A Q&A with L’Ormarins’ Zanie Viljoen

Zanie Viljoen is the MCC Specialist Winemaker at Anthonij Rupert Wines, which will be showcasing some of its bubblies in the L’Ormarins range, at The Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival taking place on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14 from 12:00 to 17:00 (both days) at the Inanda Polo Club.

Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), the South African version of champagne, using the bottle-fermented process used by the French, has seen a spectacular rise in both production and sales in the South African marketplace. In 1992, there were 14 sparkling wine producers in South Africa. Today there are 220 MCC producers with some 300 MCC labels on the market. Little wonder it is the country’s fastest-growing wine style.


The dynamic Viljoen talks about bubbly and food and wine pairings:

Why are you taking part in the festival and what makes your wines stand out?
I think the Johannesburg Cap Classique and Champagne Festival is a must on the Joburg calendar for lovers of bubbly, as it will include handpicked MCC, Champagne and Prosecco producers coming together in one arena and showcasing their best. L’Ormarins, a brand which over-delivers on quality and offers excellent value for money, will be showcasing the L’Ormarins Brut Classique N/V, L’Ormarins Brut Vintage Rosé 2013, L’Ormarins Blanc de Blanc 2012 and L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé N/V.

Why is bubbly your passion?
I love it when I see people enjoying our MCCs. It makes the hard work and long wait before these wines can be released all worthwhile.

Why do you believe there has been this huge surge in the popularity of South African sparkling wines and MCCs?
I think South Africans enjoy celebrating milestones and significant events in their lives and sometimes create an excuse to do so! Bubblies, of course, are also so well suited to our warm climate and are refreshing to drink.

What has changed on the South African bubbly scene in the last decade?
We have improved our knowledge and skills enormously in the past 10 years or so. There is now a vast array of quality bubblies available which deliver on freshness, aroma, crispness and creaminess – just some of the hallmarks of a great MCC. The selection is wide and the market has something to suit everyone’s palate and pocket. It’s been a very exciting decade indeed.

Do SA consumers buy French champagne just for the image and how do we change that? They are inclined to purchase big Champagne brands because it seems sophisticated and because they simply don’t know what other great examples exist out there. Bubbly festivals such as this one put more focus on locally produced equivalents and, if we continue to tell the local stories and get the message out, we will enjoy more support from local consumers.

Does MCC provide value-for-money?
It most certainly does, as it goes through the same process as Champagne and often spends the same or more time on the lees than a well-made Champagne. We also have access to excellent quality grapes (using the same grape varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as in France) which is, of course, where it all starts!

Give us some of your favourite bubbly and food pairings?
It is socially acceptable to enjoy bubbly at any time of the day – a fluffy breakfast omelette with a mushroom filling topped with Cheddar cheese is one of my favourite pairings with our L’Ormarins Brut Classique NV. You could also pair salmon ravioli in a creamy sauce with our L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs or ripe French camembert or brie cheese with our Brut Classique Rosé NV.

Other MCC producers at The Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival – which is proudly sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth – will include Genevieve, Simonsig, Paul René, Black Elephant Vintners, Graham Beck, Silverthorn, Pierre Jourdan, Boschendal, Pongracz, Villiera, Saronsberg and Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel which was the first MCC made back in 1971 and which sold for only R3 a bottle (making it the most expensive local wine on the market at the time!). French Champagne will be represented by the likes of Bollinger, G.H. Mumm, Taittinger, Nicolas Feuillatte and Luc Belaire and festival-goers will be able to try and buy Prosecco from Sartori, Valdo and Da Luca.


By JAG Communications: /


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