4 great bubblies for the festive season
01 January 1970
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Welcome to Old Mutual Live Wine edition, on mobile, on digital, on demand. Thanks for listening, I’m Jenny Crwys–Williams . What do you do with four top sommeliers at Christmas time? It’s EasyPeasy. You ask them to suggest a Cap Classique sparkling wine or a wonderful champagne for us to celebrate with. I asked sommeliers Joakim Blackadder, Greg Mutambe, Lloyd Jusa and Wikus Human to do the choosing.
I’m chatting to Joakim Blackadder who chose all of the wines for us for November. I asked him to put together what he thought would be the most wonderful bubbly for Christmas. Joakim, what have you chosen and tell us why?
Le Lude Rossouw Brut Rosé
Joakim Blackadder: Well, I’ve chosen the Le Lude Rossouw Brut Rosé, a non-vintage sparkling wine made in Franschhoek by Paul Gerber. He’s a fantastic winemaker. If you want a sparkling wine that’s similar to champagne, then the Le Lude would be one of the closer options I would say.
JCW: Why are people talking about it? Everybody is talking about this bubbly?
JB: They pretty much came out of nowhere, so we didn’t see anything coming in the market from Le Lude beforehand. They started up and they’re focusing only on sparkling wines and the quality is just outstanding. You can’t get that value for money if you go abroad.
The style is pretty much the same as champagne, the minimum time that all his bubblies spend on the lees is 36 months. They mature the wine a little bit differently, under a different type of closure. That’s under natural cork instead of a crown cap beer bottle. It makes a massive difference to how the wine develops in the bottle.
JCW: Joakim, what do we get on the nose? Tell us the taste?
JB: This is the beauty of sparkling wines that’s made in the style, that you get a fantastic floral fragrance. It’s a variety of rose petals and white flowers and a lot of soft red fruits, raspberries is what I associate to it. But it’s obviously up to each and every one to find what aroma tickles their mind. It’s one of those things you can’t really dictate what people should pick up. But raspberries is definitely something that I perceive in the wine and grapefruit.
JCW: It sounds absolutely wonderful, toasted hazelnuts, notes of red I’ve got here in front of me?
JB: Exactly, that comes from the time that the wine spends on the lees in the bottle. It’s a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle, builds up the carbon dioxide. Nut also gives the specific flavour that you get in sparkling wines that you don’t get in normal still wines. That bready and hazelnut character develops.
With age they will become almost mushroom-like. It doesn’t sound so nice in the wine, but it’s actually delicious. It’s a most savoury profile. It’s great food wines and you can use it for toasting or cheering around Christmas time but it’s delicious to drink with a variety of food.
JCW: It sounds totally wonderful and because I’m hearing it from just about everybody I’m speaking to, I’m going to be in the queue. I’m going to get a couple of bottles of this, it sounds lovely.
JB: Fantastic, they don’t produce much, so you better get some before it sells out.
JCW: Let me give you the details of Joakim Blackadder’s wine and it does sound absolutely lovely. It’s Le Lude Reserve Brut Rosé non-vintage.
Silverthorn The Green Man 2014
I loved Joakim’s choice of fizz, what I wonder has Sommelier and Deputy Manager of Marble, Wikus Human chosen for us. Wikus?
Wikus Human: Excellent. The sparkling I’ve chosen is quite interesting, it’s actually a new vintage. It’s the Silverthorn The Green Man 2014. The wine farm originates in the Robertson’s area and the winemaker here is John Laubscher. John Laubscher has been making bubbly for a few years now.
This bubbly he’s making is absolutely fantastic. I mean The Green Man is 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc, of course. Spends about a minimum of 24 months on the lees. It just brings through these nuances of green apple, acacia blossom, freshly baked brioche. Carrying through onto the palate with the same flavours of acacia blossom, elegant mousse, the alcohol in this wine 12%, absolutely amazing.
JCW: Does he only do the Chardonnay, he doesn’t have any Rosé at all?
WH: He does the Rosé as well, it’s called The Genie which is 100% Shiraz. Also spends quite a bit of time on the lees and then he also makes a blend which is called The Jewel Box. Which is a Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend, if I’m correct.
JCW: 24 months on the lees, is this becoming common?
WH: I think everyone is maybe trying to do the French champagne style, spending a bit more extra time on the lees. I think it just gives the wine, once again, that brilliant, elegant mousse onto the palate. It gives it a bit of creaminess, a bit of that brioche flavour.
JCW: I think it sounds absolutely lovely and it sounds really refreshing as well. Presumably you can drink this on its own as you can with just about any bubbly?
JCW: Wikus Human chose The Silverthorn, The Green Man 2014 vintage.
Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc 2009
I’m curious to find out what Greg Mutambe’s choice of a festive bubbly is. He’s the Head Sommelier of The Twelve Apostles hotel where the wine list he has assembled is close to a work of art. But he’s also Chairman of the Black Cellar Club.
He’s chosen one of our bubblies for the festive season and that’s Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc 2009. It’s got four and a half stars, by the way, in Platters 2016. I haven’t checked out 2017. It’s also organic and biodynamic, so over to you Greg Mutambe, tell us.
Greg Mutambe: Yes, so I’m really excited about the Avondale Blanc de Blanc 2009 Armilla. It’s a great product because there’s some very careful thought that went into this winemaking sort of way of doing things. It starts in the vineyard where it’s all done organic. The grapes are organically done. Then it transforms into the cellar where there’s very minimal intervention. Due to the large express it’s true self without too much man intervention.
The wine is matured in some oak casks in the first fermentation for about two years. Then the second fermentation which produces the magical bubble in the bottle and was matured for another three years, easily. That makes the bubbles tinier and it gives it a beautiful brioche and citrus that you get. It is really a work of fun because you can only get the bubble with prolonged maturation on the lees.
JCW: In all, you’re talking about five years?
GM: That’s correct.
JCW: That’s a huge investment, so what do you get on the nose?
GM: What you get is this beautiful citrus, brioche and a bit of spice that you get. What’s exciting is that once you sip the wine, the flavours follow through to the palate. What’s exciting is this nice, fine bubble cuts through and spreads across your palate and this beautiful refreshing after-taste.
JCW: I was going to say, that after-taste, does it linger at all?
GM: It does, it lingers forever. But what’s more important is that it invites you to sip another sip, so a really exciting one.
JCW: I think we seem to be making the most astonishing Cap Classique’s in South Africa at the moment and all of them have been on the lees or in the barrel for at least 2-3 years.
GM: Yes, by law it should be around 9 months – 12 months to make it bubbly, but most of these producers, the ones that really want to produce quality, most of them do a minimum of 18 months. In this case they also have gone much longer and it’s for the benefit of the brand.
Because if you want to be taken seriously on a world platform, definitely we have to produce something in this quality of Avondale Armilla. I just think that we need to obviously reward our producers by obviously champagne, there’s space for it, but I’m sure we can drink instead.
JCW: Listen, it sounds absolutely fantastic and obviously with those citrus flavours it would go nicely with a pleasantly stuffed turkey, wouldn’t it?
GM: Yes, absolutely.
JCW: Greg, thank you very much indeed and I hope you have a fantastic festive season.
GM: Thanks so much, have a great one too.
JCW: Greg Mutambe, thanks for joining us. The Avondale Armilla, Blanc de Blanc 2009 is Greg Mutame’s choice.
Krug Grande Cuvée
Let’s go now to Lloyd Jusa, Head Sommelier at the Saxon. All its many other enterprises, all the Mercedes Benz Eat Out Sommelier of the Year 2015. Lloyd, you’ve chosen a bubbly you describe as indisputably the most majestic non-vintage Cuvée, share it with us.
Lloyd Jusa: Well, I’m a huge fan of Krug. First of all, this is blended from 10 different vintages and 47 wines from 25 villages. The palate is dominated by honey and masked with graceful acidity and a long finish. I just think this is one of the finest examples of what it is to move beyond the borders of vintage bubble.
Krug has been around for so many years and I just think it sort of sets the standard so high for many other producers. Who produce wine year after year without being limited by weather conditions or whether or not a vintage is good. I just think this is an icon, in its own class.
JCW: I’m interested in the number of years that they age the wine. It stays on the lees for between 5-7 years and that’s a huge economic investment isn’t it?
LJ: It is a massive investment. I think the founder of Krug, Joseph Krug many years ago described it as ‘champagne number one.’ I think he wanted to go beyond just bubbles, he wanted to go beyond just having another bottle which would just be counted among many other producers.
I think what you’ve got in a glass is a wine that is of enormous quality. A wine that is unrivalled in its own style. So you’re looking at presenting something that is worthy of its craft. That’s why they’ve gone the extra length to make sure that this is aged for as long as its aged. That it goes through barrel aging as well, without any malolactic fermentation to ensure longevity.
JCW: What do you get on the nose with this?
LJ: You get quite a number of flavours, honey and there’s also a little bit of nougat, some barley sugar, some jellied and citrus fruits. I got almonds, I got some brioche and definitely honey does stand out a bit.
JCW: Okay, you also talk about its brightness; just explain that because I would have thought that all champagnes, by definition, have got to be bright.
LJ: You see, when you’re talking about a clarity, particularly in champagne, you’re looking at many other factors as well. But in terms of brightness, I just think it’s a little bit more of a greenish tinge to it, you know. That’s why I think it’s much brighter compared to others. But also the barrel aging gives the wine a bit of a golden core in the middle, which is really unique. That’s why I just think it’s quite a fantastic bubbly in terms of appearance.
JCW: Lloyd, would you drink this on its own? Just for the sheer pleasure of drinking it or would you insist on having it with food?
LJ: Nothing wrong with drinking it on its own, I think its superb, I would do it. But again, I find it to be an excellent accompaniment to many different dishes, particularly seafood oriented dishes. I think it’s very versatile in terms of textures that it can go with. I think you can drink it in a celebratory mood or you can just have it with some food.
JCW: Just remember, Lloyd Jusa chose the Krug Grande Cuvée. Thank you for listening to Old Mutual Live Wine edition. Get in touch with comments, questions or suggestions at email@example.com and please, put ‘Wine Edition’ in the subject line.