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South Africa’s Sparkling Wine Is Versatile, Affordable, and Joyous
South Africa’s Méthode Cap Classique wines are turning heads for a reason
by L.M. Archer
If you have never tasted South African Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine, for example, it’s definitely time.
“Cap Classique is a beautiful alternative when you don’t want to do Champagne on the day,” says Pieter “Bubbles” Ferreira, cellar master at Graham Beck Wines.
First released in 1973 as Kaapse Vonkel, Cape Sparkle, by the late Frans Malan of Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, Cap Classique producers employ the same méthode champenoise, or traditional method, of in-bottle fermentation developed in Champagne.
Cap Classique Producers Association devised the moniker Méthode Cap Classique in 1995 after the Comité Champagne restricted the term Méthode Champenoise. CCPA started in 1992 with 14 producers, including Ferreira, who joined Graham Beck in 1990. Now, there are more than 240 producers throughout the Western Cape who are members.
Today, Cap Classique ranks among South Africa’s greatest wine success stories.
A wide variety of grapes
“Cap Classique is the fastest growing category in the South African wine industry,” says Elunda Basson, CCPA vice chairperson, and cellar master of Steenberg Vineyards. She adds it’s also the most exciting, producing wines from “fruit harvested from 28 different geographical areas.”
Unlike Champagne, Cap Classique applies no restrictions on grape varieties used. Most producers prefer traditional varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. Other blenders include Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz.