With snow on the mountains of Stellenbosch, golden wheat swaying gently in the cold breeze amidst the vines and rain clouds threatening to burst we arrived at The House of J.C Le Roux in Stellenbosch. Water cascaded at different angles in the fountain and a red carpet led the way indoors.
We were greeted by a superbly chic and luxurious tasting hall that invited you in and begged you to sit on its sleek couches and chairs. Royal blue velvet booths, were positioned elegantly amongst white, minimalist chairs and tables whilst the lime green and silver backs lined the seating beside the walls. Light rays shone from the walls in the shapes of stars and little goblets of light hung in groups from the ceiling.
Before our tasting we wandered into the self-tour room where the creation process is highlighted on the walls along with all their bottles of bubbly. This display is perfectly placed right beside the factory with its giant glass windows which allow you to take a peek at the machinery within. A staff member Ash offered to show us around and enlightened us to the process from grape to bubbles.
When it comes to Methode Cap Classique, grapes are handpicked, whole bunch pressed so the best of the free flowing juice, cuvee, can be used. After a base wine is made from the cuvee, it undergoes a second fermentation where yeast and sugar CO2 are added which brings about the magical bubbles over time. The sediment left behind collects in the neck by daily turning and tilting of the bottles in riddling racks. Once the neck is frozen and metal cap removed, the bubbles force the residue out before liqueur d’expedition is added to balance the taste and the bottle is corked and wired.
The sparkling wines undergo a similar process but have their alcohol fermentation stopped halfway which leaves 75 grams per litre of natural grape sugar in the wine.
It was time for our tasting and Ash led us to a blue-couched booth where our bubbly and nougat waited. He took us from the dry bruts to the sweeter products which meant that we would begin with the Pinot Noir and nougat in dark chocolate. The acidity of the Pinot Noir is paired to bring out the richness of almond and honey in the nougat, but I am not a lover of dark chocolate and quickly looked to the glass on my right for something sweeter.
Next came the Rose Water Turkish Delight with the Pinot Noir Rose. This pairing was a delightful one and the rose water truly brought out the red berries and floral element as planned and left me wanting more. The La Vallee and Mango Macadamia Nougat was great middle ground for those not keen on the very sweet or the very dry.
But my taste buds really rejoiced with the final two pairings. The pretty packaging of the La Fleurette already had me interested and hence it does very well with the ladies. It was paired with Cranberry Macadamia Nougat and as a red berry lover; La Fleurette was a winner for me with its taste of berries and tropical fruits.
I almost sang a song when I saw the white chocolate nougat to be accompanied by the good ol’favourite Le Domaine.
We visited Le Fleurette’s pink room of Bachelorette heaven, took our pic in the photo booth and walked upstairs to the gentlemen’s Pongracz room with its maroon velvet chairs and study inspired by the home of Hungarian count, Desiderius Pongrácz, who revolutionised winemaking in the Cape.
With that it was time to leave the elegance, bubbly, vineyards and behind…until next time!
This experience was sponsored by JC Le Roux, but all views expressed are my own.