Since the name "Champagne" is the exclusive domain of French sparkling wines made in the Champagne region, South African winemakers have had to seek a name that would relate the méthode champegnoise style and mystique to the Western Cape region. The name Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) was born. Read more about this imaginative history on the website of the Cap Classique Producers Association.
There are a number of principles we strive to adhere to in our winemaking. The first is what has become known as Biodynamics, made famous by winemaker Nicolas Joly, owner of Coulée de la Serrant in the Savennières region of France's Loire Valley. Biodynamic viticulture understands the process of growing the grapes and making the wine within the entire life-cycle of soil, moisture, nutrients and vines, including the effects of the movement of the sun, moon and planets. The goal is harmony with creation and an appreciation of the spiritual side of winemaking and living!
A second principle is reducing the amount of carbon emission in the process of winemaking. Apart from carbon reduction, some winemakers are also turning to carbon sequestration through the planting of trees, to make what they call carbon neutral wine. In South Africa Food and Trees for Africa runs a Carbon Standard programme to achieve these goals. In September 2009 we planted fifty beautiful olive trees on the plot where we stay outside Stellenbosch to begin our sequestration. Over the next fifteen years each tree will capture 500kg of carbon - and in the process we hope to make some divine Saltare Extra Virgin Olive Oil! We selected a special Sicilian variety and we can't wait to see the trees grow!
Saltare means 'to dance' in Latin
Early in January 2003 Carla invited a few of her friends to come and help her harvest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. They used a basket press to gently squeeze enough juice out of the grapes to fill one barrel. Half a year later, after the wine's first fermentation, the light rose coloured juice was bottled for its secondary fermentation.
During the course of 2004 Carla met Christoff. By the time they decided to get married the Cap Classique had aged on the lees and was ready to be disgorged. The wine had a golden hue and fine bubbles - perfect for a wedding celebration. They decided that 'the dance' will express the character of their wine - and thus the name Saltare was born (the 'e' is accentuated: sal-ta-rε).
The friends were invited
once more in January 2005 for a second vintage and since then it has become a regular happening. The Platter South African Wine Guide 2006 described the 2003 vintage as "full-flavoured, full-bodied, rich and yeasty, with lingering flavours of spicy baked apple, lively and dry" and gave it four stars. When the 2005 vintage was released it received half a star more and Platter 2008 wrote: "impressive brioche aromas, toasty, creamy yet with zesty freshness adding savoury food-friendly dimension, Chardonnay evident in fine citrus notes". These and other comments inspire us.
Carla's other muses
apart from Cap Classique include the lively Syrah cultivar and the minerally Chenin blanc cultivar. She made her first barrel of Syrah in 2004 and after 18 months in the barrel and a further three years (and counting) in the bottle the wine is maturing very well. It has layers of blueberry and blackcurrant flavours combined with spices and a full velvety palate with cherry and pepper. A 2006 vintage has been bottled and will be released by August 2009.
In 2005 we visited the Loire Valley in France and were amazed to discover the versatility of Chenin blanc. In the following year we produced our first Chenin blanc from dryland bushvines. The vines, situated outside Malmesbury in the Swartland region, produces a small yield of flavourful, minerally grapes. The wine was barrel-fermented and aged in a third-fill French oak barrel for ten months. It has elegant pineapple, orange blossom, fennel flavours and minerality. The wine received a Gold Medal at the 2007 Michelangelo Awards. The Chenin blanc 2007 was bottled and was released in July 2008.