Evisioning Franschhoek

When Gerard Holden and Migo Manz took over Klein Genot in Franschhoek in 2010, they also, unfortunately, took over the existing stock – and carried on releasing it under their own brand. Now, in my opinion, Klein Genot wines were amongst the Cape’s most dreadful, and should have been abandoned. One of them being reborn as “Big G” didn’t help one little bit allay the shudders of apprehension.

But a new wave of Holden Manz wines is emerging, and if winemaker Schalk Opperman (ex-Rust en Vrede, and at HM since mid 2011) carries on showing the flair that he does with his maiden Visionaire 2012, then all is forgiven and we can look forward to a bright future.

visionaireVisionaire is a blend of all the Bordeaux varieties (with home-grown cab sauv the most important) plus shiraz. It’s big and ripe and not very challenging, for drinking now – but what makes it special is character, and a welcome freshness and liveliness. And it’s full of tasty flavour, untrammelled by oak. (It seems to me in the spirit of new-wave Swartland shiraz, actually.) Tannins are modest, but succulently gripping. Most of all, there’s no overt sweetness of the kind that too often makes big ripe wines undrinkable. Krige Visser, the intense and eccentric cinsaut-lover of Mount Abora Vineyards is involved at Holden Manz in some way, and this wine has something of his delightful spirit and energy.

Krige is obviously now on a wide-ranging marketing trip (he gave me a bottle of Visionaire a few weeks back) and tells me from sweaty Kowloon that the wine was “greeted with much delight in San Francisco, New York and Sao Paulo”. I can believe it. Locally it sells for R95, apparently, and should be greeted with paeans of delight here too. A delicious, friendly but not negligible wine that I enjoyed immensely.

And I can believe that Holden Manz is going to throw off the shady past it took on, and bring more delights. Says Krige: “Wait for a predominantly whole bunch fermented 2012 shiraz and benchmark cab franc”. Sounds good to me.

As I’ve been nice about the wine, though, allow me to cavil about the packaging. It’s very colourful, as you can see from the pic (crumpled purple capsule, aqua and pink on a black label) – and there’s a lot more purple in the all-lower-case prose on the back label. Bright is nice and good, and suits the wine (though the prose is silly) – but there’s something depressing about cheaply printed black labels which show white edges, especially if the design is pretty crude. And the name? I guess it’s meant to be the French version of “visionary” – but if so, it is misspelt (missing an “n”) to no useful purpose that I can discern, which adds to the general tattiness. The wine deserves better.

It suddenly appears that Holden Manz is a winery that deserves to be watched.

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