Without the efforts of men like Ken Forrester, South African Chenin Blanc might be scarcely more than a footnote to the country’s recent winemaking history – a workhorse (see below) grape responsible for vast amounts of forgettably bland white wine. But this Zambia-born former restaurateur saw the potential of this grape, placing it firmly at the centre of his resurrection of the historic Scholtzenhof farm on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg mountain in the early 1990s. More than twenty years on, Ken is known as ‘Mr Chenin’.
Sparklehorse is made using the Cap Classique method (MCC appears on labels, Méthode Cap Classique), which is the South African term for the traditional method/méthode traditionelle of in-bottle second fermentation used to create many of the world's classic sparkling wines (including Champagne).
The grapes for Sparklehorse - 100% Chenin Blanc - come from a carefully selected cool vineyard site which was first planted in 1975. The vineyard faces south-south-west and has sandy soil. These factors all allow the grapes to mature whilst continuing to maintain a high level of refreshing acidity which gives the wine its character.
This wine is aged for 14 months on its yeast lees to allow it to develop a creaminess and delicate mousse while still maintaining bright, fresh apple, pear and quince aromas. Intense green apples dominate the nose and first sip is like biting into a crisp, bright, green cooking apple. Fresh mousse and soft finish make it a delicious wine. Served as an aperitif or with food or simply with friends. As they say at the Forrester vineyards, "ideal with seafood, salmon, sushi, salads and sunsets.”
"And why Sparklehorse?", we asked.
Ken replied, “I was always captivated by the intricacies of sparkling wine. One specific vineyard on the property offered the right conditions for full-flavoured, early harvest wines and so with this fruit I decided to embark on a special project. Since deriving from the workhorse variety, I wanted to have some fun and cheer the whole package up and the name "sparklehorse" had instant appeal, with the idea of a colourful fairground pony, a sparkling carousel horse - every child’s first pony! And so the concept was presented- a dreamy, colourful, sparkling horse, straight off a carousel. The label captures the spirit and fun of the fair, the horse is truly the embodiment of fun and all that sparkling wine represents!"
ABV = 11.5%.
This wine comes from the purest grape juice and it alone allows Laurent-Perrier to craft ‘La Cuvée’, a champagne of great finesse and a beautiful freshness obtained after a long ageing process in their cellars. Laurent-Perrier’s style and personality are defined by its very high proportion of Chardonnay. Purity, freshness and elegance – essential characteristics, expressed in this champagne – are a good introduction to the spirit of the House.
In opting to blend its Brut champagne with a majority of Chardonnay, the rarest grape variety in the Champagne region, Laurent-Perrier was expressing its difference and asserting the signature ‘House’ style of freshness, lightness, and elegance. This has taken 15 years of extensive work on supply quality, steady progress regarding wine making and increased mastery of the art of blending.
This champagne is made using a majority of Chardonnay, over 50%, Pinot Noir, over 30% and is rounded off with Meunier, between 10 and 20%. Some of the wine that is used to make La Cuvée is reserve wine which ensures a perfect consistency in style. This blend of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée is made from more than 100 crus selected by Laurent-Perrier. La Cuvée benefits from ageing in the cellar. Its balance and freshness are enhanced by a light dosage.
This champagne is pale gold in colour. Fine bubbles feed a persistent mousse. A delicate nose with hints of fresh citrus and white flowers. Its complexity is expressed in successive notes like vine peach and white fruits notes. There is a perfect balance between freshness and delicacy with fruity flavours present on the finish.
This fresh and pure champagne is perfect as an apéritif. Its citrus and white fruits notes and its remarkable balance supported by a subtle effervescence, make it an ideal accompaniment to poultry and the finest fish.
ABV = 12.0%.
Peter Lehmann, with 33 vintages already under his belt, started his own winery in 1979, partly as a means of helping with the glut of grapes then afflicting the Barossa. "I'll take your grapes and turn them into wine," he told the desperate growers, many of them conservative farmers of Silesian descent who regarded their old vines as part of their patrimony. "But I'll only be able to pay you when I sell the wine." They gratefully accepted. Without this deal, it is widely thought that the Barossa would have lost a huge chunk of its old vines. The 'Masters' wines are made from the parcels regarded by the winemakers as the best Semillon, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz of the vintage.
Peter Lehmann Wines works with over 140 growers across the length and breadth of the Barossa Valley region, with access to over 750 individual vineyard sites. The Black Queen is made from Shiraz grown on old, low-yielding vines in premium vineyards in the Moppa and Light Pass districts.
Often referred to as the jewel in their/his crown, Lehmann's lack Queen Sparkling Shiraz is a unique and indulgent wine using grapes sourced from premium vineyards in the Barossa region, used to craft this exceptional wine.
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from Peter Lehmann.
Residual sugar = 30g/litre (ie medium-dry, technically)
Bright red with a dense black core, the aroma is abundant with Christmas cake and mulberries. The palate is quintessential for what Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz is known for - a gentle mousse, naturally low in tannins, soft and abundant in rich blue fruits. Best enjoyed now, however, will comfortably develop further in the cellar for a further 5-10 years.
