English and Welsh fizz aiming to hit MCC for six

The cricket-themed ‘MCC Sparkling Wine Challenge’ will pit English and Welsh fizz against Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wines in a blind tasting in Cape Town on Sunday.

Roger Jones (Photo: The Harrow)

Roger Jones aims to boost the profile of English, Welsh and South African sparkling wines through the MCC Sparkling Wine Challenge (Photo: The Harrow)

Organised by chef Roger Jones of the Michelin-starred Harrow in Little Bedwyn, the blind tasting will be held at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, which recently played host to the England cricket team during its second test draw against the Proteas.

Eleven wines will be put up from both regions and will be matched against similar styles, Jones explained, with judging undertaken by the team captains, senior wine judges including Angela Lloyd and Winnie Bowman, and a host of international invited guests.

Offering competitors the chance to win the Riedel ‘Braai’ Trophy (in a nod to the Ashes trophy for which England and Australia cricket teams compete), the MCC Challenge will invite 30 members of the press, winemakers and other guests to pick their personal top 11 wines based on a blind tasting. Scores will be then be processed to find the best wines from each team.

The team captains for the event will be Peiter Ferreira, from Graham Beck Wines, representing South Africa, and Richard Morris, from Ancre Hill Estate, representing England and Wales.

Among the guests at the tasting will be David Edmondson from the British Consulate in Cape Town and Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA). As well as Richard Morris, Pippa Goring, owner of Wiston Estate in West Sussex, will be flying out from the UK for the event.

Jones is currently in South Africa on a culinary and wine tour, including hosting dinners and tasting events. He has previously worked with WOSA in the UK, most recently in October promoting food and wine matching at the South African High Commission, as well as hosting a masterclass on the subject for the press and trade.

“With the English and Welsh sparkling wine industry building at such a pace, this will be a fabulous stage to highlight the quality of these wines outside the UK, and we are delighted to work with the UK Trade & Investment to promote these Sparkling Wines,” Jones said.

“We are here to enhance both English and Welsh sparkling wine as well as South African Methode Cap Classique.

“The only difference from the cricket is although normally the England and Wales Cricket Board/team ignores the Wales bit, our team is captained by Richard Morris from Ancre Hill in Wales and there are three wines from Wales.”

The MCC Challenge follows a Little Bedwyn World Sparkling Wine Challenge held at the Harrow last August. That tasting pitted English, French (Champagne) and South African (MCC) sparkling wines against each other, with Stellenrust of South Africa earning the top spot, beating the likes of Cristal and Dom Pérignon. Charles Heidseick Rose Reserve NV finished second with England’s Hattingley Valley Kings Cuvée 2011 and Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009 finishing joint-third.

The ‘teams’ for Sunday’s MCC Sparkling Wine Challenge are as follows:

South Africa: Silverthorn, Villiera, Stellenrust, Le Lude, Steenberg, Domaine de Dieux, Graham Beck, Simonsig, Altydgedacht, Sparklehorse and Colmant

England and Wales: Ancre Hill Estate, Llanerch, Sugrue Pierre, Wiston Estate, Hattingley Valley, Coates and Seely, Hush Heath, Herbert Hall, Alder Ridge, Ridgeview

More details on the event can be found on the WOSA website or by following Roger Jones on Twitter at @littlebedwyn.

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