Kleine Zalze, the award-winning Stellenbosch wine estate that is among others renowned for its selection of premium Cap Classique sparkling wines, has released its first range of Cap Classiques in the burgeoning Nectar category. The selection of off-dry sparkling wines comprise the Kleine Zalze Cape Nectar Blanc and a blush-hued Cape Nectar Rosé, two non-vintage products whose complexity and multi-layered flavour profiles result from using the traditional classic Cap Classique cultivars of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Kleine Zalze Cape Nectar Blanc is crafted from Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%), with the Cape Nectar Rosé reversing this order to land at a rosé-shaded wine led by Pinot Noir at 70%, the rest being Chardonnay.
Lizmari Geldenhuys, Kleine Zalze winemaker who saw her cellar winning the 2021 Amorim Cap Classique Trophy for Best Producer, says the two new wines in Kleine Zalze’s Cap Classique range were conceived as a result of growing consumer demand for the Nectar style of classically made sparkling wines, as well as to add an exciting quality element to the category.
“The approach to the Kleine Zalze Cape Nectar Cap Classique range follows our principal of beginning at excellence in the vineyard,” says Geldenhuys. “We selected fruit from vineyards specially planted to grow grapes for use in Cap Classique wines, with racing acidities and visceral varietal expression. The Chardonnay for the wines originates from the famous limestone rich soils of Robertson, with Pinot Noir coming out of cool Stellenbosch vineyards growing on decomposed granite soils, the grapes of which are renowned for giving structure and backbone, as well as colour for the rosé and firm red fruit notes.”
After the base wines had finished fermenting, the wine was placed in bottle for the process of secondary fermentation, the magical part of Cap Classique making where lees-contact composes elegance, complexity and characteristic flavour in the wines, as well as growing the vital bubble character which is the most distinguishing feature in this style. The wine spent a lengthy two years in bottle on the lees, ensuring structure and refined elegance.
“Upon disgorging to remove the expired lees from the bottle, the wine was topped with the dosage liquor which gives our Nectar the off-dry, fruit-forward character,” says Geldenhuys. “The dosage comprises Cap Classique base-wine and natural grape concentrate, lifting the final wine’s sugar component to 42 grams per litre.”
Before embarking on the making of its two Nectar Cap Classiques, Kleine Zalze had closely studied the demands of the growing market for this category, as well as similar wines on the local and international market-place.
“The interesting thing is that when the popularity of French Champagne really began taking off in the 19th century, the wines offered were sweet,” she says. “Very sweet, too – anything from 60 grams sugar per litre to over 300 grams. So, a fruitier classic sparkling wine, such as Nectar Cap Classique, is by no means a recent addition to this wine style.”
Geldenhuys says that in making the Kleine Zalze Nectar the objective is to use the slightly sweet character to complement the elegance of the Cap Classique profile.
“It is still important that the wine is bracingly fresh and lively, the most-loved feature of Cap Classique that results from picking the grapes at levels of energetic acidity,” she says. “This ensures that the dosage adds a note of floral nectar to expand on the wine’s inherent fruit flavours, while maintaining the enjoyable, life-affirming experience of drinking a chilled glass of Cap Classique. You never want to make a wine in this style that is cloying and lazy. It must be fruity, but brisk and fresh.”
Kleine Zalze Cape Nectar Blanc displays notes of green-apple, brioche and lemon zest, with a honey-suckle brightness and expansive mouthfeel leading to a clean, lasting off-dry finish.
Kleine Zalze Cape Nectar Rosé, blush-berry and salmon-skin in colour, exudes notes of strawberry and rose-petals whilst maintaining a sinewy length of harnessed energy and pleasing mildly sweet berry fruit.