To accompany your festive events, our wine writer Greg Landman has compiled a list of the best bubbly for celebrating this season. Enjoy.
Bubbles make the world go round
It is no secret that we make some of the very best bubbly in the world right here in SA. In many blind tastings the SA bubbly has been as good as, and in some instances, better than, the French bubbly. Here we are talking about the wine that is made the classic French way and that can only be called Champagne if it comes from Champagne. Even this rule has exceptions. For instance there are American companies that sell Champagne – it says so on the bottle – you know why? Because they can – and who is going to stop them?
Here we stick to the rules and ours is called MCC – Methode Cap Classique. It is made EXACTLY the same way as any other French Champagne and costs a whole lot less. Of course there are French Vintage Champagnes like Dom Perignon and Cristal that have no equal in the world of wine but those – if you can get them – will set you back about R4 000 a bottle so it is only politicians who can really afford them.
If you’re not a bubbly fan, then we suggest you take a look at this list of our favourite Rosés for summer.
The right equipment
The other decision is what to drink it out of. The current thing is a small tulip-shaped glass, with flutes being considered a bit out of style. I love to drink out of a classic (very retro) Coupe – you know the one that is supposed to have been modelled after Marie Antoinette’s breast – shame. The idea is to keep the bubble going as long as you can, but who can wait that long? The froth on top when you pour is called the mousse and the bubble going endlessly up the glass the bead – both indicators of the quality of the bubbly. Don’t get bogged down in detail – just drink it and open a whole new world for the day.
The annual Amorim Cap Classique Challenge – they are the famous Portuguese cork people – recognises the best MCCs in our country and is the only competition of its kind to be doing so. This year the overall bubbly winner and best Brut was Domaine des Dieux’s Claudia Brut MCC 2012 (R1 110 for a case directly from the cellar) – and I have to agree, it is a knockout. The best Blanc de Blancs was won by Colmant’s Cap Classique Brut Chardonnay (R240 a bottle from the cellar), with Simonsig, who are in their 50th year, dominating the Rosé category with their Woolworths Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé 2016 (R139.99 a bottle from Woolworths). Museum class winner was Pongracz Desiderius 2009 (R490 a bottle from the cellar) proving that these wines can last.
Other Fabulous Bubblies
Haute Cabriere Pierre Jourdan Methode Cap Classique Brut
A Franschhoek classic from cellar master Takuan von Arnim, this bottle of Brut has magnificent flavours with a perfect never ending fizz and makes every day just that little bit special. Pick up a bottle for R135 from Cabriere.
TOKARA Methode Cap Classique Blanc de Blanc 2011
This 100% Chardonnay is vibrant and exciting. A fabulous bottle to match an aperitif for the perfect evening with someone really special – and I do mean special as it’s R650 a bottle.
Allée Bleue Brut 2014
This classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is nice and dry with a heavenly nose – it cries out for oysters. You can pick up a case for R1 026 directly from the cellar, which works out to R171 a bottle.
Plaisir De Merle Grand Brut 2015
A gorgeous colour with fine beady mousse, this vintage has had 24 months lees contact leading to toasty notes with green apple and citrus tang.
Kleine Zalze 2011 Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Packed with brioche and biscotti nuances, this vintage has a delicate and elegant nose with very creamy, old world style.
Gabriëlskloof Madame Lucy’s MCC 2017
How can you not love this quirky bottle featuring a poodle named Madame Lucy? It’s a crisp and clean vintage with a zesty finish – delicious. Thankfully Madame Lucy won’t break the bank at R170 a bottle.
Astraeus MCC Chardonnay and Astraeus MCC Rosé Pinot Noir
You have your pick of two versions of the grapes which are often blended in MCC. Each one brings out the characteristics of the varietal; they are very much like two sisters, similar but definitely different. Both go for R207 a bottle and are just what you need to add to your wine bucket on a hot summer’s day.
Steenberg 1682 Chardonnay MCC
Another 100% Chardonnay finds its way onto the list, but this time all the way from the other side of the Cape on the slopes of the Steenberg Mountains next to Constantia. It’s a classic from one of the oldest vineyards in the Cape, fresh, clean and vibrant, at its best on its own. Pick up a bottle from the cellar for R191 a bottle.
Speaking of Constantia, take a look at our round-up of where to go and what to drink if you’re in the area.
Steenberg “Lady R” MCC 2013
Named after the inimitable lady who founded Steenberg centuries ago, Steenberg’s Classic Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend has elegant fine bubbles, is creamy and subtle. Head over to the cellar to pick up a bottle at R499.
Grande Provence Methode Cap Classique Brut NV
After 15 months on the lees, this MCC is packed with a creamy mouthfeel with crisp acidity held nicely in check to reveal plenty of fresh fruit. Pour yourself a glass at R165 a bottle.
Groot Phesantekraal Blanc de Blanc MCC
This 100% Chardonnay vintage has crisp, clean and delicious bubbles that carry the fruit to the palate. Pair it with a platter of seafood – it goes especially well with calamari. At R140 a bottle this is an absolute bargain as far as bubbles are concerned.
Krone Borealis Vintage Cuvée Brut 2017
Considered one of the most famous names in SA bubbly circles, Krone is still going strong. Expect a persistent fine mousse with plenty of citrus tang that will go swimmingly with sushi.
Words Greg Landman
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.