Charles Fox, sparkling wine specialist from Elgin

You’d think that Elgin, with its cool climate, is well suited to sparkling wine production, although not many people make it here. I visited MCC specialist Charles Fox for a tasting.

Charles Fox is a rarity in Elgin: a sparkling wine specialist. The well situated vineyards are now spread over 9 hectares, with three of these only recently on stream. As well as using the grapes for his own production, he sells some too. Production is currently 30 000 bottles a year, but there’s capacity in the underground cellar to produce 50 000. Most of the production is vintage, although he started making Non Vintage in 2018.

The vineyards
Chardonnay ready to pick

Fox came to South Africa at the end of 1975. He’d been brought up in Zambia from the age of three. He was born in Wales; his father was a mine worker. Interestingly, Charles was a swimming champion at a fairly young age, and swam for Zambia in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The wines are very impressive, and are among the best sparkling wines from South Africa.

Charles Fox Vintage Brut 2013 Elgin, South Africa
A blend of 37% Pinot Meunier with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 7.8 g/l residual sugar. Has some apple and pear richness with subtle toast and nice bright acidity. Crisp but also full flavoured with bright lemony fruit as well as some nutty richness and a bit of apple. 90/100

Charles Fox Vintage Brut Rosé 2012 Elgin, South Africa
50% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier. 8.3 g/l dosage. Pale orange/pink colour. Taut and crisp on the palate with lots of herb, fennel and red cherry fruit, with some pear richness. Nice brisk acidity. Has a taut, savoury edge. 90/100

Charles Fox Cipher 2012 Elgin, South Africa
A Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend. 30% oak (just Chardonnay). 6.9 g/l dosage; 4.5 years on lees. This is from the best vineyards and best juice and best barrels. Dense, vivid and focused with lovely savoury grip. Has spice, apples and pears with nice precision and good acidity. Good depth and intensity here, and notes of almond and apples on the finish. 92/100

Charles Fox Blanc de Blancs 2013 Elgin, South Africa
Wax, apples and lemons on the nose. Very bright on the palate with some pithy notes and nice acidity. Lots of flavour, but also freshness. 90/100

Wines tasted 02/18

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