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WORDS: RICHARD HOLMES IMAGES: SUPPLIED

It may be winter, but that’s no reason to steer clear of a crisp glass of méthode cap classique. And the latest offering from bubbly specialist Krone is well worth discovering.

Inspired by the terroir-driven “grower champagnes” of France, Krone’s chief winemaker Rudiger Gretschel set out to craft a cap classique that would showcase both the vintage and the vineyard.

“It was clear from day one that it had to be a blanc de blancs,” says Rudiger. “The wine will keep for longer, and there’s more expression if it’s 100% chardonnay.”

While the vagaries of the harvest are up to the weather gods, Rudiger could control which vineyard he chose to make what would become the cellar’s flagship bubbly. And for him, there was only one option: chardonnay from the famed Kaaimansgat (Crocodile’s lair) vineyards outside Villiersdorp.

Situated in the Elandskloof ward, some 700m above sea level, the Kaaimansgat vines lie in a valley encircled by mountains. In the summer the day’s heat settles in the bowl, while in winter the surrounding peaks lie dusted in snow.

“Kaaimansgat is a unique site,” says respected viticulturist Rosa Kruger. “In summer the day temperatures are warm and sunny, and the nights cool to cold as a result of the altitude. The results of this climate are wines with a strong acidity at full ripeness and low pH.”

And that’s just what you want when turning chardonnay into MCC.

With the grapes harvested at night to preserve their flavour and acidity, the fruit was fermented with natural, wild yeasts in large 2,500-litre foudres, an upright wooden vat. It was then aged for three years on the lees, balancing acidity, fruit and freshness. It’s also a bubbly built to last, and over time more brioche, biscuity notes will evolve to balance the citrus flavours.

For Rudiger it’s simply about expressing a sense of time and space. “The vineyards grow in a specific place and this wine is unique to that.”

Whether you enjoy it with shellfish, wild mushrooms or mature cheese soufflé, buy a bottle and raise a toast to one of South Africa’s most famous vineyards.

Twee Jonge Gezellen Estate | 023 230 0680 | tweejongegezellen.co.za