As connoisseurs will know, ‘terroir’ is the French term used to describe the growing conditions of a vine, which is crucial to producing a good wine. That does not mean the perfect terroir has to be in France, reports Robin Barwick.
You can take a South African out of his homeland, but with people like Retief Goosen, you can never take the homeland out of the South of London, which is a practical location for a man who makes his living playing golf in far-flung corners of the globe, but the heart of this double US Open champion will always remain in South Africa. Goosen has two homes in South Africa: one is on a game reserve, tucked away deep into the bushweld of the Northern Transvaal, not far from where he was born and raised. Goosen’s second homeland retreat is down on the south cast near George, overlooking the Indian Ocean at Mossel Bay. The southern regions of South Africa are more lush than the harsh expanse of the bush up north, and not far from George lay the spectacular, tree-covered Outeniqua mountains. With frustrating ocean breezes the temperatures are a bit cooler in these parts, along the famous Garden Route, an in post-Apartheid South Africa this region is developing into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
“It’s always great to be back in South Africa, says Goosen, sitting on the deck behind his Mossel Bay home at the start of a mid-season break from the Tour, “In a way I wish I could live here but my job just doesn’t allow it. South Africa has so much to offer, such a diversity of environments around different regions, from the beach to the game reserves, and the weather is great. Living abroad makes coming home to South Africa something very special for me”.
Integral to Goosen’s migrations home is the detachment from his career, from soulless hotels, bland food and countless hours spent at 20,000 feet trying to catch up on sleep. He now has an added distraction near his beachfront home as his new, upmarket wine label, The Goose, is being produced a few miles up the road on the remote Schoonberg Farm, which has been established on the fertile terrain of the Langkloof, at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains.
“I enjoy tasting different wines and establishing a wine label has always been something I have wanted to do”, says the 38-year-old golfer, who launched his label to guests of his sponsors Rolex at the 2007 Open at Carnoustie. “They are not going to be wines we are going to sell through supermarkets. The distribution will be quite limited, and it will be mainly in South Africa for the first year. The first batch of wine we have produced this year has already sold out so that’s a good start”
The ‘terrior’ at the Goose Wines Schoonberg Farm is ideal. The ‘terrior’ takes into account soil, average temperature, wind direction, altitude and all the contributing factors that have a direct influence on the vine and its growing characteristics. Traditionally South Africa is a warmer country but these little cooler pockets exist and the Outeniqua Mountains are perfect. The greatest contributing factor is the altitude, at 2,500 feet above sea level, and being only eight miles from the ocean we receive these lovely afternoon coastal winds that cool down the land.
The Schoonberg Farm currently is producing four Goose wines at the £30-£40 price point: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, and the bran’s maiden wine called “The Expression”, vintage 2005, which is a smooth blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
We take a classical route and are producing our wines in the Bordeaux style, so the wine spends a longer time in wood for good tannin extraction from the barrels and for longer preservation. Our wines can carry for at least 20 to 35 years. The longer you age your wine in wood, the longer ‘legs’ the wine will have.
THE FINEST GOLF MAGAZINE
Volume 3 Issue 2