MCC vs. Champagne | What’s the Deal?

By Glou Glou  •  Dec 22, 2016 at 1:52pm  •  Reviews

Christmas mode has fully set in, heralding in much-needed rest, plenty of carbohydrates and of course – bubbly. Ah bubbly – the drink for when you want to wear your fancy pants. For a long time, we (and admit it, maybe you too) were mystified by the fact that sometimes you’re drinking Champagne, and other times you’re drinking Méthode Cap Classique. So what’s the deal? Is it a you-say-tomato, I-say-tomahto sort of situation, or is there a real difference?

Glou Glou MCC Graham Beck

Technically speaking, Champagne and Méthode Cap Classique are the same. GASP! But that’s theory.
In reality, it’s a whole other ball game, due to sought after cultural property and location branding. You can’t – and shouldn’t – think of Champagne and Méthode Cap Classique as the same thing. Why?
Champagne can only be called so if it is produced within the Champagne region of France. That exclusivity factor is what makes it so special. Plus, the original method of making sparkling wine – the méthode champenoise – was pioneered by the French and has been upheld for centuries as the gold standard. So much so that it is jealously guarded, and France has ensured that there are serious legal consequences for anyone outside of the Champagne region who dares to use its hallowed name onto their bottle of bubbly. (Read all about that here).

Glou Glou MCC Graham Beck
And so, as a direct result, anything produced outside of the area needs to don a different name, be it Cava in Spain or on our side of the world, Méthode Cap Classique (i.e. the Cape Classic Method), often abbreviated to MCC.  MCC is made using the traditional méthode champenoise method, which is to create a second fermentation in the bottle.

Glou Glou MCC Graham Beck

Glou Glou MCC Graham Beck

Glou Glou MCC Graham Beck
So who-gone-and-done-it-better? We headed to Graham Beck, one of South Africa’s premier MCC producers, to pop, fizz, and clink our way to an answer. Found at the very entrance to the Robertson Wine Valley, Graham Beck is best known for their range of internationally acclaimed méthode champenoise style wines. As we sat on the balcony deck overlooking the Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre, the Tasting Host took us through practically their entire offering – from the Brut and Blanc De Blancs to the Brut Rosé and Bliss Demi Sec. And maybe it was the bubbles straight to our head at 10am in the morning, but we were swooned. With a smorgasbord selection of terroir within the Cape, and some serious talent in the cellars, it should come as little surprise that our local winemakers are producing some outstanding bubbles – and at a fraction of the cost when compared to its French counterpart. 

Yes,  there’s no denying the cool points if you’re drinking Champagne, and that probably comes down to the three degrees of separation from you and Jay Z.  But we’re convinced that if you can’t get ahold of a reasonably-priced bottle of the ‘real deal’, the MCC South Africa makes is pretty top notch as well. So whatever your choice, find a reason to celebrate and add some sparkle to your festive season. Season’s Greetings from Glou Glou!


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