On Thursday I popped in at Grande Provence, to try its new MCC & Oysters 3-Ways Tasting.  Each of the three Grande Provence sparkling wines was paired with a special oyster dish, a novel tasting pairing.  

I had received the media release for the very recently introduced oyster and MCC pairing from GC Communications, the Communications Consultancy for Grande Provence, so allocated an hour of my afternoon to a visit to try this new pairing. I am particularly partial to oysters. I had notified GC Communications about my planned visit, but this message did not appear to have reached the Grande Provence staff. 

The Tasting Room staff looked at me with big eyes, when I asked where the Grande Oyster Bar is, a black board sign at the entrance to the Tasting Room announcing the service as well as the price of the pairing at R160. I have known Alex, since when he first started there as a waiter, and he made things happen, clearly having been promoted. What had happened was that the Oyster Bar had been incorporated into a wedding celebration on the lawns furthest away from us, but obviously not accessible to us as non-wedding guests. It took some time for the tasting and pairing to be organized, and I was nervously checking for time, having to be elsewhere at 18h00. 

In a most serendipitous moment singer Louise Howlett, a friend from Cape Town, walked past me, having just finished singing for the wedding, and needing to kill an hour of time before meeting friends in Stellenbosch. I invited her to join me, and she told me that oysters and bubbly are her two loves. She enjoyed a tasting experience me, a first for her. By now Charlon Bougaard was setting up our tasting and pairing, and told us that he has worked in the Grande Provence Tasting Room for five years already. 

A plate of three West Coast oysters arrived for each of us, and we were to try three Grande Provence MCCs for their new signature oyster pairing, devised by Executive Chef Guy Bennett: 

#   The Grande Provence Brut MCC NV is a blend of equal portions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which was on the lees for 12 – 15 months. This MCC was paired with an oyster with homemade wasabi mayonnaise (not overpowering in taste) and spring onion. The MCC gave green apple and citrus flavors. 

#   The Grande Provence Brut Rosé MCC is a new addition to the wine estate’s MCC range, a blend of 80% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinotage, the latter giving it its pink colour. Its flavour profile is of wild berries and citrus. The wine spent 12 – 15 months on the lees.

This MCC was paired with an oyster with pickled daikon, and an Asian soy sauce and sesame dressing, with mirrin and a touch of garlic. 

#.  Chef Guy’s pairing for the flagship Grande Provence Vintage Brut 2011 was also with an Asian twist, the oyster adorned with tiny yuzu pearls, made from the juice of fragrant oriental lemon, adding a burst of refreshing citrus to uplift the complexity and rich
mousse of the blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It spent up to five years on the lees. It has a richer yellow colour, and tiny bubbles. 

All three Grande Provence MCCs are made in the French tradition, using only the best quality free running juice from whole bunch pressed grapes. To create the fizz, the blended base wines undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. Once fermentation has been completed, the wine is matured on spent yeast cells, known as the lees, for an average of 13 months in the case of the Brut and Rosé MCCs, and at least five years for the Vintage Brut.

The pairing and tasting was well presented by Charlon, and we finished just as it was time to continue my journey. The Hospitality Manager Marna sent me a photograph of the Oyster Bar, and has promised to send me more, as we were not allowed to photograph it where the wedding party was. We were surprised when I was told that we did not have to pay, a generous treat gifted by Marna, the staff told us. We really enjoyed this pairing experience, and for it allowing us a short interaction with Chef Guy. 

Grande Provence MCC & Oysters 3-Ways Tasting, Tel (021) 876-8600. www.grandeprovence.co.za Twitter: @grande_provence Instagram: @grandeprovence  Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 17h00. R 160.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein