#beccaswineswap – Marriane Wines x Brian Mahlangu

Hi winelovers!!! (In my head I completed that sentence with “welcome back to my channel” in a sing-song voice like a YouTuber). The second installment of #beccaswineswap for 2019 went of without a hitch. Well, except for the fact that I realised people want ACTUAL food and I may have to rethink my canapés (trial and error, folks). Oh, and that the backyard is not friendly in terms of the afternoon sun. Apologies to all who received that complimentary tan that afternoon. We have since invested in a gazebo. Other than that, I think (and the feedback confirms it) the day was beautiful, thanks in no small part, to Marianne Wines and their head of sales, Brian Mahlangu.

I met Brian quite by chance. My cousin happens to live in the apartment above his and she overheard him on the phone discussing something wine-y. (eavesdropping is bad, kids) Of course, because we believe in putting each other on, she mentioned him to me and vice versa. I then bumped into him on the steps one afternoon and he was gracious enough, despite my obvious hangover, to entertain my pitch and give me his business card. I even remember that he slipped into his home and gave us a bottle of the 2016 Marianne Selena cuveé blanche (a fruity – not sweet – white wine) with a Latin proverb on the back label. It read;

If you remember correctly, there are five reasons for drinking, the arrival of a friend, today’s thirst, tomorrow’s thirst, the taste of wine and every other reason.”

I’m all about the universe conspiring to make things happen and the proverb was perhaps foretelling our story. Other than being the national head of sales at Marriane, Brian is an accomplished sommelier. Before joining Marriane in early 2018, he plied his trade at both the Cape Grace and 12 Apostles hotels in Cape Town. In case you’re an out-of-towner, those are two very fancy spots, deserving of his excellence. Brian and I shared a drink (or seven) as we brainstormed this wineswap, and I think it’s safe to call him my friend. One with whom I look forward to sharing many more glasses of wine.

Okay. Let’s get to the wine. Marianne is a French wine estate named after, get this, NOT the owners wife. Lady Marianne is the French national symbol and was she was first represented in the country after the storming of Bastille – one of the early events of of the French Revolution. Strong, capable, a lady of liberty and reason… (look, she’s fabulous). And if you look closely at the Marriane bottles, you’ll find Lady Marianne on each label (I’ve taken to calling her that, but I’m certain she goes by just Marianne). you’ll also see the French national animal – a rooster. It’s a pretty neat detail. Also, the rosé, sauvignon blanc, pinotage and merlot bottles all have what looks like artful doodles around the labels. They aren’t just decoration. The artwork will tell you what aromas and flavours to expect from each wine. You’ll see watermelon, vanilla pods, cherries etc. Even the oak barrels! It’s brilliant really. Another unique fact about Marriane is that they rest their wines significantly before retailing. Meaning you get a well aged, mature wine by the time you crack it open. This, in contrast with a some wine houses who will chase volume over quality.

The Rosé is not sweet (as I harp on about how fortuitous this is for me because of my missing sweet tooth). She spent 6 moths in the tank before bottling. She’s crisp on the palate and you’re supposed to smell gooseberries, strawberries and vanilla. I only picked up the strawberries and a hit on vanilla on the nose. I can’t say I could conjure up the taste of gooseberries if my life depended on it. More of my guests than I expected said they preferred a sweeter rosé and wouldn’t buy this particular one.

The sauvignon blanc is the only white wine produced by Marriane. She’s a wooded white wine and spends 7 months in the tank and in a french oak barrel before bottling. I actually enjoyed this sauvignon blanc – she’s quite yellow in colour and has a peachy/citrusy character. The masses said they would drink her again.

Marianne red wine’s go well with biltong. If ever you find yourself at their tasting room (which I strongly encourage), ask for the biltong pairing. You won’t regret it. The pinotage is smoooooth. the hint of mulberries transported me to sitting underneath my mother’s mulberry tree every September, stuffing my face with overripe fruit. She spends 18 months in an oak barrel and is worth the wait.

Madam Merlot spent 16 – 22 months in a french oak barrel (that’s like an elephant’s gestation period I think). I could be wrong (how I say “this is what I think but please, form your own opinion”) but I detected very slight spice, which was a a pleasant surprise. Merlots aren’t what I’d describe as quintessentially bold reds, but she gets to stay.

Now. The FLOREAL. Wowzer. I’ve had the pleasure of comparing the 2006 and the 2007 and I can confidently announce that Marianne is sitting on gold here. Please understand that by the time we were at this wine, copious amounts if wine had passed through these lips so the note taking took on a rather shoddy cloak. The Floreal is Marianne’s flagship wine and a beautiful blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz. I remember thinking that this is a wine that I would curl up on a couch and have a chat with. I got a slight earthy flavour and (apparently) there was some plum in there too.

The final glass poured was the Messidor – the only Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) in Marianne’s range. (She’s not produced at Marianne). Fun fact: MCC is the moniker given to sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne style – only in the Western Cape province of South Africa. All others are not MCC. If I recall clearly (no judgment please), you can only purchase a bottle of the Messidor from the Marianne tasting room, so if you were looking for a reason to head out, this is it.

As always, gratefulness pours from my heart. To the people in this image and those who were supportive but unable to make it. To the photographer, Dyce, you’re a gem. To Brian, your spirit is so welcoming and patient. Thank you for coming through and making #beccaswineswap epic. Here’s to more collaboration and definitely, to more wine!

*You can find Brian on Instagram and Facebook.

*Marianne Wine Estate is located about 40 minutes away from Cape Town, on the Stellenbosch wine route.