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Festive fizz

Festive fizz

Look no further than SA’s fantastic sparkling wines and MCCs for the perfect bubbly to drink a toast to this festive season. Learn more about our world-class production, locally produced bubbly and brush up on your serving and storage know-how.

By Fresh Living

More than any other type of wine, bubbly has always represented ‘the good life’ for everyone. And such is the charm of this sparkling wine that we reach for it to celebrate milestones and triumphs.

SA has an impressive number of producers making fabulous sparkling wines, including some smaller cellars situated outside the Western Cape.

Méthode Cap Classiques (MCCs) are made with the same method as Champagne in France and are increasing in variety. When the French Huguenots came to SA in the 1680s, they brought their winemaking skills with them and, happily, their bubbly-making expertise. Today, the bubbly legacy lives on in Franschhoek and the Cape Winelands. There’s Haute Cabrière (who make the Pierre Jourdan and Haute Cabrière MCCs) and Graham Beck, to name but a few.

SA has an impressive number of producers making fabulous sparkling wines, including some smaller cellars situated outside the Western Cape. There’s Twee Jonge Gezellen – their Krone Bruts are always a hit; Le Lude who are the first winery in South Africa to produce the artisanal Agrafe bottle fermented sparkling wine; and Simonsig, makers of the lovely Kaapse Vonkel Brut. Simonsig’s sparkling wine was the first in SA to be made using the secondary bottle fermentation, just like the French do it.

Getting its fizz

Méthode Cap Classique are perhaps one of the hardest wines to master. That is because it requires two fermentation processes – one for fermenting the grapes and the other for creating the bubbles. They were first introduced in the 1500s and have since graced the banquets of the rich, royal and famous. There are four different methods that result in a style of sparkling wine:

1. Méthode Cap Classique
This is the same way of making sparkling wine as the French Champagne makers use. The wine is fermented twice in the bottle, which is kept on a rack that has holes in it for bottle necks. The bottles are turned by hand every day over an extended period of time to let the yeast sediment collect in the neck of the bottle. This ageing process can take anywhere from 5 months to 5 years, depending on the quality of the wine. Once the sediment has collected, the neck is frozen, the bottle is opened and the frozen yeast shoots out due to the built-up pressure – this is called disgorgement. The bottle is then dosed with a wine, sugar syrup and sulphur oxide mixture then corked and muzzled.

2. Transfer method
This method is very similar to the MCC method. After the fermentation process, the wine is blended with a selection of base wines. It is bottled with a small mixture of yeast and sugar – this kick-starts the second fermentation. It is aged for 9 months to 5 years. The bottle is then opened and the wine is transferred into high-pressure tanks and passed through filters to clarify. The bottle is then dosed with a wine, sugar syrup and sulphur oxide mixture then corked and muzzled.

3. Charmat method
Sugar and yeast are added to a base wine and stored in a big tank. The base wine is quickly fermented and the bottle is then dosed with a wine, sugar syrup and sulphur oxide mixture, and then bottled.

4. Carbonation
The simplest and cheapest way of making sparkling wine: carbon dioxide is simply injected into the wine, which is then bottled.

Serving know-how

Sparkling wine should be served at about 7 or 8°C. If you want to chill a bottle quickly, pop it into a bucket of ice. Try to avoid putting it in the freezer, as this can affect the taste if served too chilled. It is suggested to serve in tall-stemmed flutes because this helps contain the beads (bubbles) and the effervescence.

Storing with a twist

Did you know that the Titanic’s extensive wine collection has remained intact at the bottom of the ocean since the ship sank? Keep your bubbly in a dark place! A temperature-controlled area devoid of light will be best. An unopened bottle can last for up to 3 years. Once opened, it can last for 3 to 5 days if you reseal it tightly after opening.

Pop a bottle

Graham Beck Brut Rosé
A locally produced favourite with a silver-pink shade. It is made from the traditional Méthode Cap Classique base wines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has hints of oyster shell, fresh lavender and subtle notes of berry and cherry on the palate.

Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne
A stylish Champagne with a unique freshness and elegance – reserve for your A-list guests. Try it with game birds or crayfish.

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut
Locally made, this is a light-straw-coloured sparkling wine with notes of Granny Smith apples and white-flesh fruit. It has aromas of citrus, apples and pears. Try it with fresh oysters or pâté or on its own while toasting the end of the year with friends.

Celebrating with friends and family? Shop Pick n Pay’s extensive range of sparkling wines and MCC’s in-store or online.

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