MCC: an epic tasting of South African Methode Cap Classique wines

Tasting 93 traditional method SA sparklers

Paul Gerber and Pieter Ferreira lining up a flight of MCC

Methode Cap Classique (MCC) is the South African name for bottle-fermented sparkling wines, and it is one of the most exciting categories in South African wine, currently growing at 15% per year. Here I'm publishing notes from an epic tasting of MCC with two of the top experts: Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck, and Paul Gerber of Le Lude. Both Pieter and Paul are specialists, and I have the impression that if you want to make great sparkling wine, it has to be a real focus, not something you do on the side. We had 72 wines to taste, which were broken into five flights, and I have added some other recent notes on MCCs tasted elsewhere for the sake of completeness, bringing the total to 93.

MCC is an official designation, and currently the rule is that the wines must be bottle fermented with a minimum of 9 months on the lees. There are moves afoot by the MCC association - of which Pieter is the chair - to make the authorities change this rule to a minimum time on lees 12 months. And there's talk of creating a new, high-end vintage category. Currently, any wine from a single year can be called vintage, but in Champagne it's an elite designation and vintage Champagnes are only released in good years, and they attract a price premium. It would be good to see this second tier for exceptional MCCs from good years.

One of the problems for MCC is the large number of cheap sparklers being made in South Africa which are tank fermented and then injected with carbon dioxide: there are around 12.5 million litres of these sparklers produced each year. And there are also non-MCC bottle-fermented wines that spend just 3 months on lees which can also confuse consumers, because they can still claim to be bottle fermented.

We began with a flight of 11 'others'. These were wines made from non-classic varieties, or with these non-classic grapes in the blend. The classic varieties of Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – are used the world over for making fizz because they just seem to work so well. In this flight we saw some Chenin Blanc, some Sauvignon Blanc and even Pinotage. 'I have my doubts that some of these varieties are suited to express the magic of secondary fermentation,' says Pieter Ferreira. I agree, but I quite liked three Chenin Blancs:

  • Winery Brut Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 Paarl

  • Sparklehorse Chenin Blanc 2014 Stellenbosch

  • Filia Chenin Blanc Brut Nature 2014 Swartland

Then it was time for one of the star flights: 23 Blanc de Blancs. 'Chardonnay is the ultimate grape to make sparkling wine from,' says Paul. 'In this flight, its purity and elegance were seen often.' Pieter agreed. 'I believe that Chardonnay has a great future in sparkling wine production in South Africa. There is diversity across the different wine regions and Chardonnay expresses this diversity well. It is the style of Cap Classique that we can take anywhere and it will find a good audience.' He finished by stating, 'At the end of the day, Chardonnay should speak elegance and finesse.' 

Some of my favourites:

  • Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV

  • Waterkloof Moon and Stars Astraeus Chardonnay NV

  • Saronsberg Brut 2014 Tulbagh

  • Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2012 Cederberg

  • Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2012 Robertson

  • Simonsig Cuvee Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012 Stellenbosch

  • L'Ormarins Blanc de Blancs 2012 Western Cape

  • Genevieve Blanc de Blancs 2012 Overberg

  • La Bri Sauvage La Bri 2011 Franschhoek

The third flight was 21 blends, usually of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but sometimes also with Pinot Meunier in some cases. 'There's a wonderful diversity,' says Paul Gerber. 'It's good to see terroir differences and also a variety of philosophies.' Pieter thinks that while the Blanc de Blancs were wines that could develop in the future, these blends were more market ready. 'This is the time to drink them.'

