UNCORKING THE KRONE KAAIMANSGAT BLANC DE BLANCS 2016
A Single-Vineyard Terroir-Specific Vintage Cuvée
Rooted in Time and Place
Krone, home to vintage-only, handcrafted Méthode Cap Classique, on the historic Twee Jonge Gezellen estate in Tulbagh, have released South Africa’s first terroir specific MCC: the Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016. Sculpted by the vintage and harnessing the intrinsic energy of the iconic Kaaimansgat (Crocodile’s Lair) Chardonnay vineyard near Villiersdorp, this single-vineyard terroir-specific vintage cuvée is rooted in time and place.
“The making of vintage-only Krone MCC is directed by nature: from soil to vine to bottle. We bottle the spirit of the vines, the character of the vintage. Our winemaking team channels the rain, the sun and the wind into structure, complexity and balance—and seals it all with a cork. Each vintage tells its own story, celebrating a unique moment in time and place,”comments Rudiger Gretschel, Krone’s cellarmaster.
After many visits to Champagne, Rudiger decided to focus on a single vineyard cuvée, cast in the mould of Grower Champagnes, producers who focus on ‘terroir expressive champagnes, which vary from vintage to vintage.
The 2016 Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs expresses the distinct character of the 2016 vintage and the extraordinary 31-year-old high-altitude Kaaimansgat Chardonnay vineyard, located 700m above sea leveldeep inside a blind valley in the cool-climate Elandskloof ward in the Overberg.
“Producing a vintage wine from a single vineyard is the purest expression of transparency and authenticity. It is an exercise in courage and passion, leaving no place to hide as the quality of the grapes and the skill of the winemaker are in full view”, continues Rudiger.
Highly acclaimed viticulturist, Rosa Kruger, who has spent over two decades locating and nurturing some of the country's most remarkablevineyards, and is now the driving force behind The Old Vines Project, shares her insight into the famed Kaaimansgat vineyard: “Kaaimansgat is a unique high-altitude site, a site of extremes. The old vines, unirrigated, areplanted on the steep foothills of the mountains. In winter the mountains encircling the vineyards are covered in snow, in summer the day temperatures are warm and sunny, the nights cool to cold: ideal conditionsfor later ripening of the grapes, producing wines with a strong acidity at full ripeness and low pH, prerequisites for making superlative MCC. We have had small crops of beautifully healthy Chardonnay grapes from these31-year-old vines over the last three years for the Krone Blanc de BlancsMCC.”
The 2016 growing season across the Cape Winelands was characterised by extreme heat and drought, though, thanks to the Kaaimansgat vineyard’s high altitude, the grapes were largely unaffected by these extreme weather conditions. The Chardonnay bunches, small and of excellent quality, were hand-harvested early in the season in the cool of the night, to preserve flavour and retain a high natural acidity and low sugar content ideal for MCC. The intensely flavoured pure fruit came in at a crisp, cool 18°C.
IN THE CELLAR
This terroir-driven Blanc de Blancs is made in a natural style in small batches. On arrival at the cellar, the grapes were immediately whole-bunchpressed to preserve the aromatics as well as the clarity of the juice. Only the free-run juice, the first 500 litres per ton, was used for this MCC. The fruit was fermented with natural, wild yeasts in large 2,500 litre foudres, upright wooden vats. It was then bottle-fermented and aged for three years on the lees in the underground cellar, balancing acidity, fruit and freshness.With over 300 years of history, Twee Jonge Gezellen has the honour of being home to the first underground cellar in Africa.
Aromas of mandarin peel and the distinct citrus-floral scent of verbena develop gradually into classic white-fruited Chardonnay elegance. Cool, pure Pink Lady apples evolve on the palate edged with a flinty finish, as if cut by a steel knife. The precise, taut nature of the wine expresses the character of the vintage - a steely framework to support its full, soft mousse along a grain of toast with hints of oatmeal in the background. With its defined, linear acidity this Blanc de Blancs is restrained in its youth and will develop further in the bottle. It's a MCC built to last, and over time more brioche, biscuity notes will evolve to balance the citrus flavours.
The pure nature of this MCC calls for authentic food of the highest simplicity. Shellfish roasted over wingerdstok, cracked open and served with farm-egg mayonnaise; baked oysters dressed with burnt butter; primal flavours and cooking techniques, such as whole trout grilled on a cedar-plank; refined yet down to earth, pork cheeks with caramelised apples; grass-fed T-bone accompanied by foraged mushrooms; Dalewood Huguenot soufflé; whole cauliflower roasted in terracotta; MCC poached pears with clotted cream.
RETAIL PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016, distinctively packaged in a jet-black bottle with matching gift box, retails nationally at approximately R500. It is available at fine wine retailers and at the Twee Jonge Gezellenfarm as well as at select restaurants.
TWEE JONGE GEZELLEN
Established in 1710, a national monument with over 300 years of history, Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh is the treasured home of Krone, a collection of vintage-only, terroir-driven Méthode Cap Classiques made from the finest most distinctive grapes. Traditional Champagne grape varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, have been night-harvested since the early 1980’s to preserve the delicate aromas and flavours of the grapes. Vintage after vintage of Krone MCC is made in classic bottle-fermented style and hand-turned in traditional pupitres while it matures on the lees in Africa’s oldest underground cellar before disgorgement.
When the Rands family bought the farm in 2012, many of the original buildings were in need of refubishment. Today, after lengthy restoration, the farm is both redolent of its 300-year-old history and burgeoning with contemporary relevance. Visitors can journey through a series of extraordinary spaces, immersed in history, and filled with contemporary art, sculpture and collectible design, before moving on to sample Krone’s vintage Cap Classiques. The raised terrace offers singular views of the picturesque valley and the Winterhoek, Witzenberg and Obiqua Mountains, while the Tasting Room boasts a dramatic picture window that unveils the workings of the cellar.
Twee Jonge Gezellen continues to delight its visitors into the 21st century, offering tastings, cellar and gallery tours.
• The Tasting Room and Deck are open Monday to Friday from 10h00-16h00, and on Saturdays from 10h00 to 14h00.• The WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery at Twee Jonge Gezellen, celebrating African contemporary art in the heart of Tulbagh is open Monday to Saturday from 10h00-16h00.• Twee Jonge Gezellen is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Tel: 023 230 0680 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter and Instagram: @KroneMCC