Whilst all those living in this part of the world are braising for shorter days (already notably evident) and cooler temperatures (dito), it’s the meteorological start of spring in the southern hemisphere. Which in South Africa coincidentally or not collides with the annual Cap Classique Day, celebrating the country’s excellent sparkling wines.
That said, rather than taking place on a single day, the event actually kicks-off already a week earlier when wineries, restaurants and hotels across South Africa will start to offer special Cap Classique experiences, running until September 5th.
If the Cape Winelands are on your bucket list, make sure to include not just wine tasting. Instead, make it a point to seek out some of the country’s best sparkling wine producers. Which in some cases will lead you to some of the regions most renowned historic wine estates along with several more recent estates dedicated to make fantastic bubbles.
What is Cap Classique
If you wonder what Cap Classique means, Méthode Cap Classique is the official name used for South African sparkling wines.
Méthode Cap Classique wines, or MCC’s as they are locally called, are sparkling wines made according to the Methode Traditionelle. This means, they are made using the same method Champagne is produced. Due to protection rights of the use of the name Champagne, which is reserved for sparkling wines exclusively made in the French Champagne region, local wine makers came up with the name Méthode Cap Classique.
Thought the official name was introduced only in 1992, the first South African sparkling wine made according to the traditional method was already made in 1971. Which means, this year Cap Classique or MCC wines are celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Today, more than 250 wine farms across South Africa’s Winelands are making MCCs, and more are added constantly.
Though it is definitely worth to seek out the diverse range of MCCs from the different winegrowing regions across the Cape, there is one area that really stands out when it comes to making sparkling wines.
Holding the fame of being South Africa’s leading area of sparkling wines is the beautiful Franschhoek Valley.
Franschhoek Cap Classique Route
The region is not only home to various outstanding historic and modern wineries, of which many are making excellent Cap Classique sparkling wines. Several years ago, a dedicated Cap Classique Wine Route was created. Currently 24 Cap Classique producing wineries scattered across the wider Franschhoek area are part of the route.
Thankfully, the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route is flexible enough to include wineries which do not sit strictly within the Franschhoek valley’s boundaries. Which means, some of the fantastic MCC producers just slightly outside of the Franschhoek wine region boundaries are part of the route as well.
Below I am highlighting six of my favourite wineries which are currently part of the official Franschhoek Cap Classique Route. Definitely check them out next time you are you are in the area.
Important note: Some of the information included in the links to older posts about several of the local wine farms might no longer be actual, especially considering Covid-19 regulations. For opening ours and tasting experiences, please check the current offerings on the estate’s websites.
Allée Bleue Estate & Wines
Allée Bleue draws its name from the winery’s stunning Eucalyptus-lined entrance road along with the various subtle touches of blue across the estate and on their wine labels.
Located at the intersection of R45 and R310 in the Groot Drakenstein area, the stunning estate is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa, dating back to the 1690s.
Today, visitors are welcomed to a lovely tasting room, which on warm days extends onto the patio, an excellent bistro and a farm stall selling fresh local produce. If you want, you can even stay at one of their three cottages.
The estate’s MCC range includes Allée Bleue Brut, a blend made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir grapes originating from Walker Bay, and Allée Bleue Brut Rosé, made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Pinotage grapes from the Franschhoek area.
When in 1694 French immigrant Jean Roi occupied and started to plant orchards and vines on a parcel of land, he named the place after his hometown in the French Provence, Lourmarin.
The estate was later purchased by late Anton Rupert and its wines gained wide recognition under the management of Anthonij Rupert, Anton’s son in the late 1980s and 1990s. Anthonij tragically passed away in an accident in 2001 and today L’Ormarins is owned by his brother Johann.
The winery today is part of Rupert Wines which includes six different wine brands coming from different wine farms across the Cape Winelands.
Visiting L’Ormarins today, you can still visit the original cellar (built in 1799) which has been restored to its original condition. Also on-site you will find the Franschhoek Motor Museum and Drakenstein Stud Farm.
L’Ormarins produces four different outstanding MCCs and when you happen to visit, make sure not to miss the famous MCC and chocolate tasting.