My picks were:

  • L'Ormarins Brut Classique NV Western Cape

  • Thelema Brut 2013 Elgin

  • Graham Beck Brut NV Western Cape

  • Kaapzicht Celebration 2011 Stellenbosch

  • Le Lude Brut Reserve NV Western Cape

  • Longridge Vintage Reserve Brut 2009 Western Cape

  • Tanzanite Brut NV

  • Spier Signature 2014 Coastal Region

  • Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2012

  • Colmant Brut Reserve NV 

Then it was time for something different: a flight of 10 rosé wines. There were three that stood out to me:

  • Waterkloof Astraeus Pinot Noir NV Elgin

  • Le Lude Rosé NV Western Cape

  • Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2011 Western Cape

  • Charles Fox Rosé 2012

And then we ran out of time. Our venue was closing and we had to leave. No worries. We decamped down the road into Stellenbosch and an oyster bar, where we tasted the seven prestige cuvees. This worked perfectly. Seven isn't too many to taste without spitting, and top quality fizz and oysters is a great combination. How do you define prestige? 'I think its aspirational,' says Pieter. 'If you want to be a serious producer of MCC you have to remain aspirational. I think for all of us the divine inspiration will come from Champagne. We need to understand the philosophy of Champagne houses, and the prestige cuvees create a halo, and this halo drives everything.' 

'I think prestige cuvees are about the perceived elegance of ageing and blending, creating wines that you can drink now or in 7-10 years,' says Paul.

The prestige cuvees were quite lovely. The 2011 Graham Beck Cuvee Clive is a special wine, as is the Le Lude Vintage Agrafe 2012, which is aged under cork. I was also really impressed with the Pongcracz Desiderius 2009, which spent 89 months on its lees, and the Charles Fox Cipher. These are the wines that show the potential of MCC in South Africa. It's no wonder its such a rapidly growing category. 

Altogether, there are notes on 93 wines.

Flight 1: 

JC Le Roux Scintilla Vintage Reserve 2011
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, from Stellenbosch and Durbanville. 54 months on the lees, 5.2 g/l residual sugar. Lively, toasty and fruity with nice broad pear, apple and cream flavours. Stylish and quite polished in a richer style, but not at all overdone. 90/100

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec 2015
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Brand new release at ProWein. 49.7 g/l sugar. Rich and lively with nice apple and pear fruit. Some grape and citrus characters with nice depth. Off dry and rich, with nice personality. 89/100

Clos Malverne Brut Reserve Sauvignon Blanc NV
From Devon Valley, Stellenbosch, with 10 g/l dosage. Grassy and lively with nice fruit. A touch of grassiness with lovely poised citrus fruit and some richer tropical notes. Very attractive with a nice green edge. Clean and fruity. 88/100

Perderberg Winery Brut Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 Paarl
4.5 g/l dosage. Fresh and lively with lovely aromatics here: floral citrus fruits with some bright apples. Lovely texture with good acid, nice purity and a crisp, pithy finish. Lovely crisp acidity. 90/100

Sparklehorse Chenin Blanc 2014 Stellenbosch
Ken Forrester. 11 g/l dosage. Appley, toasty and herby with nice precision to the fruit. Bright and detailed with nice richness allied to keen lemony acidity. Some oxidative characters here. Works really well. 90/100

Filia Chenin Blanc Brut Nature 2014 Swartland
14 months on lees. Really oxidative broad, toasty, baked apple and pear fruit nose. Lively, pithy and intense on the palate: so much flavour here. Keen acidity and fresh lemony fruit add brightness to the rich, oxidative fruit characters. Very distinctive and intense. 91/100

Vrede en Lust Sarah 2016 Paarl
9.9 g/l dosage, 9 months on lees. Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. First release of this wine which aims to be more Prosecco in style. Very clean, fresh, fruity and lively with pure fruit flavours. Quite distinctive and bright, this works really well. Ripe fruit and good acidity. 88/100

Delaire Graff Sunrise NV Western Cape
55% Chenin from Stellenbosch, 34% Chardonnay from Elgin and 11% Cabernet Franc from Stellenbosch. 7 months of base wine on lees, then 15 months in the lees. 8.1 g/l dosage. Really aromatic with lovely focused citrus and pear notes. Quite floral. Lovely clean, bright fruit on the palate. Lovely citrus drive with some riper pear notes. Very convincing in a clean fruity style. 91/100

