Méthode Cap Classique Report

Goode and Ring report on South Africa’s most vibrant wine category: MCC (for Méthode Cap Classique, the name used for traditional method sparkling wine from the Cape, now frequently referred to as Cap Classique). This includes notes from an extensive tasting of these wines.

Last November, Goode and I were fortunate enough to join a number of MCC producers in Somerset West prior to the annual Magic of Bubbles weekend. Though we couldn’t make the actual event in Franschhoek, Pieter Ferriera, chief winemaker for Graham Beck and one of the world’s leading sparkling winemakers, organized a comprehensive tasting for us on the Friday morning, prior to our flight back to England that evening. *We did a similar comprehensive MCC tasting back in June 2017. Joining Pieter were a number of MCC producers, coming together for a peer review and open discussion about the category. We caught up again with Pieter and a number of producers in mid-May 2020 on Zoom.

MCC is the catchy shorthand for Méthode Cap Classique, the category for traditional method sparkling wines in South Africa. Though the name sounds distinctly French, it was coined more than 20 years ago, in 1992, by the fledgling Cap Classique Producers Association (CCPA), an organization that Pieter chairs today. At that time, a group of quality sparkling winemakers came together in an effort to differentiate themselves from the sea of cheap tank fermented and CO2 injected fizz flooding the market. The name references the Cape (Cap) while also making an association with strong French Huguenots heritage of the country. ‘Cap’ also has a double meaning as the closure for the secondary ferment in bottle. Most producers refer to their style as Cap Classique, though internationally, and especially for emerging markets, MCC is a snappy and easy-to-recall name that sounds fresh and can be seen as distinctly South African. 

The category is vibrant, growing 18% over last year, and doubling every four years. There are now 106 producers in the association (out of 252 MCC producers in the country, up from 96 in 2018). 73% of all MCC remains in the country, while the UK is the largest export market, followed by the US, Germany, The Netherlands, and Sweden, making up 70% of the total exports. In 2018, 15 million bottles of MCC were made and either sold or laid down. Demi-sec, or Nectar, as called in South Africa, is on a rapid rise. *Canada was 13th for MCC exports in 2019. 

Any grapes are allowed, though the classic fizz grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are dominant. Wines must spend nine months on the lees and a total of twelve months in bottle. The goal is to up the minimum lees time to fifteen months in bottle, although implementation of this change has been stalled for a few years now. The CCPA hope to change that, with a new marketing campaign to highlight the importance of time in the making of quality South African sparkling. The marketing push is running simultaneously alongside another collective CCPA lobby for changes in legislation governing the production of Cap Classique.

2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of traditional method sparkling wine in South Africa, commemorating Simonsig’s vintage 1971. Already discussion is occurring about how to mark the event, and the collaboration that has taken that singular fizz into the active MCC category today. 

Currently, of course, the wine industry – and especially South Africa’s – is stalled by Covid-19. Over Zoom, we chatted about MCC’s prime position in a middle price bracket, above cheap and cheerful Cava and Prosecco, and tucked below premium English Sparkling Wine and Champagne. This middle price tier is a great place to land heading into a global recession, and with the average quality of MCC quite good, as evidenced by our November tasting, the category looks to be secure. Now it’s up to the producers, and their importers, to effectively communicate what makes these wines unique. 

Here is our take on the state of MCC today, and our complete notes from late November 2019.

Blanc de Blancs

Overall a very impressive category, with a lowering in dosage, sharper focus, and dialled in balance between the acid / fruit / sugar. Exciting wines across the board.

Steenberg 1682 Chardonnay Brut NV, WO Western Cape
Fruity and expressive with bright citrus notes as well as some peachy richness. Vivid, bright and pithy with some zesty lemony notes. Juicy and fruit driven with some subtle toast. 89/100 (JG)

12%. Crisp, green and yellow apple, sharp stone, bright and tight. Lovely balance and energy with fine shimmering hum on the finish. 90/100 (TR)

Colmant Blanc de Blancs NV, WO Western Cape
45 months on lees. Taut and zesty with lively lemony fruit and good acidity. Subtle bread and toast notes, with a pronounced nuttiness and pithiness. Taut and savoury with great precision and laser-sharp focus on the finish. 91/100 (JG)

45 months on lees, 12%. Crisp and bright. Green edged, with a lovely cushion of dough, lees. Very well balanced. Great savoury biscuit through the long, focused finish. Shimmering, salted edge. Bright and brisk acidity. 92/100 (TR)

Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs NV, South Africa
Matured on the lees for seven years. (JG)


Silverthorn The Green Man 2016, WO Robertson
29 months on lees. 29 year old vineyard on shale and limestone. Dosage 7 g/litre, acid 7 g/l. This is tight and focused with a herby, pithy edge to the lemony fruit.  Has a lovely acid line and brightness. 91/100 (JG)

29 yo vineyard, super shale and limestone. 29 months aging on lees. Sharp stone, riffing lemon / green apple peel atop a light bed of lees. Nice generosity on the palate, fine energy. 7 g/L dosage, TA 7g. 92/100 (TR)

Genevieve Blanc de Blancs 2015, WO Cape South Coast
Botrivier fruit, two Chardonnay vineyards, four years on the lees, 6 g/l dosage. Crisp and focused with bright pear and lemon  fruit with some lemon zest and a hint of nuttiness. Quite dense on the palate. 90/100 (JG)

From 2 Chardonnay vineyards in Botrivier, 4 years on lees. Approx. 6 g/L. Very chalky, with red apple pith, sharper acidity, big tight toast. Nice expansiveness on the palate. Quite sharp on the finish. Lick of caramel. 12.5%. 91/100 (TR)

