The sea­son to be bub­bly

Watch out for the trade­mark logo Méth­ode Cap Clas­sique (MCC) on sparkling wines made in SA us­ing tra­di­tional cham­p­enoise meth­ods, writes Gra­ham Howe

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

CAPE pro­duc­ers use spe­cific white and red grape va­ri­eties — as well as newer va­ri­eties like Pino­tage and Chenin Blanc — only the first, finest press­ing called the cu­vée. The base wine un­der­goes sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion on yeast lees in the bot­tle us­ing French tech­niques such as re­muage, rid­dling and dosage (adding su­gar from ex­tra-dry brut to off-dry).

The an­nual “Magic of Bub­bles” Fes­ti­val of Cap Clas­sique and Cham­pagne took place in the Fran­schhoek Wine Val­ley last week. I tasted my way through the finest new re­leases of Cap Clas­sique to cel­e­brate Christ­mas and the New Year:

Al­lée Bleue Brut Rosé 2010. The sec­ond vin­tage of this uniquely South African blend of Pino­tage, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir was aged ten months on lees. This se­duc­tive lit­tle bub­bly has a ro­man­tic salmon pink hue and al­lur­ing flavours of straw­ber­ries, rose petals and candy floss with yeasty notes and a crisp, clean fin­ish.

Boschendal Grande Cu­vée Brut 2007. Rated 4,5 out of five stars, Boschendal Grande Cu­vée Brut 2007 won the vin­tage cat­e­gory of Wine’s Amorim Cap Clas­sique Chal­lenge 2011. Made from Pinot Noir and Chardon­nay, this vin­tage MCC is crisp, clean and fresh with lovely ap­ple fruit, sub­tle almond bis­cotti and bready flavours.

Do­maine Grier Brut NV. This bot­tle-fer­mented sparkling wine is part of an ex­cit­ing wine range made in the south of France from vine­yards owned by the Grier fam­ily of Vil­liera. Made with great fi­nesse from clas­sic and Cata­lan va­ri­eties, it spent six­teen months on the lees, to de­velop del­i­cate rasp­berry, yeasty brioche notes.

Gra­ham Beck Brut Zero 2005. The new­est re­lease from cel­lar­mas­ter Pi­eter “Bub­bles” Fer­reira dis­penses with the cus­tom­ary prac­tice of dosage to cre­ate the dri­est MCC around. A blend of whole-bunched pressed Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir, the tête de cu­vée was fer­mented in the bot­tle on the lees for 72 months. The re­sult is a purist’s de­light — bonedry and ul­tra crisp with rich min­er­al­ity and pu­rity of fruit.

Groote Post The Old Man’s Sparkle Brut Rosé NV. This salmon-pink off-dry MCC is an in­trigu­ing blend of Mer­lot, Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir. A hand­crafted sparkler from Dar­ling, it was hand-rid­dled in racks and aged for two years, adding great in­ten­sity to a wine with lus­cious crushed straw­berry, plum and short­bread flavours.

JC Le Roux Brut NV. The new MCC from this spe­cial­ist house of sparkling wine is a lively blend of mostly Pinot Noir with a splash of Chardon­nay with rich yeasty tones and bright berry fruit. Cel­lar mas­ter Elunda Bas­son ex­plains “This new re­lease was crafted for peo­ple who en­joy the el­e­gance of MCC with a youth­ful char­ac­ter”.

La Motte MCC Brut 2008. The sec­ond vin­tage of MCC from this show­piece gate­way to the Fran­schhoek Val­ley won a 2011 SA Ter­roir Wine Award for its es­tate blend of Pinot Noir and Chardon­nay. Af­ter ma­tur­ing for 29 months on the lees, it en­tices with a fine mousse, yeasty ap­ple and cinnamon aro­mas and al­lur­ing straw­berry char­ac­ter.

Ni­tida The Ma­tri­arch 2010. Ni­tida in Dur­banville has re­leased a maiden MCC Duo - a white and red Ma­tri­arch as a trib­ute to the doyenne of the Veller fam­ily farm. A blend of Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir, the white Ma­tri­arch is made in a fruit- driven style - while the red Ma­tri­arch teems with mul­berry, pa­paya, dark choco­late and ripe plums.

Pon­grácz NV. Win­ner of Best Non-vin­tage at Wine’s Amorim Cap Clas­sique Chal­lenge 2011, Pon­grácz and Pon­grácz Rosé are now avail­able in a 375ml bot­tle. An ever-pop­u­lar blend of Pinot Noir and Chardon­nay with a crisp green ap­ple char­ac­ter, fine bead and toasty high­lights - or try Pon­grácz Rosé, all black­berry fruit.

Rhe­bok­skloof MCC 2007. Made from Chardon­nay grapes grown on ma­ture twenty year-old vines on the slopes of Paarl Rock, this el­e­gant sparkling wine spent two years on lees — de­vel­op­ing a com­plex ar­ray of cit­rus flavours with yeasty bis­cuit notes.

Si­mon­sig Kaapse Vonkel 2009. South Africa’s very first Méth­ode Cap Clas­sique cel­e­brated its for­ti­eth an­niver­sary in 2011. A med­ley of Pinot Noir, Chardon­nay and Pinot Me­u­nier with a creamy mousse and lay­ers of flavour, Kaapse Vonkel is a Cape icon. Also try their Cu­vée Royale 2005, win­ner of the Cap Clas­sique Chal­lenge 2011.

Vil­liera Tra­di­tion Brut NV and Brut Rosé NV. Watch out for the new-look la­bel on the Grier’s prize-win­ning col­lec­tion of Cap Clas­sique. Blended from a cu­vee of Chardon­nay, Pinot Noir and Pino­tage, both wines were ma­tured 18 months on the lees to cre­ate a sig­na­ture style of fresh va­ri­etal fruit, crisp acid­ity and yeasty bis­cuit tones.

Wel­tevrede En­theos Brut NV. One of a quar­tet in the Philip Jonker Brut Cap Clas­sique Col­lec­tion is named af­ter the wine­maker’s great “en­thu­si­asm” for life - mean­ing in Greek the full in­ten­sity of emo­tion of the mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion. A blend of Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir, it is a creamy mouth­ful of brioche and cit­rus fruit.

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