Deetlefs Estate MCC 2013 Breedekloof
8.8 g/l dosage. 85% Pinotage, 15% Chardonnay. Strongly herbal edge to the pithy citrus fruits. Lively and distinctive with a slightly creamy edge. Some green unripe characters. Not impressive. 81/100

Stellenrust Clement de Lure NV Stellenbosch
32 year old Chenin from Bottelary, 11 year old Chardonnay from Bottelary and 17 year old Cabernet Franc from Helderberg. 18 months on lees. 4.8 g/l dosage. Attractive pink colour. Lively, pithy and green with some toasty spicy notes and some cherry hints. Dense with a slightly coarse finish. 86/100 

Blaauwklippen Diva Zinfandel 2015 Stellenbosch
2.6 g/l dosage. 16 months on lees. Very fruity and lively with some herb and straw hints, as well as bright tangerine notes. Nice precision here with a lively, clean fruity character, finishing with a hint of cherry. 88/100

Wildekraans Chenin Blanc MCC 2013 Bot River
12.8 g/l dosage. Lemony, floral nose is fruity and lively with appealing pear and sweet apple fruit, with a table graoe finish. Off-dry, almost. Lovely purity. 88/100

Flight Two: Chardonnay

Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV Western Cape
This is a 2012 base with 18% reserve wines, and it is 55% Franschhoek, 45% Robertson. Very fresh and bright with pure, keen citrus fruit. Bright and fresh with a hint of pithiness. Lovely acidity. 91/100

Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2011 Cederberg
Fruity, generous nose of white peach and lemons. Generous, open, fruity palate with some tangerine, lemons and pears. Lovely fruit intensity here. 89/100

Jacques Bruyere Blanc de Blancs 2010
10% barrel fermented. Rich, toasty and peachy with some pear fruit on the nose. Has a generous, rounded palate with nice toastiness. Powerful stuff with peach and toast flavours. 89/100

Moreson Solitaire MCC NV Franschhoek
Lovely taut, fresh fruit here. Linear and focused with citrus and white peach fruit. Good precision and purity. Nice fruit. 91/100

Silverthorn The Green Man 2011 Robertson
Subtle toast and bread on the nose. Fine and expressive. Lovely spicy edge to the generous pear and white peach fruit. Has nice toasty complexity and a hint of ripe apple. 90/100

Hoopenberg Integer 2015 Stellenbosch
1.7 g/l dosage, 15-18 months on the lees. Lively, crisp and bright with some citrus pith notes, and keen lemony acidity. Tight, fruity and linear. Compact style with slightly clipped fruit. 89/100

Fligree Blanc de Blancs NV Banghoek, Stellenbosch
Made for Boutinot by Marinder Kruger van Eck. 8.3 g/l, 3.45 pH. Rich, toasty and lively with sweet, bready pear, apple and peach notes. Very rich and intense with a bit of lift. Appley and bold. A crowd pleaser. Tastes like a still wine rather than base wine made into fizz. 87/100

Waterkloof Moon and Stars Astraeus Chardonnay NV
Wild ferment, no additions, old barrels (600 litres, 9 months on primary lees, and then 2 years on lees, this is the first release). 15% 2009 with 2014 Elgin Chardonnay. Ripe, focused appley, lemony fruit with a hint of sherbet and some lemony freshness. Very rich with some toasty hints. Pithy and quite structured on the finish: made in a richer style, tasting quite natural and complex. From Elgin fruit. 91/100

Lanzerac Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch
12 months on lees with 4.8 g/l dosage. There's a lot of fruit here: it's rich and bold with some white peach and spice, as well as a bit of ripe pear. Quite creamy and bold with nice generous flavours. Nice depth here. 88/100

