Sparkling Wines - South Africa
The term “Methode Cap Classique” (MCC) refers to sparkling wines produced in South Africa using the traditional method, which involves fermenting the wine in the bottle. In 1968, Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch was the first winery to produce sparkling wines using this method, which were released to the market in 1971. Other wineries followed suit and began using the Cap Classique method to produce high-quality sparkling wines.
In 1992, the use of the words “Champagne” and “Champenoise” was prohibited to refer to any bottle-fermented wine that was not made in Champagne, which led to the adoption of the term “Methode Cap Classique”. That same year, the Cap Classique Producers Association (CCPA) was founded, made up of 60 member wineries working to improve quality standards. Currently, around 2.5 million bottles of MCC are produced annually in South Africa.
MCC producers adhere to voluntary quality standards, which include a minimum of 9 months on the lees and a minimum pressure of 3 bars. However, it is common for wines to remain on their lees for 1-2 years or more. Traditional grape varieties used in Champagne, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, are the most commonly used in MCC production. However, the Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc grape varieties are also gaining popularity, and the Pinotage red grape variety is used to make red sparkling wine.
The closed tank method is used to produce MCC sparkling wines. The warm climate of South African vineyards gives them a distinctive fruity flavor, which sets them apart from Old World sparkling wines. The quality of South African MCC wines is comparable to that of Champagne.
In summary, the term “Methode Cap Classique” refers to traditional method sparkling wines produced in South Africa. Since its creation in 1968, several wineries have adopted this method to produce high-quality sparkling wines. While most producers use traditional Champagne grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, popular white and red grape varieties in South Africa are also used. The quality of South African MCC wines is comparable to that of Champagne, and around 2.5 million bottles are produced annually.