Ahrens Family Stellenbosch OVC 2018
Bottelary, Stellenbosch, South Africa
One of the early voices of the Swartland revolution while winemaker at Lammershoek, Albert has remained quietly and confidently under the radar building his own projects, while also gaining experience abroad in Priorat, the Rhône valley and Champagne.
The "OVC" stands for Old Vine Chenin, and that's because it comes from two very old vineyards of Chenin Blanc planted in the Bottelary Hills, a ward of the Stellenbosch wine region, in 1947 and 1982. The vineyard from the Forties is one of the oldest in the country. Soils are partially decomposed granite and this area is the coolest that Albert uses for his OVC series.
Multiple picking dates are carefully calculated to ensure the fruit comes in at varying levels of ripeness, offering richness as well as freshness and acidity. Albert believes in doing as little as possible to the wine, using only indigenous yeasts and allowing the wine to speak of its origin. All his wines are matured in older, thicker-staved French oak barrels, the objective being gentle micro-oxygenation and greater lees contact rather than adding any oaky flavours.
The result is a wine of a golden yellow colour, reminiscent of a rich (but dry) Vouvray from the Loire Valley. The 2017 vintage garnered 4.5 out of 5 stars (and 93 points) in the 2020 Platter's guide, or as judge Cathy van Zyl puts it, Albert "nails it". We agree!
We believe this 2018 vintage is even better and we're not alone. Here is South African wine commentator Christian Eedes comment for Winemag.co.za: "Waxy, wet wool notes before stone fruit, yellow apple, earth and dried herbs on the nose. The palate is relatively rich with seemingly moderate acidity but the overall impression is still savoury. Dense and very flavourful." 96 points.