Pongracz Blanc de Blancs NV Western Cape
First release of this wine, 9 March 2017. Distinctive, fresh and fruity, with apples, herbs and wax. Hints of green pepper and cream with a bit of pith. Some tangerine, too. Distinctive and full flavoured but needs to harmonize more. 86/100

Steenberg 1682 Chardonnay Brut NV
From Robertson, Darling and Bonnival. 12 months on the lees. 8.9 g/l dosage. Fresh, linear and bright with nice citrus and pear fruit with a hint of peachy richness. Lovely fresh, balanced fruit here. Simple but appealing with nice balance. 89/100

Cavalli Cappriole Blanc de Blancs 2015
Unlabelled bottle, disgorged for this tasting. Crisp, tight and a bit pithy with lovely lemony fruit. Nice precision and focused with direct fruit and good balance. 89-91/100

Darling Cellars Blanc de Blanc Brut 2015 Darling
9.6 g/l dosage. Limey, lemony and pithy with some grip to the fruit. Dense and a bit structured, finishing short and pithy. Chalky and a bit bitter, but has crispness. 86/100

Waverley Hills Brut 2015 Tulbagh
Zero dosage, 9 months on lees, 100% Chardonnay. Organic. Lively lemon and tangerine nose with some herby notes. Very distinctive and fruity with lifted lemony fruit and a tangy, herby edge. Overtly fruity with a mandarin and orange peel finish. 85/100

Durbanville Hills Blanc de Blancs 2014 Durbanville
36 months on lees with 3.5 g/l sugar. Fruity and lively with nice purity, a hint of apple and nice lemony core. Fruity with a bit of toastiness. Easy and very drinkable, with a lot of fruit. 88/100

Saronsberg Brut 2014 Tulbagh
24 months on lees, with 6.9 g/l sugar. 100% Chardonnay. Pure citrussy nose leads to a crisp, fruity palate with a bit of savoury, taut herbal character. Very linear and crisp with a nice lemony core to it. Finishes zesty with some grapefruit. 91/100

Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2012 Cederberg
850-950 m above sea level. 48 months on lees, partial barrel ferment. Fresh and direct with lovely purity and balance to the lively citrus fruit. Has a subtle herb element, too. Nice focus to this wine, which is bright and nervous. 91/100

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2012 Robertson
5.2 g/l dosage. Just the cuvee juice used here. Very tight and crisp with lovely linear citrus fruit. There's lovely texture to this wine with subtle lemon and mandarin notes, and a long, linear finish. Everything is in balance here. 93/100

Villiera Brut Nature Chardonnay 2012 Stellenbosch
No added SO2. First made in 1998. Quite deep colour. Powerful, nutty and toasty with bold flavours. But it's mousy. Such a shame. No rating.

Simonsig Cuvee Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012 Stellenbosch
Just use the cuvee. 8% barrel fermented. 4-5 years on the lees. Lively and complex with nice lemon, tangerine and green apple characters. Very bright and nicely complex with a bit of development. Juicy acidity is well integrated and there's a long finish. Has subtle toast and bread characters, but at its core there's nice citrus fruit. 92/100

L'Ormarins Blanc de Blancs 2012 Western Cape
20% barrel fermeted, 4 years on lees. Darling and Elanskloof Chardonnay. Lively, bright and detailed with lovely tangerine and lemon notes. Delicate, polished, elegant and fruity with nice precision. Such an easy, balanced, fruity wine of real appeal. 92/100

Rickety Bridge Blanc de Blancs 2012 Franschhoek
5.5 g/l dosage, 40 months on lees. 15% fermented in used French oak. Toasty and generous with quite powerful toast, bread and mineral aromatics, with a hint of matchstick. Orange, lemon and peach on the palate. A rich, powerful, bold style with rich toastiness. 89/100

Genevieve Blanc de Blancs 2012 Overberg
From Bot River. 6.94 g/l. Lively with nice density of appley, lemony fruit. Quite pure with a subtle toasty edge and nice richer pear and baked apple characters in the background. Lovely weight and balance: sophisticated stuff combining richness and freshness in a seamless whole. 91/100

