Amorim Cap Classique Challenge Creates Sparkle for MCC

 Unlike Gerard Depardieu, I have not quite hit the 14 bottles-a-day mark. My rebuilt wrist simply clams-up on the cork-screw upon opening the ninth, whence I am forced to call it quits.

Consumption is, however, made limitless when the fizzy stuff is around. When it comes to Champagne, Cava and Cap Classique I can outdrink most comers, an insatiable appetite driven by one-part thirst and one-part pure unbridled affection for a bit of bottle-fermented grape-juice. Ice cold. From dawn to dusk, and beyond.

The 2014 Amorim Cap Classique Awards, recently held at the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, served as a welcome reminder of how great South Africa’s version of Dom Perignon’s apparent discovery is.

Unlike the seven judges I did not have to trawl through 101 entries so cannot comment on the overall picture. But at the function the six winning Cap Classiques were given a good going over, and like some of the blonde figures attending the party, they were stunning, loud and easy. The only difference being that the wines kept their labels on.

The complete results can be scrutinised here, but two wines really stood out and I was chugging them back at such a rate that my wrist was aching before we hit the main course.

Cap Classique Winners.
Cap Classique Winners.

The Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2010, winner of the Amorim Cap Classique Trophy for Best Vintage Blanc de Blancs is an absolutely great glass of bubbles. That appealing and life-affirming whiff of a breadiness is there, but this gushes forth in a tight, clean and brisk torrent of stone-fruit and green quince. The balance between fruit and acidity is so spot-on you can hit the glass with a tuning fork and it will zing for a week.

All this refinement in flavour is complemented by a persistent bubble that lifts the spirit, makes everything look clearer and convinces you the world is, indeed, a better place. This is why the good fizzy stuff is so cool and popular and fashionable – it tastes of the thrill of life.

Anyone sitting in a corner by his or herself nursing a glass of bubbly with a sour look on the face just has to be a complete doos.

Laborie, okay. Great Blanc de Blancs.

The second wine that gave me the stirrings of a semi, was from Graham Beck. The one that took the Best Vintage Rosé Trophy, namely for the Brut Rosé 2009. (They also won the Non-Vintage Rosé class.)

I am not a huge fan of Pinot Noir-dominated bubbles, preferring the more expressive presence of Chardonnay. However, as we all know by now 2009 was a comet vintage and in this Rosé from Graham Beck, something special is going on.

Great structure, texture, bubble, mousse and froth. But the Pinot Noir brought an enticing savoury element to the wine, making this one of the most cerebral Cap Classiques I have tasted of late. There was a touch of characteristic raspberry confit, a whiff of sun-dried apple blossom and just the slightest dose of croissant pastry. But the structure was almost adult and wine-like, with a hit of maritime saltiness on the finish.

Allan Mullins discussing lees contact with Liezel van der Westhuizen at this year's event.
Allan Mullins discussing lees contact with Liezel van der Westhuizen at this year’s event.

What a terrific example of Cap Classique, and a suitable homage to the tradition of the sparkling wine that began in Champagne.

Yes, when it comes to Cap Classique the quality box has been ticked. As are the boxes of diversity and ability to age – as shown by the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2004, Amorim Museum class winner which was still as full of verve as a Blue Bulls rugby player after his weekly steroid injections.

But as a category, more cohesive marketing woema is needed to push Cap Classique forward. Spread the love, share the excitement. Give Fizz Fever. For it is one wine that can’t keep its head in a bubble.

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