One of Franschhoek’s most popular annual events is the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday. Close to 50 top Champagnes and MCCs (Méthode Cap Classique) will be available to taste, as is food supplied by Franschhoek restaurants.
The theme is ‘Black and White‘, with an emphasis on spots and stripes, and bubbly fans will be enjoying ‘The Magic of Bubbles‘ on what is forecast to be a perfect weather weekend. Not only will MCCs from Franschhoek be on show, but top sparkling wines from other regions and Champagnes will be too.
Veuve Clicquot winemaker Pierre Casenave will be at the brand’s stand between 12h00 – 13h00 on both days. Other Champagne brands available for tasting are Billecart- Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, and Tribaut.
The 40 well-known MCC producers pouring their bubblies are Pierre Jourdan, (more…)
One of the cleverest ideas for a new restaurant and champagne bar is MCC Franschhoek, and it is appropriate that its opening co-incided with the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival this weekend. MCC Franschhoek is a showcase of 34 Franschhoek sparkling wines of 14 Franschhoek producers.
The brainchild of Philip and Christy Harrison, previously managing De Huguenot Estate, MCC Franschhoek allowed the couple to work with a beverage they love best. Christy told me that Philip loves cooking, having started to do so in Majorca, after studying accountancy. Both Philip and Christie owned a Weatherspoons outlet in Heathrow, but moved back to Cape Town thirteen years ago, Philip managing The Galley in Fish Hoek. They moved to the design of wedding stationery, and it is Christy who designed the stylish logo for MCC Franschhoek. Due to the closure of the De Huguenot restaurant and Harry Q Bar at De Huguenot Estate (to be run as a wedding and event venue only in future), Philip and Christie took part of their share of the venture in kind, and therefore they have the stylish silver-upholstered chairs, black bar chairs and tables, and couches from De Huguenot restaurant, which are spread out in the courtyard of the Village Square. Each table has the MCC range and price list, and a perspex salt and pepper grinder stand. Quality material serviettes and Fortis cutlery are stylish.
Alleé Bleue (Brut Rosé), Boschendal (MCC Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rosé, MCC Grande Cuvée Brut), Cape Chamonix (MCC Blanc de Blancs), Colmant (Brut Reserve, Brut Rosé, Brut Chardonnay), Dieu Donné (Maingard Brut, Rose MCC), Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena Brut, Brut Rosé, Cuvée Catherine, Malabar Shiraz), Graham Beck (Brut, Brut Rosé NV and 2008, Bliss Demi Sec, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Zero), GM & Ahrens (Cap Classique), Hauté Cabriere (Pierre Jourdan Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée Reserve), La Motte, Môreson (Miss Molly, Solitaire, Gala, Pink, One), My Wyn, Stony Brook (The Lyle), and Topiary (Blanc de Blancs Brut) sparkling wines are sold by the bottle, while a select number of bubbly brands can be bought by the glass, advertised on a blackboard. Prices start at R110 for Miss Molly, peaking at R650 for the GM & Ahrens. Surprisingly (given its name), a number of wines are offered too, and many are non-Franschhoek. Protea Sauvignon Blanc, Glenwood Sauvignon Blanc, Haute Cabrière Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, Beyerskloof Pinotage Rosé, Glenwood Shiraz Merlot blend, Graham Beck Game Reserve, and Guardian Peak Shiraz are all available by the glass, reasonably priced in a range from R20 – R35.
MCC Franschhoek opens from 8h00, and serves well-priced breakfasts, one paying per item (e.g. 2 eggs, bacon and toast costs R47); muesli, yoghurt and berry coulis, and a croissant with cheese and preserves cost R20 each. There is no breakfast cut-off time. The ‘Bites’ menu has a mix of salads (R45 – R65), sundowner platters (R50 – R75, and includes oysters, cheese, cold meats, and biltong), main courses, and desserts (R35 – R45), which can be ordered throughout the day. I ordered a perfectly prepared Franschhoek salmon trout served with boiled potatoes, and a crispy fresh asparagus salad (R75). Other main course options are sirloin steak and prawns in a beer batter, also costing R75. One can also order beef lasagne, mussels, an open chicken Satay burger, and two tarts. The menu will be updated and amended regularly.