La Bri Sauvage La Bri 2011 Franschhoek
Three old French oak barrels were made, five years on the lees. Zero dosage. Complex, lively, tangy and lemony with high acidity and some distinctive nutty, herby notes. Juicy and vivid with some ripe apple characters, and a hint of sour cherry. So interesting with pink grapefruit on the finish. 92/100

Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2010
36 months on lees, disgorged in 2015. 7.5 g/l sugar. There's some generous toastiness here, with some nuts and spice. Broad pear and peach fruit, with some bready depth. Seductive and rich but not unbalanced. 88/100

Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blancs 2010
10% fermented in oak, 24 months on primary lees then 36 months on lees in bottle. Lively and pithy with nice toastiness as well as bold pear and apple fruit. Bold and full with lots of intensity. 89/100

Charles Fox Blanc de Blancs 2013 Elgin
6.7 g/l dosage. Wax, apples and lemons on the nose. Very bright on the palate with pithy notes and nice acidity. Has a savoury twist: lots of flavour but also freshness. 92/100

Flight Three

Black Elephant Vintners Brut NV Franschhoek
75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 2012 base. Rich but very stylish with fine, generous pear and melon fruit with some citrus brightness. Fine toastiness. Broad but focused. 91/100

Jean Taillefert Prestige Cuvee Pinot Noir 2010 Walker Bay
Fresh, lively and fruity with a bit of pithiness. Pear, citrus and cherry wityh some herbal notes. Bright and focused. 88/100

Uitkyk Glass Memories Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2012 Stellenbosch
2.4 g/l sugar. Bold with a savoury, pithy edge to the linear citrus and pear fruit. Some red cherry. A bit clipped and short on the finish. Some herb notes. 87/100

L'Ormarins Brut Classique NV Western Cape
Chardonnay from Elandskloof, Darling and Robertson, with Pinot Noir from Elandsklood, Elgin, Darling and Robertson. Crisp, fresh, bright and linear with a slight pithy edge. Very fruity and crisp with a strong citrus core. 90/100

Thelema Brut 2013 Elgin
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Elgin, 32 months on the lees, 7.8 g/l dosage. Lively and bright with some pithy grapefruit as well as mandarin and lemon notes. Crisp with faint cherry and herb notes, too. Very attractive and compact. 90/100

Asara Brut 2014 Stellenbosch
12 months on the lees, 62% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir. 7.9 g/l sugar. Crisp and lemony with a slight talcum powder and cream edge. Dairy aftertaste. Fresh fruit but the yoghurt aftertaste isn't so good. 84/100

Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut NV Western Cape
51% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir, 12 months on lees. 8 g/l sugar. Fruity, bright and lively with lemons and cherries. Some savoury pithy notes and bright acidity. Vivid and assertive. 87/100

Boschendal Grande Cuvee Brut 2013 Elgin
53% Chardonnay, 43% Pinot Noir, 36 months on lees. 8 g/l sugar. Lively and bright with nice crisp pithy notes. Lovely lemony fruit with good acidity. Quite pure and linear, showing nice focus. 89/100

Bernhardt Boyes Wines Carrol Boyes Collection Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2012 Stellenbosch
From designer Carrol Boyes. Crisp and fruity with some toasty notes alongside lemon and pear fruit. Taut with some pithy characters, and lively fruit. Juicy and lemony. 88/100 

De Grendel Brut 2014 Durbanville
70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. 7 g/l dosage. Lively pithy, lemony nose. Bright and linear on the palate with good acidity and nice focus. Very crisp and pure with subtle, delicate toasty notes in the background. 89/100