A place that has it all, and one that is always on my itinerary when visiting the South African Winelands. The large Babylonstoren estate is a working farm growing an amazing range of fresh produce, on-site also hosting a small winery, an award-winning restaurant, as well as a butchery, bakery, and the leisurely Greenhouse bistro. In addition, various cottages offer stunning Winelands accommodation.
Located in the Klapmuts area around 35 kilometres from Franschhoek, the farm is nestled at the foot of the Simonsberg mountain range. Breath-taking views included.
Babylonstoren’s small wine range includes Sprankel, an aged Chardonnay produced according to the MCC method. It bursts of fresh apple, tropical flavours, and gentle notes of brioche.
For more information about this stunning estate, read my blog Babylonstoren, a true Western Cape Winelands gem.
Another of the Franschhoek wineries just scratching the borders of the area.
Set against a stunning mountain backdrop in the beautiful Drakenstein Valley between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, Boschendal is another of the Cape’s historic wine farms where you can spend entire days exploring the many attractions. From wine tasting to the lovely small bistro, award-winning restaurant, the vegetable garden along with kilometres of hiking and biking trails criss-crossing the extensive farm area, horse riding and not to forget the lovely cottages inviting to say over.
Since we are talking Cap Classique, head to Boschendal for their fantastic MCC tasting. You will get four from the farm’s excellent MCCs.
For more information, read my post Boschendal Wine Farm, great wines and luxury accommodation in the Cape Winelands.
Located along R45 just outside of Franschhoek, La Motte is one of the historic wine farms founded in 1695 when a piece of land was granted to German immigrant Hans Hendrik Hattingh. Only a few years later (in 1709) the farm was purchased by its first French Huguenot owner Pierre Joubert. That was when the estate took its name, which origins from a little village in Provence – La Motte d’Aigues. Meanwhile, the first vines were planted on the estate in 1752.
Today, La Motte is one of three outstanding wine farms across the Cape which is part of the family portfolio of late Anton Rupert. La Motte’s owner, Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, Anton’s daughter once was a famous mezzo-soprano, and this is one reason today La Motte runs an impressive programme of classic music concerts which take place from the estate’s historic cellar.
However, the love for art runs large in the Rupert family and on-site of La Motte, you will also find the Heritage Collection of art by renowned South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef in the La Motte Museum, changing art exhibitions, a sculpture trail as well as various art and creative workshops.
La Motte if furthermore home to an award-winning restaurant, Pierneed-LaMotte, a separate wine tasting room, and a small Farm Shop selling fresh produce and the most delicious pastries and cakes.
La Motte Méthode Cap Classique is absolutely outstanding and great to be enjoyed by itself or along a wide range of food. It is made from 90% Chardonnay grapes and 10% Pinot Noir. La Motte MCC is bone-dry with a natural sweetness thanks to the long maturation on the lees. On the nose, notes of citrus, brioche, and nuts. On the palate, very present with a long finish.
As you leave Franschhoek Main Street it’s just a few meters driving past Huguenot Memorial Museum that you find the somewhat hidden entrance to Le Lude Estate.
Founded as recently as 2011 by the Barrow family, Le Lude specializes exclusively in MCCs, producing an impressive range of sparkling wines. Le Lude to this date is also the only South African winery making Agarve-style sparkling wines.
Head to the lovely small tasting room for a MCC tasting including, if you wish, a selection of the most delicious canapés. Or chose to have a traditional English Afternoon Tea – starting of course with a glass of the classic MCC.
Next to the tasting room, you find Orangerie Restaurant with a fantastic seasonal a-la-carte menu.
Finally, if you are looking for secluded vineyard accommodation that is still at walking distance to the sprawling Franschhoek main street, the beautiful Lili Pod cottage.
The other wineries part of the Franschhoek Cap Classique Route include:
Black Elephant Vintners
Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne
Dieu Donné Vineyards
The Franschhoek Cellar
Leopards Leap Family Vineyards
Morena (Franschhoek Pass Winery)
Old Road Wine Co
Plaisir de Merle
Rickety Bridge Winery
Val de Vie Wines
Have you been to the Franschhoek Wine Valley yet? Did you know about the Cap Classique Wine Route? Let me know in the comments below.