The best sparkling wines from South African vineyards | Alistair Gibson

The sparkling wine headlines over the last few years have been dominated by prosecco and English fizz.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 3:01 pm
One of the sparkling wines Alistair recommends.

English sparkling wine, quite rightly, continues to hold our attention but I am not so sure that the prosecco bubble is beginning to deflate a little as consumers look for something else to try. A country that has long been overlooked for its sparkling wine is South Africa, which is a shame as not only are there some really interesting wines being made but also they can represent wonderful value for money.

Sparkling wine in South Africa, when it is made in same method as Champagne, or Méthode Champenoise, goes under the name of Cap Classique and this year sees the 50th anniversary of the establishment of this name. So this seems a good time to pop a few corks and try some of the Cap Classique wines available in the UK.

The most widely available is Graham Beck Brut NV (Majestic £16.99 or £12.74 as part of a mix six, Waitrose £14.99). Made by Pieter Ferreira, the Cape’s most well-known sparkling winemaker, this is a wine that was served at Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration, so it comes with a little piece of history as well. It’s a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir and is aged on its lees for 18 months before release. It has a lovely, fresh nose offering citrus and green apple with some baked biscuit notes in the background. Given the quality, this is terrific value, the sort of fizz to have in the fridge just in case the sun comes out!

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One of the first wine estates I ever visited was Boschendal, famous at the time as much for its picnics as its wines, but there was a certain amount of nostalgia involved when I tasted Boschendal Brut NV (herculeswines.co.uk, £15.95) recently. Another blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, this is a little more delicate and offers a bouquet with citrus and a little roasted almonds, before a very fresh palate with lemon and orange peel zest and a clean elegant, finish. A perfect aperitif on a summer’s evening in the garden.

Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2015 (Majestic £17.99 or £12.99 as part of a mixed six – please note Majestic currently list the 2014) slurp.co.uk, £15.99) is 100 per cent chardonnay and was bottle matured for 36 months. This is quite complex wine with aromas of lime, brioche and hazelnuts, followed by a nicely textured creamy palate with perfectly judged acidity and a very long, satisfying finish. You might happily serve it with some oysters or a plate of sushi.