As the sun rose over the slopes of the Simonsberg on 11 January 2011, it marked the beginning of a special day for those gathered in the cellar of Simondium estate Babylonstoren. The stainless steel tanks and press rinsed and cleaned, ready for use. Out in the vineyards farm workers were picking Chardonnay in the cool of the morning. These were the very first grapes to be brought to the door of the newly built cellar.

“It was such a festive day. It was a new beginning for everybody here,” remembers cellar master Charl Coetzee with a smile.

 

Four years on, those first Chardonnay grapes to be grown, harvested and vinified on Babylonstoren have created yet another new beginning, with the release this month of Babylonstoren’s maiden Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine. In keeping with the estate’s reputation for elegant simplicity this delicious Blanc de Blancs is dubbed, simply, Sprankel (sparkle).

While the name may be uncomplicated, the wine is anything but. This is a complex sparkling wine made in the time-honoured Champagne method, a wine that required both dedication and patience. For after secondary fermentation in the bottle had taken place, the wine was matured on the lees for a full 48 months before disgorgement. Happily, that patience has been richly rewarded.

 

“I’m glad we were patient, because the four years have really made all the difference,” says Coetzee, for whom this was a first attempt at crafting a Champagne-style bubbly. “Keeping it on the lees has added layers and layers of complexity.”

 

Those layers of biscuit and brioche flavours are perfectly balanced by a lively acidity and notes of fresh apple, lime and grapefruit, thanks to Coetzee’s decision to keep the wine as an ‘ultra-brut’ with zero dosage.

“After tasting this wine again and again over the past four years we decided it is just perfect as it is,” explain Coetzee. “It’s a layered wine that’s still very fresh. You don’t get the impression it’s an aged wine at all; as there are lots of primary flavours upfront on the palate.”

 

A serious wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the thread of vivacious creativity that runs throughout the Babylonstoren estate shines through in this impressive new release. The curvaceous Cuvée de Sacres bottle boasts a striking butterfly-themed design by Buenos Aires-based artist Peet Pienaar, and arrives cradled in an arresting orange carton that allows the Sprankel’s stunning butterfly motif to shine through.

 

Available just in time for summer, this memorable new release from one of the oldest farms in the Cape raises the bar for Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines. But best you hurry. With only 5000 bottles of the maiden vintage available, this superb sparkling wine will only be available from the revamped Babylonstoren tasting room, and in the estate’s two acclaimed restaurants.

Babylonstoren Sprankel is available at R495 per bottle.

 

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