Methode Cap Classique

Only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne.

South African sparkling wines made in the traditional French method (methode champenoise) are referred to as Methode Cap Classiques or MCC’s. Wine that has been impregnated with CO2 bubbles is simply termed sparkling wine whereas MCC’s undergo a second fermentation in the bottle to create the sought after bubbles.

To make a MCC the winemaker first makes a base wine in the normal manner and, once bottled, the ‘liqueur de tirage’ is added. This mixture of wine, yeast and sugar starts the second fermentation process in the bottle. This time the CO2 is not able to escape as with a still wine, but forms the bubbles that are captured inside the bottle.

After the second fermentation a sediment is formed in the bottle and needs to be removed to produce a clear, sparkling wine. This process, which is called remuage, involves turning the bottles in pupitres (boards with specially shaped holes) every day for a few weeks. Each turn tilts the bottle more and more on its head until all the sediment is collected in the neck of the bottle.

To eject the sediment the necks of the bottles are placed in a very cold brine bath which freezes the sediment. The bottle top is then removed and the pressure shoots out the ice cube of sediment. This process is known as degorgement. Before corking ‘liqueur d’expidition’ is added to top up the bottle.

JC Le Roux