Holden Caulfield is the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger’s coming of age novel from the fifties when America believed it itself and sub-prime was a grading of meat. Holden Manz estate in Franschhoek is a coming of age of sorts for the fashionable appellation surrounded by sub-Alpine mountains, one looking like a dozing elephant. Well the valley used to be full of them before the villagers borrowed a cannon from the Cape Town castle and shot them out. Lucky there were no rhinos.
Chemical engineer turned mining financier Gerard Holden (below, left) prefers to use a shotgun in the shires of his native England, something he will be doing this weekend, weather permitting (“the wind helps the birds fly” although the UK’s current 100mph gusts might be a tall order even for elephants). Architect partner Migo Manz is a gallerist with a sensitive touch who has curated the boutique hotel on the farm into an art gallery you can eat, sleep and chill out in. And the pair have more than a touch of Caulfield about them in their rejection of the phony.
Holden Manz is a coming of age for Franschhoek as they use their own grapes (“if you buy in fruit, it feels like cheating” confesses Gerard) and the 2009 blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc called Big G is light hearted and serious at the same time. A bit like Eddie Murphy playing “G” in the 1998 comedy Holy Man. Instead of buying-in grapes, the proprietors buy in winemakers: Karl Lambour from Constantia who convinced the sceptical that the cradle of SA wine can make more than Sauvignon Blanc, reds even and Bordeaux-style blends in particular. While winemaker Schalk Opperman (above, right) was the force moving over the waters that produced the Stellenbosch Ridge Bordeaux-style blend for Jean Engelbrecht that some commentators hail as Jean’s best wine.
Jean should either open a modelling academy or a winemaking school on the Helderberg, as it looks like he’s supplying the competition with stellar winemakers. Just down the road at Rickety Bridge the hugely talented Rust&Vrede graduate Wynand Grobler has produced a fine Franschhoek terroir Cabernet called The Bridge from a single vineyard time-shared with a pack of baboons. Super stuff.