Genevieve Blanc de Blancs Zero Dosage 2015, WO Cape South Coast
Toasty and pithy with nice brightness.  There’s a lovely fruity richness here: white peach and pear with some hazelnut too.  This has a nice level of non-fruit complexity. 92/100 (JG)

12.5%. Very sharp on entry, with broken stones, lemon pith, big grippy sides, sharp and high toned green apple. Very long on the finish. 90/100 (TR)

Villiera Brut Natural 2015, WO Stellenbosch
No additives up to the second fermentation, made without any added sulphites. Toasty and broad with a nice bready depth to the pear and peach fruit. Has nice depth and harmony. 91/100 (JG)

Natural primary ferment, no SO2. Chardonnay. Noting some mousiness on the rear. Red apple on a full and flatter palate, with sharp green apple nipping the sides. Some parmesan notes. 87/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2015, WO Robertson
100% estates fruit, whole bunch pressed, cuvee fraction, 50% barrel fermented as a texture builder. No malolactic. Four years on lees, disgorged May 2019. 5.5 g/l dosage. Bright, focused and juicy with linear citrus fruit. This is zesty and bright with nice intensity to the fruit and lovely acidity. Pure and refined. Subtle green hints in the background. 93/100 (JG)

Estate fruit, various clones, WB press, cuvée then into barrel, 50% barrel fermented, with no MLF. 4 years on lees, disgorged May 2019. Dosage 5.5g/L though Pieter feels market not fully ready for Extra Brut at the moment. Green apple, tight riff of stony lemon grip acidity to maintain freshness and brightness. Lovely tight nervy grip that lingers on the finish. 93/100 (TR)

Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs  2014, WO Stellenbosch
Just the first pressings. Fermented in stainless steel, no malolactic, five years on lees. 5 g/l dosage. Bright and linear with a subtle toasty edge to the lemon and pear fruit. Very focused with nice acidity and a long lemony finish.  92/100 (JG)

Estate fruit. Stainless tank ferment, no MLF. 5 years on lees, then 4 years on cork prior to release. Sharp swing of oxidative toastiness cutting through the lemony / orange fruit. Wider, expansive orange on the finish, with some fresh and snappy tangerine notes on a long finish. 5 g/L. 90/100 (TR)

L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs 2013, WO Western Cape
Darling and Villiersdorp. 20% of the blend fermented in barrel (just for 12 weeks), no malolactic, and then four years on the lees. 7 g/l dosage. Bright, juicy and zesty with a very subtle creaminess complementing the crisp lemony fruit. Very fine and pure. Mineral and delicate. This is really good. 93/100 (JG)

From Darling’s granite soils with clay, and also their estate farm in Tukulu, and decomposed shale. 20% barrel fermented, partial new, for 12 weeks, then 4 years on the lees. 7 g/L. No MLF. Nice orange threaded fruit, with lemon pith, grapefruit around a lovely core. Very elegant and fine, with a slick of anise that runs through. Impressive 93/100 (TR)

Pieter Ferreira Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2012, WO Western Cape
Robertson and Darling grapes. Maiden vintage. 6 years on lees. 4 g/l dosage. Complex, fine, toasty citrus fruit on the nose.  The palate shows lovely fruit intensity with some spicy, mineral framing and bright acidity. Fine toast and nuts, too. This is beautifully layered and refined. 94/100 (JG)

Inaugural vintage. Robertson and Darling fruit was fermented in mix of stainless and small amount in barrel. Saw a minimum of 6 years lees contact, and dosed with 3-4 g/L. 2000 bottles made. Lovely tight stoney focus, with fine line of broken stone lees, tight, nervy fruit, but still a classic chalky and leesy core. Lovely savoury completeness, with lengthy echoes on the finish. 94/100 (TR)

Pieter Ferreira Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2013, WO Western Cape
Disgorged this week. Pithy, bright and linear with grapefruit and lemons, and fine toasty notes. So precise and pure, but also with great concentration of flavour. Has a saline, mineral edge. Lovely density. 94/100 (JG)

Disgorged yesterday. 6.5 years on lees, 3.4 g/L dosage. Quite deep flavours, some light caramel notes, with some riper red apple notes padding out the green apple and stones. Light perfumed apple blossom notes. So young, and obv needs time in bottle for proper assessment, but very much looking forward to seeing where this goes with time. 92/100 (TR)

Domaine des Dieux Cuvée Anna Louise 2011, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
2 g/l dosage, disgorged August 2018. Concentrated, toasty and rich but with the sweet pear and peach fruit offset by the high acidity. Rich and multidimensional with some pith and string acidity. 92/100 (JG)

2g/L dosage, disgorged Aug 2019. Quite ripe and oxidative, with much dough, ripe, round baked apple, lovely brioche note throughout and a brisk acidity to counter that. Riff of spices on the finish. 90/100 (TR)

Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Blanc de Blancs 2011, WO Robertson
6.5 g/l dosage. Broad and toasty with nice soft texture. Has appealing pear and peach fruit with nice depth and intensity. A big but balanced wine. 90/100 (JG)

30 year old vines when harvested, from a single vineyard (now since scrubbed up). WB pressed, 9 month on lees before bottling in stainless (10% oak), Then 7 years on lees. Disgorged Dec 2018 with 6.5 g/L, 7 TA. Deep lemon hue with scents of tangerine, orange pith and peel. Lovely expansive and complete palate. 92/100 (TR)

Paul René Chardonnay Brut 2016, WO Robertson
24 months on lees, dosage 7.9 g/l. Mostly limestone soil. Pithy and bright with nice  intensity to the pear and peach fruit.  Has a crystalline citrus quality, too. Some bready notes and a bit of pith on the finish. Very appealing. 91/100 (JG)

Classy packaging with ribbon over the top of the cork. 24 months on lees, 7.9g/L dosage. From mostly limestone soils. Lovely fine lemon curd, pith, orange and tangerine notes. Bright brisk limestone acidity holds this svelte wine taut and fresh through the finish. Impressive energy. 92/100 (TR)


The largest category, with ample variance of grapes and style, though Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and increasingly Pinot Meunier, take the lead. According to Pieter, a second clone of Pinot Meunier, 598, will be available in 2021, as it’s resting in quarantine now. The current clonal material is not great quality. The new PM will play a good role in the wines 10+ years from now. “I’m gaining respect for Meunier”, says Pieter. Over in the Blends, dosage is generally higher and the wines safer / more accessible than Blanc de Blancs. Would be nice to see more chances taken with this category to raise excitement.

