ABSA Top Ten French Fizzes: #2-10

When it comes to bubbly, Bollinger play a blinder. Hats off to distributor Vinimark for using the brand to sponsor an SA sommelier competition, which for the first time, will be awarded at the Cape Town Waterfront, it’s natural home. Heck, when it was held in Riebeek-Kasteel, the punters at the Swartland Revolution didn’t even notice when a corkamorimcork ABSA Top Ten French Fizzes: #2 10
by Amorim Cork
ed bottle of Bollinger NV was poured by accident. They probably thought it was Bolly made in a Swartland style.

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So what a betrayal of SA sommeliers for WOSA not to invite an SA player to compete in their International Sommelier World Cup last week. But then WOSA has the worst track record for somms ever, failing miserably in training 2010 in time for the Soccer World Cup. We’re still waiting for the scorpions or lizards to investigate that disaster which was one of Su Birch’s worst in an accident-prone career. So pencil in the 1999 vintage Grande Annee and Rosé as #2 and #3 respectively.

Of course Moët and Veuve Clicquot don’t play and were not at the ABSA festival.  It’s  for the same reason French First Growths don’t enter the Michelangelo International Wine Awards. They know they’re the best and that’s enough for them. Of course in the case of Moët and Veuve, it’s not so clear. That said, Jo’burg’s queen of bubbles, Carrie Adams, reports selling half a million Rands worth of Dom P. recently at R2,000 a pop. Amazing what a Jeff Koons balloon dog can do for a brand, although the mutt is still for sale at Everard Read at R250K – one of a limited edition of 200.

Bubbly loves sommeliers, as the top-end are hand jobs as opposed to blow jobs which in the UK are colloquially known as “noshing.” The festival was crawling with them, including one WOSA judges, Chris Bates (below, right).

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“What’s the vintage?” I heard him ask the pourer of the Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle #4 before correcting himself, as this beauty is a multi-vintage blend. It was Carrie’s favourite of the evening.

#5, the Billecart-Salmon NV, is a wonderful food tipple as it dries out the mouth and puts the saliva glands under the whip and #6, the Rose, is a classic. Pol Roger NV #7 is steely clean but not cheap at R600 a bottle, way more than the #8 Taittinger NV at R390 and probably much more next year in Brazil when it is bubbly of the Soccer World Cup. Let’s hope they’ve a few somms on hand to pour it as WOSA couldn’t find any in Brazil.

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#9 Gosset Blanc de Blanc has shot up to R860, which confirms it was a mismark at R300 when we would buy it from Morgenhof a decade ago. Ayala NV #10 is no second label of Bolly, even though they’re owned by the same people. It has its own fresh citrus style a million miles away from the toasty richness of Bolly.  Comtesse Alexia NV is the cheapest bubbly on show at R220 and is fair value while for parties, you can’t beat a magnum of Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc NV at R795.  Which is a dozen bubblies recommended in total.  But then ABSA does give you more: twenty Pinotages in their Top Ten and now a dozen bubblies in a Top Ten.