Lizelle Gerber, Boschendal Winemaker

Lizelle Gerber, the talented and award winning White Wine and MCC maker on the beautiful Boschendal Estate gives us a bubbly #101.

She tells us that there are three main types of bubbles.

Champagne
The difference between MCC and champagne is the fact that the term champagne is reserved for wine made from grapes harvested in Champagne, France. Both wines rely on the traditional French fermenting process, which is labour intensive, time consuming, and entirely reliant on handpicking only the best grapes to ensure exceptional quality and optimal purity of fruit. This is what makes them so sought-after and valuable.

Boschendal Brut Rosé

Méthode Cap Classique
As the term Champagne is reserved as a geographical indicator for the region in France, South Africa’s equivalent is known as Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), and is made the same way.  For Boschendal – grapes harvested for their MCCs are from cool climate, high-altitude vineyards which deliver exceptional elegance and fruit purity and thus create truly outstanding bubbles.

Sparkling wine
Sparkling wine by comparison is created by a process which uses artificial carbonation on the production line – a factor that’s detectable through the coarser, larger bubbles, and distinctly different drinking enjoyment.

Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut

The difference can easily be spotted in the size of the bubbles. As mentioned above, you can spot champagne and MCC by their refined effervescence with tiny bubbles, while sparkling wine has larger, coarser fizz.

Boschendal Winemakers Lizelle Gerber & Richard Duckitt

Champagne and MCC take time. Aging is an art – vintage Champagne must age for a minimum of three years, and that’s considered young. Says Gerber, “When something is crafted for such a long period it inevitably becomes an item to be valued. It takes close to seven years for Boschendal’s Jean le Long MCC to be released from harvest, but the result is worth the wait.”

Short supply means high demand. Often released in small batch quantities, MCC and Champagne production is not a mass-scale operation – particularly due to the long aging process required.

Lizelle and her two ‘babies’

Quality is key.  Every aspect of the bubble making process is fastidiously quality controlled – including the initial selection and nurturing of the vineyards.  Gerber says, “The highest quality MCCs reply on grapes sourced from meticulously maintained vineyards. For example, our Jean le Long MCC is reliant on exclusively selected Chardonnay from cooler climate vineyards for its crisp natural freshness and complex minerality.”

The older wing of the Boschendal Cellar

It’s a process.  The method involves premium quality juice undergoing a series of ten steps in a bottle fermentation process, which creates the fine fizz characteristic of MCC. While ‘sparkling wine’ relies on artificial carbonation, true MCC belies any such interference. Although a process is adhered to, Gerber believes there’s no fixed formula, “Every iteration is slightly tweaked to optimally enhance what nature has so amply provided. As a winemaker, my role is to artfully amplify these natural flavours. It’s this constant tweaking that also makes MCC and champagne such prized products.”

Read more about Boschendal Wines – CLICK HERE

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