Tim Atkin’s latest report gives top score to Pongrácz Blanc de Blancs
In the definitive guide to the South African Wine Industry released by Tim Atkin, the well-known British wine writer and Master of Wine, the Pongrácz Blanc de Blancs achieved a score of 91.
Atkin tasted 1381 South African wines for his eight report on the South African Wine Industry and rates those wines scoring between 90 and 94 to be outstanding and with superior character and style on his 100-point scale.
Atkin praised the Pongrácz Blanc de Blancs commenting, “The pick of the current Pongrácz range from Andiswa Mapheleba, this is a Chardonnay bubbly that sees some barrel fermentation of its base wine. Leesy and yeasty, with notes of fresh dough, some patisserie spices and a long, persistent finish. Enjoy 2020-24.”
Blanc de Blancs (meaning “white of whites”) is arguably the most elegant style for Champagne and Méthode Cap Classique. With its beautiful finesse, crisp acidity and racy minerality it’s a joy to sip and very well suited to pairing with food.
Lively with bright zesty citrus aromas, the Pongrácz Blanc de Blancs expresses delicate Chardonnay fruit. The refreshing palate reveals an alluring creaminess, fresh lemon zest and toasty yeast, ending with a vibrant mineral-driven finish.
The grapes were hand-selected from vineyards cooled by maritime breezes and selected for their overall quality and suitability. After the grapes were whole bunch pressed, the juice was left to settle overnight, racked and inoculated with Prisse de Mousse yeast.
Once the base wine was cold fermented and underwent malolactic fermentation, it was racked to clean stainless-steel tanks and matured on the fine lees for four months. A small portion of the blend was barrel fermented to enhance the richness and flavour complexity of the final blend. The wine was then bottled for slow secondary fermentation and matured for a minimum of 36 months on the lees, in the traditional French method of allowing secondary fermentation to take place in the bottle, before the sediment was removed by the traditional methods of remuage and degorgement.
Available from www.vinoteque.co.za for around R185, the Pongrácz Blanc de Blancs is undoubtedly a special MCC to add to your collection.
Sparkle this #Capclassiqueday with Pongrácz
Celebrate the ultimate sparkling wine, Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), on national #CAPCLASSIQUEDAY on 1 September in style. Explore the elegant range of Pongrácz and some interesting facts about MCC that you might not have known!
Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France and although one can use the same methods, sparkling wines made in this style outside of the Champagne region may not call it so. Around the world sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method of allowing secondary fermentation to take place inside the bottle, creating the light, mesmerising bubbles organically. Names used around the world include Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Espumante (Portugal and Argentina), Sekt (Germany) and Crémant (France, outside of Champagne region), and in South Africa, these wines are called MCC’s.
The pop of a cork is the sound of instant joy, a world-renowned symbol for celebrating love, luxury and living a good life. MCC’s complex layers of subtle fruitiness and deep, rich, toasty brioche flavours mingle in a swirl of effervescence abundance that pair with a surprising number of dishes and occasions – from brunches to sunsets and those special, celebratory moments.
MCC is different from sparkling wine in that with sparkling wine the base wine is inoculated with carbon dioxide. This process forms the bubbles and also the reason why when you drink sparkling wine you will note very robust bubbles!
MCC wines require considerable skill from the winemaker and is a highly technical style of winemaking. For this delicate wine, the base wine is fermented inside the bottle and for a period of anything between two and seven years, the fermentation process creates the bubbles inside the bottle. The bubbles are light, elegant and subtle.
During this time spent in the bottle, the bottles rest horizontally in a cool, dark cellar whilst it matures for two years and in the case of our flagship Desiderius Pongrácz, up to six years. During this time the method of riddling or remuage takes place whereby during a meticulous process, the bottles are slowly turned to push the lees to the neck of the bottle. After riddling the sediment is removed through a process called disgorging. The necks of the upside-down bottles are placed in icy brine which freezes the top of the neck creating a plug of ice containing the lees. Once the crown cap is removed, the pressure inside the bottle ejects the frozen pellet with minimal loss of liquid.
Our winemaker then adds a special dosage of wine to the top up the bottle. Once the bottles are corked, they are left to rest a few months to ensure a perfect integration of flavour and character.
Pongrácz is composed of two noble grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, hand-picked from selected vineyards across the Cape Winelands during the cool of early morning, before the sun rises, to capture the zesty acidity and concentrated flavours of the grapes.
Our range includes the Brut, Rosé, the vintage Desiderius Pongrácz produced in limited volumes depending on the yields of only the best grapes, and the slightly sweeter Demi-Sec Noble Nectar. We can’t wait to hear which one of our special wines you have tried for this first time this #CAPCLASSIQUEDAY
Andiswa Mapheleba – Pongrácz’s protégée winemaker
“Umzingisi akanashwa” (the one who perseveres has no misfortune) is a motto lived by the protégée winemaker for the internationally award-winning range of Pongrácz Méthode Cap Classiques. And her career to date is testament to a rich and rewarding future as a winemaker.
Born in the Transkei, Andiswa (29) grew up in East London and it was during her final Grade 12 year when she attended a conference hosted by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), that her interest in winemaking was piqued.
