Hidden away at the top of the Franschhoek Valley, boutique estate Holden Manz turns out a superb range of bold, terroir-driven reds

It’s a lovely road, to steal a line from Alan Paton, which runs from the Huguenot Monument into the hills. Leaving the village behind, the mountains of the Franschhoek valley draw in until they’re almost close enough to touch and by the time you meander up the gravel drive of Holden Manz Wine Estate you’re thoroughly embraced by both vineyards and lofty peaks.

Named for owners Gerard Holden and Migo Manz, this boutique estate hides quietly on the Green Valley Road yet is well worth seeking out for its focused range of predominantly red wines that showcase the wonderful terroir of this corner of Franschhoek.

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“The vineyard is where everything begins,” says winemaker Thierry Haberer, consultant winemaker for Holden Manz, who brings his global expertise and French training to the wines of this boutique cellar.

The Holden Manz range is divided into a handful of categories, from ‘Reserve’ to ‘Contemporary’ and ‘Avant Garde’. If you’ve a bit of money for a spoil, the Reserve Syrah is superb, redolent with spice, blackberry and elegant tannins from a full two years spent maturing in older oak barrels. The Contemporary range is more approachable, and affordable, with similar spice and dark fruit in the Shiraz, which is joined here by an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon and fruity yet restrained Merlot.

But things get most interesting in the aptly named Avant-Garde range, notably with the likes of the Visionaire. By and large, a classic Bordeaux-style red blend, a healthy dollop of Shiraz adds layers of interest and complexity. ‘The Big G’, meanwhile, is a tribute to both the estate’s charismatic co-owner and the two Cabernets: Sauvignon and Franc.

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While the relaxed tasting room with its sunny terrace overlooking the vineyards, is a fine place to discover the range of Holden Manz, you’re better off booking a table at the upstairs Franschhoek Kitchen. Here, executive chef Ricardo le Roux dishes up a modern bistro menu that pairs beautifully with the estate wines, notably the braised beef cheeks with white bean and samp cassoulet. In warmer months, picnic hampers are available to be enjoyed at riverside picnic sites.

021 876 2738

Words: Richard Holmes | Images Supplied

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