Graham Beck Brut NV Western Cape
600 000 bottles, looking to double this over five years. 80% Robertson Estate fruit, plus some Stellenbosch Pinot Noir. 6.7 g/l dosage. 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir. 15-18 months on lees. Subtle toast and cream notes alongside lovely citrus and pear, with a hint of ripe apple. Lovely pure fruit here. Has nice balance and weight with a bit of fruit sweetness. 90/100

Kaapzicht Celebration 2011 Stellenbosch
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. 1300 bottles. 6 years on lees. Complex flavours of apples, toast and pears, with some nut and toast. There's nice depth here with lots of flavour. Bold and vigorous with a savoury twist to it. Lots of flavour here: a rich style with a bit of development, but still in balance. 90/100

Le Lude Brut Reserve NV Western Cape
68% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir, 6.5 g/l dosage, 30 months on lees. Franschhoek, Bonnievale and Robertson grapes. Lively and focused with nice bright citrus and pear fruit. Very linear and compact with some pithy hints. Clean and direct, this needs time to unfurl. Lovely purity to this wine. Linear and tight. 92/100

Longridge Vintage Reserve Brut 2009 Western Cape
Over 5 years on the lees, 100% Chardonnay. Taut and linear still, but with some toasty development. Subtle herbs, baked apples and spice, alongside lovely citrus fruit. Sophisticated stuff, showing balance and development. 91/100

Nicolas Van Der Merwe Brut NV Western Cape
5.6 g/l dosage. 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. 20 months on lees. Fruity and lively with nice brisk lemon and pear fruit. Clean and direct with a subtle creamy, toasty edge. Quite sophisticated but finishes with sweet fruit. 89/100

Pongracz Brut NV Western Cape
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, 8.4 g/l. Lively and fresh with toast and herbs, and sweet cherries and lemons, backed by good acidity. Quite an edgy, herbal style but with nice sweet friuit on the finish. Lovely balance. 88/100

Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut 2014 Paarl
4.9 g/l dosage, 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay. Has a herby, slight tangy lemony edge with some savoury, nutty notes. Fresh lemony finish. 86/100

Ayama Brut 2010 Western Cape
78% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir, 24 months on lees. Fine toast, a hint of baby vomit/muesli and some lemony fruit. Bright with some apple and toast with a juicy, lemony finish. Appealing and open, with a distinctive personality. 89/100

Villiera Brut NV Stellenbosch
Complex and rounded with toasty pear and peach fruit as well as some ripe apple. Quite bold and full with a sweet core to the fruit. Pleasant and appealing. 87/100

Tanzanite Brut NV
Robertson and Stellenbosch. Made by Melanie van de Merwe. 80 % Chardonny and 20% Pinot Noir, 2 years on the lees. Bright, very fruity and appley with floral citrus and pear fruit, as well as some tangerine. Pure and expressive with lovely ripe citrus fruits as well as some brioche. Really rich and yet in balance at the same time. 92/100

Spier Signature 2014 Coastal Region
6.5 g/l dosage. 10% barrel fermentation. Creamy, lemony nose leads to a complex, bright palate with nice lemon, pear and baked apple fruitiness, as well as a bit of fresh-baked bread. Nice lemony finish. Very well made and quite tasty, showing some sophistication. 90/100

Survivor Brut 2011 Swartland
85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir. Four years on lees. Lively, fresh, complex, herbal and toasty with some pear and peach fruit. Quite rich with some lemony notes keeping the finish fresh. Creamy, toasty, generous and distinctive. 89/100

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2015
The first MCC made in 1971, but it was so bad Frans hid it and reintroduced it in 1979. 4% Pinot Meunier with the balance Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 15 months on the lees. Fresh and bright with nice lemons, wax, toast and herbs. Lively and focused with bright fruit at its core. Lovely presence here. 89/100

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2012
Lively, lemony and toasty with nice precision and weight. Very fruity and lively with some nice toasty complexity. Fine herbal notes. There's some pear and white peach sweetness on the finish. Full flavoured, refined and broad. 90/100

