Wine tastings have always been a fun part of being involved in the wine industry. They are a chance to explore and learn more about wine — and a chance to be surprised and delighted.
And that was the case at a recent wine tasting at The Grove in the rolling green countryside of Williamson County. The event was billed as a launch for a line of wines from a relatively new winery in South Africa, curiously named The Goose.
As it turns out, The Goose was aptly named for its founder, South African professional golfer and two-time U.S. Open winner Retief “The Goose” Goosen. Dressed in a golf shirt with a Goose logo (naturally), Goosen seemed right at home surrounded by his wines and The Grove’s lush Greg Norman-designed golf course.
Like Norman, Goosen takes an active role in his wine business. He talks enthusiastically about entering the American market (Tennessee is one of the first of eight states to carry The Goose label.) Goosen is also quick to point out how unusual his cool climate vineyard is in South Africa.
The Goose vineyards are situated 2500 feet above sea level on the scenic Garden Route in South Africa (and in a neat coincidence, they are actually home to a flock of wild geese). With average temperatures only in the ’60s, varietals like sauvignon blanc and pinot noir achieve their full potential by ripening slowly and evenly.
The sauvignon blanc, in its Riesling-style bottle, brings to mind the crisp, mineral character of a Sancere or Alsatian white, while the pinot’s slightly spicy red fruit comes across as subtly rich — unlike some austere cool climate pinots.
Cooler growing conditions also seem to have influenced the other reds we tasted on the Manor House patio that night. The Goose shiraz, for example, was plush — without being a fruit bomb — a tendency of hot climate reds.
Well-integrated tannins define the robust cabernet. With its deep color, heady blackberry aroma and lingering finish, even a vegetarian would think of steak after sipping this cab.
The flagship of The Goose’s vineyard-specific wines is The Goose Expression. The current vintage is a blend of shiraz and cabernet grapes from specially selected clusters. Quality barrel time yields a complex, full-bodied wine layered with berries, spice and oak.
Something tells me that there will soon be more sightings of The Goose in Middle Tennessee.
Steve Prati is a Franklin-based wine consultant.
Five to try
•The Goose Sauvignon Blanc, 2014: Crisp, dry mineral character; gooseberry notes.$19.99
•The Goose Pinot Noir, 2013: Spicy red fruit flavors; smooth, nice body. $19.99
•The Goose Shiraz, 2012: Soft, rich, full-bodied; elements of smoke and spice. $19.99
•The Goose Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013: Robust dark berry; well-integrated tannins.$19.99
•The Goose Expression, 2009: Complex, layered berries; spice, mellow oak. $39.99