Visionaire Volunteer


A few weeks ago, Holden Manz Wine Estate was combing social media, searching for volunteers to taste their 2012 red blend called Visionaire. Being the gallant wine writer that I am, I just had to offer my services for this noble cause and “take one for the readers”.

Surrounded by towering mountains, overlooking the Franschoek valley, Holden Manz wine estate is an ultra-modern winery, boasting a state-of-the-art cellar, and an elegant luxury country house hotel for those looking for a weekend city escape. Their ‘Visionaire’ is a veritable smorgasbord blend of six varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It’s almost a Bordeaux blend except for the inclusion of Shiraz – my favourite spicy red wine for a cold winter’s night. I decided that a big, bold red such as this deserved to be paired with an equivalent rich and meaty repast. The perfect dish – a rustic six hour slow-braised red wine lamb neck served with buttery cauliflower mash, and a creamy cheesy cabbage gratin. While perusing through my tasting history on the Vivino app, I discovered that I had actually tasted this wine at a festival last year. I did not rate it well, nevertheless, I was hoping that another year in the bottle was going to give it that extra edge and I was not disappointed.

A gorgeous deep violet hue, in the glass, enticed me to savour the overwhelming sweet aromas, which on greeting my olfactory glands made my mouth water in anticipation. Violets, spring blossoms with some oak and vanilla bean notes dominated, and there was even a hint of ripe bananas begging to be noticed.

I could happily bottle this exquisite nose as a perfume – delicate floral flavours, violets and freshly picked berries wash over the tongue, nicely balanced by a firm acidity and that yummy oaky taste you expect from a big red. Shiraz gives this wine a solid backbone with those little spicy notes adding some extra complexity. Tannins are juicy, but providing that leathery feeling in the mouth – a worthy opponent to temper the rich lamb jus. The finish lingers satisfyingly, but by then it doesn’t matter because you’ve already had to have your next sip. An elegant, refined little number, one I would not hesitate to drink again.

Where/When/How Would I drink this: I would blissfully convert all the taps in my home to dispense this wine to me every time I was thirsty.

Person most likely to drink this wine: Free State mealie farmers’ wife, Mrs. van der Merwe will serve this sophisticated wine to her husband of 24 years and 9½ months, Piet, with his evening meal of lamb chops and roast potatoes. This is her last ditch attempt to bring out the more sensitive, romantic side of her husband and convince him that the fishing trip to Loskop Dam he has booked for them is not the way she had envisioned celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. She has the travel brochures for Paris prepared (the one on the Seine, not the one on the Vaal) as well as the waterworks in reserve, in case she has to resort to guilt trips.

Empty Bottle Rating:  “Bottle?!? What bottle? I didn’t see any wine here.” (Hides bottle behind back and sidles out of the room backwards).

Amount of Grand For Your Rand:  ex. Cellar at R130.00 a bottle, is money well spent for a special occasion.