once the settling of the juice occurs, very quickly they move it over to barrels so natural fermentation can take place.
It is often a huge risk going the wild yeast method and winemakers are often on their nerves, this method lends more structure, complexity and longevity to the wine.
The Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier goes through a de-stemming process and then for 8 days on the skin goes through a cold fermentation. Immediately from being basket-press it goes straight into the barrels to complete the fermentation process. Here the wine will stay in barrels for up 10 months on the lees. Only after this does the when get racked, blended, bottled and into your glass.
Tasting Notes and Food Pairing:
The wine has a pale-yellow colour with a bright green hue. The nose gives great tension and poise, brimming with roasted almonds, sweet cashews, Turkish delight, lime zest, apricot and orange marmalade, wild honey and pineapple.
“A fresh, vibrant and textured palate offers weighted density and length. Layers of oats, white pepper, floral jasmine, mint, ginger and creamy lemon meringue are aptly supported by subtle and reserved oak presence.”
Babiana is a complex wine suitable to many supper dishes. Enjoy with chicken tagine (recipe to follow and I promise YOU will want this!) with apricots and roasted almonds or aromatic Asian styled dishes.
Where to find Babiana 2017:
The recommended retail price is R198 per bottle and is available from Wine Concepts, Caroline’s, Norman Goodfellows, Ultra Liquors, selected TOPS at Spar liquor outlets and online or at the Vondeling tasting room.
For more information, contact Vondeling at +27 21 869 8595 or visit www.vondelingwines.co.za.
Until next time – Ciao Ciao xxx
Images: Sugar bird on protea – Image by Delyth Williams from Pixabay
Information Source: Press Release from Vondeling and Tasting Notes
Even though I received a media kit – I was not paid to write this article. My personal opinions are my own opinions.