Van Loveren Christina Van Loveren NV Robertson
8.5 g/l dosage, 73% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir. Very lively, fruity and appley with generous fruit and a subtle toastiness. Seems open, easy and quite sweet. Easy to drink. 86/100

Villiera Tradition Brut NV Stellenbosch
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 8% Pinotage and 4% Pinot Meunier. 3 years on the lees. 7 g/l sugar. Lively and fruity with nice direct spice and toast hints as well as pear, apples and lemons. Lovely fruity wine with subtle herbs and nice complexity. Fresh and focused. 89/100

Colmant Brut Reserve NV
52% Pinot Noir, 48% Chardonnay. Lovely freshness here: pure and fine with lemons. Some herbs and nice purity. Very lively with pure lemony fruit. Stylish and direct. 91/100

Villiera Brut Natural 2011 Stellenbosch
No added sulfites. Rich pear, grape and ripe apple, with lovely sweet fruit. Some toast, a hint of cider and some milky notes too. Distinctive, and with real focus. 89/100

Flight 4 Rosé

Charles Fox Vintage Brut Rosé 2012 Elgin
50% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 25% Meunier. 8.1 g/l dosage. This has 8% red wine. Pale orange/pink colour. Taut and crisp on the palate with lots of herb, fennel and red cherry notes and brisk acidity. Has a taut savoury edge. 90/100

Perdeberg Pinot Noir Rosé 2013 Paarl
2 years on lees, 5.4 g/sugar. Bright and fruity with tangy cherry and strawberry fruit, as well as some herbiness. Lively and lemony on the finish. 83/100

Pongracz Rosé NV Western Cape
9.4 g/l dosage. Full pink colour. Fruity and lively with nice tangy hints. Some citrus and cranberry here with herbs and tangerines. Fruity and direct, with a nice sweet finish. 88/100

Waterkloof Astraeus Pinot Noir NV Elgin
Pale orange/yellow colour. Very dry and complex with notes of straw, herbs and spice. Tangy and fruity with a lovely savoury dimension. Nice precision here, with plenty of personality, combining baked apple with nice citrus fruits. 91/100

Boschendal Brut Rosé NV Coastal Region
30% Pinotage, 20% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Pale salmon pink. Bright and vivid with tight crisp cherry and pear fruit. Still shows some sulfur dioxide from disgorgement, which was in January. Let this rest. 87/100

Le Lude Rosé NV Western Cape
Blend of Champagne varieties. 6% Pinot Noir red wine. 5.5 g/l sugar. Full pink/orange colour. Lovely crisp fruit here with tangy, bright lemons and cherries. Has lovely balance and focus with lovely finesse and bright fruit. Brisk and delicious. 91/100

Steenberg 1682 Pinot Noir 2014 Western Cape
Pale pink. Very fruity with a herby edge to the slightly rhubarb-tinged tangerine fruit. Very fruity. 88/100

Steenberg 1682 Pinot Noir 2015 Darling
12 months on lees, 8 g/l dosage. Bright pink colour. Herb-tinged with nice clean, simple red cherry and cranberry fruit. Nicely fruity and pure, this is quite smart with a slightly sweet finish. 88/100

Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV Western Cape
Pinot Noir/Chardonnay. Light pink colour. Lively, bright and fruity with red cherries and citrus, as well as a bit of melon. Very fruity with lovely balance here and a hint of sweetness. Very fine. 90/100

Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2010 Western Cape
Open sweet cherry fruit with a hint of almond. Warm, rounded and pure with nice sweet fruit and some sappiness. Fine and expressive with a savoury edge. 91/100

Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2011 Western Cape
Pale salmon pink in colour. Very fine with lovely toasty complexity under the pear and spice fruit. Nice finesse with some toast, pear and cherry notes. Very stylish and elegant. 92/100