ABV = 14.0%.
Innocent Bystander was set up by Phil Sexton in 2004 after he sold Devil's Lair in Margaret River. Second time around he could use the wisdom of experience to get everything right: the winery, the image, the quality and the value-for-money. Now renowned for their Pink Moscato, the estate also cultivates Pinot Noir and Chardonnay alongside Pinot Gris and cool climate Syrah.
Grapes sourced from six different vineyards in the Swan Hill area of the Murray-Darling Basin; these two rivers provide the natural irrigation for these vines. This is a very warm viticultural area - with average summer temperatures at 100°F - resulting in ideal growing conditions for the production of late harvest, super ripe Muscat grapes.
The production focuses on preserving the wine's fruity, fresh and estery characteristics. Harvested at the cool of night to preserve freshness, grapes are pressed and given just six hours contact with skins for colour. Fermentation is short, stopped at 5.5% by cooling the wine; then brought down to 0˚C for cold filtering, both the natural sweetness and bubbles are preserved.
80% Gordo Muscat, 20% Black Muscat.
Intense, primary aromas of cotton candy and blackcurrant with musk, Turkish delight and mandarin peel in the background. Rich in fl avor yet refi ned by cleansing natural acidity. The spritzy dissolved carbon dioxide also leaves a refreshed palate. Pair with fresh summer berries and clotted cream, crepes with orange zest and lemon syrup or gorgonzola cheese and fresh pears.
ABV = 5.5%.
It all began in 1927, when Andrew Peller first arrived in Canada from Hungary. Having owned a series of successful businesses, he wanted to finally pursue his dream. He envisioned a day when Canadians, like Europeans, would come to appreciate premium-quality wines and enjoy sharing them with family and friends. The family proudly carries on Andrew's tradition of crafting wine with an uncommon commitment to quality.
This sparkling wine is one of Peller Estates' most critically acclaimed bottles. It is made with a blend of hand-picked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Peller do not specify the proportions, which, being a NV wine, alters from year to year), but with the finishing dosage being their Vidal icewine to create a unique burst of flavour and finesse.
Peller's Ice Cuvees are made using the traditional method and are bottled as Niagara Peninsula VQA (VQA =Vintners Quality Alliance, the Canadian equivalent of the French AOC/AOP or Spanish DO, guaranteeing the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system in British Columbia and Ontario).
For this wine, individual batches of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are fermented in tank. A cuvee/stock wine is made using a selection of these wines which are then bottled with yeast and sugar. After ageing on the lees for approximately 30 months, the bottles are riddled, disgorged and a dosage of Vidal icewine is added.
A bouquet of apricot, yeast and ripe apple with just a hint of honey greets the nose, followed by tropical fruit flavours on the palate and a refreshing hit of pink grapefruit on the finish. While it's a perfect celebration wine, this off-dry crowd pleaser is also a surprisingly versatile food wine that shines with every course of the meal.
Enjoy it with salty appetizers, main courses of seafood, risotto, spicy Asian dishes or Indian curries, and fresh fruit and creamy cheeses at the end of the meal. Serve within two or three years from purchase at a cool 8 to 10°C in sparkling wine glasses.
NB: gift box available, if requested by customer.
ABV = 12.0%.
Champagne Pol Roger has been producing exceptional champagne for over 160 years. To this day the house remains small, family-owned, fiercely independent and unrivalled in its reputation for quality. Indeed, it is this quality which brought about Sir Winston Churchill’s lifelong attachment to Pol Roger, who famously insisted “In defeat I need it, in victory I deserve it”.
It has a definitive house-style, composed from 30 still base wines drawn from at least three vintages, and the three varieties of Champagne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier blended in equal portions. Pol Roger is the perfect apéritif champagne which is never released until it is at least three years old.
Brut Réserve is blended from 30 still base wines from different vineyards, different vintages and the three main grape varieties which dominate the champagne region: Pinot Noir contributes body, depth of character and life-extending tannins and comes from the villages of the Montagne de Reims – Verzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Ambonnay, Mardeuil and Louvois; Chardonnay provides the lightness, elegance and finesse and is drawn from Epernay itself and the villages of the Côte des Blancs – Cuis, Oiry, Oger, Vertus, Moussy and Chouilly; Pinot Meunier supplies youthful freshness, vigour and plump character with the grapes coming from the Vallée d’Epernay – Vincelles, Venteuil, Troissy, Damery, Vandières, Brugny, Chavot, Monthelon and Pierry.
On the nose, the champagne is dominated by white flowers, green apple, brioche and a trace of minerality. On the palate there are notes of stone fruits, a certain nuttiness and a hint of honey supporting the freshness of the acidity. UK stock receives an additional 6 months post-disgorgement ageing so it is ready to drink upon release but cellaring for a few years will reveal greater depths. The apéritif champagne par excellence but one which has sufficient backbone to be drunk with fish and even spicy dishes.
ABV = 12.5%.