Bubbly invariably conjures images of sass, good life and special moments of celebration – no wonder millions the world over are today enduringly captivated by its disarming charm, effervescence and seductive aura.
Yet, there is a rare few who buckle the trend by professing ironically, not only to enjoy a bubbly in happier moments, but also in gloomier times.
Like, French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte who concurred as much when he said: “In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.”
As incongruous this might seem, it was also no less another French luminary than Lily Bollinger of House of Bollinger Champagne who attested to such quirky trait when she gushed: “I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory.”
Sad? Really? Well, no guessing what Madame Bollinger must have been smoking (oops! sipping rather) at the time, except that her musings betrayed an idiosyncrasy peculiar only to an eccentric few in the world.
Imagine, for a moment, a widow grieving or shedding tears of sadness disconsolately into a glass of bubbly while mourning her loss. Needless to say, this would instantly raise eye-brows, and, inevitably, invite the attention of a prying detective who would smell a rat.
Indeed, there is no disputing bubbly’s status as an obligatory item to any celebration marking the beating of the odds by a celebrant. For, bubbly invariably sets the mood as much as it can drive the party spirit to dizzying heights, making the gig a memorable one.
So popular is sparkling wine among South Africans today that a bevy of yearly festivals dedicated to this style of wine is testimony to this trend. In fact, the spike in the appreciation of local Methode Cap Classique (MCC) brands has been nothing short of meteoric – coupled by a steady entry of new offerings, all seizing on the popularity of the genre.
Just as spectacular is the latest news – from Decanter magazine – that Champagne exports to South Africa topped the one-million-bottle mark for the first time last year -after a 38% rise in volume terms and a 43.4% jump in the value of shipments, to approximately R450m.
According to statistics, there were only 14 sparkling wine producers in South Africa in 1992 – compared to 220 MCC producers with over 300 MCC labels on the market today.
One of the grander annual bubbly events is the upcoming Johannesburg Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which takes place on April 13 and 14 at the Inanda Polo Club in Sandton.
Visitors to the show will have the opportunity to sample some petit bubblies – among others, from the Bon Courage wine estate – the Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve 2011, Jacques Bruére Blanc de Blanc 2011 and Jacques Bruére Cuveé Rosé Brut 2011.
Of the forthcoming Joburg bubbly festival, Bon Courage’s Jacques Bruwer says:
“The Joburg Bubbly Festival is a good platform to showcase our MCCs which are handmade from beginning to end. They are all vintage MCC and only released after a minimum of 36 to 48-month yeast contact before disgorgement.”
”My father always said that the ultimate in wine-making was to produce a ’Champagne’. In 1989 very little MCC was on the market and it was a challenge to make an MCC. We were also one of the first MCCs made in Robertson. The first MCC on the estate was made by another Jacques and is also named after him – Jacques Bruére Cap Classique.”
So how do we shape up with French Champagne and Prosecco?
“We are on par with the best of the world; the only negative is that we are not allowed to call it Champagne. But we do offer great value for a top-class product,” says Bruwer.
For her part, festival organiser Darielle Robertson says: “We have really got a fabulous line-up of bubbly brands this year and the list is growing by the day. If you love bubbles then this is the one event you have to attend.
“This year’s festival will have a chic garden party feel with a blue and white dress theme and wonderful prizes for the best-dressed, including magnums of Champagne, fragrance vouchers and much more.”
All said and done, bubbly remains a wine lover’s enduring best companion – for better or worse!
* The Johannesburg Cap Classique and Champagne Festival:
- Saturday, April 13 from 12h00 to 17h00;
- Sunday, April 14, 2018 from 12h00 to 17h00
- Venue: The Inanda Polo Cub Park House of Events on 7 at Hyde Park Corner
- Cost: R380 per person which includes a glass and 10 tasting coupons.
- Booking: www.webtickets.co.za
- Social media: #BubblyFestival
- Additional information from Janine Walker Greenleaf and Grant Bushby of JAG Communications.