Lloyd Jusa is Eat Out magazine’s sommelier of the year for 2016. As the wine manager at Douw Steyn’s Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa, he advises celebrities of the wattage of American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest on what to drink with culinary creations from the pans of David Higgs and Luke Dale-Roberts, who popped up in the kitchen earlier this year. (David has since opened his own restaurant in Rosebank called Marble, with Head Chef Candice Philip working in collaboration with Luke at The Saxon). Downstairs is Qunu, under the eye of Executive Chef Jane-Therese Mulry.
When it comes to French fizz, Lloyd plumps for Drappier, made from grapes grown in Urville, in the Champagne region of France, on vines originally planted by the Romans 2 000 years ago. The cellars of the Champagne house were built in 1152 by Saint Bernard, who also founded Clairvaux Abbey, one of the crown jewels of medieval architecture.
This connection between church and Champagne is a natural one as the stuff was invented by a monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, who could taste the angels in the bubbles of his Champagne.
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For a local sparkler, Lloyd recommends Anura 2011 Brut (R200 from anura.co.za) – a creamy blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown on the estate in Paarl with some grapes trucked in from Robertson.
Robertson, the valley of wine and roses, is ground zero for quality Chardonnay in the Cape on account of the limestone soils, which also make the area suitable for breeding race horses as the calcium from the limestone is good for their bones.
You can almost taste the minerality of these soils in this wine. Bone dry with no sulphur added, it is suitable for those with allergies and is a perfect match for tuna ceviche. It’s a perfect starter enjoyed next to the negative-edge swimming pool while watching hadedas foraging for earthworms on the Saxon’s rolling lawns.
This bubbly was also the overall winner of the recent Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, which this year attracted 115 entries, confirming just how popular sparkling wine has become.
Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to 93 wines at a lunch at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town in September. Although eyebrows were raised when the Cape’s three finest bubblies – Cuvée Clive 2009 from Graham Beck, Domaine des Dieux Rose of Sharon Rosé 2009 and the Villiera Monro Brut Prestige Cuvée 2009 – only scored bronze.
Jusa is the wine manager at Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst, Johannesburg.
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- City Press