Martin Brut Cap Classique 2017 – Ambeloui.
For those who like sparkling wine there are a lot of options to choose from. Recently we have talked about great sparkling wines from England and there are many more upcoming regions and countries that are delivering excellent sparkling wines. One of those countries is South Africa.
South Africa has the right conditions to grow Chardonnay and Pinot varieties, putting them in an excellent position to produce sparkling wines. For their production most producers use the “Champagne Method” which they refer to as Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) or in Afrikaans “Vonkelwijn” (which translates into “sparkling wine”).
There are a lot of excellent producers with an outstanding track record, but like with every style and region there is also the occasional “hidden gem”. In this review we are revealing one of those, produced by a boutique family winery called Ambeloui. The home of fine handcrafted Méthode Cap Classique.
About the Winery
Ambeloui (Cypriot for “little vineyard”) is founded by the Christodoulou family that built and expanded this gem into one of South Africa’s best-known secrets. This adventure started when Nick Christodoulou moved himself and his family to Hout Baai Valley in South Africa’s Western Cape, in pursue of his dream to have his own vineyard and winery.
Their project started with the planting of the first vines in 1995 (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). All the work in the vineyard and cellar is done by hand, with care and passion. What makes their wines even more personal is their names. Every vintage carries the name of a family member, like this 2017 “Martin”. Their pure focus lies on producing high quality Méthode Cap Classique wines, using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Ambeloui always releases their wines in the first weekend of November. This is the moment when you can get your hands on some of this liquid gold, but don’t be late, it’s a first come first serve basis. The wines age about 2-3 years and there are only about 700 bottles available each year.
By now you probably get why these wines are so special and wanted.
About the Wine
The 2017 Ambeloui is named “Martin” the husband of the family’s oldest daughter Lisa. Martin is a blend of Pinot Noir (55%) and Chardonnay (45%) that has seen its share of ageing (over 3 years on the lees and 2 years on the cork).
In the glass a deep golden colour, followed by a rich and complex nose of floral aromas, ripe stone fruit and brioche. This is a well-balanced sparkling with a round body and refreshing acidity. The aftertaste is long and filling, leaving you with a generous farewell.
Conclusion: Ambeloui has built a cult-following in South Africa and we totally understand why. It is rare to find so much love and craftsmanship in a bottle of sparkling wine, made of top-quality grapes that are handled with care and patience. One of the best sparkling wines we have enjoyed and one of its kind.
We thought about keeping this secret to ourselves but since they family’s motto is “sell until we sell-out” you will just have to be quick and jump at the opportunity when it arises.
We end with an advice by Nick Christodoulou himself: “Savour every drop, you never know whether you will find another bottle”. Which is very true, and for good reason!
We award this wine with a 93/100 DWA score. It is available at Pasteuning Wine & Spirits. Supply is irregular so buy when you can.
Taste date: December 2022
Score: 93/100 DWA Score