A little earlier this month we looked at how Champagne evolved from something that accidentally happened to some bottles in cold weather to a sparkling wine beloved by royalty. But if only those wines still produced in one small valley in France can call themselves Champagnes, then what are those succulent and delicious sparkling wines you taste on the Stellenbosch wine route? Louisvale Wines has the info you need.

Appellation d’origine contrôlée

You often hear about appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) regarding French Champagne, but it’s actually used for a lot of signature French produce, including cheeses and butters. It’s a form of protection and certification for these products, indicating they originate from a specific area of the country, using specific techniques, to reproduce historically important food commodities and guarantee that they are exactly what they say they are.

Globally, this means that no matter how perfect a sparkling wine is, no matter how similar to Champagne produced in the Champagne Valley, it cannot call itself Champagne. This is more of an economic technicality than anything else, because they truly are Champagnes, but it’s an important distinction to know as a wine lover. Mostly because if you only drink wines actually labelled as ‘Champagne’, you are missing out on the wider world of amazing sparkling wines.

Enter the MCC

Functionally, this means that ‘Champagne’ wines produced elsewhere in the world call themselves by other names. In South Africa, for the last 50 years, we have had the Méthode Cap Classique, or MCC. This labels wines that are true to the Champagne methodology of traditional fermentation, instead of just CO2 injected. Our first harvest for any MCC wine was in 1971 on Simonsig, from the Chenin Blanc grapes that are so common in Cape vineyards. It was released as the Kaapse Vonkel in 1973. Today, well over 250 South African producers of MCC can be found- including Louisvale Winery.

South African MCCs are seen as something special globally. Because we have such diverse geography, which impacts the taste the grapes produce (terroir expression), and because the vineyards produce such varied styles from a range of top grape cultivars, we make stand-out sparkling wines!

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the MCC industry in South Africa, so don’t you think it’s time to put some delicious sparkling wines on ice to celebrate? Louisvale is proud to offer two delectable variants. Our Louisvale MCC Brut Rosé NV with its delicate blush, and our Louisvale MCC Brut Chardonnay NV, because it wouldn’t be Louisvale Wines if we didn’t celebrate the spirit of Cape Chardonnay! Each offers a clean, yet complex, palette for you to enjoy, so why not find your favourite this year and celebrate the milestone anniversary?