Krone Twee Jonge Zellen 2018, WO Western Cape
Only do vintage wines. Mostly Robertson and some Tulbagh. 73% Chard, 27% Pinot Noir. 9 months at least on lees, 8 g/litre dosage. Bright, linear and focused with a slight pithy edge to the pure citrus fruit. Very lively and direct. 89/100 (JG)

Only vintage wines produced here. 83% Chardonnay, 27% PN. 9-12 months on lees, 12 g/L dosage. Red apple perfume, grippy spicing, very doughy on the finish. Nice generosity, with a bracket of spicing. Nice fresh apple as well to brighten. 89/100 (TR)

Graham Beck NV, WO Western Cape
A blend started 30 years ago. 80% of the fruit is home grown. 2018 bottling. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 15 months on the lees, 6-10% reserve wine, perpetual modern solera. 8-8.5 g/l dosage. Brisk and bright with juicy citrus fruit. Shows some pear and lemon notes.  Very focused and direct. This is delicious. 90/100 (JG)

Classic, consistent and accessible. 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir coming 80% from their Robertson estate, and spent 15 months on the lees. This has 6-10% reserve wine from a perpetual reserve, and was dosed with 8 g/L. This bottle was disgorged April 2019. Red apple, toasted brioche, richer lemon, light cherry fill a creamy palate, lightly spiced to a generous finish. 89/100 (TR)

Pierre Jourdan Brut NV, WO Western Cape
5.2 g dosage. 90% Chardonnay. 2018 vintage only. Zesty and bright with nice citrus focus. Linear and zippy with nice precision to the fresh fruit. Good acidity here. Linear and intense with a zesty edge. 90/100 (JG)

91% Chardonnay, 9% PN, with fruit partially from Franschhoek. 5.2g/L, 6.5 TA. Sweeter pear, peach fuzz, yellow apple and tight spicing flows long in the mouth, with a lemon zest finish. 88/100 (TR)

Villiera Tradition NV, WO Stellenbosch
Chardonnay (60%), Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinotage. No barrels. 18 months on the lees. 7 g/litre dosage. Do full malolactic. Toasty and zesty with lovely richness to the citrus, pear and peach fruit. Has a lovely brightness on the finish. Very accessible. 90/100 (JG)

Chardonnay (60%), along with PN, PM, and Pinotage. Full MLF, and 18 months on lees and 7g/L dosage. This is the winery’s biggest seller. Round and creamy, with red apple, dough, brioche and a touch of meringue. Friendly and accessible. 89/100 (TR)

Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut NV, WO Western Cape
Boschendal farm plus Elgin and Darling. 2018 (80%) and reserve component (20%, 3 and 4 years old). 58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, 14 months at least on lees, 10 g/l rs, no malolactic. Nice focus here with a sweetness to the pear and citrus fruit. Has an easy-drinking style with nice pure fruit. This is rich and accessible. 88/100 (JG)

80% from 2018, with the remainder reserve wines from the previous 3-4 years. Fruit comes from Elgin and Darling, but predominantly Boschendal farm. 58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, with No MLF, a minimum of 14 months on lees, and dosed at 10 g/L. Pretty pear blossom, apple blossom, and perfumed orchard fruit. The lack of MLF helps counter the riper, richer fruit here that fills a softer palate. 88/100 (TR)

Charles Fox Reserve Brut NV, WO Elgin
There’s 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier in the blend. 18 months on lees with some reserve wine. Zesty, bright and lemony with a real citrus zip to the wine. Really bright and zesty. 91/100 (JG)

Champagne winemaker Nicolas Forlet was brought on board to help expand their MCC range. 60% Chardonnay, 30% PN, 10% PM spent 18 months on lees, and was tipped with some reserve wine. Quite sharp and direct through the linear palate, with orange, apple blossom, dried apple, and great fine spicing on the finish. 91/100 (TR)

Colmant Brut Reserve NV, WO Western Cape
Paul Gerber, ex-of Le Lude, started with Colmant 9 months ago, and will be bringing his special touch for fruit precision and leanness to the wines. Together with JP Colmant, they will be experimenting with aging under agafe, and also larger format bottles. 6.5 g/l dosage, 28 months on the lees, half/half Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Crisp and linear with nice sweet pear and citrus fruit with nice acid line. Fresh and linear, showing nice depth of fruit. Direct with nice precision, but also some richer fruity notes. 90/100 (JG)

Le Lude star winemaker Paul Gerber came on board at Colmant earlier in the year, to tweak a number of existing things, and introduce some new things (like magnums, and a site specific reserve tier) to the range. “It was a great lifestyle and creative opportunity”. This blend of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir came from a mix of regions, and was blended with 31% from a perpetual reserve. This spent 28 months on the lees before a 6.5g/L dosage. Lovely broken stones, green apple, run the tight form, with a slight generosity to the palate. 90/100 (TR)

Kleine Zalze Brut NV, WO Western Cape
60% Chardonnay (Robertson), 40% Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch), minimum 12 months on lees. 100% malolactic fermentation. 8 g/l dosage. 2018 vintage. Bright and focused with a slight pithy edge to the zesty citrus fruit. Has a juicy quality showing nice purity and a hint of sweetness. 88/100 (JG)

