Not that we need a special occasion to drink bubbly. But when it’s Cap Classique Day, it would be too rude not to open a bottle (or two) of South Africa’s exciting answer to Champagne.
It might be no coincidence Cap Classique Day is celebrated on September 1st, which in the Southern Hemisphere marks the meteorological start of spring. Cheers!
In case you are not familiar with the term, Cap Classique (or Méthode Cap Classique, in full) is the name for South African sparkling wines made according to the traditional method Champagne is made.
And by the way, this year, it’s not your average Cap Classique Day. Nope. 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of South African traditional method sparkling wine.
Of course, sparkling wines had been made in South Africa already long before. But the early production followed the carbon dioxide-injected production process, resulting in lower quality sparkling wines.
That famously changed in 1968, when Franz Malan, the late owner of the renowned Simonsig Wine Estate paid a visit to the Champagne region in France. He promptly fell in love with the classic method (where the second fermentation is taking place in the bottle).
The first South African sparkling wine made in the traditional method was produced at Simonsig from the 1971 harvest – a natural bottle-fermented sparkling wine made with Chenin Blanc grapes (at the time the leading white grape variety yielding the highest quality across the Cape).
Fast forward, today there are more than 250 producers of Méthode Cap Classique wines – locally typically shortened to MCC – across the Winelands.
Of course, there are still sparkling wines made following the tank method in South Africa too. But the ones you want to look out for are those under the MCC label.
For the special occasion of this year’s Cap Classique Day, I would have loved to open a bottle of Simonsig Cap Classique to celebrate the 50 years. But unfortunately, I was not able to not buy it here in Germany. So it will have to wait until my next visit to the amazing Cape Winelands. Whenever this will be, although hopefully sooner rather than later.
Thankfully though, there are many other outstanding Cap Classique wines made across the South African Winelands. And a good number of them are sold internationally, including the acclaimed L’Ormarins MCC range.
The L’Ormarins MCC range is part of Anthonij Rupert Wyne. A brand steeped in local wine history, that would be worth a post of its own (and one that I am determined to write at the appropriate time, hopefully after my next visit to the stunning Cape Winelands).
For now, let me just quickly give you the main points.
Anthonij Rupert Wyne was founded on the historic site of L’Ormarins located on the foothills of the majestic Groot Drakenstein Mountains in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley. Today, Rupert Wyne includes six different wine brands, making a wide range of different wines, including indeed the historic L’Ormarins wine estate.
L’Ormarins currently produces four different MCC wines: L’Ormarins Brut Classique, L’Ormarins Brut Rosé, L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs and L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé.
Tasting notes: L’Ormarins Brut Classique
A non-vintage sparkling wine made of 59% Chardonnay and 41% Pinot Noir, the L’Ormarins Brut Classique is a light straw yellow in the glass.
On the nose, aromas of tart tatin, apple and cinnamon and light notes of pear drops and biscuit.
On the palate, bright, crisp, and zesty with flavours of tangy lime and green apple and rich, deep tones of biscuit and sourdough. Well balanced with acidity and fruit showing a perfect harmony.
Tasting notes: L’Ormarins Brut Rosé
The L’Ormarins Brut Rosé is a blend of 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay grapes.
In the glass, it’s a lovely light salmon pink.
On the nose, notes of strawberry and raspberry with hints of cream and biscuit.
On the palate, vibrant and lively. Crisp fruit flavours of strawberry and raspberry followed by notes of grapefruit and lime zest. Balanced with a long finish.
I don’t mind enjoying any of L’Ormarins MCC’s on its own or perhaps with some pre-dinner appetizers.
Yet at typical for sparkling wines, they also work very well with a wide range of food.
A particular great match for the L’Ormarins MCC’s is seafood, white fish, and soft cheese. It is also great with dessert, especially anything zesty like a lemon tart.
If you are not yet familiar with South African traditional method sparkling wines, definitely have a go. You will find they are easily matching the good stuff from other regions, including Champagne, French Crémant, Prosecco or Cava.
MCC’s are great to be enjoyed any day, without the need for a special celebration, though they are equally perfect to be opened on a special occasion. Enjoyed on their own as an aperitive or paired with food.
On top of this, they won’t break the bank. Excellent MCC’s already sell for €15-€30 / $17-$35.
Finally, if you should happen to visit South Africa’s Cape Winelands, make a point and go for a MCC tasting. You will find a lot of local producers offering dedicated MCC tasting, often including food pairing.