Respected South African winery Fairview owner/vintner Charles Back has built what started as a single red blend named Goats do Roam into a full-fledged wine company offering a range of top-quality, blended wines widely available throughout the wine-drinking world. The Goats do Roam brand is, in fact, the single-biggest selling South African wine label in the United States. Fruit for the wines is sourced from vineyards in the Paarl, Malmesbury and Stellenbosch areas, where Back owns farms or buys fruit from selected wine growers. No matter what their origins, grapes are selected based on the basis of inherent fruit quality and flavor characteristics required for each respective blend in the range.
The grapes are vinified in Fairview’s cellar in Paarl by Charles Back and resident winemaker Anthony de Jager, also responsible for the Fairview range. For all the light-hearted sense of fun evident in the labelling and branding of the Goats do Roam range, the wines themselves take a serious approach to quality. The style is modern, fruit-rich, with intelligent use of wood for either fermentation and/or maturation in small French and American oak barrels. The range is predominantly red, complemented by selected whites and a rosé and covering tastes from those that call for a wine with complexity and cellaring potential to those that require early drinking.
Learn More About Rhone Red Blends
The Rhone region of France has a delightful selection of red varieties. There are 22 grapes allowed in the Rhone AOC, about half of them red. Most of these varieties are used as secondary blending partners, often comprising less than 10% of the blend. The primary red players of Rhone blends are Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Most wines from the Southern Rhone use Grenache as their primary grape, while Rhone blends in California and Australia like to change up the order, occasionally using a high percentage of Syrah or sometimes Mourvèdre. Wines from the Northern Rhone are Syrah-based, and if not 100% Syrah, the wine may have Viognier blended in for added color and aromatics. Typical wines termed "rhone blends" will have two or more grapes from the Rhone and occasionally, small percentages of the secondary varieties.
Notable Facts Rhone Blends are a wonderful combination of rustic and ripe - showing their flavors and delicious character upon release, although some Rhone wines, particularly those with a good amount of Syrah, are able to age for a few years. Australia's Rhone blends are often called "GSM" or "SGM" - using the initials of the grapes used, the most predominant variety being the first initial. Australia has also had great success with their Northern Rhone Shiraz+Viognier wine styles. You'll find delicious Rhone blends in California as well - the Central Coast and Santa Barbara regions have a similar climate to the Rhone, and the varietals flourish there. South Africa is another blossoming Rhone blend producer. Blends from all regions are good with juicy, gamey meats and food with common French spices, like rosemary or herbs de Provence.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Rhone, California, Australia, South Africa
Common Descriptors: Gamey, jammy, blackberry, pepper, leather
Learn More About South Africa
A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on
the quality aspect.
At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the
biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most
control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming
around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade
embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the
embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy.
More white than red is
planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as
Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making
top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is
Sauvignon Blanc, producing
whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds,
the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz,
Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and
Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and
Bordeaux blends was once the
favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as
wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your
mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most
popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.