What is “Méthode Cap Classique” (MCC)?

There is nothing quite like drinking a glass of bubbly; it really is like “drinking the stars”, as Dom Pierre Perignon exclaimed! And that’s likely because of the passion, time, tradition and incredible skill that goes into producing a bottle of bubbles. Each bottle is a labour of love, and each sip is a celebration.

The process of ‘capturing the sparkle‘ is what makes producing a bottle of bubbly unique. In a nutshell, the winemaker first makes a base wine, and once bottled, the ‘liqueur de tirage’, a mixture of wine, yeast and sugar, is added. This mixture starts the second fermentation process inside the bottle. Sugar is converted to CO2, which cannot escape, and therefore the bubbles are captured inside the bottle.

Voila. Bubbly. 

The French first pioneered the traditional Méthode Champenoise method of creating a second fermentation in the bottle. South African winemakers produce great bubblies using the same bottle fermented process that the French use, but South African bubblies are not “champagne”. Sparkling wine can only be labelled champagne if the grapes are harvested in the Champagne region in France, and the Méthode Champenoise is used. 

As Cape producers couldn’t call it champagne, they had to come up with a different name, and since 1992 South African sparkling wines made in the traditional French method are referred to as Méthode Cap Classiques or MCC’s (i.e. the Cape Classic Method). The name originated from the “classic” art of winemaking introduced to the Cape by the French Huguenots. Essentially, Cap Classique is the South African version of champagne, using the bottle fermentation method and local grapes. There is a move to simply refer to South African bubbly as Cap Classique, and include ‘method’ when referring to the process of making the bubbly. 

The first Cap Classique was released in 1971 by Simonsig, making 2021 the 50th anniversary of Cap Classique. It sold for R3 a bottle, the most expensive local wine on the market at that time! No surprise that it was called Kaapse Vonkel (Cape Sparkle), just perfect! Today Cap Classique is one of the fastest-growing wine categories in the country. 

Over the years, South African winemakers have perfected the process and produced outstanding bottle-fermented bubbly that rivals many of the French bubbles – and at a fraction of the cost. South African Cap Classique is the perfect way to bring local sparkle to occasions and conversations. Cheers!

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