The Méthode Cap Classique offering from Franschhoek cellar Le Lude is now without doubt the most complicated in the country but the good news is that the multiple bottlings are all pretty bloody delicious. Yesterday saw the launch of agrafe, vintage magnum and vintage cuvée wines from the maiden 2012 vintage, guests exposed to the following multiple variations:
Brut NV (bottled in 2012) – sold out
Brut Agrafe 2012 – R1 540 a bottle
Brut Magnum 2012 – R1 320 a 1.5 litre bottle
Rosé NV (bottled in 2012) – sold out
Rosé Agrafe 2012 – R1 540 a bottle
Rosé Magnum 2012 – R1 320 a 1.5 litre bottle
Vintage Cuvée 2012 – R1 195 a bottle
Vintage Cuvée Agrafe 2012 – R1 790 a bottle
Vintage Cuvée Magnum 2012 – R1 540 a 1.5 litre bottle
Winemaker Paul Gerber is a bubbly obsessive and the different closures and bottle sizes are so he can understand the minute variations in the drinking experience that each facilitate. Agrafe, for the uninitiated, involves a second fermentation under cork (instead of the usual crown cap) before disgorgement and further ageing under a new cork done to achieve greater richness in the end wine; bottling wines in magnum is done to retard the bottle ageing process.
As someone who generally likes his bubbly lean and tight rather than rich and autolytic, I tended to prefer the wines fermented under crown cap rather than Agrafe although there was typically very little to choose between any of them.
By way of illustration, tasting notes and ratings for the three Vintage Cuvée 2012 iterations (a blend of 83% Chardonnay and 17% Pinot Noir, left on the lees for 52 months in all instances):
Vintage Cuvée 2012
Citrus, white peach and a little wild strawberry plus brioche. Rich and full with tangy acidity and a creamy mousse. Very pleasing – in a great place in terms of its development.
Editor’s rating: 92/100.
Vintage Cuvée Agrafe 2012
Citrus, yellow apple, a particular yeasty quality plus ginger and spice. Rich and full with a soft mousse and a savoury finish.
Editor’s rating: 90/100.
Vintage Cuvée Magnum 2012
Citrus and a slight note of reduction on a generally shy nose. Pure and particularly fresh on the palate with a lovely fine mousse, the finish ultra-dry. Still very youthful.
Editor’s rating: 93/100.