As many wine lovers know, South Africa produces some superb wines and Pongrácz, for those of you unfamiliar with the brand, is part of the portfolio of Africa’s leading producer of wines, spirits and ciders, Distell, which last month launched a bold new striped rebrand of its sparkling wine range.
Being a lover of South African wines, I therefore made my way to Covent Garden on a recent sunny September lunchtime to The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen in Henrietta Street to hear about the rebrand and sample their impressive sparkling wines paired with some delicious freshly prepared seafood.
Pongrácz’s new stripes branding is a nod to the 27-year-old Cap Classique winery’s knowledge and passion for pushing the boundaries in viniculture. The company was founded back in 1990 in the well-known South African wine region of Stellenbosch and uses the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape. Since its launch back in the 90s, Pongrácz has become known for its distinctive and rather unique shape to its bottles and perhaps one of the reasons their sparkling wines taste so good is the fact that they hand pick the grapes and use the same traditional method as Champagne to craft them, ensuring they are of the highest quality.
We sampled these refined, sophisticated and bold wines with a range of foods at Oystermen. Our starter was a selection of excellent Tempura Oysters served with a Pongrácz aioli finished with jet black oestra caviar and paired with their Pongrácz Brut NV. This timeless Cap Classique has a great deal of character and complexity with crisp apple notes and the nuttiness of freshly baked bread with a blackberry fruit flavour aftertaste.
Our main course was a perfectly cooked Roast Hake, served with a squid ink risotto and peppery radish and cress salad. It was accompanied with the Pongrácz Desiderius 2009 which spends a minimum of 48 months on the lees, giving it a rich complexity along with some lively bubbles. It enjoys the nuances of fresh fruit, almonds and buttery bread and has an elegant uniquely-styled fluted bottle.
To round off our lunch, we were treated to a generous bowl of macerated strawberries and tasty mascarpone mousse served with the elegant Pongrácz Brut Rosé NV, which was launched back in 2009 and has delicate strawberry tones with a whiff of baked bread. It is perfectly balanced on the palate with a clean acidity and juicy blackberry fruit.
For those of you here in the UK who would like to stock your wine cellar with a few bottles of this fabulous sparkling wine, you’ll have to visit those people over at Amazon, where you can order their Rosé Non-Vintage Sparkling Wine, Brut Chardonnay NV Sparkling Wine, 2009 Desiderius Sparkling Wine and Chardonnay NV Sparkling Wine in cases of three.
I think that in summary, Pongrácz’s new slogan ‘Above all else. Be bold’ sums up perfectly its striking black and white stripe imagery of the rebranding and sits very comfortably with its continuing work of sponsoring zebras both in zoos and in the wild across South Africa. So not only are you drinking what I think is a superb sparkling wine, but in doing so, you are also helping to support those beautiful zebras.
Pongrácz is currently available to buy in the UK on Amazon with prices starting from £22.99 for a case of three of their Non-Vintage Chardonnay Sparkling Wines.
Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen, 32 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8NA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7240 4417
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs by Simon Burrell