A creamy South African sparkler with bright, persistent bubbles, the Lanzerac Blanc de Blancs Brut Méthode Cap Classique NV in May’s Bubble Box is everything you’d want in a bottle of fizz – and more. Learn all about this incredible sparkling wine below.
1. Where it’s from
This lovely, refined wine comes to you from the Stellenbosch wine region of South Africa. One of the nation’s most respected wine regions, Stellenbosch is just a short drive from the centre of urban Cape Town. But this green region, where oak trees line the roads, is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The first – and some say finest – South African sparkling wines are made here under the appellation Méthode Cap Classique, or MCC.
The Lanzerac vineyards – 45 hectares in all – are scattered throughout the region. The grapes used in this wine were picked from Lanzerac proper and the Jonkershoek Valley, through which the Berg River flows into False Bay. Leopards, mongooses and black eagles call the mountains above this valley home – though the only animal humans are likely to encounter are baboons.
2. How it’s made
This wine is 100% Chardonnay, a blend of grapes selected from three different blocks of vines situated, for the most part, on deep, sandy soils. All of the pruning and harvesting here is done by hand, an integral step in Lanzerac’s strict quality control measures.
The grapes were harvested in the last week of January and the first week of February, after which they were transported to the winery in bins and pressed in bunches. This method allows a more delicate extraction, and excludes any bitter flavour compounds.
Once pressed, the juice settles for two days before it’s siphoned into stainless steel tanks. The must, or juice, from each vineyard block is fermented separately, preserving the subtle differences of each terroir. The still wine is then blended (in this case, this occurred in August) and undergoes a second fermentation ‘on the lees’, or in the presence of yeast, in the bottle.
This second fermentation is anxiety-inducing for the winemakers, and takes around two weeks. The wine then spends 12 months on the lees in the bottle before disgorgement, when the yeast is removed and the wine topped up and corked.
3. Who’s behind it
The winery now known as Lanzerac dates back to 1692, when Governor Simon Van der Stel granted a massive tract of land in the Jonkershoek Valley, just outside of Stellenbosch, to Isaac Schrijver. Isaac immediately set about planting grape vines on his land, which has been a vineyard ever since.
The land has had a number of owners in the intervening centuries, the most notable being Elizabeth Katherine English. Elizabeth purchased the land in 1914 and gave it the name Lanzerac. This winery is best known as the producer of the first Pinotage wine, a native South African variety that produces inky red wines rich with tannins and fruit.
4. How it tastes
This wine is creamy and refined, with fine and precise bubbles that will dance on your tongue. Biscuit notes and a yeasty undercurrent give texture and interest to lively citrus and apple notes. A truly celebratory MCC wine.
5. How to drink it
This wine is ready to drink, but when properly stored can be cellared until 2020. Complex and robust, this wine is wonderful for exploring with a variety of food pairings. Try it with a simple pear and parmesan salad or freshly baked bread dipped in Egyptian Dukkha.