MTC Wine Extravaganza makes a splash

Photos: Martha Mukaiwa

Wine imitated Venetian art, bubbly was the belle of the ball and enthusiasts took a moment to sip and swirl at the MTC Wine Extravaganza this weekend.

Returning to the Windhoek Country Club Resort from 27 to 29 June, the three-day festival was a splash of wine tasting, purchasing and appreciation.

With hundreds of excellent Namibian and South African wines on offer, the extravaganza is not an arena you enter without a plan.

Jürgen Cronjé and Conscious Musariri

Amid a sea of wine estates as popular as Babylonstoren and as niche as Dalla Cia, for me, a fan of a little fizz, the move was to focus on the bubbles.

First to catch my eye was a Christiena Trousseau, a delicious salmon coloured MCC Brut Rose made from Pinot noir, winking from a booth by Windhoek distributors Komnik & Franck.

Greeted by the amiable duo of Jürgen Cronjé and Concious Musariri, this tasting was a mix of Van Loveren winery (Robertson) history and some demystification of the traditional Champagne style MCC technique.

Clayton Christians

“MCC means Méthode Cap Classique. The difference to sparkling wine is that sparkling wine introduces some CO2, sort of like a SodaStream. You’ve got some liquid and you pump some gas in there,” says Cronje.

“MCC is different because the fermentation takes place in the bottle. It takes anywhere from 14 months to 22 months in order to form the bubbles. So although it’s dry, it has a fruity taste and isn’t a mouth full of bubbles. Would you like to taste?”

Cronje’s question is the query of the evening and my next tasting, on his recommendation, is at the Dalla Cia (Stellenbosch) presentation hosted by George Dalla Cia who expands on his Bullicante’s unique moniker.

“Bullicante is a famous glass-blowing technique in Venice where the artists will trap bubbles into the melted glass and stretch it,” says Dalla Cia.

Martha Nahambo

“So what we’ve done here is produce this as a still wine and then carbonated it at a very low temperature. We’re capturing bubbles in the wine so we call it Bullicante.”

Dalla Cia recommends one enjoy the lovely sparkling Pinot Grigio Brut with sushi, fish and oysters or as a spritz cocktail, if you enjoy Campari or Aperol. As a first time presenter reflecting on the wine extravaganza so far, Dalla Cia is enthusiastic.

“I’m having a good time,” he says. “They’ve never heard of me before which is great.”

Equally excited about the festival is Junior Burger of Lourensford Wine Estate situated in Somerset West.

“We have a bubbly for every person. We produce four Cap Classiques and I bet you can’t guess what our winemaker pairs them with? Fish and chips!” says Burger. “They did it once by accident and it was so good that now, even when we present gourmet wine and food pairings, he still pairs it with your classic fish and chips.”

This year’s MTC Wine Extravaganza is Burger’s fourth show and the annual event is also his favourite expo.

“What I like about the crowd is that it’s very diverse. Everybody loves something different,” he says. “I don’t travel a lot but, for the Windhoek one, I am always first to put my hand up.”

Clayton Christians, a winemaker presiding over a selection of Jam Jar and Braai wines would agree.

Interestingly, his wine is made at a cellar called Karibib (like our very own) in the hills of Polkadraai.

“The Namibian culture and the people themselves are so warm and loving,” says Christians, before handing me a pour of his Jam Jar sparkling blush which is a light, easy drinking bubbly beloved by buyers here at home and in the United States.

Rounding off my bubbly excursion, I sample a unique white Pinotage MCC from Deetlefs Wine Estate in Rawsonville before checking in at Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate (Namibia) where Braam Gericke urges visitors to enjoy their offering near the Naukluft Mountains.

“We’ve got wine, we’ve got people, we’ve got the vibe,” he says.

While the MTC Wine Extravaganza is certainly abuzz with tastings, live music by The Ells and a selection of food stalls, perhaps the best bit is sharing wine knowledge with the strangers and acquaintances you meet in the middle.

Enter chef and owner of Wait On Me staffing agency, Martha Nahambo, who is attending her first extravaganza and loving it.

“This is a great opportunity to really talk to other wine connoisseurs. Every once in a while, you find someone and ask: ‘Do you like that one, why?’ And you get a chance to connect with people,” she says.

As a chef, Nahambo is always thinking about which wines would pair well with a particular dish and was thrilled with the variety of wines on show at the extravaganza.

Having recently visited the Western Cape, Nahambo recommends Franschhoek as a must-visit wine region for “the wine, the food and the vibe”.

If Franschhoek isn’t easily accessible to you but you’d still like a taste of South Africa’s finest, the MTC Wine Extravaganza will be at the Ongwediva Trade Fair Centre from 5 to 6 July.

–; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram;

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