Whoever said Champagne was only for celebrations must have been drinking plonk! Champagne is versatile enough for any occasion and we encourage everyone to share a glass of Champagne with a loved one this Friday on World Champagne Day.
History of World Champagne Day
First initiated in 2009 by a Californian blogger and wine tutor named Chris Oggenfus, the day has grown to be a universal event for Champagne lovers around the world. It even has its own website (champagneday.champagne.fr) with a live Champagne day countdown.
Champagne Day pops on the fourth Friday of October each year. Participants are encouraged to share their photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #ChampagneDay. You can join a planned event in a restaurant, enjoy a food and wine pairing at your favourite Cape Winelands estate with your besties, or simply share a glass of Champagne with the love of your life.
Best Time to Drink Champagne
GQ USA writer, Scott Meslow surmises that Champagne owes its “special occasions only” label to modern drinkers’ unjust treatment. The mixing of cheap sparkling wine with orange juice to make terrible mimosas and the popping bottles like “a fire hose at the winners of Formula One races”, destroy the delicate balance of texture, aromas and nose.
“The secret to enjoying Champagne is realizing that Champagne is an anytime drink”, Meslow says.
Fill your wine cooler with the good stuff and enjoy every sip. Whether a delightfully spirited bottle of Champagne on ice for a swanky dinner party, a gentle and romantic bubbly for a candlelit dinner with a partner or spouse or as a crisp addition to a good book and comfy couch, the right time to drink Champagne is anytime.
South Africa’s Method Cap Classique (MCC)
South Africa makes some really good bubbles, perfect for World Champagne Day celebrations (and everyday drinking). Although made in the traditional French method of allowing secondary fermentation to take place in the bottle, our local bubbly is called Method Cap Classique (MCC). This is because by law only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne.
Made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, Blanc de Blancs are the cream of the MCC crop and typically the Champagne of choice of wine connoisseurs. Champagne is the only wine that stimulates all five senses with the sound of escaping gas bubbles singing to the ears.
The secret to enjoying Champagne is realizing that Champagne is an anytime drink
In celebration of World Champagne Day, we’ve compiled a brief review of four of our favourite locally produced Blanc de Blancs, each revealing a delightful soul that “dances in the bottle” as the poet Charles Baudelaire so aptly wrote in Les Fleurs du Mal. The Blanc de Blancs we chose for our readers are some of the finest locally produced alternatives to French Champagne and at a fraction of the price!
Pongracz Blanc de Blancs
The elegant and distinctive portfolio of Pongracz Méthode Cap Classiques was inspired by Hungarian nobleman and refugee, Desiderius Pongrcz.
He fled the uprising in his home country and is eventually credited with revitalising viticulture in the Cape through his sheer genius and vision.
Pongracz winemaker, Elunda Basson says the expressive purity of Chardonnay is guaranteed to delight mainstream drinkers and serious oenophiles alike.
Crafted in the classic French tradition and in lees for a minimum of 36 months, Pongracz Blanc de Blancs boast an attractive depth of brioche.
Best Food to Pair with Pongracz Blanc de Blancs
For the vintage, Basson suggests double-bakes goats cheese souffés, Méthode Cap Classique poached oysters or sustainable white line fish in a beurre blanc sauce.
She says with its elegant lithe style, Blanc de Blancs will, over time, develop from quite a restrained young Méthode Cap Classique to having a brioche richness that overlays an intense expression of fruitiness. An alluring creaminess complements citrus aromas, creating a linear and focused mineral-driven finish.
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs
One of the stalwart favourites of the Graham Beck portfolio, their Blanc de Blancs has received many awards and recognition on national and international platforms.
One of these is the International Wine and Spirits Competition where it was voted best bottle-fermented sparkling wine in the world.
Rich, creamy and effortlessly elegant, Graham Beck’s Blanc de Blanc is created with 100% Chardonnay, hand-selected from limestone-rich vineyards.
With a bright lime green colour and aromas of fresh limes, green apples, pears and lemon zest on the nose, this Blanc de Blancs delicately balances flavours of succulent citrus, brioche and spice. Combined with a yeasty complexity, it broadens the palate with layered textures, leading to a long finish. It ages well and can be kept for two to three years.
Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs
Haute Cabrière is home to Pierre Jordan, makers of one of South Africa’s finest locally produced Blanc de Blancs. This Franschhoek Cap Classique is the cellar master’s favourite family member and is a labour of love.
The Arnim family specialises in winemaking from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varietals and this wine tribute to the versatility of Chardonnay.
This Blanc de Blancs was fermented in oak for eight months before spending five years on the lees. With citrus notes and delicate hints of oak on the nose and a full-textured palate with hints of passion fruit, Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc boasts a fine and elegant mousse.
Best Food to Pair with Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs
The palate compliments a wide range of pairings but really shines with rich seafood dishes and decadent desserts.
Laborie Blanc de Blancs
The farm, Laborie was granted to French Huguenot, Isaac Taillefert in 1691 and within seven years produced drinkable wine.
Today, more than 300 years later, the farm produces one of our finest Blanc de Blancs. This indulgent MCC is complex with the aromas of green apple and citrus.
Aromas of toasted bread and hazelnut accompany hints of lime. The Laborie Blanc de Blancs have a creamy, round and textured palate with an explosive acidity and lasting, elegant finish.
Best Food to Pair With Laborie Blanc de Blancs
Matured on lees, the bottle for about 36 months, this bubbly is best enjoyed chilled on its own or with oysters, sushi or other delicate seafood dishes.
These and other Blanc de Blancs are available from good liquor merchants, so stock your wine cooler and be part of the worldwide movement this International Champagne Day. A little more pricey than regular MCC, Blanc de Blancs is truly worth the spend and when compared to Champagne, excellent bank for your buck.