60% Chardonnay, 40% PN, from Robertson and Stellenbosch, this 2018 vintage wine went through full MLF and spent 12 months on lees before an 8 g/L dosage. Sharp orange, stones, bitter edged citrus is caught with tight, grippy edges which house a generous orchard fruit core. Searing acidity leaves this a bit disjointed. 88/100 (TR)

Kleine Zalze 2013, WO Western Cape
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, on lees for five years. 4 g/l dosage. Rich and toasty with a bready edge to the pear and peach fruit. Lively and pretty with good depth. Stylish with good creamy, bready complexity. 89/100 (JG)

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were fermented in stainless with full MLF, and spent 5 years on lees and 1 year in bottle before release. 4 g/l. Quite serious, with broken stones, peach fuzz, lemon freshness, filtered with a fine, lovely savoury component and threaded with fine line of acid to the finish. 91/100 (TR)

Spier Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2017, WO Stellenbosch
60% Chardonnay (20% barrel fermented), 40% Pinot Noir, two years on the lees. Fresh, rounded, some nice spicy framing to the apple and lemon fruit. Has a nice briskness to the fruit. Crisp and well defined with nice fruit. 88/100 (JG)

60% Chardonnay (20% of which was barrel fermented), 40% PN, spent 2 years on lees and was disgorged June 2019. Simple, direct, and easy with yellow apple, pear, and spiced dried apple notes. 88/100 (TR)

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2015, WO Western Cape
Sourced from Elgin and Darling but most of the blend is from the estate. Has the three varieties. Been made since 1972, the first MCC. No malolactic but some barrel ferment, aged for two years on lees and two on cork. 5 g/l dosage. Zesty, lemony and bright with lovely lemony fruit. This is zippy and bright and really classy, showing purity and focus. 92/100 (JG)

This was the first traditional method sparkling in South Africa, back in 1971 vintage. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier came from the estate as well as Elgin and Darling. 10% of the Chard spent 30 months in French oak, and none went through MLF. In bottle this spent 2 years on lees, and 2 under cork before disgorgement with 5 g/L. Quite elegant and poised, with a very smooth mouthfeel carrying lemon, light biscuit, tight pear. Very harmonious and complete. 92/100 (TR)

Charles Fox Vintage Brut 2015, WO Elgin
42 months on lees. Lively and bright with nice precision. Very lemony and fine with grapefruit, lemons and herbs with nice pithiness and precision. Juicy and mouthwatering with keen acidity. 92/100 (JG)

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a splash of Pinot Meunier spent 3 years on the lees. A hint of oxidative tiredness creeping through with dried apple. Big orange and citrus through the richer palate, with ample acidity to lift the full body. 91/100 (TR)

Domaine Des Dieux Claudia Brut 2012, WO Elgin
Traditional blend, 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, 6 years on lees. 6 g/l dosage. Complex creamy, bready, toasty edge to the pear and peach fruit with some apple hints. Zesty and fine with nice richness. Has some depth and finishes soft and broad. Very stylish. 92/100 (JG)

Estate vineyards in Hemel-en-Aarde are supplemented with some other Elgin fruit. 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir spent 6 years on lees and was disgorged January 2019 with 6 g/L. Lovely mushroom notes, fine earth run this savoury, palate with fine spicing, subtle apple, dried pear, and ample length. Lovely umami complexity. Very distinct. 92/100 (TR)

Villiera Monro 2013 Stellenbosch
Chardonnay (60%, half fermented in barrel) and Pinot Noir, with a bit of Pinot Meunier. Full malolactic, 7 g/l dosage. Crisp and zesty on the nose with toast and nuts. The palate is powerful and rich with bright acidity, and crisp citrus notes. Very lively and intense, but with lots of toasty richness. 90/100 (JG)

Chardonnay (50% barrel fermented with bâtonnage) and Pinot Noir are tipped with 5% Pinot Meunier, and go through full MLF before 6 years on lees. 7 g/Ldosage comes from a solera system. Sharper, with bitter searing orange acidity ruling dried apple, toast. Big in the palate, though slightly disjointed at this stage. 88/100 (TR)

Bon Courage Jaques Bruére Brut Reserve 2012, WO Robertson
Seven years on the lees. Dosage 5 g/litre. Bright, concentrated, pure and zesty with some crystalline citrus fruit. Some bread and toast, but it’s in the background. Generous and appealing with a hint of sweetness. This is nicely intense. 91/100 (JG)

The glass bottle was imported from France, and it certainly stands out. 60% Pinot Noir / 40% Chardonnay (10% of Chard was into barrels), and all from limestone based soils. This spent 7 years on lees, and was disgorged in September 2019 with 10 g/L dosage. Lovely toast, red apple, and crystalline orange, come together with great balance on the cushioned palate, lingering with alluring meringue. 92/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Brut Zero 2012, WO Western Cape
70 months on the lees, Pinot Noir heavy blend. Chardonnay from Robertson and Pinot Noir from Stellenbosch. Complex and nutty with a savoury edge to the pear and peach fruit. There’s a brightness here with compact nutty, toasty characters. Lots of interest here. 91/100 (JG)

77% Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch), 28% Chardonnay (Robertson), this spent 70 months on lees before disgorgement with 0 dosage. Tight green apple brightens a very lees-laden palate, with a light slick of caramel, and butterscotch. Lovely sharpness and focus, if a little fuzzy around the toasty sides. 91/100 (TR)

Wildekrans Chenin Blanc 2015, WO Bot River
The property was bought in 2007, and now make two Cap Classiques. 80 year old block. 10 g/l dosage. Fresh fruity nose with aromas of herbs, melon and pear. Juicy and vivid on the palate with a touch of sweetness on the finish. Ripe pear and a touch of apple, with fruit to the fore. Very attractive. 88/100 (JG)