“I was immediately drawn to winemaking because of my love for science and art, and the fact that I wanted to do something that was completely out of the ‘norm’. Since then, I’ve never looked back! It was a defining moment in my life and one that I am so grateful for.”
She completed her BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree at Stellenbosch University followed by a master’s degree in Wine Biotechnology, specialising in wine sensory and consumer research.
Her first position was an internship at Stellenzicht Vineyards where she conducted various winemaking and viticultural practices and experiments for her fourth academic year of Viticulture and Oenology. She then joined Nederburg Wines as assistant in barrel maturation and production at the end of 2018, before joining the Pongrácz team.
Now as the protégée winemaker of the range of wines made in the French tradition of secondary bottle fermentation, Andiswa says she is humbled to follow in the footsteps of past winemaker Elunda Basson.
“Prior to this, I had not been exposed to MCC wine production. I learnt so much in the time spent working with Elunda before she moved to another position. She taught me the fundamentals for MCC production, and her skills and knowledge are immaculate. In my day-to-day winemaking procedures, I constantly aim for quality by working with precision and passion – the ideals that I learnt from her.”
“I was raised by my mother who was an advocate for education and hard work, which is what I live by daily. I am ambitious, and strive for excellence and innovation in winemaking. Getting involved in ways to bridge the gap between the wine producer and the consumer is what I aim for. I would like to lead a beautiful merger of chemistry, creativity and the senses to bring more people closer to the wonderful world of wine.”
Andiswa strives for simplicity and elegance, a virtue that perfectly mirrors the elegant range of MCC’s she is now responsible for.
“MCC is multi-faceted but understated. It’s elegant and has just the right amount of richness that leaves you intrigued. Depending on the style, it consistently has the perfect balance between fruit and crispness. The mousse makes it even more memorable, without having to scream for so much attention.”
Andiswa attended the Viteff Sparkling Wine Symposium mid-October 2019 in Champagne, France, the international forum where discussions on the latest trends and technology are discussed amongst the most globally renowned producers of champagne and sparkling wine.
Pongracz Protegee winemaker shared knowledge at Inter Hotel Challenge
Pongracz is a participant in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge which focuses on the role of mentorship, the youth and their bright future in the hospitality world. During “Grape to Glass” Pongracz Protegee winemaker Andiswa Maphelaba had the opportunity to share her knowledge on making Pongracz wines with aspiring wine stewards and chefs. Usually during this mentorship programme participants visit the winery, but this year a virtual event took place which we can share with you. Find more information here.
About the Inter Hotel Challenge
“It is an honour for Distell and Zonnebloem to back the Inter Hotel Challenge for the eighth year running, demonstrating our commitment as a company to skills development and transfer. We believe that this is essential to the successful progression of the hospitality and tourism industry in South Africa, honing the incredible talent and ability of our country’s young chefs, sommeliers and wine stewards,” says Richard Rushton, the Distell Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
“We in the industry are at the forefront of shaping perceptions and building the hospitality trade beyond its current strengths. This is what makes the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge such an exciting and progressive platform. It encourages the pooling of talent, skill and resources to create greater impact.”
“This is exactly what the South African hospitality industry needs right now,” commented Ashleigh Christie, Regional HR Director – Africa Minor Hotels. “There is so much undiscovered talent out there, all waiting for the chance to shine! We actively want to be a part of the process that finds and grows our new talent for tomorrow’s hospitality industry. Those of us in the industry should all strive to play a role.”
One of the important outcomes of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is the camaraderie, the coming together of the hotel industry in South Africa. Individuals and teams who normally see each other as competition, here they join forces, collaborating and generously sharing their knowledge, skills and foresight.
One of the aims of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is to promote talented young people over time taking them up the ladder of progression to becoming fully fledged wine stewards and one day hopefully to achieve the greater aim of becoming a junior sommelier in the world of wine and spirits. It is heartwarming to hear and read about the hopes and aspirations as they introduce themselves.
It is vitally important that the talent that has been so carefully nurtured has the opportunity to grow and shine. All the mentors that have inspired and urged them on are behind them every step of the way. This is a truly collaborative effort together with our hotels, to make this happen is a vote of confidence in the future of our young stars who will be taking our industry forward and upward.
BOLD INTERVIEW with Sir Abner: Male Styling Secrets
What a privilege it was for Pongrácz to chat to prominent South African designer Sir Abner to discover his bold, male styling tips. Read our mini-interview below and be sure to share this post with fellow fashion aficionados.
Pongrácz: What do you think is a universal or timeless styling tip for the gents?
Sir Abner: Know your “go-to” essentials to match up any key pieces to own any look you pull out of your closet.
- A good quality pair of jeans that you can dress up or down
- A hybrid pair of sneakers for an edgy, updated look in a suit – or paired with shorts and a formal shirt
- A good pair of derby formal shoes for all seasons, in black and brown
- A watch fit for the occasion you’re attending or celebrating and matched to the shoes you’re wearing
Pongrácz: When it comes to male fashion, what are the different elements that help create a really bold look?
Sir Abner: Different hats always add character and personality to any outfit, any time of the day and for any occasion.
Pongrácz: Do you have any bold style tips for daytime vs evening time wear?
Sir Abner: Always make the clothes express the wearer’s identity and remember style is fluid so have fun with it. The “trend” should be to copy you and not the other way around!