Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bubble Trouble

After last year, Sash and I were very excited about once again going to the Franschhoek Champagne Festival. Any excuse to visit this lovely town and that coupled with bubbly makes it a very easy decision to make. With such high expectations I guess it is inevitable though that disappointment follows…

With supposed limited tickets available, I was very careful to get our booking a month in advance! However, on the day the event was extremely crowded - apparently limited ticket numbers are more about marketing and not determined by event capacity! This was not aided by 40 degree weather and a complete lack of sufficient shaded seating.

The success of the event and large attendance is testament to the positive word of mouth this festival has generated. Unfortunately it seems that this success has been to its own detriment as indicated by the absence of popular Champagne house who were present last year; i.e. Moët et Chandon, Bollinger and Mumm. This absence is not necessarily a bad thing as the growth in the availability of quality Cap Classiques in SA has been phenomenal, but what really is a Champagne festival without Moët? Clearly only a sparkling wine festival, and lacking a lot of sparkle at that! In addition, we were extremely disappointed by the lack of imagination and innovation with regard to food offerings and was just not up to the standard we have come to expect and love from Franschhoek. Especially sub-standard examples were Tempura Prawns (Haute Cabriere), Bobotie, rice and sambals (Boschendal) and Calamari Spring Rolls. Luckily Bread and Wine put in another stellar performance – although difficult to eat with out a table in front of you, their Smoked salmon trout with scallop brandade on sheet bread was the perfect bubbly accompaniment.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. We first tasted Tanzanite MCC at last year’s festival and were thoroughly impressed. Recently we have been unable to track it down in stores and were starting to think that it had been discontinued. Well, thank goodness that is not true, and Melanie is very much still up and running – relief! Other notables were Delamotte Vintage Blanc de Blanc (oh why do I have to have such an expensive palate???), Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose and Colmant Brut Tradition NV MCC.

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