The polyculture farm property was purchased in 2007, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was planted in 2009 into their 70ha vineyard. This wine comes from an 80 year old vine block, and was dosed with 10 g/L. Quite sharp up front, with perfumed red apple, pear, focused spicing. Dried fruits, some pretty orange notes through the finish. Feels a bit heavy / wider. Some caramel on the finish. 88/100 (TR)

Wildekrans Brut Rosé 2016, WO Bot River
Newly planted vineyards: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and both are half each in the blend. 8 g/l dosage. 22 months on lees. Very pale salmon pink in colour. Supple, leafy sappy edge to the cherry and citrus fruit with a gently fruity quality and some nice balance. Stylish. 89/100 (JG)

A new winemaker here, and his first MCC, though he has been in the industry for 20 years. Newly planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards spent 22 months on the lees, and was dosed with 8g/L. Sharp, tight, dried raspberry, dried strawberry come across grippy and fine, with a lingering salted finish and alluring raspberry perfume. Recently disgorged. 89/100 (TR)

Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut NV, WO Western Cape
Chenin, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc from 2017, 22 months on lees. Sold at the estate, 90% by the glass at the restaurant. 6 g/l dosage. Zesty, bright and lively with juicy citrus fruit and some pear richness. Lovely acidity here with a crisp finish. Has a hint of pithiness, too. 89/100 (JG)

Chenin, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc from Elgin and Stellenbosch, and the 2017 vintage, spent 20 months on lees before a disgorgement with 6 g/L (11 TA). Lime pith, lemon streaks across the tight, brisk and fresh orchard fruit palate, right through the stony finish. This bottle came from the second disgorgement. 90/100 (TR)


Wide range of styles here, as well as dosage levels.

Krone Vintage Rosé Cuvée Brut 2018 Western Cape
83% Pinot Noir, 17% Chardonnay. 9-12 months on lees, 8 g/l dosage, direct press. Tulbagh and Robertson. Zesty and bright with crisp acidity and nice focused cherry and citrus fruit. Mouthwatering and pure with crisp acidity. Very stylish and bright. 89/100 (JG)

83% Pinot Noir and 17% Chardonnay comes from Tulbagh and Robertson. This spent 9-12 months on lees, and was dosed with 8 g/L. Pouring a salmon hue, this carries sharp raspberry, some early bitter green notes. Brisk and fresh to the shorter finish. 89/100 (TR)

Simonsig Kaapse Zonkel Brut Rosé 2018, WO Stellenbosch
76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinotage. No malolactic. 14 months on lees. 6 g/l dosage. Very pale colour. Has a delightful sappy green edge to the cherry fruit palate with some lemony brightness. Fruity and direct, and very pure. 90/100 (JG)

76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinotage were cofermented in stainless, with no MLF. This spent 14 months on lees, and was disgorged with 6 g/L. Cured meat, sharp cherry, raspberry is grippy around the edges, and streams through the brisk finish. Quite sharp though very direct. 90/100 (TR)

Kleine Zlaze Brut Rosé NV, WO Western Cape
2018 vintage, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay both from Stellenbosch. 100% malolactic fermentation, 12 months on lees, 9 g/l dosage. Bright and fruity with a nice mandarin edge to the pretty, zesty citrus fruit. Very stylish and fruit driven. 88/100 (JG)

From the 2018 vintage, this is Stellenbosch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and goes through full MLF before 1 year on lees. Dosed with 9 g/L. Faint raspberry and strawberry show bright and crisp, with tight framework. Grapefruit acidity and pithiness holds the youthful fruit juicy and brisk. 89/100 (TR)

Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé NV, WO Western Cape
80% Robertson fruit, 5.5 g/l dosage. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Chardonnay. Bright pink, with nice zesty citrus and cherry fruit, with some redcurrant notes. Very zesty and linear with keen acidity supporting the pretty fruit. Juicy and vivid. 88/100 (JG)

80% Robertson fruit is complemented by Franschhoek in this 93% Pinot Noir / 7% Chardonnay fizz. After 12 months on lees, this was dosed with 5.5 g/L. Quite potent and correct with iris, lime, cranberry and sharp citrus around the sides to a shorter finish. 87/100 (TR)

Villiera Tradition Brut Rosé NV, WO Stellenbosch
Colour created with the addition of red wine (Pinotage). Full malolactic, 18 months on the lees. Dosage 8 g/l sugar. Very fruity with a sweet edge to the toasty, mealy cherry and pear fruit. Mouthfilling and quite rich with a spicy, minty edge. Delicious. 89/100 (JG)

This comes by its rosé hue with 2% Pinotage blended in. Full MLF, and 18 months on lees, this was dosed with 8 g/L. Perfumed musk, with florals, cherry, fleshy raspberry, this is sharpened and shorter on the spiced finish. Simple. 87/100 (TR)

Steenberg 1682 Pinot Noir Brut NV, WO Western Cape
Mostly Darling. 10-12 months on lees. 8.5-9 g/l dosage. Zesty and vivid with nice citrus brightness and some strawberry and cherry fruit. Very fruity and easy with a touch of sweetness. 89/100 (JG)

This Pinot Noir rosé is predominantly Pinot Noir from Darling, with a little fruit from Robertson and 2% still wine. This spent 10-12 months on lees, and was dosed with 8-9 g.L Deeper in hue, this fruity pink carries ample wild raspberry, strawberry, shearing stones. Quite sharp and peppery on the finish. 88/100 (TR)

Colmant Brut Rosé NV, WO Western Cape
JP Colmant only does NV wines and minimum 22 months on lees. Mostly Elgin and Roberston. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 28 months on the lees. Adds 10-12% Pinot Noir for the colour. Full pink colour with a hint of orange. Lovely strawberry and cherry fruit here with nice purity and focus.  Has some spicy complexity and a hint of herbs. Lemony finish. Textured. 92/100 (JG)

