13 Best South African Sparkling Wines
As Seen In Tasting Table September 2022
By Carrie Dykes
“Do you have Champagne tastes on a cava budget? We got you. Meet Méthode Cap Classique, or MCC for short, South Africa’s answer. Made in the “Méthode Champenoise,” literally meaning made in the same method as Champagne, MCC is the best of both worlds. The quality is on par with Champagne, but the price is more in line with prosecco or cava. The same grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier) used to make Champagne are used in MCC, with the addition of chenin blanc, which is a widely planted grape in South Africa. Minimum aging on the lees has recently been changed from nine months to 12 months, which is the same as Champagne, although many producers age for longer, even up to 60 months.
Currently, it is not as easy to find MCCs in many wine shops as it is to find prosecco, Champagne, or cava, but producers and enthusiasts are looking to change that. The Cap Classique Producers Association in South Africa was established in 1992. 2021 marked 50 years since the first Cap Classique was made by Simonsig. Cap Classique Day is a more contemporary holiday to celebrate this prized bevvie and it occurs every year on the 1st of September, notes Getaway. Ask your local wine shop to stock up on your new favorite fizz.”
“In 1983, entrepreneur Graham Beck bought the farm that is now one of the most celebrated MCC houses in South Africa. The farm is situated in Robertson, which is a wine-producing area in the Breede River Valley region of the Western Cape. They planted new grapes and, in 1990, appointed Peter Ferreira as winemaker. Ferreira is a leading figure in the MCC (Methode Cape Classique) association, pushing the category forward. As the winery grew and the fascination with MCC grew as well, Beck invested in more land for vineyards in the Cape. Graham Beck is a sustainable winery that works to minimize the effects of climate change and is currently undergoing a movement to reintroduce native flora and fauna. If you visit, you can sip wine with the zebras and baboons!
1994 was an important year for the winery, dating the first export of Graham Beck wines and also the year of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. The wine Mandela celebrated with was Graham Beck Brut. Fourteen years later, Barack Obama also celebrated his presidential win with Graham Beck Brut. Today, it is easy to find Graham Beck MCC on shelves and online. The range includes very dry styles (brut), rosé, vintage, and sweet MCC called ‘Nectar.'”