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Bubbling over with innovation
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The first ever MCC was made in 1971 at Simonsig, the now famous Kaapse Vonkel (Cape Sparkling). Though it was only in 1992 that the term Cap Classique was first used, and has since then defined the category, M├ęthode Cap Classique or MCC, is the term for sparkling wines made in the same traditional method as champagne, where the wine undergoes second fermentation in the bottle.

We are not bound by the same laws in South Africa as in Champagne, meaning we can experiment with different cultivars (chenin, pinotage) though chardonnay and pinot noir are the most widely used here too. We can also try different ways to get the bubble in the bottle, such as method ancestral or the charmat method, though it’s important to note, the wine can only be called MCC if it goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle and if it spends a minimum of 12 months on the lees.

Here are some bubblies that have captured my imagination over the last few months, made in different styles and methods; innovative festive fizz to create talking points around the Christmas table; way more intriguing than those cracker jokes in any case.

Pieter Ferreira Blanc de Blancs 2012

Pieter Ferreira Blanc de Blancs has just been awarded as the Newcomer Winery of the Year 2019 by Platter’s by Diners Club Wine Guide and rightly so. Crystalline, piercing acidity straight out of Champagne. The most masterful structure, complex, precise and enticing. Is this the best MCC ever made? I’m going to say YES! In the making the chardonnay was hand-selected and handpicked from vineyards in Robertson and Darling.After whole bunch pressing the juice was fermented in stainless steel with a portion fermented in traditional oak barrels. After the first fermentation, the wine was prepared for secondary fermentation in the bottle. The wine was left on the lees for five years before the sediment was removed in the traditional process of remuage and disgorgement. The bottles were then corked and laid down for a further six months cork maturation. Aromatics of apple and lime with yeasty notes of brioche tease into a pure, precise palate with a long, taut finish.

Approx. R385

Krone Amphora Blanc de Blancs 2017

Made in small batches, the grapes were sourced from South Africa’s most famous chardonnay site, the 31-year-old Kaaimansgat vineyard, located 700m above-sea-level, deep inside a blind valley in the Elandskloof ward in the Overberg. The high altitude along with the high diurnal range combine to create the ideal climate for good quality grapes. This MCC was made in a natural style, meaning no enzymes or sulphur have been added. The base wine was fermented in amphora, following secondary fermentation in bottle, at disgorgement no dosage was added and it was bottled unfiltered and unfined on the lees. The result is a pure, austere expression of chardonnay, absolutely singing with citrus. On the palate the citrus graduates into white pear and peach with nuances of buttered almonds, with a long, vibrant finish.

Approx. R500

Testalonga’s El Bandito I Am The Ninja 2019

From South Africa’s unofficial king of natural wines, Craig Hawkins, comes this intriguing ‘pét-nat’, which is short for pétillant naturel, basically French for ‘naturally sparkling’. This method is also called méthode ancestral and actually pre-dates champagne, with records showing the original sparklers were made in the Limoux region in the south of France in the early 16th century by monks. The wine is bottled prior to fully completing its first fermentation, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced by the natural sugars found in the grapes.I Am The Ninja is 100% chenin blanc, sourced from dryland bush vines planted in 1961 and farmed organically. The grapes were hand-harvested then fermented in a fibreglass tank. It was racked six times during fermentation to remove the sediment. It was then bottled under crown cap where it was left to finish fermentation to build up a natural pressure of carbon dioxide. After 10 months the bottles were riddled and disgorged and topped with the same wine and crown capped again. No SO2 was ever added to the wine and neither was any settling or fining agent. Testlonga’s pét-nat’ has a light, fine, creamy fizz, offering super fresh fruit flavours of green apple and white pear.

Approx. R210

Stellenrust Chenin Blanc Sparkling Brut

No stranger to innovation, winemaker Herman Du Preez has just been crowned The 2019 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year for his white cinsault, The Apprentice. The Stellenrust Chenin Blanc Sparkling Brut is also unusual in that it is made in the so-called 'Prosecco' style, with the second fermentation happening in the tank, rather than in the bottle. This is known as the Charmat method. Made from 15-32 year old bush vine chenin as well as 34-year-old Muscat de Alexandrie bush vine, it produces a fruit-driven aromatic fizz, redolent of apples and lime, with a rounded mouthfeel from the three months of lees contact in the tank it had prior to bottling.

Shop it now, delivered to your door in SA for only R590/6-bottle case

Kleine Zalze Methode Cap Classique Non Vintage Brut Rose NV
Pinot Noir led (60%) this MCC delivers all the red fruit its blushing hue promises. Red apple, cherry and strawberry, led to a structured mid-palate, those pinot shoulders; with a persistent mousse, and a lemony finish. All ingredients that make this a fantastic wine to pair with festive dishes such as duck and gammon. 

Shop now, delivered to your door in SA for R930/6-bottle case

Graham Beck Bliss Nectar NV
Pop this one for dessert, a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir the Bliss Nectar is bottle-fermented for 12 months on the lees. A special selection of liquer d’expedition was added after disgorgement to produce a sweeter style of Cap Classique, known as a demi-sec. Punchy aromas of strawberry and peach, jasmine tea and subtle spice lead to a honeyed, plush palate with juicy berries and sun-warmed orange.

Shop now, delivered to your door in SA for R1212/6-bottle case

My other go-to bubbly houses are Silverthorn in Robertson, Charles Fox in Elgin, Colmant in Franschhoek and Domaine des Dieux in the Hemel-en-Aarde.

Browse the Bubbly Selection for more festive fizz 



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Off the R44 between Stellenbosch & Somerset West, On the Stellenrust Road, Stellenbosch NU, Koelenhof, 7605, South Africa
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