Interview: Cellar Master Rudiger Gretschel,

Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016

The chardonnay for the Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016 hails from the 31-year-old Kaaimansgat vineyard, located 700m above-sea-level, deep inside a blind valley in the Elandskloof ward in the Overberg.

With 36 months of maturation in our underground cellar, this MCC embodies the spirit of Krone.

We steal five minutes with Cellar Master Rudiger Gretschel to talk about this boundary-breaking bubbly

 

When, and how, did the idea take root to make this style of MCC?

The idea came to me while I was sitting in a wine bar in Rheims, and I found a book about grower Champagne. It was about the movement away from the same style, year after year, towards site specificity and celebrating a unique taste. On tasting them, I was struck by the precision and purity of these Champagnes. I knew then I wanted to make a ‘grower Champagne’ for South Africa and for Krone.

Tell us more about the Kaaimansgat site…

Kaaimansgat is a site of extremes. The old, unirrigated vines are planted on the steep foothills of the mountains. In winter the mountains encircling the vineyards are covered in snow, in summer the day temperatures are warm and sunny, the nights cool to cold: ideal conditions for later ripening of the grapes, producing wines with a strong acidity at full ripeness and low pH, perfect for making MCC.

Can you elaborate on the 2016 vintage?

The 2016 growing season across the Cape Winelands was characterised by extreme heat and drought during the months of December and January. Though thanks to the Kaaimansgat vineyard’s high altitude, the grapes were largely unaffected by the extreme weather conditions. The chardonnay for the Blanc de Blancs was harvested on the 19 February, a date determined by good, strong acidity as well as the correct Balling reading.

How did you bring your vision to life?

I ordered a 2 500-litre tight-grain foudre from a cooperage in the Alto-Adige in Italy, where the ageing and drying of the oak is done at 2 500m elevation in the Alps. After being whole-bunch pressed the unsettled juice went straight into the oak for the primary fermentation to occur spontaneously with natural yeasts from the grapes. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited by cooling the wine in the Foudre in order to preserve the freshness of the malic acid. The wine was left on its gross lees for six months and naturally settled and stabilised over time, before undergoing its secondary fermentation in bottle and extended tom of the lees for a period of 36 months.

It’s been said the MCC has been made in a natural style, can you elaborate on this?

The yeast it was inoculated with was specially developed by a German wine biochemist to produce sulphur dioxide naturally, so that none needed to be added for preservation. The only thing which has been added to this wine after 36 months on the lees is the 2 grams per litre dosage, taking its residual sugar to 2.5g.

 

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