Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Marianne Wine Estate: South African Wine with a French Soul


Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Franck Malassigné, General Manager at Marianne Wine Estate

Marianne Wine Estate close to Stellenbosch is not yet on the radar of many lovers of South Africa wine, but – I am sure – will soon be. Marianne Wine Estate produces wine on South African soil with a French soul. I visited Marianne Estate a few months ago. I was shown around by Franck Malassigné, the General Manager at Marianne Wine Estate, and Bertus Basson, Assistant Winemaker at Marianne Wine Estate.

Relaxing and Dining at Marianne Wine Estate

Marianne Wine Estate is situated at the foothill of the Simonsberg outside the town of Stellenbosch. Though close to the town of Stellenbosch, the Simonsberg is unmarked by urban development and its foothills are carpeted by vineyards. Some Simonsberg vineyards are in Stellenbosch and the rest in Parl. We stayed overnight, in a spacious, comfortable African-styled apartment, surrounded by citrus orchards and vineyards. There is also a comfortable Manor house and a scenic swimming pool area with braai facilities. It was great fun to enjoy scenic walks, laze at the swimming pool, taste the estate wines on a large terraces with picture-postcard views of Table Mountain and enjoy regional South African cuisine in the waterside restaurant Olivello - among the vines.

Marianne, a national emblem of France, is a personification of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (Brotherhood). The symbol of Marianne has very ancient origins. On her head, Marianne wears a special cap. This cap is called a "Phrygian cap" and was worn by freed slaves during the Roman era. It showed that they were Roman citizens and free. During the French Revolution in 1789, the figure of a woman dressed as a warrior wearing the "Cap of Liberty" came to symbolize the idea that freedom was worth fighting for. People suggested that as this symbol represented the freedom of the common people, it should bear the name most given to women of the common people - Marie-Anne. This later became "Marianne". Her statue holds place of honor in town halls and law courts. She symbolizes the "Triumph of the Republic".

Marianne Wine Estate

Marianne Wine Estate markets itself with the slogan: South African terroir with a French savoir faire. It is a rather new estate, with the Frenchman Christian Dauriac the driving force behind it. Christian Dauriac has been making wine in Bordeaux for 30 years. He owns Château Destieux, St Émilion Grand Cru Classé, Château La Clémence, Pomerol and Château Montlisse, St Émilion Grand Cru. He visited South Africa in 2002, an investor group bought the property in 2004 and he became the head consultant for Marianne Wine Estate. Michel Rolland is consulting for Marianne Wine Estate. Andre van den Berg has been the viticulturist at Marianne Estate for 7 years now. 80% of the wine output is exported to Europe, mainly to France.


Pictures: Marianne Wine Estate

Winemaking Philosophy

Marianne Wine Estate is a property of 36 hectares. The vineyard area totals 18 hectares. The vines were originally planted in 1997, but the vineyard has been modified in recent years. The current breakdown is a s follows: Sauvignon Blanc 1.8 hectares; Merlot 3.9 hectares; Cabernet Sauvignon 4.60 hectares; Pinotage 3.5 hectares; Shiraz 4.1 hectares.

Red winemaking process: Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, destemming, sorting of the berries. Franck Malassigné says: “ We focus a lot on sorting. We do 2 sortings in the cellar. Only 5 other winemakers do this in South Africa.” Maceration, fermentation in oak tank (French), manual pushing and pump over during fermentation. Aged 18 to 20 month in oak barrels (French). 100% new for the Shiraz, 30% new for the Merlot, 40% new for the Cabernet Sauvignon. They replace 60% of the barrels by new ones each year.



Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Assistant Winemaker Bertus Basson

White winemaking process: Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, destemming, sorting of the berries, fermentation in stainless steel tank.

The Wine Portfolio

SAUVIGNON BLANC 2007

• VARIETALS: 100% Sauvignon Blanc,
• HARVEST: 31st January 2007
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours.
• Direct press. Cold fermentation in stainless still tank.
• TASTING NOTES: Tropical nose with passion fruit and green fig. Zesty & refreshing. Franck Malassigné says: “We focus is on the tropical style”.

PINOTAGE 2004

• VARIETALS: 100% Pinotage
• HARVEST: Between the 4th and 8th of March 2004.
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, desteaming, sorting of the berries. Maceration, fermentation in stainless still tank. Aged 14 to 18 month in oak barrels (French).
• TASTING NOTES: Ripe banana, plum and red berry notes. Rich and round with a fine long finish.
• MÉDAILLES ET DISTINCTIONS: ABSA TOP10 Pinotage 2007, Gold Medal - Michelangelo International Wine Awards 2007, John Platter Wine Guide 2007: 3 STARS, Commended Medal - Decanter World Wine Awards 2007

MERLOT 2005

• VARIETALS: 100% Merlot
• HARVEST: 15 - 21 March 2005.
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, de-steaming, sorting of the berries. Maceration, fermentation in oak tank (French). Aged 18 to 20 months in oak barrels (French).
• TASTING NOTES: Rich, ripe plum on the nose backed by lavender notes. Soft, well-rounded. Long, ripe fruited finish.
• AWARDS: John Platter Wine Guide 2007: 2 1/2 STARS, VERITAS: Bronze medal

DESIRADE 2004

• VARIETALS: 2/3 Merlot, 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon,
• HARVEST: 15 March - 6 April 2004.
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, de-steaming, sorting of the berries. Maceration, fermentation in oak tank (French). Franck Malassigné says: “We try hard to get as much tannin as we can from our red grapes.”
• TASTING NOTES: A classic Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. Plums, blackberries, licorice & cassis flavor. Bold red with an explosion of fruit.
• AWARDS: Silver Medal - Michelangelo International Wine Awards, WINESPECTATOR: 89/100

FLOREAL 2004

• VARIETALS: 1/3 Shiraz, 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3 Merlot
• HARVEST: 15 March - 6 April 2004
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Maceration, fermentation in oak tank (French). 100% new for the Shiraz, 30% new for the merlot, 40% new for the Cabernet Sauvignon
• TASTING NOTES: A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Vanilla essence from the oak extraction enhances the ripe fruit.
• AWARDS: WINESPECTATOR: 88/100, John Platter Wine Guide 2007: 3 STARS

SHIRAZ 2005

• VARIETALS: 100% Shiraz
• HARVEST: 23rd March 2005.
• WINEMAKING: (gravity, no pumping)
• Manual harvest, storage of the berries in cold room (12°) during 24 hours. Sorting of the bunch, desteaming, sorting of the berries. Maceration, fermentation in oak tank (French). Aged 20 month in oak barrels (French). 100% new
• QUANTITIES: Only 1200 bottles of this wine were produced (4 barrels)
• TASTING NOTES: Spicy attractive nose. Vanilla, blackberry, dark chocolate and licorice. Full and smooth, sweet-fruited finish.
• AWARDS: John Platter Wine Guide 2008: 3 1/2 STARS

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