Welcoming spring with bubblies

Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir

With spring threatening to arrive, thoughts turn to sunny days, picnics and celebrations – and what better way to welcome them than some fresh new bubblies and pink wines?

Krone The Phoenix Prestige Cuvée, aptly named for the mythical bird that is cyclically reborn from the ashes of its predecessor, was released recently to celebrate renewed energy – vineyard expansion and renovation of the cellar – at its historic Twee Jonge Gezellen home in Tulbagh.

Combining the best of the ’04, ’05 and ’06 vintages, all matured on the lees for at least 10 years, the aim is to develop a distinctive “house style” as the flagship of an already superb range of vintage Methode Cap Classiques (MCC).

And it really is superb, worthy of its “prestige” tag – liquid gold in the glass with heady blossoms-and-biscuit nose to match, classic fine mousse of tiny, gentle bubbles, and overall feel of gentility and elegance. The long maturation lends creaminess and complexity to the flavours of crisp green apple and lemon cream, with fresh-baked bread bubbling through.

It’s a classy “all-rounder” to suit diverse tastes, not bone-dry but nowhere near semi-sweet, and very far from middle-of-the road.

Distinctively packaged – an elegant jet-black bottle in a black box, with a flash of bronze for its mythical namesake – The Phoenix will make a great gift, if you can bear to part with it. Recommended retail price is around R280 (spotted at Preston’s last week for R269).

Krone have also released a pink partner to the Night Nectar Demi-Sec MCC named for the tradition of night-harvesting started at Twee Jonge Gezellen. With its rich flavours and sweetness, Demi-Sec (semi-sweet) is said to be closest in style to the early French Champagnes.

Krone Night Nectar Demi-Sec Rosé 2015 (around R110) would make a great wedding wine – pretty blushing pink colour and loads of pretty strawberry-cranberry fruit. It’s got the classic creaminess and fine mousse of a quality bubbly and a full fruity after-taste – great for brunches, poolside, picnics, and the makers suggest pairing it with Asian cuisine, fruity desserts or lemon tart.

Pretty doesn’t have to mean pretty insubstantial. Pink wines are starting to move away from just being light and fruity into some serious – and seriously enjoyable – wines.

Take Steenberg Rosé 2016 (R80 cellar door) – their maiden vintage, blending spicy Syrah with the soft perfume of Cinsault to make a substantial pink. Vibrant coral, bursting upfront with watermelon, rose petals, and wafts of rosemary and thyme, with structure in the dry leatheriness you’d expect from these Rhone varietals.

Newly re-packaged and re-launched, the striking rose-gold metallic embossed label of Boschendal Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2016 echoes the colour of the wine inside.

Open the bottle and it’s fresh, easy-drinking, with upfront delicate floral notes and red berries from the Pinot Noir, and the Chardonnay coming through with golden butteriness. Parts of each are fermented or matured in wood – giving some subtle spicy notes, structure and complexity to a delicious wine.

Bring on summer!

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