Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Amorim Cork MCC Challenge Awards 2018 at The Twelve Apostles

This annual event is one of our favourites; we love bubbles and we always know we will be tasting and drinking some of the best. The only competition committed exclusively to the Cap Classique category, the Amorim Méthode Cap Classique Challenge is sponsored by Portugal-based cork company Amorim. This was the 17th year of this prestigious competition and there were 127 entries, a record. It was held this year (as it has been for several years) at The Twelve Apostles Hotel on the road from Bakoven to Llandudno
One of the helpful waiters pouring us a welcoming glass ....
... of our confessed favourite Brut Rosé MCC, the one from Simonsig
Canapés were served and this fresh Tuna Tataki was absolutely superb, so well flavoured
There were also some cheese croquettes with a mustard sauce,
rather risky to eat as they oozed warm cheese as they fell apart, but good
Peppadew mousse wrapped in cucumber
Winemakers Etienne Louw (Pierre Simond), Xander Grier (Villiera) and Stephan de Beer (Krone) chatting on the terrace, which has a superb view of the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains behind
Siobhan Thompson (WOSA), Elunda Basson (Pongracz) and Cathy Marston (WSET)
Joaquim Sá (Amorim Cork), Johan Malan (Simonsig), Pieter Ferreira (Graham Beck) & JP Colmant (Colmant)
Greg Landman and Samantha van der Berg entering the room
behind Shane Mullis of Domaine des Dieux and Marize Uys of Amorim Cork
Julian Richfield (freelance journalist) and Maryna Calow of WOSA
Pongracz Cellarmaster Elunda Basson
Our MCC MC for the event was PRO and Journalist Emile Joubert
Joaquim Sá, MD of Amorim South Africa, said that the country’s wine industry can justifiably feel proud of its Cap Classique category. “As a cork producer, Amorim believes that a natural cork adds value to a bottle of wine by endorsing the product with a closure that represents tradition and quality. This is what Cap Classique does for the South African wine industry: it adds value and this is at a time when there is great pressure on producers to do just that, said Sá. "MCC", he said, "is recognised as one of the best bottled Méthode Champenoise wines in the world. It has style, quality, taste and fashion. And it has the ability to compete with the rest of the world. Sales are climbing". Amorim is co-sponsor of the Cape Winemakers Guild protégé programme and of Jean Vincent Ridon in supporting the international Sommeliers competition
He continued: “The quality of product and the excitement of the category add value to the image of the South African wine industry, and here we have to thank the pioneers who created Cap Classique over 40 years ago as well as the passionate and headstrong pursuers of excellence who built the category to what it is today. Amorim is immensely proud to be associated with the product and its people who add value to the lovely everyday pleasure that is wine”
Heidi Duminy CWM was the head judge. Her colleagues were Cathy Marston, wine educator and journalist, sommelier-at-large Higgo Jacobs, Elunda Basson, JC le Roux cellarmaster (seen in the picture above) and Pierre de Klerk from Graham Beck. Farai Magwada, sommelier at Cavalli Estate in Stellenbosch, joined the team as associate judge. She said it was the most lively judging panel ever! And the tasting was rigorous. “The 127 record show of entries in this year’s competition is both exciting and encouraging and as a panel we were delighted by the overall standard across the classes,” she said. “Every year there is a tangible step up in quality and intent, especially amongst the frontrunners. The advancement of quality on the whole has raised the bar across all styles, with time on lees clearly key to distinguishing the good from the exceptional”
Nearly time to present the trophies
We wait in anticipation, but first came the starters
The interesting menu
Elegant decoration
Joaquim Sá chats to the Portuguese Consul in Cape Town, Mr Arsenio
The naughty table, for smokers, on the balcony: Anton Pretorius, Heidi van Wyk, Martelize Brink
There were two starters: the first was a chicken arancini (rice ball) in crisp panko crumbs, a chicken mousse morsel, a creamy sauce of smoked mozzarella, a herb tapenade and a rich dark chicken jus. A good mix of textures and flavours, so it left you wanting more
Roxanne la Vita (aka The Witty Wine Woman) and Heidi van Wyk get a glass of the MCC that accompanied the starters
