The volcanic island of Dominica is home to the extraordinary diving site called Champagne Reef, and many moons ago I was fortunate enough to snorkel this beautiful part of the Caribbean. Champagne Reef got its name from the underwater geothermal springs that vent gasses in the form of thousands of warm bubbles. Snorkelling through the beads of gaseous bubbles gives one the sensation of swimming inside a giant bottle of champagne and that is exactly what I am fantasising about as we pull up in the car park at Le Lude Estate.
Le Lude is the newest of Franschhoek cellars specialising in the production of Cap Classique, and has been creating quite a stir since the release of their maiden vintage last October. Sourcing the best Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier from around the Western Cape, Le Lude produce a brut and brut rosé made in the Méthod Traditionelle. What makes them unique is that they are the first cellar to produce Agrafe ( Tirage Liege). No idea what I just said? Let me elaborate…
To produce Methode Cap Classique, a wine must undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. This is done by adding sugar and yeast to the bottled wine and then sealing it with a cap. The bottles are then left lying horizontally in the cellar for a minimum period of 15 months. Fermentation takes place within the bottle releasing carbon dioxide which, thanks to the cap, is unable to escape. Tirage Liege is the method of using a cork to seal the bottle rather than the cap. The cork is held in place by a metal clip called Agrafe. This method was used 100s of years ago in Champagne region of France and is said to impart certain nuances to the wine as it matures.
The tasting room and Orangerie Restaurant at Le Lude exude pure luxury and elegance. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards the décor is something out of a Parisian parlour. Their tasting menu includes both the brut and brut rosé MCC with an option to also sample champagne which winemaker Paul Gerber travels to Le Mesnilin in Champagne to produce. All of these can be paired with canapés or ordered with lunch or afternoon tea at the restaurant. The location is not only very romantic, but is definitely the place you take someone you want to seriously impress.
To find out more on the latest and greatest wine farms check out Kim’s blog: www.boutiquewinerytours.com
When Restaurant Tuesday – Sunday 12 pm – 3 am, Tastings Monday – Sunday 9 am – 5 pm
Where Bowling Green Avenue, Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Cost According to menu
Contact +27 87 754 9926, www.lelude.co.za
Photography courtesy Kim Rabe and Le Lude MCC