Cabernet Franc Challenge 2017 Winners announced

By Admin | 27 March 2017

Cabernet Franc is a fashionable grape variety that is suited to the South African climate. Increasingly producers are focusing on single variety wines rather than using Cabernet Franc as part of a blend. With quality improving year on year and some outstanding wines being produced, it is inevitable that a competition would be launched. Now in its second year, the South African Cabernet Franc Challenge has announced the winners.


Testiment to the growing popularity of this grape variety, entries to the competition increased from 32 in 2016 to 50 in 2017, including 11 wines entered for the ‘vintage’ class to show how the variety aged over time. As Cape wine Master and head judge Christine Rudman explains it “shows that winemakers are taking the varietal seriously and are keen to grow the category...”


The judges, all tasting blind, were asked to select the Top 6 wines. This presented a challenge because of the diversity of styles presented. “An interesting change from the inaugural challenge in 2016 was the different styles which came to the fore this year. Although the panel loved the wines featuring minerality and 'dusty road' characteristics, we also tasted a few upfront and funky examples with loads of red fruit as well as the more varietal-typical wines with classic perfume notes of violets, scrub and red berries” added Rudman


Only one wine was selected as a winner of the vintage section because the quality was so good, the winner was clear. That wine was the 2017 Holden Manz Wine Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 which also claimed an accolade in the top 6 in 2016.


Winners of the 2017 Cabernet Franc Challenge, in alphabetical order are: Doolhof Wine Estate Single Vineyard Collection Cabernet Franc 2015, Kaapzicht Cabernet Franc 2014, My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2014, Nelson Wine Estate Lisha Nelson Cabernet Franc 2014, Rainbow’s End Wine Estate Limited Release 2015 and Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 2013. 


Holden Manz is the only estate to have featured in the awards for both the first as well as the second Cabernet Franc Challenges.
As Thierry Haberer, Cellarmaster at Holden Manz Wine Estate explains: “I am delighted that the Cabernet Franc grape is finally getting the recognition it deserves.  It’s a varietal I have worked with for many years in Bordeaux and one I know, love and hold in great respect.  Superior quality Cabernet Franc requires meticulous vinification and harvest practices - we leave no stone unturned when it comes to attention to detail.  The terroir at Holden Manz in Franschhoek is perfect to grow spectacular Cabernet Franc which makes the winemaker’s job in the cellar that much easier.  The 2015 Cabernet Franc Reserve, although still in barrel, is already standing out as a world class wine.”
The winning wine is in short supply with only 24 bottles of the Holden Manz Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 in the winery’s cellars and to mark this occasion and in celebration of their success the owners of Holden Manz, Gerard Holden and Migo Manz, have agreed to release 6 signed bottles for sale to the public at a price of R2,000 per bottle including a wooden presentation case.
All proceeds will be donated to the Franschhoek Fire - Management Conservancy for their hard work and dedication in protecting our vineyards and farms against bushfires.  


Here in the UK, you can buy the Holden Manz wines in a number of retailers. Find out more here

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From Jamie Goode

Jamie Goode

The interesting thing about wine is that you only get one chance a year to make it. So for the average winemaker, retiring at a normal age, you might get to make 40 or so vintages in your lifetime, unless of course you switch hemispheres in your winter and go to work somewhere else.   Wine is an expression of place; it's also an expression of a particular year. For the winegrower who also tends their own vines, there's a special significance to vintage time. From the time the vine buds, to the point where the flowering occurs, to the point where grapes begin developing, to the point of veraison when the skins soften and red grapes chance colour, to the point of deciding when to pick, the winegrower tracks the progress of vintage. That year is then something they try to capture in the wine, as the grapes enter the cellar. It's only after several months that they will really know the personality of the vintage they have just lived through, when the baby wines begin to show what they are about. Along the way, there are many things that can go wrong: frost, disease, pests, microbial disasters in the wine. It's a complicated business, but when it does well, it’s worth all the anxiety and toil.

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In Jo's glass

I was recently in South Africa for Cape Wine and managed to taste several vintages of the delicious Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia. I usually opt for a sweet wine at the end of a meal instead of a pudding and The Vin de Constance is a perfect way to end a meal. It's rich and opulent with stone fruits, vanilla and a hint of spice yet it is also fresh, balanced and has a long, moreish finish. Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, highly rated both the 2011 and 2012 in his most recent report on South Africa which is available to download for £15 on  

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