Before master fizz vintner Paul Gruber came on board earlier this year, Pieter Ferriera had been JP Colmant’s unofficial advising sounding board since day 1. The house makes only NV wines, with a minimum of 22 months on lees. This wine was mostly Elgin for Pinot Noir (75%), and Robertson for Chardonnay. Deeper pink hue, probably reflective of the 12% still red wine from the estate. Quite focused nose and entry through the sleek palate, with wild cherry, and strawberry, held bright and tight with riffing acidity. Alluring strawberry meringue lingers on the finish. 92/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Brut Rose NV, WO Western Cape
8-12% reserve wine. 50% Pinot Noir (80% Robertson, 20% Slanghooek in the Breedekloof), 50% Chardonnay (Robertson). 15 months on lees. 2017 bottling. Colour comes from the shake rattle and roll in the journey. 8-9 g/l dosage. Fruity, pure and vivid with nice raspberry and cherry.  Has some nice sweetness that adds texture. Very fine and fruity. 89/100 (JG)

A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay (Robertson estate) and Pinot Noir from Robertson and Breedekloof, this was tipped with 8-12% reserve wine and spent 15 months on lees, disgorged in September 2019, with 8-9 g/L dosage. Bittersharp apple, raspberry, bitter cherry, with a great riffing acidity on the finish. Lovely tight frame, with a plump core. 89/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Vintage Rosé 2014
85% Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch), 15% Chardonnay (Robertson). Four years on the lees, disgorged April 2019. Co-pressing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay together. This stabilizes the colour, according to Pieter. Four years on the lees. Lovely complexity here with herbs, spice, mandarin and pear notes, as well as a touch of apple. Has a delicious wild strawberry edge to the fruit. Very stylish and broad, but with some nice focus. 92/100 (JG)

85% Pinot noir (Stellenbosch) and 15% Chardonnay (Robertson estate) spent 4 years on lees before disgorgement in April 2019. The grapes were co-pressed, stabilizing the colour. Quite upfront and potent, with red apple toast, cherry brioche, big fruit, and ample flavours. Potent and punchy, with ample spices on the finish. 91/100 (TR)

Boschendal Brut Rosé NV, WO Western Cape
9-10 g/l dosage. Pinot Noir (60%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinotage (10%). The Pinotage adds the colour more, as well as some of the fruitiness. Sometimes they add a little red wine too. 14 months on lees. Pale salmon pink. Nice weight and texture here with a bit of toast and spice as well as some pear and strawberry fruit. Stylish and refined. 91/100 (JG)

20% reserve wines flush out this Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinotage blend, predominantly from the estate, and with 14 months on the lees. This was dosed with 10g/L. Ripe, lightly sweet red fruit is layered with light toast over a big red apple palate, seasoned with ample spicing. Fine salts trail throughout to the dried raspberry finish. Lovely balance. 91/100 (TR)

Silverthorn The Genie Rosé Brut NV, WO Robertson
Bubbly specialists since 2004, with a production of 40 000 bottles, based in Robertson, currently building a tasting room and cellar. 100% Shiraz (2017), SH99 clone, whole bunch pressed. Spends 24 months on lees. 8 g/l dosage. Bright pink in colour. Vivid, fresh, zesty and focused with very bright cherry and redcurrant fruit. Very delicate but also very fruity.  Lovely harmony here and  fruit focused. 91/100 (JG)

Bubbly specialists since 2004, the Rosé was added to the program in 2007. From a 20 year old shiraz vineyard, SH99 clone, this had 24 months on lees with an 8g/L dosage. Taken from the 2017 vintage. Big, potent, direct, and punchy, with dark medicinal cherry, and baking spicing ruling the wide, dense palate. Certainly unique. 89/100 (TR)

Paul René Brut Rosé 2016, WO Robertson
6 g/l dosage. 24 months on lees. Pale pink in colour. Sappy, nervy and detailed with fine spicy notes and some appealing green hints, as well as pepper. Has great balance and sophistication with precision to the pear and cherry fruit. Quite vinous. 91/100 (JG)

This blend of 75/25 Pinot Noir / Chardonnay spent 24-30 months on lees, and was dosed with 6 g/L in November 2018. Pouring a lovely light hue, this opens with expansive soft strawberry, cherry, and raspberry, with a lees-plumed downy cushion on the palate. Strawberry meringue lingers on the finish. Quite elegant and alluring. 91/100 (TR)

Dainty Bess 2016, WO Western Cape
Two-thirds Elgin and a third Wellington, on lees 36 months, 3 g/l rs. Named after a rose. Pinot Noir. Direct press colour. Pale salmon pink in colour. Very fine with a subtle spicy edge to the strawberry and pear fruit. Shows fine toasty framing and real delicacy and finesse. 93/100 (JG)

2/3 Elgin, 1/3 Wellington, this Pinot Noir spent 36 months on lees and was dosed with 3 g/L. Pouring a pale hue, with a yeasty / leesy note running the lighter, delicate, and youthful palate. Fine spicing dusts the finish. Quite a bit of finesse here, just needs some more time in bottle. Disgorged June 2019. 91/100 (TR)

Dainty Bess 2015, WO Western Cape
A rich, generous harvest. Two-thirds Wellington, one-third Elgin. On lees for 34 months, disgorged June 2018. 3 g/l rs. Supple and savoury-edged with refined toasty-framed pear and sweet cherry fruit, with some creaminess to the finely spiced fruit. 92/100 (JG)

