South African sparkling wines are a force to be reckoned with, says Danielle Coetsee (née Jacobs), the Methode Cap Classique winemaker at Boschendal Wine Estate in Franschhoek in the Western Cape.
She believes our local bubblies will continue to see growth and appreciation in the international market. The Cap Classique category, specifically, is world-class and holds its own against other traditional method producers worldwide. And Coetsee says there is a uniqueness to South African sparkling wines that cannot be reproduced elsewhere.
Coetsee recently received the prestigious Woman Winemaker of the Year award at the 2020 South African Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards (SAWWA).
With an estimated 10% of winemakers being female worldwide, this recognition is especially poignant for the 335-year-old Boschendal and Coetsee alike.
Inspired by the likes of Norma Ratcliffe, Fiona Mcdonald, Elunda Basson and Andrea Mullineux, Coetsee is a strong voice for female winemakers in the industry.
Her intuition and empathy shines through, and she’s determined to be a role model for young women entering the profession. Coetsee is also recognised as one of Food For Mzansi’s “21 faces of summer”.
You are such an inspiration, Danielle! How did you end up in winemaking?
I grew up in the northern suburbs of Cape Town and it was my uncle’s stories that piqued my interest. Initially, I fell in love with the idea of producing wines that people could appreciate and enjoy and having creative freedom, knowing that each vintage would hold its own challenges. But even later on, when the science, experience and hard work required became evident, it only motivated me more. And nothing feels as good as getting your hands dirty during harvest.
Who played a vital role in your wine journey?
All the people I have worked with along the way have had an influence on me and my style and technique. Winemaking is rarely a one (wo)man show and requires help and support from many people and suppliers. But the team at Boschendal, previous and current winemakers, have been paramount in the success of the Cap Classiques.
And your biggest challenges?
Seasonal weather fluctuations and unpredictable changes that affect vineyards and grape ripening.
What is your secret to your success?
An amazing support system, both at the cellar and at home. Being patient, but diligent in the strive to produce top class Cap Classiques. And also taking criticism as it is received. If it is constructive, use it. If it is harsh, don’t allow it to evolve into self-doubt or break your confidence.
What’s it like being a woman in a male-dominated space?
You have to stand your ground. There are many gentlemen in the industry, but there can also be bullies. But if you are consistently firm, but fair, people will hopefully respect you and your resilience.
Are there any vinicultural practices that differentiate you from the rest?
We are meticulous with our block selection for all our wines, but especially with Cap Classique production. You need to know your block and monitor its progress and production. The Elgin, Stellenbosch and Boschendal grapes we take in are chosen and allocated for their specific qualities and designated styles that we wish to produce. You need to know your vineyards to know what the end-product will be in your wine.
More about Boschendal Wines
Boschendal Brut MCC
The long labour of love that is the making of this premium MCC begins with a whole-bunch press in separate lots to capture all the grapes’ natural flavours. Only the finest free-run juice gets used for fermentation.
Pale gold with a flourish of delicate bubbles and enticing lemon cream and almond Biscotti precede lovely layers of citrus and a finish with appealing length and freshness. Maturation on the lees provides a well-rounded, creamy mouth-feel with mouth-watering minerality, good balance and a seamless finish.
Enjoy well chilled on its own or as the perfect partner for panko-crusted prawns with lemon-garlic aioli, gourmet mac and cheese with parmesan and pancetta or fresh oysters. Celebrate with friends and family, and a Boschendal MCC Brut, at R1 049.94 per case of six bottles.
Boschendal Grande Cuvée Vintage Brut
Top quality Méthode Cap Classique can only be made from grapes cultivated in meticulously maintained vineyards, and this one specifically has an intensive harvesting practice to enable its premium tastes. Two weeks before harvest, leaves are removed from the vine between bunches within the canopy, taking care that grapes are exposed to direct sun for that time.
Expect tastes of fresh green apple and hints of citrus supported by discreet almond biscotti and brioche typical to classic bottle fermented sparkling wine style. Extended lees contact gives a full and creamy mouthfeel with elegant minerality, good balance and a seamless finish.
Enjoy chilled at any time of the day with good friends and good quality smoked salmon. Also excellent with a cream cheese and chive breakfast. Buy six bottles of this Vintage Brut for R1 620.