I Suck at Sabrage

November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 The one that worked.


I knew I celebrated too soon. My mission was to really work hard to crack the art of sabrage before Christmas. I wanted to first get comfy doing it with a big knife, then a teaspoon and finally – the pièce de résistance – the base of a champagne flute. I started very brightly with a sound demo of Boschendal, but I am sorry to say, it has pretty much been downhill from there.

There is a saying that ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ and I am now beginning to fear that I am going to fall into the latter category and never be able to do it, whilst suffering the ignominy of watching my first-timer students heed my words and lop the necks off with aplomb. My sorry Vinatics effort with Laborie was entirely eclipsed by both Chef Caro and guest Mobile Marian, both pretty much sabrage-Virgins and both of whom did much better than I.

And it got worse. Three times worse in fact – with Allee Bleue’s new Rosé, Rhebokskloof Chardonnay 2007 and Weltevrede’s Entheos. And the results? Well, one was finished off by my father-in-law with a knife, one by my husband with a TEASPOON (for God’s sake!!) and one by our English babysitter, John. All of them taught by me. All of them far better at it than me. Anyway, enough about the maudlin, self-indulgent failure talk – I am not beaten! I will not give in! I just need more practice so please – wine farms – any of you who have an MCC, do send it my way. I need all the help I can get!

Here’s what I thought of the wines when they were finally opened.

The ones that didn’t (well, not for me anyway).


Allee Bleue 2010 Brut Rose         R98 cellar door

This is a fun, frothy fizz rather than a serious keeper. It’s only had 9 months – the bare minimum to qualify as an MCC – on the lees but that is what winemaker Van Zyl du Toit wanted. It’s intended to be fruity rather than yeasty and it certainly succeeds in that – lots of strawberries, fresh lemon zest and zippy, lively bubbles. Nice.

Rhebokskloof Chardonnay MCC 2007     R120 cellar door

Made from 100% Chardonnay which is grown in a cool little pocket in the Paarl valley, this wine has been 20 months in tank and then a further 24 months on the lees in bottle. As you might expect, it’s richer and more complex than the Allée Bleue with plenty of brioche and lemon cheesecake flavours.

Weltevrede Entheos NV              R80 cellar door

Philip Jonker really knows what he’s doing when it comes to fizz. This was the cheapest of the three I tried, but it was my personal favourite on the day. It’s made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and has a lovely honeyed-nut elegance to it, bags of yeast autolysis (3 years on the lees) and an almost savoury finish. A delicious bargain – and it’s not often you get to say that!

4 responses to I Suck at Sabrage

  1. I have fantasies about being a swash buckling Sabrage babe! I would sooo love to give it a go but not until I have found one of those peasanty-girl dresses with a built-in Wonderbra what pushes my boozies up and out and generally helps them to defy gravity! Sigh …. I WILL manifest this moment some day soon! Sorry Cathy darling … next time … maybe! xxxxx

  2. Perhaps I shall try next with a spoon ;-)

  3. Oh now you’re just showing off!!!

  4. Ah-ha – perhaps that’s why I can’t do it. I shall go and purchase a push-up bra immediately and have another go!LOL

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