Judging Amorim Cap Classique a Highlight in Sydney’s Search for the Perfect Bubble

Tuesday, 27 August, 2019
Amorim Cork South Africa
Sydney Mello, one of the South African winemakers who has benefited from the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé programme, found himself in the judge’s seat this year as an associate judge for the 2019 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

Over two days, Sydney and five panel members went through 134 wines, the most in the history of this competition. Sydney was joined by Heidi Duminy, Cape Wine Master and panel-chair, educator Cathy Marston, sommelier Spencer Fondaumiere and winemakers Paul Gerber (Colmant) and Elunda Basson (Steenberg).

“This was my first serious judging assignment and one of the highlights of my career to date,” says Sydney, “especially as I have a real passion for Cap Classique.” During his time as CWG Protégé Sydney worked with Johan Malan at Simonsig, the first winery to produce Cap Classique.

“I have been fortunate to visit Champagne and here, surrounded by bubbles, I felt most at home,” he says. “We visited big champagne houses as well as smaller producers, giving me an insight into the wonderful world of sparkling wine. I would love to specialise in the production of Méthode Cap Classique for its complexity and mystery.”

Given the opportunity to bring his bubbly dreams to life, Sydney crafted his very own MCC in 2017, as making their own wine is an essential part of the Guild’s Protégé Programme.

“I am currently working at Lourensford in Somerset-West with cellarmaster Hannes Nel, who is something of a Cap Classique expert, so am in my element,” he says. “Judging the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, however, was incredibly exciting as you get to taste line-ups of diverse wines and style. Being a judge responsible for scoring you have to keep your wits about you. But it is so exciting seeing the different expressions Cap Classique producers are offering at breath-taking levels of quality.”

While growing up in Mahwelereng in Limpopo, Sydney’s curiosity about the intricacies of winemaking motivated him to make the journey to the Cape Winelands. After graduating from Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch, he enrolled in the Protégé Programme and has never looked back, having worked for a number of leading Cape wineries, including Le Riche, Simonsig and Lourensford.

Panel-chair Heidi Duminy says Sydney was an asset to the panel of judges. “It is always nice to have a new face and someone with a fresh approach to judging,” she says. “Sydney acquitted himself extremely well and has real talent as a taster complemented with skill and experience in the cellar. He is a welcome addition to the Cap Classique family.”

The results of this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge will be announced on 12 September.