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé 2015 Stellenbosch
35% Pinotage, 2% Pinot Meunier, 63% Pinot Noir. Distinctive with tangerine, herbs and red cherries. Fruity and tangy with nice balance here. Appealing and fruity. 88/100

Colmant Brut Rosé NV
2013 base, 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Full pink colour with a hint of orange. Fine fresh redcurrants and cherries. Tart and juicy with lovely fresh cherry and plum fruit. Direct and pure. 90/100

Lothian Brut Rosé Pinot Noir 2015 Elgin
Deep coloured. Minty, herby and slightly deviant with red cherries and plums. Not nice. 80/100

L'Ormarins Brut Rosé 2013
Fresh and a bit sappy with a nice leafy edge to the red cherry and plum fruit. Very expressive and lively with nice focus to the pure, open fruit. Nice green notes and a hint of tangerine. 89/100


Flight 5 - prestige cuvees


Charles Fox Cipher 2012 Elgin
50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir, with 30% barrel ferment (just chardonnay). 4.5 years on the lees. Dense, vivid and focused with lovely savoury grip. Spice, apples, pears. Lovely precision with good acidity and intensity. Some almond and ripe apple on the finish. 92/100

Silverthorn Jewel Box Cuvee Kappa Crucis 2012 Robertson
This is a blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. Some of the Chardonnay was barrel fermented, and the wine spent 42 months on lees. Dosage is 6 g/litre. Stylish stuff: ripe and grippy citrus fruit with a hint of sweetness. Very pure with amazing fruit quality. Generous style. 91/100

Krone The Phoenix NV Tulbagh
This is a blend of 2004, 5 and 6 vintages. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 5/1 g/l dosage. Appley, rich and toasty with pear, nut and almond flavours. Quite rich with a waxy edge. 88/100

Le Lude Vintage Cuvee 2012 Western Cape
This is a blend of Bonnievale and Robertson fruit with a bit from Franschhoek, too. Pristine, linear and pure. Very tight with brisk citrus fruit (lemon and lime) and keen acidity. Lovely intensity here. 93/100

Le Lude Vintage Cuvee Agrafe 2012 Western Cape
This is aged on lees under cork and is sealed with a metal clip. Lovely delicacy. Fine, subtle toasty lemons and pears with nice structure and acidity. Precise with tight citrus fruit and lovely focus. 94/100

Graham Beck Cuvee Clive 2011 Western Cape
This is all about super selection, and it is aged 5 years on lees. Disgorged end of 2016. Very complex and nicely toasty with some spice, ripe apple and citrus fruit. Fine and expressive with lemons, pears, some baked apple and a lovely precise, taut personality. Complex and intense. 94/100

Steenberg Lady R 2011 Western Cape
65% Pinot Noir from Darling and 35% Robertson Chardonnay. 4 years on lees. Tight and aromatic at the same time with floral, fruity notes. Very fresh and lemony with grapefruit and herbs as well as some cherry notes. Good precision here. 91/100

Villiera Monro Brut 2010 Stellenbosch
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 6.1 g/l dosage. 5 years on the lees. Nice rounded sweet fruit with some creme brulee and nice citrus. Tangerine and pear fruit. Appealing and fruity, and quite smooth. 91/100

Pongracz Desiderius 2009 Stellenbosch
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 5.1 g/litre dosage. Disgorged after 89 months on the lees in September 2016. Fine, fresh and toasty with nice lemon and pear fruit. Lively with real finesse. Subtle toast and good balance with some bruised apple and citrus character. 93/100

Boschendal Jean de Long Prestige Cuvee 2007 Coastal Region
100% Chardonnay with 2 g/l dosage and 100 months on the lees, disgorged April 2016. Very fruity and pithy with bright citrus and pear fruit. Some bitter notes alongside the appela and lemon fruit with tautness and precision. 91/100

VIDEO: Commentary on the different flights with Pieter and Paul


See also:

Grand Champagne tasting
Graham Beck

Wines tasted 03/17  
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