Marianne lets down her bolla

Confused terroir message from the makers of Karoo mineral water at lunch today in Stellenbosch. The tagline “origin ~ Paarl” on the front of the bottle contradicts the brand name. But then naming a mineral water after the great thirstland at the red heart of SA is a stretch, anyway. Paarl plonk of-te-not, it certainly washed down the veal sweatbreads this lunchtime at Café Dijon in sweltering Oak City, ably assisted by a 2011 Simonsig Chenin Blanc that was well priced at R70.

mar Marianne lets down her bolla

Having landed the gig as SA taster at the upcoming third Concours Mondial du Sauvignon which will take place on March 16 and 17, 2012 at the Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur growers’ organisation headquarters in Bordeaux, I was especially pleased to be invited to Marianne this weekend for the launch of the 2011 Rosé. For Marianne is owned by Christian Dauriac, the proprietor of two Châteaux in St. Émilion and another in Pomerol.

And I was certainly not disappointed by the 2010 vintage Marianne Sauvignon Blanc that was a white Bordeaux doppelgänger. The Platter guide is succinct: “herbal” and for once, not wrong, but the wine is so much more. “What is Bergamot?” wondered one party animal and this in spite of the back label printed in three languages. Partially oak fermented, no wonder Bartho Eksteen won the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year laurels for a similar style in 2010. The 2011 is altogether different with tangy grapefruit and an altogether more familiar incarnation. Guaranteed to be more popular with SA ladies who lunch, the 2010 is for connoisseurs and anoraks.

Dynamic new estate manager Alex Brodbeck, a doppelgänger for Meerlust seigneur Hannes Myburgh in his Panama hat and Burt Reynolds hairy chest, presented a wonderful comparative tasting this morning: Ch. Destieux 2004 in the left glass and the Marianne Bordeaux-style blend called Desirade 2004 in the right glass with the SA version certainly not outclassed.

The differences were what you’d expect: tobacco and herbal notes to the left and thrusting fruit forward to the right, emerging from the barricades just as Marianne does in the painting by Delacroix. Although the tasting was blind, it was easy to pick the French wine as half French, half American Alex poured the left glass while beautiful Afrikaans wife Jana, filled the right one.

The deal of the Marianne cellar offering is a 2008 Cape Blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. R89 for the blend while the Pinotage and Cab are R120 each, the Merlot R130 while the Shiraz is a stonking R220. Sensible arithmetic for the great depression.