Krone’s ethos of preserving the distinct characteristics of each harvest is in keeping with the grower Champagne movement in France, writes Malu Lambert.
Having just flown over Stellenbosch, Tulbagh quickly comes into view below. The pilot flying the helicopter points out Twee Jonge Gezellen’s vineyards on the eastern slopes of the Saronsberg Mountain. As the farm’s historic Cape Dutch buildings dating back to 1710 come into view, it feels as if we’re transported back in time.
The reason for our trip is to bring a small group of guests to the estate for the launch of the Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016. Inspired by the grower Champagne movement in France, where the focus is on the vineyard and site rather than conforming to a house style, the Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grapes sourced from the 34-year-old Kaaimansgat vineyard.
Krone marketing director Abigail Rands has come up with an ingenuous way to transport us to the vineyard located deep inside a blind valley in the Elandskloof ward of the Overberg, 700 m above sea level. Sensorily. She has asked perfumer Agata Karolina of House of Gozdawa to create a scent that evokes the Kaaimansgat terroir. Sweet-scented smoke, pluming from sugared Ethiopian wood embalmed with oils being burnt over hot coals, beckons us to the official entrance of the estate, one of the heritage buildings, a permanent white shrug on the landscape. Agata performs a hand-cleansing ritual for each guest with a salt scrub steeped in fynbos to mark the start of this unique tasting.
“I wanted to capture the character of the valley and the wine created from its very earth,” Agata says. “I incorporated the extracted oils of three indigenous plants, wild rosemary, African wormwood and imphepho or liquorice plant, to transport guests through the days, seasons and shades of temperature and light, to live the life of the vine and create a sense of the space, not just the replication of its smell.”
This is not your typical wine tasting. But it’s typical of the kind of forward thinking that has seen Krone transformed under the custodianship of the Rands family. Abigail explains the thinking behind the 180-degree turn. “When we bought the farm seven years ago it was important for us to create a new identity for the Krone brand and completely change the way Krone MCC was made in the past. We dropped the name House of Krone and shifted our energies to making vintage Méthode Cap Classique. When making vintage MCC you celebrate the unique idiosyncrasies that each harvest brings. It was important for us that everything we did had soul. We deeply respected the heritage of the farm, but we knew that without innovation and a clear vision we were going nowhere.”
The Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs 2016 is a manifestation of this ethos. A long table has been set up in the courtyard for the tasting and lunch. Among the guests is celebrated viticulturist Rosa Kruger. “The Kaaimansgat vineyard is an exceptional high-altitude site of extremes,” she says. “The unirrigated old vines are planted on the steep foothills of….
A full version of this article appears in the September 2019 issue of WineLand Magazine with the headline: “Seeing the bigger picture”. Buy your copy here
Malu Lambert is a freelance food and wine journalist who writes for numerous titles including Food & Home, Good Taste, The Sunday Times, Winemag.co.za, Wine.co.za, WOSA and more. She has achieved Level 3 via WSET and won the title of Veritas Young Wine Writer 2015. She also owns story-telling company Fable, which works with high-end food, wine and hospitality brands. Follow her: @MaluLambert