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Before you bust out the bubbles here’s all you need to know about the difference between Champagne, Method Cap Classique and Sparkling Wine…

CHAMPAGNE

Sparkling wines are produced worldwide, but many legal structures reserve the word Champagne exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made in accordance with Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne 
regulations. They include codification of the most suitable growing places and a lengthy set of requirements specifying most aspects of viticulture. This includes pruning, vineyard yield, the degree of pressing, and the time that wine must remain on its lees before bottling. Only when a wine meets these requirements may it be labelled Champagne.

METHODE CAP CLASSIQUE (MCC)

The South African version of Champagne is known as Cap Classique. Using the exact same method, this bubbly is made by creating a second fermentation in the bottle. The result? A sparkling wine that’s every bit as impressive, but at a fraction of its French cousin’s price tag. As the fastest growing wine category in the country, doubling its production every 5 years, it’s not just South Africans that are reaping the benefits of our outstanding MCC, but the rest of the world too – with just under a third of our MCC bottles popped outside of the country each year.

SPARKLING WINES

Any other wine with bubbles that is not classified as Champagne or MCC, can be termed a sparkling wine.  Whilst some sparkling wine may just be impregnated with CO2 bubbles, there are many fine examples that are well worth trying – especially those from other New World countries who also imitate the Champagne method and have different names for this – like Spain’s Cava.

As an extremely versatile companion to a myriad of dishes (from breakfast to after-dinner desserts), just make sure your bubbly is served ice cold (below 10 degrees centigrade) – whichever version you choose.

MY 3 TOP PICKS:

Champagne : Krug Grande Cuvèe

As you taste it, notes of toasted bread, hazelnut, nougat, barley sugar and jellied fruits may take you by surprise. You may even taste hints of apples still on the tree, flowers in bloom and even brioche and honey. 

Krug Grande Cuvèe
Krug Grande Cuvèe
Image: Supplied

Sparkling Wine: Da Luca Prosecco NV

A northern Italian Prosecco with wonderful peach and apricot aromas. It has a fresh zingy palate with just a touch of sweetness and a clean lingering finish.

Da Luca Prosecco NV
Da Luca Prosecco NV
Image: Supplied

Methode Cap Classique : Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012

Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012
Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012
Image: Supplied

This Blanc de Blancs will surprise you with its intensity of citrus and dry fruit aromas with hints of fresh hazelnut and white fruit. The complexity and surprisingly fresh finish of this cuvée makes this wine a great food wine.

Wade Bales is the Founder of The Wine Society:
wadebaleswinesociety.co.za

- Originally published in December 2017.

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