Krone Releases Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs With Sensory Ritual

To launch its Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs MCC, Krone invited perfumer Agata Karolina to create a scent especially for the occasion.

Kate McLuckie

When Krone, the proudly South African bubbly brand, launched its Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) last week, it did so sensorially, inviting perfumer Agata Karolina of House of Gozdawa to create a scent and hand-cleansing ritual especially for the occasion.

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Agata Karolina and Krone marketing director Abigail Rands tell us how the terroir that produced Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs came to life in a room of smoke and fynbos on the Twee Jonge Gezellen farm in Tulbagh.

Conceptualising the Launch Of Kaaimansgat Blanc De Blancs

Abigail, what made you invite Agata to be part of the launch of your Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs?

Abigail: We wanted to create a unique African dimension of sensory experiences, one that transported you through time and space and evoked memory. Agata has a deep intuitive response to scent – her nose is a gift. She brings it all together and assembles an environment, creating a frisson through contrasts.

Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and LeisureKaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and Leisure

Agata, how did you take up this challenge?

Agata: I wanted to connect guests to the terroir of the Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs MCC. To encapsulate the character of the valley and the wine created from its very earth, I incorporated three endemic plants: kapokbos, wilde als and mphepho, and used their extracted oils to transport guests through the days, seasons and delicacies of temperature and light [in this area], to live the life of the vine, creating the sensation of the space and not just the replication of its smell.

Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and LeisureKaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and Leisure

Tell us about the choice to design a hand-cleansing ceremony that happened before guests were handed their first glass of wine.

Agata: Creating a ritual rather than just a scent to be smelt was as much an homage to the process of the winemaker as to the world of creating my art: scent.

We invited guests into a private world we had built just for them, with billowing plumes of smoke greeting them at the entrance. This came from a sugared Ethiopian wood embalmed with oils, burned over hot coals. It was to settle on the fabric of guests’ clothing and on their hair, welcoming them into the headspace of the Kaaimansgat terroir.

There were also piles of salt steeped in fynbos, and plates of caramelised sugar embalming fresh herbs like amber glass, that, when melted, released a gentle sweetness alongside the fynbos. 

For the hand-cleansing salt scrub, I combined three different salts. One batch was smoked with the perfumed wood I was taught to create in central Africa, that’s used in rituals of perfuming. The second was smoked with wild harvested fresh kapokbos and mphepho, and the last batch was smoked with vetiver root.

I poured olive oil over guests’ hands, rubbed them with the blended salt scrub that was also mixed with thyme and freshly shaved lemon rind, complementing the citrus note in the MCC, and then they were gently washed with warm water. It was about coming into a place, letting go of everything you arrived with, cleansing yourself and moving on… preparing guests for what they were about to enjoy.  

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The MCC’s tasting notes describe the wine as having aromas of mandarin peel and citrus-floral scents of verbena that develop gradually into classic white-fruited Chardonnay elegance. How did you complement this?

Agata: To give you an example, mphepho has a steely, cool quality in nature, but, as an oil, it becomes richer and thicker. Balancing these characters with other oils allowed me to create a stage for the delicate white fruit to shine, expanding the notes in the MCC, allowing guests to find these secret delicacies for themselves. It was about the joy of the undiscovered adventure as guests tasted the wine and smelled the lingering notes on their hands.

The Krone Blanc de Blancs is SA’s first terroir-specific natural MCC. What does this mean? 

Abigail: It was inspired by the grower Champagne movement in France, where the focus is on the vineyard and site, rather than conforming to a house style. This terroir-driven Blanc de Blancs is made in small batches, in a natural style, meaning there’s no sulphur or any other additives. Sculpted by the vintage, it expresses the distinctive character of the Kaaimansgat vineyard, located 700m above sea level, in the cool-climate Elandskloof ward.

Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and Leisure

What makes the Kaaimansgat area so special for winemaking?

Abigail: It is a unique site where a circle of mountains surrounds the few vineyards that are planted there. At an altitude ranging from 700m to the highest vineyard planted at 890m on an adjacent estate, the difference between day and night temperatures provides the ideal climate for quality grapes and wine.

In winter, the mountains are covered in snow. In summer, the day temperatures are warm and sunny, while the nights are cool to cold. This leads to wines with a strong acidity at full ripeness and low pH, which is ideal for making MCC.

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Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs | House and Leisure

When you smell Agata’s specially developed scents and taste this unique MCC, where are you transported to?

Agata: [I think of] the movement of tectonic plates that create valleys, witnessing the growth of the grapes, the weather and time they have lived through to make them what they are today. It feels like watching a hyper-speed time lapse while standing in the valley, rooted in the ground, feeling the changes, resonating with that land’s characteristics and signature.

Abigail: As a kid, one of my favourite things to do in the summertime was to canter my horse down a citrus orchard on a neighbouring farm. It was dark green, cool and damp in the orchard, and we could escape the hot afternoon sun. As we cantered, the branches would slap against my horse’s body, releasing floral citrus oils mixing with his wild, salty scent. This wine takes me there.

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