WHEN cellarmaster of Krone Cap Classique, Rudiger Gretschel, returned home from a trip to France he was inspired by the grower champagne movement. “We set out to make site-specific Cap Classique a first for South Africa,” he says. “It had to be Blanc de Blancs. We knew we could express the terroir better with Chardonnay than any other grape.”
In 2016 Krone released South Africa’s first site-specific Cap Classique: the Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016. Sculpted from one of the Cape’s oldest Chardonnay vineyards, a rocky site hidden deep inside a blind valley in the Elandskloof. At an altitude of 700 metres above sea level, this distinct site experiences extreme weather conditions and high diurnal swings providing the ideal climate for quality grapes.
In the years since this landmark offering, Krone has embarked on a pioneering series exploring the most outstanding sites for Cap Classique in the Cape.
The Krone’s Site Specific Series carves a sense of place from three remarkable sites: The Kaaimansgat Site Specific Blanc de Blancs 2020; the Koelfontein Site Specific Blanc de Blancs 2020, from the soaring peaks of the Ceres Plateau; and the Twee Jonge Gezellen Site Specific Blanc de Blancs 2020, hewn from the rocky sandstone slopes of Krone’s Tulbagh farm.
Being a vintage-only Cap Classique house, Krone’s ethos is to bottle the spirit of the vines and the character of the vintage, and honing in on single site expressions was a natural progression, furthering this quest for authentic, terroir-driven Cap Classiques.
Gretschel, and his winemaking team, along with legendary vineyard consultant Rosa Kruger, were further inspired after the maiden release of the Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs to explore special sites.
Next was a site on Krone’s own Twee Jonge Gezellen farm in Tulbagh. “Tulbagh seems such an unlikely place to grow grapes for making Cap Classique,” Gretschel concedes, “but the Saronsberg and Witzenberg mountains function as a tunnel for air moving between the Atlantic Ocean and the start of the Breedekloof, reaching all the way to Robertson and beyond. Combined with the early harvesting of grapes in the region, you have grape analysis as extreme as what you will find in Champagne.”
From this special block of vines planted on rocky sandstone soils with a deep clay base came the second superlative Site Specific Cap Classique in 2019.
The third site of choice was on the Ceres Plateau. “I liked the altitude and soil potential, but it took us a while to find the perfect vineyard. When we found the Chardonnay vineyard on Koelfontein, also growing at 700m altitude, it was the perfect match,” says Gretschel. 2020 is the debut release of the third in the series, the Koelfontein Site Specific Blanc de Blancs 2020.
“To express the sites as unadulterated as possible, we keep things natural with whole bunch pressing and wild ferment in foudre,” explains Gretschel. “The Cap Classiques then spend three years on the lees in bottle, maturing in the cool of our underground cellar.”
Beautifully packaged in an elegant gift box, Krone’s Site Specific Series is available at leading local outlets such as Norman Goodfellows. For more information, click here.