Based in Wellington, Jane’s father planted the Pinot Noir, and she contracts it from him. Anne (Pieter Ferriera’s wife) is Jane’s cousin. Dainty Bess is named after a rose that her mother used to grow in the garden. Jane took over the fruit in 2016, so this is her 3rd solo vintage. 2/3 from Wellington, and 1/3 from Elgin, this spent 34 months on lees and was disgorged June 2018 with 3 g/L RS. Big spicy fruit rafts along an alluring wave of lees, with wild cherry, raspberry and savoury, subtle peppery notes. Great finesse and elegance here. 92/100 (TR)

Pieter Ferreira Rosé 2013, WO Western Cape
Robertson and Paarl, bottled in June 2013 and disgorged in November 2019. 100% Pinot Noir. Pale pink in colour. 7 g/l dosage. This is focused and refined with some cherry and citrus, as well as a bit of redcurrant fruit. Juicy and driven with nice intensity and a linear, red cherry drive, as well as some complex spicy notes. 93/100 (JG)

We were amongst the first to taste this rosé, as it will be released in 2020. Pinot Noir from Robertson and Paarl were bottled in June 2013, and disgorged yesterday with 7-8 g/L. Wild cherry, wild raspberry, light spices season a well placed cushion of lees and subtle fruit leather. Well balanced throughout, with moreish delicate rose petals on the finish. 92/100 (TR)

Charles Fox Reserve Rosé NV, WO Elgin
Up to 12% reserve wine, two years on the lees, 9 g/l dosage. Orange/pink in colour. Has a herby, spicy edge to the pear and cherry fruit with zesty acidity and some tangerine detail. Such vivid acidity. 91/100 (JG)

This spent 2 years on lees, includes some still Pinot Noir, and was tipped with 12% reserve wine. 9 g/L dosage. Sharper with oxidative and bitter cherry, raspberry, orange pith on a tight and grippy palate, with searing bitter acidity. A bit overt, and lacking cohesion, but quite a lot of bright fruit. 89/100 (TR)

Domaine Des Dieux Rose of Sharon 2011, WO Walker Bay
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay from the farm. 9 g/l dosage. Pale salmon colour. Delicate, sappy and quite umami with a savoury edge to the pear fruit, as well as hints of apple. Broad, harmonious and finely spiced with some nice acidity and depth. Very stylish: it has developed nicely. 92/100 (JG)

Disgorged May 2019, this blend of 60% Pinot Noir / 40% Chardonnay came all from the Hemel-en-Aarde estate, and was dosed with 7 g/L. Welcome natural freshness here at 350m altitude, with sour cherry, cranberry, and raging acidity on the tight and tart palate, bedded with a comfortable cushion of rhubarb and savoury cherry, and finishing lively and bright. 89/100 (TR)

Bon Courage Jacues Bruére Cuvée Rosé Brut 2011 Robertson
Direct pressed colour. Only stainless steel. Seven years on the lees, disgorged January 2019. 5 g/litre dosage. Juicy and zesty with bright acidity and subtle tangerine and watermelon flavours, as wells as some fine spices and a touch of nuttiness. Lovely definition with some zip here on the finish. Stylish. 93/100 (JG)

From the same vineyard as their Brut Reserve, this blend of 80% Pinot Noir / 20% Chardonnay spent 7 years on lees and was disgorged in January 2019, with 5 g/L. Very fine and tight, with a great verve of energy streaming this along a long frame, to a humming finish. Subtle cherry, mandarin notes, with delicate spicing lingering. Impressive. 92/100 (TR)

Prestige Cuvées 

“It’s the pinnacle” according to Pieter Ferreira. “If you don’t get this level right, nothing works below. You are battling with the rest of the profile, with your brand.” Everyone seems to take a different approach with the rather undefined Prestige Cuvée category. Most, however, have elevated the time under lees (and often base wine’s contact with wood), as well as the price. The first Prestige Cuvée MCC was most likely Graham Beck Winery’s Cuvee Clive 2002. Only 6 releases have been made since then, up to 2014. “We’ve taken a few knocks on the chin”, according to Pieter, “but it was for the story we were trying to tell.” The wines certainly have stepped it up, stylistically perhaps aspiring to the ranks of a certain style of richer premium champagne. What is clear, is that each of these wines, more than any other range, has a distinct story to tell.

Krone Amphora Blanc de Blancs 2017, WO Elandskloof
Stony, salty, buscuitty savouriness here with some sweet pear and spice notes. Harmonious with a mealy, leesy edge to it. Very unusual. 88/100 (JG)

Packaged in a clear bottle, which is always worrisome. This quite singular wine was fermented in amphora for 6 months on lees, went through full MKF naturally, and had no inputs or outtakes. An organic yeast was used for the 2nd fermentation, and it was bottled with zero dosage. Oxidative notes throughout, with a waxy stone fruit, pear, peach, apricot pith tightening. Savoury, with some wild yeast notes. 89/100 (TR)

Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016, WO Elandskloof
2 g/l dosage. Lively and zesty with a bright almost minty with some pithy notes. Really intense and vivid with amazing fruit intensity. Linear, direct and zesty, finishing dry. 92/100 (JG)

Kaaimansgat is translated as Crocodile’s Lair. From a 700m site, this very site specific fizz was inspired by grower champagnes. This spent 6 months in foudre, was fermented with organic yeast, and then 3 years on lees, prior to disgorgement with 2 g/L. No sulphur added. Lovely savoury, nervy wine, with white peach, lemon pith ruling a tight and lifted palate. 91/100 (TR)

Silverthorn Jewel Box 2015, WO Western Cape
70% Chardonnay (barrel fermented and aged), 30% Pinot Noir (Darling). 47 months on lees. Dosage 5 g/l. Rich, intense but still fresh with a crystalline quality to the bright citrus fruit, with some melon richness and a tapered, spicy finish. This has nice presence, fruit sweetness and elegance. 93/100 (JG)

