Quoin Rock: What exactly is MCC?

Quoin Rock is popping the top on MCC in South Africa: what exactly is the difference between MCC wine, Champagne and sparkling wine? Be one of the first to learn about the limited edition 2009 Blanc de Blanc from Quoin Rock which is now available.

Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is South Africa’s version of Champagne made using the same traditional French method, méthode champenoise. The difference between South African MCC and Champagne is that that because the grapes aren’t harvested in the Champagne region, local bubblies cannot call themselves Champagne – a name that is protected by law.

Méthode Cap Classique, however, is not the same as sparkling wine. Most sparkling wines in South Africa are either tank-fermented or injected with carbon dioxide and thus not produced using the traditional French method.  

How to spot the difference  

Look closely at the bubbles: 

  • MCC will have tiny bubbles with refined effervescence 
  • Sparkling wine has a larger, coarser fizz 

You can also get bottle-fermented wines that are not MCC. Although they have been fermented, they have not gone through the same lengthy process as MCC wines. 

A relative newcomer  

MCC only appeared in South Africa less than 50 years ago. In fact, South Africa’s first MCC was released in 1971. It was sold for R3, making it the most expensive local wine available at the time. Now, it has become one of the fastest growing categories of wine in the country.  

How to enjoy South African MCC 

Méthode Cap Classique provides a full sensory experience. It is also regarded as one of the most versatile wines: it can be enjoyed throughout the day and evening, even at breakfast! MCCs pair well with dishes such as canapés, oysters, cheese, chicken and fish, while sweeter bubbles can be paired with light curries and desserts. Like traditional Champagne, MCC is also a celebratory drink enjoyed at special occasions and celebrations.  

How MCC is made  

To make MCC, the winemaker must first create a base wine. This is then bottled, and a mixture of wine, yeast and sugar (liqueur de tirage), is added. This combination of ingredients promotes the second fermentation process. During this second process, carbon dioxide can’t escape (as it would do in still wine). This causes bubbles of gas to be captured inside the bottle.  

To ensure a clear, sparkling wine, the sediment formed during fermentation needs to be removed through a process called remuage. This involves storing the bottles in pupitres and turning them every day for a few weeks. With each turn, the bottle is tilted further onto its head. This causes all the sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle. To remove it, the necks of the bottles are placed in a very cold brine bath to freeze the sediment. The bottle top is removed, and the pressure causes an ice cube of sediment to shoot out the bottle, a process called dégorgement. As a final step, more liqueur de tirage is added to top up the bottle.  

What to look for in a good MCC 

The main criteria used to determine a top-quality MCC: 

  • Vintage (the year the grapes are harvested) 
  • Cultivar (the name given to the type of grapes used) 
  • Sugar level 

The Black Series MCC at Quoin Rock is made using a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – the 2014 vintage is currently available to purchase. The cultivars are sourced from several very different terroirs, mainly Stellenbosch (Quoin Rock Wine Estate) and Elim Farm. This gives Quoin Rock’s MCC a very distinctive flavour: 

  • The Elim grapes provide a crisp acidity and freshness 
  • The Stellenbosch portion adds length and body with fruit 

The deep flavours of green apple, honey-oats, biscuit and lime can be credited to the winemakers of Quoin Rock. After being stored in second-fill French Oak barrels, this wine was bottle-aged on the lees for 52 months. Once disgorged, it was given a further six months’ bottle maturation.   

A combination of careful planning and great care is put into creating Quoin Rock’s MCC, with each block of grapes treated separately throughout the entire fermentation and ageing process. This allows winemakers to monitor each component and step, making subtle tweaks where necessary. During the harvest season, the Quoin Rock team picks the grapes early in the day and in cool temperatures to preserve the ultimate freshness and flavour of the wine.  

Once the grapes have been picked, the base wine is fermented in old French Oak barrels to ensure the MCC’s length and body. Stainless steel tanks help the wine achieve its freshness and exceptional flavour. 

Quoin Rock MCC is the perfect companion for meal or light picnic snacks on a warm summer’s day. The distinctive tiny bubbles create an elegant drink that can be served with the finest fare, or simply chilled, popped and poured with laughter and celebrations.  

A wine to watch 

Quoin Rock’s limited edition 2009 Blanc de Blanc MCC is newly released to the market. This is a particularly special offering from the Stellenbosch-based wine farm. It was created using only the best parts of their Elim Farm’s Chardonnay blocks. The grapes for this 2009 vintage were whole-bunch pressed and stored in French Oak barrels for seven months. Following the strict guidelines of producing a Méthode Cap Classique, the wine was allowed to mature on the lees for roughly nine years before being disgorged. It then spent a further two years in the bottle, lending a depth and complexity that is well worth the wait.  

Buy Quoin Rock MCC and make your festive celebrations unforgettable.

Pictures courtesy of Quoin Rock