It was a taste of things to come; this was our wine of the week last week, just after the competition, Colmant Brut Chardonnay Non Vintage MCC. It is made by Jean-Philippe (JP) Colmant on his farm in Franschhoek from selected chardonnay grapes grown in both Franschhoek and Robertson. He calls it his crème de la crème and we agree. On the nose it speaks to French Champagne in style, with elegance and restraint, with rich and creamy brioche notes from long maturation and a whiff of cognac richness and complexity. Clean citrus and apple on the nose and palate, it has a good mousse and has long, crisp and dry flavours with a tingle. It is also so good with food. R240 from the farm. It is has twice received five stars in Platter 
Pouring for the competition! Birthday Boy Paul Gerber of Le Lude
Winemakers Pierre de Klerk of Graham Beck and Clayton Reabow of Moreson
Maryna Calow chats with Emile Joubert
The second starter was Salmon Trout Poke with soy jelly cubes, avocado mousse, toasted sesame seeds, all delicious. What didn't gel was the Granny Smith apple purée strongly flavoured with cloves; not something one associates with delicate trout
The Consul enjoying the lunch, as we were
Time for the awards. Joaquim Sá, presenting to Charl Schoeman, who won the Rosé Trophy for Simonsig Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé
Kobus van der Merwe of KWV gets a Gold Medal in the Blanc de Blanc category for his Laborie Blanc de Blancs
Another one goes to Pierre de Klerk, for the Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2013
and one to Etienne Louw, for his Pierre Simond Anna Carin Blanc de Blancs 2015
And the Blanc de Blanc Trophy and a certificate goes to Jean-Philippe Colmant for his Brut Chardonnay NV
Now for the Brut category, a Gold Medal to Xander Grier for the Villiera Monro Brut 2011
One for Hannes Nel, Lourensford MCC 2012
and the Trophy to Sharon Parnell, Domaine des Dieux Claudia Brut 2012
In the Museum Class, the Trophy went to Elunda Basson of JC le Roux for the Pongracz Desiderius 2000
A happy JP Colmant with his Blanc de Blanc Trophy, sitting down as he’d had a hip replacement just a few days before the awards. He is walking well already
The line up of some of the Trophy wines which we had for lunch
Jean Vincent Ridon, winemaker at Signal Hill wines and Manager at the Sommeliers Academy
Journalists Malu Lambert and Graham Howe
Main course of very good tender beef fillet, cooked sous vide, with a crisp Yorkshire pudding filled with braised brisket, Beef fat roasted potatoes baby carrots, broccoli puree and a good red wine jus. We were served the Trophy winner, Claudia Brut 2012, with this course and it was a very good match. Brut does pair well with savoury courses, especially if it has its own complex flavours, as this one does
Head Sommelier at the 12 Apostles, Gregory Mutambe pouring the wine to go with dessert, Desiderus 2000, which won the Museum Class Trophy. It is very concentrated and rich, bready, and full of cooked apple and pear with some dark caramel
Dessert tasted like a great deconstructed Lemon Meringue pie, if you discounted the basil gel. With lemon curd, lemon sorbet, sherbet, vanilla mousse, almond crumble
The final award of the Competition is the overall winner. In a repeat performance from 2014, Domaine des Dieux, the boutique wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus, was crowned as South Africa’s best Cap Classique exponent. They won their second sword for sabrage
Sharon Parnell accepting the award
Johan Malan of Simonsig presenting their Annual Franz Malan Award to the person who has made a great contribution to the industry. The winner this year was Christine Rudman CWM, ex principal of the Cape Wine Academy, writer, author, Platter taster and educator. The award was given for her sponsorship of this category, for featuring its immense quality and the culture of Cap Classique. We studied under Christine when we were working towards our Diplomas; that is how we met
When accepting her award, Christine had some wise words to say. She reminded us how, early on, you always had sweet JC le Roux or Grand Mousseux at weddings, and how we have progressed to the modern versions and that Bubbly is now the rule at celebrations. She thanked her mentors in the industry who helped her grow in self confidence. She said that working for Platter had made her focus on the wine in the glass, to describe it in as few words as possible. She advised us to make our opinions known, to be honest; make a fool of yourself now and then and sometimes you will be brilliant. She is NOT giving up, she is having such fun
and Johan Malan reminded us that his late father Franz Malan, the father of MCC in South Africa, would have been 90 on the 8th of August this year
Emotional!
The winners line up
Charl Schoeman & Johan Malan
Trying out that new sword
Off goes the cork
The winning Domaine des Dieux team: Myles Buxton, Shane Mullis, Sharon Parnell
This will go very nicely with the other one they have. We suggested Scottish dancing in the tasting room....

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