Bubbles for our brand new year. Why not celebrate all year round?
Here are a few suggestions for you. One for the teetotalers out there, 2 for those of you with a sweet tooth, 3 for those of you who like something new and exciting, 3 for those of you who like it traditional and honest.
And finally – the best-value 'French Champagne' in SA.
JC Le Roux Le Domaine Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine (R40.95 from major retailers)
I am still a little confused as to why this isn’t labelled ‘White Grapetiser’ as this, in effect, is what it is. But according to Elunda Basson, winemaker at JC le Roux, this is a proper wine which has had the alcohol removed before being carbonated. It is perfectly pleasant - being fresh, grapey and not overly sweet.
Sweet Meander Moscato NV (R35 from the farm)
A very creditable attempt to break into the exploding American market for this easy-drinking, slightly-sparkling style of wine. It has a nice light 7.5% alcohol and it will make you look cool with the trendista’s who are hailing Muscat as the next big thing. Frothy and fun with nice packaging as well and a nice price.
Four Cousins Blush Sparkling Rose NV (R45 from the farm)
A hugely popular pink fizz which goes down great guns with anyone who likes it. Nice colour and very smart packaging are the hallmarks of this wine as well as offering great value for money – it is a Van Loveren wine after all! Excellent with strawberries.
New Kids on the Block
Viljoensdrift Villion NV (R75 from the farm)
A delicious bubbly made from Chardonnay and coming from Robertson – well, that’s a story we’ve heard before. But what makes this wine stand out is the length of time on the lees: 3 years – and then the price, which is extremely good for a wine of this calibre. Dry and tasty with lovely bubbles and a fresh, clean finish. Bargain.
Charles Fox Brut Rosé 2010 (R220 from the farm)
This estate in Elgin plans on making nothing but bubbles – which is fine by me! Owned by Charles and Zelda Fox, they are one of the few farms in SA to actually grow some Pinot Meunier – 5% of which is in this wine. The rest is Pinot Noir and the result is an elegant, sophisticated bubbly ideal for oysters.
Silverthorn Jewel Box 2009 (R224 from the cellar)
When the winemaker cites his influences as Krug and Bollinger, you know you have a serious bubbly on your hands. Made from mostly Chardonnay with a little Pinot Noir, this is the richest of the three Silverthorns, offering toasty, yeasty flavours with citrus, nuts and honey. Absolutely decadent and completely delicious.
Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2008 (R109.95 from the farm)
Smart new packaging raises the game on these bubblies from the KWV-owned farm in Paarl. They also make a pink and a normal brut, but this is my favourite for its yeasty tang and rich mid-palate. If you’re looking for a food wine, this is probably your best bet.
Villiera Monro Brut 2007 (R130 from the farm)
Five star classic and thoroughly well-deserved. To my mind, spending the extra R50 up from the normal Villiera Tradition is completely worth it – not that the Tradition isn’t also nice, but this just takes it to another level. Persistent bubbles, yeasty, salty tang, long, complex dry finish. Stunning stuff.
Pongracz Desiderius 2008 (R255 from major retailers)
This is the latest vintage of this wine – just released after spending a full four years on the lees to make a really tasty, yeasty, brioche-y wine. Made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, the vintage before it (2003) picked up sheaves of awards and this one looks as if it will do the same too.
The Best-Value French Champagne in SA
Woolworths Comtesse Alexia Brut NV (R285 from Woolworths)
Yes – I know you only get Champagne from France but I’m just clarifying the subject okay? This is such a corker of a wine and such good value for money that I could happily drink it all the time.
I’ve been using it for my wine courses and it is just perfect, showing lovely yeast autolysis, persistent bubbles and a lovely savoury, dry finish. You could pay twice as much as this and you’d only get half as good a wine from most other Champagnes around. An out and out bargain.