THE FIFTH annual Magic of Bubbles festival takes place this weekend on the lawns in front of the Huguenot monument in Franschhoek – a sparkling social event by anyone’s standards.
Part of a calendar of food, wine and music festivals in this picturesque valley, the Magic of Bubbles is the one-stop shop for lovers of this magical beverage.
Nick Davies, owner of Franschhoek Pass Winery where he makes a small boutique selection of bubblies under the Morena label, and is also on the festival committee, says this year’s festival will be even better with about 40 local methode cap classiques and 15 Champagnes to sample, with complementary nibblies from some of the restaurants in the region.
“It’s all about glamour, style and fun,” he says. “We’ve moved things around a bit for a better flow and a better view of the monument. There will be wines from producers large and small, and for the first time Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot will have a combined display.
“We encourage visitors to dress up in the theme of black and white, and there will be prizes for the best dressed.”
Along with musical performances by Coda and Gerald Clark, there will be oysters, strawberries, smoked salmon and lots of gorgeous wines.
But what exactly will you be drinking? Only methode cap classiques and Champagnes, says Davies. Simply put, Champagne – which can only be called such when it is made in the Champagne region of France – is a sparkling wine which is made by secondary in-bottle fermentation induced by yeast and sugar which creates the bubbles. This methode champenoise, or cap classique, is the same way local producers make their sparkling wines and the standard of ours is high, says Davies.
Probably one of the most famous quotes about Champagne is that attributed to Benedictine monk Dom Perignon who cried out: “Come quickly! I have tasted the stars!” after a happy accident with the fermentation which he was trying to prevent.
Another Frenchman who loved champagne was Napoleon, who said “In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”
Takuan von Arnim of Haute Cabriere, home to Pierre Jourdan, says: “The beauty of Champagne is that it is so versatile. Its bubbles keep the palate inspired and clean. It’s like jumping on a cloud and you can decide when you want to get off. The ladies love it, and I love the ladies.”
Highlights at the festival include: The One 2007, Moreson’s first vintage sparkler, a blend of 60 percent chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir from Diners Club young winemaker of the year in 2009 Clayton Reabow; and the new brut rosé from Allée Bleue, its first cap classique and only the second wine produced by award-winning winemaker Van Zyl du Toit.
“What is exciting for me as well as Moreson is the establishment of Franschhoek as a cap classique destination,” says Reabow. “What is of even greater importance is the number of wineries following the trend to produce their own cap classiques. The festival offers opportunities for wineries to launch new methode cap classiques. There are many fine French Champagnes on offer for tasting that can be regarded as great examples to compare against our local produce.”
The Magic of Bubbles runs from noon till 6pm today and tomorrow. Tickets are R180 (book at www.webtickets.co.za) and include 10 tasting coupons and a glass. For details, call Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourist Association at 021 876 2861.