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Desiderius Pongrácz 2003


Yesterday lunch in the Pongrácz Room at the House of J.C. Le Roux, Stellenbosch to honour the memory of Desiderius Pongrácz, the maverick Hungarian expatriate who played such a significant role in introducing noble wine varieties to South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.

Pongrácz Brut was launched to commemorate the man in 1990, the event therefore doubling as its 21st birthday.  It’s been judged best in the Non-Vintage category at the annual Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge for the last two years, which is no mean feat. However, prestige cuvee Desiderius 2003 is most definitely a more serious proposition and worked brilliantly with a dish of grilled crayfish, seared tiger prawn and gravad lax with a Cointreau beurre blanc.

The bubbly is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and spent 87 months on the lees. There’s a pleasant yeasty note on an otherwise shy nose while the palate shows citrus and a subtle savoury undertones. The acidity is bright but not piercing and the mousse is very fine. Altogether, a very precise package (score: 17/20). Cellar price is R235 a bottle.


  1. That 2003 is a beaut of an MCC, showing why extended lees time is so important to quality. I think it was awarded at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show this year, but generally it get far less accolades than it deserves. For some reason, most panel experts in South Africa seem to prefer the simpler wines that spent around two years on the lees. I’ve never quite understood that…


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