By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 20 February 2016
South Africa is currently burgeoning with new wine estates trying to attract our attention. I have selected two new wine ranges to highlight which have recently appeared in the UK, which look the most interesting and show good potential.
THE GOOSE WINE ESTATE
Owned by professional golfer Retief Goosen, who has a new wine range naturally called ‘The Goose Wines’. Retief is certainly not the first Cape golfer to invest in wine, but the location of his wine farm which he owns with business partner Dr Werner Roux is very interesting. It is one of the coldest vineyard spots in South Africa, high up in Upper Langkloof Valley on the northern slopes of the Outeniqua mountains in Klein Karoo.
Upper Langkloof valley – on the famous Garden Route just east of George - is better known for the quality of its fruit – pears, apricots and apples (which are bought for the famous Appletiser brand) – rather than its vines.
At an altitude of 2,500 feet, where average annual temperatures hover around a low 17 degrees Celsius, with strong cool summer winds keeping the vines very cool in the summer heat, this area just 15 km from the Indian ocean is certainly a new challenging area to grow vines (The Goose estate Sauvignon Blanc vineyard is pictured right).
It is also a favourite haven for spur-winged fresh water geese, called Wilde Makon. The name of the farm Retief bought is called Ganzekraal (which means goose pen). Whether this was the reason why Retief was tempted or not, he seems to have scored a winner here. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz were first planted back in 1999 and 2000, followed by Sauvignon Blanc which are all performing well.
My favourite of The Goose range is their only white, the single vineyard The Goose Sauvignon Blanc 2014 13.5% (@£12.99). A surprising find as it seems very unlike any New World Sauvignon Blanc I have tasted – and looks different too, in a Riesling flute-shaped bottle. Hints of lemongrass, appley notes and a touch of spice on the aroma with a very broad rich mouthfeel alongside rich zesty flavours and high natural acidity – it is far more textured than any other Sauvignon I have tasted in South Africa and very different from a pungent Kiwi Marlborough Sauvignon. If anyone ever grew Sauvignon Blanc in Alsace, perhaps this is what it might taste like. Retief also makes an oaked version called The Goose T-Box Sauvignon Blanc (not tasted).
The Goose Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 13.5% (@£13-£14) is a bold red with sweet black cherry and cassis aromas, velvet smooth palate with firm ripe tannins and shows potential for ageing. More approachable now with soft mouthfeel, light spicy, smoky palate and soft smooth tannins is The Goose Shiraz 2012 13% (@£13.99), very appealing. The pricier The Goose Pinot Noir 2013 13.5% (@£18.99) is a well-made Pinot with herb and liquorice aromas with earthy forest floor notes – the only one made from bought in grapes from Walker Bay (Cape’s classic Pinot Noir region) and Stellenbosch.
Retief Goosen’s ‘The Goose Wines’ are available from Ellies Cellar in Auchterarder, Perth, Linlithgow, Alva, Crieff, Dollar & Helensburgh www.elliescellar.co.uk; De Burgh Wines, Dalkeith www.de-burgh.com; Vinos Wines, Edinburgh www.vinowines.co.uk; Hard to Find Wines www.htfwines.co.uk)
HOLDEN MANZ WINE ESTATE
Another relatively new wine estate which attracted my attention is Holden Manz. Based in the popular Franschhoek Valley, now a bijou tourist gem with its wine farms, tasting rooms, restaurants and spas – this estate sparked my interest for two reasons. Firstly, it is based in the coolest part of Franschhoek between the Franschhoek and Stony Brooks rivers near one of my favourite Cape estates Boekenhoutskloof – and secondly Holden Manz have just taken on a new French winemaker Thierry Haberer, who worked for the famous Bordeaux wine consultant, Michel Rolland.
The estate was very recently bought by Gerard Holden and Migo Manz – hence the name – in 2010. Investing heavily in the tourist market, they do have a fine guest house, spa and restaurant, but it was the wine potential that interested me. With 16 hectares of unirrigated vineyards based in Franschhoek valley providing some of the fruit, with further grapes bought in from Elgin and Stellenbosch.
Full chunky Holden Manz Rose 2015 14% (£10) is from a very successful Cape vintage; very fruity rose, with some intensity – better with food than a poolside sipper. Much more serious, as the price indicates, is Holden Manz Barrel Fermented Avant Garde Chardonnay 2014 14% (£24). Very juicy, very ripe citric fruits, rich leesy, full-flavoured and oaky (just 10% new oak used; the remainder older oak). This Chardonnay (my favourite in the range) is very appealing, complex with a lingering length, refreshed by a fine core of minerality. A fine example from bought-in Elgin fruit (2015 vintage will be made from Stellenbosch fruit).
Tasted blind, the spicy aromas and upfront fruit flavours of Holden Manz Vernissage Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2013 14% (£9.99) would have led me to think it had Pinotage in the blend. With its intense spice character and rather chewy grippy tannins, it would suit those who like chunky reds. More impressive is the six-grape Bordeaux blend: Holden Manz Visionaire 2012 14.5% (£14) a powerful slicker red with blackcurranty Cabernet fruit dominating. The Holden Manz range also consists of a fine complex Cabernet Franc and the polished elegant Big G red (£25).
Holden Manz wines are available from Woodwinters, Edinburgh & Bridge of Allan www.woodwinters.com; Oxford Wine Company; Cambridge Wine Merchants; Butlers Wine Cellar, Brighton; Hennings Wine Merchant, W Sussex; Soho Wine, London; www.thesecretcellar.co.uk; www.sawineonline.co.uk)
Join Rose’s Classic Wine Dinner at Rhubarb, Prestonfield Thurs 12 May www.rosemurraybrown.com