At last the turkey leftovers have been finished, the streamers have been swept away and it’s time to get on with the business of 2005 – and the blog events start rolling again! We’ve already had the first Is My Blog Burning? for the year and now it’s time for the first Worldwide Wine Blogging Wednesday, brainchild of Lenn Thompson from Lenndeavours and hosted this time round by Pim. It’s already the fifth edition of this global Bacchanalian fest and as a theme, Pim has outdone herself and chosen Wacky Wine Names – no parameters as to red, white, grape variety of country of origin – we are purely judging books by their covers (or bottles by their labels!). Well, initially, anyway As soon as I saw the topic I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. Clearly it would be South African and clearly it would have to have a wacky name. So what better choice than one of the "Goats" wines from Fairview estate in Paarl, outside Cape Town.
I have always had a soft spot for this estate, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a historical connection to the area. My father did a lot of research into our family’s history and discovered that in the late 1700’s one of our ancestors farmed on a farm called "Vrymansfontein" – which is situated adjacent to Fairview! So when we have Fairview wines, my dad always refers to it as "wine from the ancestral lands" (family – you can’t choose them and have to love them unconditionally!!). Ownership of Fairview itself was first granted in 1693 and the first wine was produced there in 1699. In 1974 it became the first wine estate in the country to bottle and auction its own wines (as opposed to selling the wine to large merchants for bottling and sale). Another reason why I’m so very fond of Fairview is the fact that it makes cheeses as well as wine, and you can do both a wine and a cheese tasting when you visit – bonus!! In fact, the cheese tasting is so popular that they have been known to hang a sign in the cheese tasting room reading "This is a cheese tasting, not lunch!". Now I know that cheese is not good for the wine-taster’s palate but hey, you’re on holiday, not having an international taste-off. Besides, you can do what I always do: time your visit so Fairview is the last estate you do before lunch. Once you’ve bought some of their heavenly chevre rolled in Cape herbs, feta (goat’s, sheep’s or cow’s milk), blue cheese and a creamy Brie, all you need is a couple of baguettes and you’re all set for a picnic. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine! You might wonder why they make cheese alongside wine – well, to answer that question, look no further than the rather unusual tower that greets you as you drive up to the homestead. It is a goat tower with a spiral walkway going up the outside and little doors on each "floor" (you can see pictures of it on their labels and on their website). The goats like nothing better than to climb up and down their tower and sit in the doorways posing for tourist photos. And they provide the milk for most of the cheeses – voila! Now that’s what I call living off the land – cheese and wine from one estate.
Anyway, I digress. A couple of years ago you may recall there was a lot of upheaval regarding the naming of foodstuffs associated with a particular area, and a lot of places (mostly European) started adopting an "Appellation Controlee"-style restrictions on what could or could not be called, say, Parmigiano cheese. The long and the short of it was that you could no longer call port "port" unless it came from the appropriate region of Portugal or blue cheese Roquefort if it was made in South Africa. This resulted in a lot of threats to withdraw trade and not buy products until countries like South Africa agreed to abide by these rules. In the wake of this spat, I was hugely amused to see Fairview bring out a wine called "Goats do Roam". It is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsaut, Carignan, Mourvedre and Gamay (although this varies slightly from year to year) – largely the type of blend you might find in wines from the Cotes du Rhone region in France. And I would imagine the play on the words was somewhat more than a coincidence. But on the other hand, you could scarcely deny that goats do indeed roam at Fairview, and they are a most integral part of your visit to the estate. So why on earth should they not name a wine after their beloved goats??
Surprisingly, they managed to have Goats do Roam registered as a trademark in Europe without incident, and they extended the range to include Goat Roti (cf. Cote Rotie) and most recently, Goats do Roam in Villages (cf. Cotes du Rhone Villages). However, when owner Charles Back tried to register these as trademarks in the United States, the French Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) put down its foot and is taking action to stop such registration, stating that the Fairview names are similar enough to the French names "to cause deceit". Clearly nobody at Fairview is too thrilled about this – they export a lot of wine to the US under the Goats labels and if they were forced to stop, this could cause job losses at the estate. Recently owner Charles Back and his supporters (including Fairview employees) staged a good-natured protest by delivering a magnum of Goats do Roam, some goat cheese and a small bag of goat manure to the office of the French Trade Commission in Cape Town. According to reports, the wine and cheese were accepted but the bag of manure graciously declined. As to the reports that the names "could cause deceit" Back says "Look at the label. Does that look like a French village to you?" Fair point…
And so, on to the tasting notes. As the picture suggests, I had the 2003 Goats do Roam in Villages (14.5% alc). This name apparently comes from the fact that a herd of the Fairview high-yielding milk goats was sent to dispense nourishing milk to AIDS orphans in northern Namibia – hence their goats do roam in African villages Unfortunately I could not find out what went into this blend, but I think we can safely assume it is some variation of the Goats do Roam blend mentioned above
Colour – deep ruby with purply edges. Lovely.
Nose – rather shy (but it could also have been the low temperatures in the house!!), some stone fruits, cherries, mint
Palate – A big creamy mouthfeel – I would guess a few months in oak. Some tart stone fruits – not-too-sweet cherries for instance – but overall not a great deal of fruit. Quite tannic with a very short finish. I like to think that it is going to improve with age – that it’s still a bit "closed" at the moment, but Nick disagrees – no fruit now, less fruit later. We will have to buy some more bottles and see. We paired it with the pauper’s cassoulet that I made for IMBB#11 – and then it came into its own. This is definitely a food wine, not a tasting wine. The food took the edges off the tannins and the finish suddenly became much much longer. Because it is such a big whopper of a wine, it stood up well to the food and was most enjoyable. For around £5,99 I thought it was pretty good – not a show stopper, but good value.
And a lot cheaper than something comparable from, say, the Cotes du Rhone