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50 Years of Sparkle for Cap Classique
Hey friends! Welcome to September, welcome to Spring, and welcome to a very exciting month for all of our proudly South African Cap Classique producers…
If you’ve been following along here for a while, you probably already know how much I love a glass of bubbly, and so when I was asked to join in the fun of celebrating 50 years of Cap Classique in South Africa, I was over the moon. I don’t think we realise how spoilt we are to have such incredible bubbly and wine producers in this country, and so giving a nod to some of my favourites this month is an absolute joy and privilege.
Over the next 4 weeks I’ll be sharing paired recipes that I’ve created especially for the wonderful people at Steenberg Vineyards, Boschendal, Charles Fox and L’Ormarins. There are also two mixed cases of their beautiful Cap Classique up for grabs, so keep an eye on my Instagram feed to make sure you enter to stand a chance to win.
And in the mean time, here’s a little bit more about the Cap Classique journey over the last 50 years…
“2021 is a milestone year for the SA wine industry, as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Cap Classique category, the Cape’s famous bottle-fermented sparkling wines. From modest beginnings, based more on hopes and dreams than anything else, Cap Classique has grown to become one of South Africa’s leading wine sectors.
Although carbon dioxide-injected sparkling wine had been made in South Africa for decades, it was not until legendary Stellenbosch winemaker Frans Malan visited the Champagne region of France in 1968 that any producer had considered giving their wine a sparkle through the age-old classical method of Champagne. Malan, owner of the famous Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, was infatuated by the processes he saw in the Champagne cellars. Especially as he was an expert in chemistry, finding the magic of secondary fermentation in the bottle and the creation of bubbles nothing short of magic.
Upon his return to South Africa he procured rudimentary equipment, built his own riddling racks, and from the Simonsig harvest of 1971 single-handedly made a natural bottle-fermented sparkling wine. The grape variety? Chenin Blanc, at that time by far the most prolific white variety to be found in the Cape vineyards.
This first Cap Classique, released in 1973 by Simonsig under the name Kaapse Vonkel (“Cape Sparkle”) was the catalyst for a movement that today has over 250 South African producers throughout the Cape winelands crafting this exuberant wine style.
Initially based on Chenin Blanc, the majority of today’s Cap Classiques are made using the classic varieties for this wine style: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in some blends. The wines express a variety of different terroirs, geographical diversity being one of the Cape’s calling cards. From the limestone rich soils of Robertson, the mountains of Stellenbosch and cool maritime regions of Elgin and Hemel-en-Aarde, Cap Classique wines offer an enticing array of terroir expressions.
With more than ten million bottles produced annually, Cap Classique has built a strong presence in the South African wine industry as these sparkling wines are enjoyed as much in the country’s export markets as they are in their home country.
That’s why the bottles are already on ice, the tributes being written and the excitement growing for 2021 and the celebration of 50 years of Cap Classique”
I can’t wait to pop a few corks and join in the fun!