Bubbly for breakfast
Neil Pendock knows exactly how to celebrate a sunrise
Red Marauder may have been the slowest horse in 118 years to win the Grand National when he romped home in 2001, but his owner was so chuffed, the next morning a champagne breakfast was served to the victor in his stall.
So what champagne do you serve a horse? For one called Red, presumably a rosé. Or perhaps a sparkling red, like the funky Cape Jazz shiraz (R58) from Franschhoek's Solms-Delta. This one has the added benefit of an abstemious 9% alcohol content.
Current legislation is not too clear on the rules for serving alcohol to animals. But then, who will tell an elephant it's against the law to pretend to get drunk on marula berries? Certainly not the makers of Amarula.
French is really the only acceptable bubbly to serve at a champagne breakfast. And with the Consumer Protection Act now in full force, it's also probably the only fizz that can legally be served.
Méthode cap classique is the local equivalent, which would convert a champagne breakfast into a méthode cap classique petit déjeuner.
Breakfasting on the wrong side of the tracks, Nederburg cuvée brut (R45) is well matched with a greasy fry-up. Made via a carbonation process that forces bubbles of CO2 into the wine rather than by secondary fermentation in bottle, it costs under R50. The fresh flavours are liquid chutney for bubble and squeak.
The MCC for a Durban July winner has to be something from Robertson, the valley of wine, roses and Pocket Power, one of the most successful South African horses of all time, who was born on Zandvliet. Owned by brothers Paul and Dan De Wet, the farm is so famous for shiraz, they don't bother making bubbly. Although sparkling shiraz is a serious drink down under (try the Rockford) and in Franschhoek.
For brut, they probably go to their distant kinsman, Peter De Wet at De Wetshof, for his yeasty 60:40 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir (R180). Peter's dad Danie is Mr Chardonnay, who credits the limestone content of his Robertson soils for the chalky grip of his wines, and the minerality of Robertson bubblies makes them a good foil for fried eggs.
Limestone explains why the late Graham Beck established his giant fizz factory just outside town, though he channelled most of his equine energy into a stud in Kentucky, a state more famous for bourbon than bubbly. But bourbon with breakfast was best left to Hunter S Thompson.
A farm that knows a lot about breakfast is Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh, as they harvest their grapes at night. A bottle of their stellar Krone Borealis 2008 (R75) is a great way to end a nightshift with a breakfast of brioche.
For something different, try the Bramon sparkling sauvignon blanc (R130). It is made from grapes grown in the crags outside Plettenberg Bay by Anton Smal, who learnt his trade at Stellenbosch sparkling superstar Villiera.
SA plutocrats can now nibble on their rolls, ham and emmenthal with a glass of locavore bubbles in a crystal flute, minimising their carbon footprint in a most elegant way.