I was impressed with the scale of the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival in showcasing the leading bubbly brands for sale in this country. It is held at the Huguenot Monument, which attracted 2000 bubbly-lovers yesterday, and more are expected today between 12h00 – 17h00. Eight champagne brands (Billecart Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon Brut Tradition, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, Tribaut Brut Tradition, and Veuve Clicquot) presented their precious bubbles, as did 37 local sparkling wine producers. Staff representing the local brands Allée Bleue, Avondale, Bon Courage (in beautiful Carrol Boyes coolers), Boschendal, Bramon, Chabivin, Colmant, De Wetshof, Dieu Donné, Domaine Des Dieux, Francois la Garde, Genevieve MCC, The House of GM & Ahrens, Graham Beck, Groote Post, JC le Roux, Krone, Laborie, La Motte, Nicolas Feuillate Champagne for Woolworths, Morena, Môreson, My Wyn, Namaqua Wines (Guinevere very deep pink, with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, all 3000 bottles exported), Pierre Jourdan, Pongracz, Quoin Rock, Rickety Bridge (new 2010 release, 50% each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with only 3500 numbered bottles produced from Franschhoek grapes), Ross Gower, Saltare, Silverthorn, Simonsig, Steenberg, Sterhuis, Villiera, Weltevrede and Woolworths Wines all looked chic in their black and white outfits, the dress code of the Festival, which most attendees honoured too. There were surprisingly few Franschhoek restaurants represented (Le Quartier Français, Mont Rochelle Country Kitchen, Haute Cabrière, Roca Restaurant, and the Salmon Bar), and the food was generally of a disappointing quality, given the theme of the Festival. An exception was the sushi, salmon and other canapé platters made by new Le Franschhoek Hotel chef Oliver Cattermole.
MCC Franschhoek, 3 Village Square, 53 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel 083 772 9449/083 391 3869. No website. Twitter: @MCCFranschhoek Wednesday – Monday, 8h00 – until late, weather dependent.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
A most beautiful as well as informative coffee table book about South Africa’s sparkling wine industry has just been published. ‘Celebrating Méthode Cap Classique’ has been written by Di Burger, and is the first complete bubbly book.
The book traces the history of champagne to South Africa’s sparkling wine industry, which innovated with Cap Classique forty years ago, being a bottle-fermented bubbly made in the traditional French style. Kaapse Vonkel was made for the first time by pioneer winefarmer Frans Malan at Simonsig in 1971, while ‘Cap Classique’ wines were made for the first time in 1992. Chairman of the Cap Classique Association, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines, writes in the introduction to the book that ‘South Africa has the oldest grape growing soils in the world’. Combined with its bountiful sunshine, the Western Cape is a perfect location for growing grapes of excellent quality for the production of Cap Classique.
Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is the term which describes the South African bottle-fermented production of sparkling wines in the French méthode Champenoise style. They are dry, with less than 12 grams of sugar per litre.
The book includes profiles of the major sparkling wine producers (Simonsig, Boschendal, Graham Beck, JC le Roux, Pongrácz, Villiera, Haute Cabrière, The House of Krone, Laborie, Backsberg Estate, Avondale, Bon Courage Estate, Van Loveren, De Wetshof, High Constantia Wine Cellar, Steenberg Vineyards, La Motte, Morena MCC, Saronsberg, Colmant, Veenwouden Private Cellar, Mooiplaas, Quoin Rock Winery, Chabivin, Klasiek by Catherine, Namaqua Wines, MC Square, Domaine des Dieux, Lourensford, Old Vines Wine Cellars, Neil Joubert, Teddy Hall, Welteverede Wine Estate, Charles Fox, Francois La Garde, Longridge, Silverthorn Wines, Genevieve, LovanE Boutique Wine Estate, Saltare Wines, Tanzanite Wines, Ros Gower Wines, Wonderfontein, Cederberg Private Cellar, Riebeek Cellars, Groot Constantia, Dieu Donné Vineyards, Roodezandt, Aurelia MCC, Bramon, Viljoensdrift Wines, Sterhuis, Perdeberg Winery, Véraison MCC, and Allée Bleue Estate).
The book describes four styles of making sparkling wines: the ‘impregnation method’ (injecting carbon dioxide into vats of still wine); the ‘tank method’ (second fermentation in tank instead of in the bottle); the ‘transfer method’ (second fermentation in bottles, the cloudy wine is sucked out of the bottle through a filter to remove the sediment); and ‘Méthode Cap Classique’ (second fermentation in the bottle, with a solution of sugar syrup, yeast and aged wine added to create carbon dioxide and alcohol in the bottle, aged on the lees for 18 months – 5 years). In total, there are 90 sparkling wine producers in South Africa, of which 53 are featured in the book. Grape cultivars used most often in the production of sparkling wines are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Beautiful photographs by Riehan Bakkes reflect the vineyards, cellars, and products of the wine estates producing sparkling wines.
Woolworths’ Allan Mullins recommends serving a glass of bubbly at the start of a function, to ‘awaken the taste buds’. Food and Cap Classique pairings for breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the book, and recipes by TASTE and Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly are featured, as are recipes from Simonsig’s Cuvée restaurant, The Salmon Bar, David Grier, and Terra Mare Restaurant. Pairings with Lindt chocolate desserts, and cheese are also featured, as are cocktail recipes with sparkling wine, created by the Cape Grace Hotel.
‘Celebrating Méthode Cape Classique’, Stacked Publications, www.stackedpublications.co.za. Tel (021) 685-2146. R300.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage