#320 Rebel Rebel Methode Ancestrale Cinsault

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Performing under pressure

Bubbly wine – in it’s more respectable guises embodies the largest discrepancy between the leisure with which it is consumed, and the intense, technical, precise and painstaking effort with which it is produced. In the case of South African Cap Classique, or Italian Franciacorta, or French Champagne, one essentially has to produce TWO wines in series, using the first wine to produce the second wine. And *both* of them have to be good or the whole project falls flat.
What’s more, when you’re using the first wine to make the second wine, you have to seal that wine into a bottle, removing any opportunity for intervention should your yeast go rogue in the middle of it’s fermentation! It’s worth considering that if you make a still wine, at it’s simplest you manage one fermentation that will produce ALL your wine – be it 100 bottles or 10,000. When making a bottle of Champagne or South African Cap Classique (the process and vinification requirements are the same) you have a separate fermentation for every single bottle. 10,000 bottles? 10,000 separate mildly unpredictable fermentations!
Again, to compare it to conventional winemaking, even if a winemaker chooses to ferment multiple fruit parcels separately, in order to have the luxury of blending certain components after fermentation, any component that doesn’t shape up, or gets stuck, can be removed / discarded and will have no further impact on wine quality. Not so when producing Cap Classique. Once the bottle is sealed the fermentation will progress as it wills, and when it’s done, the wine has either failed or succeeded.
Science to the rescue
Of course, over centuries of scientific study – leaning hard on big brains and deep pockets – our understanding of fermentation dynamics; our precision in isolating very specific reliable yeast strains; and our understanding of the role temperature, air pressure, nitrogen levels, and vessel shape in relation to these little living yeasty creatures that produce our wines, a fairly impressive level of consistency has been achieved, with some of the world’s biggest producers of Traditional Method sparkling wine producing millions upon millions of bottles each year that not only all come out tasting the same, but are also blended across vintages in a way that almost entirely masks variation brought about by shifting weather conditions in the vineyards from year to year. I’m not sure we all fully grasp how impressive this feat is when we’re sipping, flirting, and chuckling on the terrace.
But what about the Purists?
Of course, knowing all this, the terms “Minimal Intervention” or “Natural Wine” seem incontrovertibly incompatible with the concept of “Traditional Method Sparkling wine” as outlined above. But like the skin-contact winemaking movement before it, our more adventurous winemakers looked deeper into the past to discover slightly simpler (although still supremely tricky) winemaking processes that mirrored earth’s earlier winemaking pioneers, who were successfully producing bubbly wine via a method that has come to be known as Methode Ancestrale, or the Ancestral Method. This all began roughly 140 years before the first bottles were produced via the method that has since been dubbed the Traditional method.

Method Ancestrale vs Petnat

Today’s wine – the Rebel Rebel Methode Ancestrale Cinsault is produced by winemaker Kayleigh Hattingh, and in this video we give a rundown on the length’s she has to go to in order to ensure consistency from bottle to bottle, and deliver a drink that is as fun to drink as it is to stare at in the glass! If you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you’ll have to hunt this wine down in your own time. But until then, here are my tasting notes and some technical specs:


👃🏼 The vanguard is delightfully reminiscent of a fresh cherry danish. Loads of red berry elements, toffee apple candy, and pink musk sweets, all wrapped in a lovely haze of pastry-like leesy notes
👄 The palate brims with tart pomegranate, red cherry, even some deeperr red plum. BUT, the real kicker is the synergy that comes between aromas and texture. The lovely creamy mousse lends an almost dairy-like quality to some elements of the palate, so as the wine warms ever so slightly in the glass, the fruit sweetens up, lending an almost strawberries-&-cream quality to it all.


Wine of Origin Bottelary, Stellenbosch. 100% Cinsault. The fruit was harvested on 27 February 2023 from vines (planted in 1991). The ripeness level was at 21.5⁰B. The fruit began fermenting in stainless steel tank, and was moved into bottle mid-way through fermentation. It was bottled on 21 March 2023 and disgorged on 2 August 2023.
12.11% alc | RS 3.2 g/L | TA 5.3 g/L | VA 0.4 g/l | pH 3.53.
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