At the 2013 Amorim Tsogo Sun Cap Classique Challenge, Ayama Wines, located in Paarl, was one of the 24 wineries to be awarded with a “Highly Recommended – Gold Medal” recognition, with their 2009 MCC’s, Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Brut, a fantastic quality sparkling wine, to impress your friends!
Positioned in the Perdeberg foothills, 100% Italian investment, making wine since 2005 by winemaking and viticulturists duo, Michela Sfiligoi and Attilio Dalpiaz.
Below is an exclusive interview with Michela and Attilio about their house style, winemaking philosophy, sourcing of the grapes for his range, and what makes their sparkling wine specials, they are certainly worth a visit (by appointment) over the holiday and festive season and their bubblies, should be high on your purchase lists, this summer, seek them out at Food Lovers Market.
Tell our readers a little more about your winery and how long you have been making wine and why your chosen location to make wine and in particular MCC, what is special about your site?
It was a beautiful sunny day, when we first saw SLENT in January 2004. It was love at first sight: we knew this place was special, and would mean so much to us. Both passionate about agriculture and wine, proudly Italian but in love with South Africa, with its history, its people and its awesome natural environment, we were looking for a farm to buy and live. It is almost 10 years now since that day and we have worked hard to understand climate, soils, varietals, bio-diversity and different cultures. It has taken some time to adapt Italian roots to all this. But belief and passion gave us the ability to rise to the challenge, and the strength to succeed. The first day of the harvest in 2005 was unforgettable, and it will be part of the Slent story for ever. We named the wines “AYAMA” – a Xhosa word meaning “someone to lean on” – as owners we believe Slent adventure leans on friendship and love for nature and people. Together with our partners, all Italian friends who love South Africa and have deep faith in its future, we wish to keep this farm deeply connected to its vibrant past, and to grow the place and its people towards an even better future. Producing MCC was a dream for us when we were living in Italy and it became true in SA. We just love them.
Explain us your viticultural approach and philosophy, as we all know, it’s all starts in the dirt to make very good to great wines?
Attilio has always been exposed to different approaches and philosophies being consulting different farms in Friuli (North East of Italy) as agronomist. After few years on Slent and willing to produce very good bubbles we both agreed on sourcing the best grapes in cooler areas. Both our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are sourced in farms located in Robertson and Elgin. Character, finesse and flavors are special on these areas.
Viticulturist are very often the unsung heroes of the South African wine industry and we all know, demanding style such as MCC, needs optimum grape quality, tell us more about your viticulturist?
Most is said above, except for he is surely not unsung hero here at Slent being the most beloved man and boss, especially for his cooking! J
MCC’s will never be Champagne, however the quality are of a very high standards and represents some of the very best value bottle sparkling wine in the world, tell us more about the climate and soil your grapes come from?
Robertson and Elgin are great areas for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.The climate can be described as Mediterranean. Within these areas the vineyards are planted in different soils on varying slopes and this adds to the complexity of fruit.
Do you have any preferences over site specific, i.e Estate / region/district/ward wine of origin over Western Cape / Coastal Region blends, if so give us more details?
The amazing thing in South Africa for us is the possibility of grapes in different areas than ours. We love the Voor Paardeberg, but surely to warm for grapes for bubbles. Our MCCs are Western Cape blends, being selecting in different areas.
How long you have been making MCC?
We started with 2008 vintage.
How many styles of MCC’s you produce under your brand?
We do have a Blanc de Blancs, a Brut and a Rosè.
Tell us more about your winning MCC and it’s winemaking process as well as the percentage blends if any making the final wine?
AYAMA MCC Brut 2009 is a combination of Pinot noir 54% and Chardonnay 46%. Matured on lees, in bottle for 24 months.
The grapes were hand harvested into bins, in the cool of the morning. They were then whole-bunch pressed and only free run juice was used for final blend. Select yeast was used for primary fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine was blended and bottled, where it then underwent the iconic MCC fermentation. This was followed by bottle maturation of approximately 24 months, and only then was it disgorged, corked and labelled.
What is your view on Reserve wine added prior to dosage, what would be your average percentage, if any use in your house style?
We are more Italian style oriented, we love the freshness and the character of the 100% vintage declared on the label. Might be difficult some years to get the same standard, but isn’t it fun to have a challenge like working on difficult vintages?
What MCC style are your aiming for?
Elegant and lively with upfront fruit, yet creamy with slight bread dough and layered mineral flavours.
With the new emerging market locally preferring wines with higher residual sugar, what is your philosophy on dosage and where do you draw the line?
We love dry MCCs. Sugar levels around 8. Surely not the preferred style in some countries, but diversity is the unique beauty of being making wine. We have a great number of Ayama lovers who would not like a different style.
Stylistically, where do you intend taking the wine in the next 5 to 10 years?
We would love to keep the style, but increase the quality and longevity.
How many approximately bottles do you produce per each style?
12,000 each of the 3 MCCs.
Belgium, Italy J, Germany, Japan, Korea, Thailand.
Top local on trade customers supporting the wines or where can your MCC be found to be purchased and enjoy?
Food Lovers Market! And we deliver country wide to lots of people buying directly from the farm.
Some restaurants and boutique wine stores are starting buying as well.
Your favorite food pairings or recommendation to be enjoyed with your winning MCC?
We enjoy this bubbly well chilled, on its own or with oysters, sushi and other delicate seafood dishes, or with a variety of entrées. Being Italians we sometimes like it with nice Prosciutto!
Do you have a special cellar door deal for readers of MCWJ to purchase your MCC over the holiday period?
We would love to offer it at the special price of R95.00 FREE delivery for 12 bottles all over the country!
What is the average selling of your MCC’s, cellar door / retail?
It is R119.00 excluding delivery. Food Lovers Market is retailing at R100.00