Champagne has been described as the “vinous equivalent of a white diamond”, which would make the rosé a rare and wonderful pink diamond. No wonder then, that two bottles of a 1959 Dom Pérignon Rosé were sold at an auction in New York for US$85 000 in 2008.
Here in South Africa the Méthode Cap Classique rosé may not have the same marketing hype but it remains a favourite for those celebratory moments that we all cherish. If, as they say, diamonds are forever, then bubbly is for now.
When farmer and bubbly enthusiast Henk van Niekerk married Monica Marais, they set about making the Wonderfontein Wine Estate in the Robertson Valley into a premier producer of MCC.
The estate has been in the Marais family for five generations, and Monica traces her roots back deep into France. After years of research and exploration, the couple produced their first 800 bottles of the Paul René MCC Brut in 2009. Monica—the artist in the family—designed the labels, positioning the brand at the discerning client who knows how to celebrate the joy of life.
The Brut was made from 100% chardonnay grapes, hand picked in the early morning, the crates chilled overnight and then passed into the press where the whole berries are crushed. Each bottle was fermented for 20 months on the lees, creating a vibrant freshness and an emphatically persistent dry finish.
Six years later and they have now released the Paul René MCC Brut Rosé. Again, the grapes were hand picked from vineyards in the valley (75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay).
“Though Wonderfontein has rich and fertile soil, we prefer to use the grapes from our farm ten kilometres away,” said Henk. “This has rocky limestone soils, which I believe gives our bubbly its unique taste.”
Henk’s approach to bubbly echoes that of the great masters who have always claimed “everything that makes a wine unique is in the ground”. As he said, “I believe that special treatment comes from under the ground and from the sky. Over complicating the pruning and canopy management is not our approach. It is crucial, however, to plant the right varieties in the correct terroir.”
The grapes of the Paul René MCC Brut Rosé were fermented for 24 months on the lees at a consistent temperature of 140C before disgorgement. The result is a light salmon pink bubbly, with silky rich fruit flavours and floral undertones.
Henk spends a lot of time in the vineyard during harvest, attending to the quality and sorting of grapes. “When you hand pick that perfect bunch of grapes for the press, you know that your heart and soul are going into the making of that bubbly.”
- Website: www.paulrenemcc.co.za
- Facebook: @paul.rene.mcc
- Twitter: paulrenemcc
- Email: henk (at) paulrenemcc.co.za
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