Drinking by yourself – Sad or secure!?

It’s a Wednesday evening – you and your family are having a quick bite to eat at the restaurant around the corner. As you sit down, your eye catches the poor soul sitting in the corner of the bar, all by himself. “Ag shame, probably drowning his sorrows, I wonder where’s his family?” you wonder with a fleeting sense of pity. Drinking by yourself! Isn’t that something we all dread?

Well, not that long ago, I was the one in the corner. Not because I had sorrows that needed drowning, but simply because I was alone in a pub on the outskirts of France and could not speak, nor understand a word of French! I was making wine for Jean-Luc Meckert in a village called Heilingenstein on the border of Germany and France. Forget Stellenbosch wine route – this place is seriously remote…and very French. My boss was the only one in the town who could speak a word of English and therefore I quickly had to teach myself to order a glass of wine with hand signals.

Jean-Luc Meckert runs a family operation. He has 7 hectares under grapes and makes about 4 types of white wine as well as Rosé and Cremant. CREMANT is the equivalent of what we here in South Africa would call “Cap Classique” and the French call “Champagne“. So what’s the deal with the 3 different names for the same thing?

These sparkling wines are all made by the same method called “Methode Champenoise“. The method was originally developed in the wine producing region of CHAMPAGNE in France.

Normal wine is bottled and enjoyed after alcoholic fermentation. But these wines are produced by means of the addition of a special yeast and slight sugar to the ‘normal wine’, immediately prior to bottling. The wine will then go through a second fermentation whilst in bottle. The CO2 by-product of fermentation then has nowhere to escape to and thus goes into solution in the wine (actually, in the water component of the wine)!

France have managed to register the term Champagne internationally as a French trade name, to sparkling wines produced in the Champagne area of France only, thus effectively prohibiting anyone else in the whole wide world from using the term to generically describe their ‘champagne’, therefore we in South Africa have cunningly elected to call it “Cap Classique“, produced by means of the ‘Methode Champenoise’ (loosely translated: The method of Champagne).

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: This wine product is produced by exactly the same process as the magical ‘Champagne’ and is potentially every bit as delectable as the ‘real thing’. And at a fraction of the price.

Normal sparkling wine, on the other hand, is quite simply wine which was pumped with CO2 (very much like coke!) So this would explain why you could easily pay R800 for a decent bottle of Champagne, R80 for a local equivalent ‘Cap Classique’ and R20 in your local supermarket for the alcoholic soda-pop version , usually called ‘sparkling wine! So to get back to the man in the corner of the bar: LET’S NOT JUDGE.

E-mail: pieter@blankbottle.co.za
Telephone: +27 (0)82 872 8658

Please note

Due to the many small batches of wines we make, availability changes on a daily basis. Please email aneen@blankbottle.co.za if you’d like to order any of our wines or if you are looking for a specific wine, and she will reply with a list of wines now selling. If the wine you are looking for is sold out, we could suggest some alternative excitement and/or we could also put together a unique selection for you.

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