Specific, older vineyards go into this wine, with 70% Chardonnay (barrel fermented and aged in 500L French oak) and 30% unwooded Pinot Noir from Darling. This spent 47 months on lees, and was dosed with 5 g/L. Oxidative notes line the wide palate, filled with with dried fruit, crystalline lemon and ample spicing. Energy feels quite tired and lagging at this point. Disgorged summer 2019. 89/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Cuvée Clive 2014, WO Roberston
100% barrel fermented (old oak up to 20 years old). 4.2 g/l rs. Beautiful intensity and concentration here with lovely mineral and toast framing to the lively lime, lemon and white peach fruit. Complex and detailed with some lovely texture. Finely spiced. Luxurious and delicious. 95/100 (JG)

No rules. Cuvée Clive changes every year it is made, dependent on the vintage. This Chardonnay was 70% sourced from 4 clones in a single block on their Robertson estate’s limestone soils, with the remainder coming from Darling. It was was entirely barrel fermented in older oak, up to 20 years old. This aged 60 months on lees, and was dosed with 4.2 g/L. Toast, meringue, nuts, and fine lemon lead the potent, creamy, elegant palate, with tight, fine, grippy spicing bracketing the sides. Quite a lot of presence and impact, this has a long route ahead. Recently released, this was disgorged October 2019. 92/100 (TR)

Colmant Absolu Cap Classique Zero Dosage NV, WO Western Cape
Chardonnay, 7 years on the lees. Fresh, linear and fine with nice toasty hints. Juicy and complete with a zesty edge to the pure fruit. Sophisticated and delicious. 93/100 (JG)

This Chardonnay is from the same lot as their Blanc de Blancs, but has extra time on lees – 85 months. Sharp lemon pith, opens and leads this tight and edgy, palate, with an alluring reductive note. Tight, linear, and streamlined, this finishes with ample savoury saltiness. Fantastic finesse. 94/100 (TR)

Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2014, WO Elgin
36 months on lees, disgorged April 2019. 7 g/litre dosage. Crisp and focused with lovely citrus drive and notes of pear and apple. Ripe and quite generous but also sophisticated and refined. Some toastiness. Lovely fruit here. 92/100 (JG)

Equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this spent 36 months on lees and was disgorged in September 2019 with 7 g/L. Smartly streamlined flow on this elegant palate, with a lovely perfumed florality. Very fine and long on the finessed, confident palate. 92/100 (TR)

Charles Fox Cipher 2013, WO Elgin
Just Chardonnay (40%) and Pinot Noir (60%). Rs 6.3 acid 9.3. Focused, linear citrus fruit nose. Linear, precise and juicy with nice concentration and purity.  Very fine and expressive with a lovely linear character. Superb stuff. 94/100 (JG)

From their top selection of fruit, this is 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir, with 5-6 years on lees, and dosed with 6.3 g/L. Tight and edgy lemon pith, fine nut, and anise stream along a juicy, very linear palate. Finessed. 93/100 (TR)

Le Lude Vintage 2013 Western Cape
Dosage 3.2 g/l. Fresh, bright, linear and focused with crisp citrus fruit and hints of mint. Very bright and linear with a crisp pithy focus. Such intensity. Unfurled. 93/100 (JG)

Same as their 2013 Agrafe, but this was aged on lees under crown cap, as opposed to cork. Lemon, apple, and tight pear run the long, intense palate, with greater generosity and fruit on the mid in comparison to the Agrafe. Crisp and pithy finish. 92/100 (TR)

Le Lude Agrafe 2013, WO Western Cape
Exactly the same wine, but aged on lees under cork. Dosage 3.2 g/l. This is complex and intense with lovely layered citrus fruit and some notes of toast and spice. Tight, fresh and multi-layered with elegance and complexity. 95/100 (JG)

Same wine as their 2013 Vintage, but aged under agrafe. Tight and toasty, with meringue and lemon on a vibrant, linear palate. Fantastic fine grip / texture shaping this sleek, long frame. Great layers of savoury complexity. Wow. 94/100 (TR)

Spier RD 2009, WO Stellenbosch
Disgorged after 9 years on the lees. (JG)



Nectar is a new emerging category, better known elsewhere as demi-sec. It was created as a nightclub / easier sipper, with ample RS balanced pretty well off against acidity. Meant to go down smooth and easily, and aimed at a newer / younger sparkling wine drinker who was looking for a premium wine. The category is on a rapid rise within South Africa. Night Nectar was released first by Krone, who spotted a gap in the market.

Graham Beck Bliss Nectar NV
28 g/l rs. Sweet, juicy, bright, very attractive fruity style with nice fruit. Juicy and jellyish with nice texture. 86/100 (JG)

A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which includes the press fractions into the wine. Based on 2018, this spent 14 months on the lees, and was disgorged in November 2019. Quite sweet and overtly so, with ample baked apple and pear, cut with high acid on the palate. 28 g/l. 86/100 (TR)

Graham Beck Bliss Nectar Rosé NV
26 g/l rs. Pale colour. Fresh and juicy with sweet melon fruit, a bit of strawberry and some sweetness. Very fruity and clean. Well made. 87/100 (JG)

25 g/L RS, this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir comes across as very sweet, with candied strawberry, raspberry, sugared pear and peach. A welcome spicing helps bridge the sweetness. 88/100 (TR)

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé 2017
Played around with the liqueur to add nice fruity flavours. Rs of 40 g/l. Sweet and fruity with a savoury, spicy twist to the pear and berry fruit. Rich and fruity. 85/100 (JG)

Launched in June 2019, this reflects their Brut Rosê with Pinot Noir, Pinotage, and Pinot Meunier. 40g/L RS. Sweet wild raspberry, sugared strawberry on a candied fruit palate. 85/100 (TR)

Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]