With its interest in Cap Classique, Amorim keeps a close eye on developments in this exciting local wine category. At Le Lude, a new producer in Franschhoek, wine-maker Paul Gerber is a pioneer in fermentation of Cap Classique on cork.
According to Paul, this process – Agarfé – leads to a more complex and unique development of flavours and mouth-feel. “The main reason for this is the difference in the rate of exchange of gases that takes place when the bottle is closed with a cork for the secondary fermentation and aging compared with crown-cap,” he says. “It leads to a wine with a unique character, and in Champagne some of the houses such as Bollinger, Krug and Tattinger still use it.”
And, indeed, it was a visit to Champagne which convinced him to try his hand at maturing MCC directly on cork. “Le Lude owners, Nic and Ferda Barrow, send him to Champagne each year to continue learning the art of bubbly production during last year’s visit whilst working in the Côtes de Blanc he tasted Champagne aged under Agarfé. A producer – Pascal Agrapart from Avize – makes ranges aged both under cork and crown-cap, and the difference in the two wines was amazing. The wine under cork fermentation showing a unique expression of the terroir. He just had to try making it myself!”
At Le Lude, portions of MCC are fermented and aged under both cork and crown-cap in both 750ml and 1500ml. The research data from this will be shared with the University of Stellenbosch so as to accuratly asses the impact on the chemical composition of the wine and the changes that have occured. The wine spends a minimum of 30 months in bottle, and the corks are especially imported by Amorim for this purpose. The first batch is from the 2012 harvest and will be available to market in 2015.
Another dimension to South Africa’s MCC heritage is only to be welcomed.
Amorim SA – Newsletter March 2013