Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Cap Classique Association public tasting of winning wines in the 2016 Amorim Challenge

Earlier this year we were at the Amorim Awards ceremony for the top MCCs in South Africa. This was a chance formally to taste them. The tasting was held last week at the Taj Hotel by the Cape Classique Association
We began with glasses of MCC from Altydgedacht, Moreson and Villiera
Small canapés of broccoli and pine nuts. These were a little hot for tasting MCC with quite a lot of hot chilli pepper
Tiny slivers of perfectly made salmon gravadlax
A magnificent array of bottles ready for the tasting
We begin
The tasting was led by Elunda Basson, cellarmaster for JC le Roux since 2007. Seldom have we had such an informative and interesting tasting. We have studied, we have sold, read, travelled and we have experienced these wines. She taught us and many others in the room new things, new insights into the world of MCC bubbles. In a very clear and concise way
She came armed with lots of different facts and figures about the industry and the trends and the different ways of making these superb wines. It is a growing category that the Association is very proud of. Many farms are trying their hands at making these enticing wines. They must be sure that they put out the right quality and maintain standards. The Association has guidelines to improve products. The wines must be hand crafted, blended and aged, mimicking the principles and processes of Champagne, striving for quality, in a very South African way. Our grapes come from diverse regions, soils, and style differentiation. Any grape varieties are permitted here, but only hand-picked, whole bunch pressed with the softest extraction should be used. Base wine in oak or in chilled stainless steel, malolactic fermentation or not. Reserve wines may be used, a minimum of 9 months on the lees by law and a minimum of 3 bar pressure - 5 to 6 is usual.
The Colmant from Franschhoek was the winner of the Blanc de Blanc category. It smells of raisin bread with some spice. Initially sweet, then the palate clears to grape fruit and lime and a hint of raspberry. We also tasted the Rickety Bridge 2012 which is bready and perfumed with blossoms, clean and lean, very dry with lemons and limes and a nice prickle - very much to our taste. In Champagne, vintages must be called by the area, here it is the vineyard’s choice
The Krone Borealis 2013 has marmite toast and old barrels on the nose. It is sweet and sherbety, too complex with cooked pears and a short finish
Elunda talking to the Kennedys, originally from Canada but now resident in South Africa, lovers of all things bubbly. We tasted the Gabrielskloof Madame Lucy, full of peaches, pears and nectarines, warm alcohol and it tasted as though they had added a liqueur dosage. Made from Pinot Noir and some Chardonnay; it is quite salty on the palate, then umami, then lemon-lime with chalky minerality. Great packaging with a gold poodle on the bottle
Next came the Anura Brut 2011. Cooked apples and pastry on the nose. Cherries, liqueur, very mature style, sweet. salty and funky, too much age? almost going balsamic. The Bon Courage Jacque Bruère Brut Reserve 2010 has notes of rose and raspberry perfume. A complex blend with a lot of age. Salt covers the fruit - lemons, limes and English grapefruit marmalade, it is well balanced. Elunda told us that Robertson chardonnay grapes have chalk and richness from the soils, their acidity is great in barrel fermentation which is why so many farms use these grapes
The Cathedral Cellar MCC Basilica Brut from KWV really impressed. 2011 was a good year for MCCs. Perfumed with lilies and warm linen, even some wet dog, it is sophisticated and elegant. Spends 36 months on the lees and it shows the benefit. Clean, crisp, lean and dry with a long lime end and a lovely prickle, this has 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and partial malolactic fermentation. It then spends another 3 years in bottle
The line up of tasting glasses. We also tasted the JC le Roux Pinot Noir Rosé 2010 which has pink watermelon and roses on the nose, a crisp keen cutting bubble, and raspberry, strawberry and watermelon on the palate. Refreshing, the raspberries remain. Customers have commanded the pretty pink colour. The JC le Roux Scintilla Vintage Reserve 2008 has smoky beech wood, nuts, water biscuits. Apparently it goes through 100% malolactic fermentation which causes those woody notes. It is a pretty, well balanced wine with long flavours of raspberry parfait and cream. Only made in the best vintages
The line up of wines we tasted. The final wine was from the magnum on the end.: Graham Beck Brut 1994. Smoke from the age - it spent 13 years on the lees, pink berries, it still has crisp tiny zingy bubbles, pear blossom on the nose. A very sexy wine with long flavours of raspberry, roses, and cream. So fresh for its age. Also lots of pears on palate. So impressive, Lynne scored it 19
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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