The holiday season reignited my love for South African bubbly, with so many great bottles shared amongst friends and family. And what better way to explore this genre of wine than to taste it where it’s made on the farm. So here are ten of the best MCC-producing farms that you really should visit, not only for their superb MCC but for a great outing in general.
Simonsig was the first South African estate to produce a bottle-fermented sparkling wine made by the traditional Méthode Champenoise, called Méthode Cap Classique in this country, in 1971. It was named Kaapse Vonkel, and it’s still made under the same name today at the estate. It contains all three grape varieties used in traditional French Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They also make the Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé composed of Pinotage, Pinot Noir and a whopping 12% Pinot Meunier, as well as the Cuvée Royale, a pure Chardonnay bubbly that aced the 2011 Cap Classique Challenge as best Blanc de Blancs and best MCC overall.
The farm is situated northwest of Stellenbosch, on the Kromme Rhee Road between the R44 and the R30. Tasting is available from Monday to Friday 08:30 – 17:00, Saturdays & Public Holidays 08:30 – 16:00, Sunday 11:00 – 15:00 and costs R25.
Contact: phone (021) 888-4900, email email@example.com
Villiera, between Stellenbosch and Paarl
Villiera makes a great first stop on any excursion into the Paarl or Stellenbosch winelands from Cape Town. They’re down the road from the Joostenberg turn-off on the N1 and their MCC’s are perfect for clearing the palate for a day of tasting. The knowledgeable tasting staff bring the wines right to your table which makes for a very relaxed atmosphere. Their range includes the well-known Tradition and Tradition Rosé, which are tasty and well-priced non-vintage blends. There’s also the Monro Brut, a much more serious vintage MCC with four years on the lees. For the more adventurous, there is the Brut Natural, a bone-dry but full-bodied Chardonnay that is naturally fermented and contains no sulphites.
Enjoy a tasting in The Wine Sanctuary and then head outdoors to lounge under the thick oak trees, where you can bring a picnic from home for after-tasting snacks. Tastings cost R10 for groups of 10+ and are open from Monday – Friday 09h00 – 17h00 and on Saturday from 09h00 – 15h00.
Contact: phone (021) 865-2002, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Groote Post, Darling
Anyone heading up the West Coast would do well to make a tasting stop at Groote Post on the Darling Hills Road. Their tasting room near the farm dam has an easy-going country atmosphere and they offer a fine range of wine, excelling in whites. Amongst the wines, there’s the Old Man’s Sparkle – a rich rosé MCC with 80% Pinot Noir. Tastings at the farm cost R20 for groups of 20+ people. Tasting room times are from Monday – Friday 09h00 – 17h00 and Saturday – Sunday 10h00 – 16h00.
Contact: phone (022) 492-2693, email email@example.com
Haute Cabrière, Franschhoek
No visit to Franschhoek would be complete without an MCC tasting, and Haute Cabrière is an estate specialising in the stuff. They are the makers of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Brut, as well as its pink cousin the Cuvée Belle Rose, which is a very delicate and elegantly balanced 100% Pinot Noir bubbly. Among rosé MCC’s, it’s close to unbeatable. They also make a crisp Blanc de Blancs, a Cuvée Reserve (pure Chardonnay but fuller-bodied), and a Brut Sauvage for those who like their MCC extremely dry. What’s more, they offer an MCC-style blend without the fizz, aptly named Tranquille, and a commendable Pinot Noir. If you show up at 12 noon on a Saturday, you’ll get a sabrage demonstration too. Tastings are R30. Open from Monday – Friday 09:00 to 17:00, Saturday & Public Holidays 10:00 to 16:00, Sunday: 11:00 to 16:00.
Contact: phone (021) 876-8500, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gorgeous by Graham Beck, Constantia
With the closing of the tasting room in Franschhoek came the oppertunity for Graham Beck to introduce a new and improved venue: the Gorgeous bubbly bar at Steenberg Wine Estate. The venue is particularly intimate yet very comfortable, and well, simply gorgeous from floor to ceiling. Canapés are prepared exclusively for Gorgeous by Executive Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s restaurant, and are made to pair perfectly with the MCC’s on offer.
These folks just keep winning awards with their bubblies and they have something for everyone, ranging from the semi-sweet Bliss to the very fancy Brut Zero and Cuvée Clive. MCC’s are the exclusive beverage offering at the bar, either by the bottle or glass, with prices starting at R40 per flute and R200 per bottle There’s another Graham Beck estate and tasting room in Robertson.
Contact: phone (021) 713-7177, email email@example.com
Bon Courage, Robertson
Robertson happens to be home to some top MCC’s too. The award-winning Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve is from Bon Courage, just past Robertson on the road to Bonnievale. This is a traditional 60-40 Pinot Noir-Chardonnay blend, and they also do a Blanc de Blancs and a Pinot Noir-driven Rosé Brut. This is a very traditional-feeling venue in a solid old Cape Dutch farmhouse with antique furniture and an old wine press outside. Tastings cost R10.
Contact: phone (023) 626-4178, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further along the same road in Robertson is Weltevrede. It’s a little out of the way but worth the trip for the quiet atmosphere and remarkable MCC. They have given their Philip Jonker range of bubblies some memorable names: Entheos is a smooth, well-crafted blend, The Ring is a refreshing Blanc de Blancs, Aletheia is 60% Pinot Noir with oak maturation, and Lindelize is an interesting dry rosé. The Aletheia is a superb example of the weightier style of MCC, with a rich palate and a full mouthfeel. I like that kind of thing, the Aletheia probably being my favourite MCC of all. There are guest cottages on the farm that one can hire for a tranquil night among the vineyards. The hosts, who also run the winery, are friendly and generous.
Contact: phone (023) 616-2141, email email@example.com
JC Le Roux, Stellenbosch
Closer to town, The House of J.C. le Roux is tucked into the folds of Devon Valley in Stellenbosch. They concentrate exclusively on sparkling wine and have a very wide range of carbonated sparklers as well as MCC’s. Their MCC range deserves a serious tasting. It includes the richly complex Scintilla, an excellent vintage MCC that keeps winning awards. They also have a conventional Brut, both white and rosé from 100% Pinot Noir, as well as white and rosé versions of the off-dry La Vallée. The well organised tasting room offers various tasting options from R35.
Contact: phone (021) 865-8200, email firstname.lastname@example.org
House of Krone, Tulbagh
Those of you travelling further afield might consider stopping in at Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh. They’re the makers of Krone Borealis and Krone Rosé – both fine, dry bubblies that you can’t go wrong with – and the limited-edition Nicholas Charles Krone, for which they pulled out all the stops. The tasting room is a bit impersonal and business-like, but the panoramic view from the rooftop terrace is not to be missed.
Contact: phone (023) 230-0680, email Eikendal, Stellenbosch
Eikendal is conveniently placed along the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. They only have one MCC, a vintage bubbly named Mon Désir. Despite its flippant name, this is a serious, complex, leesy specimen that ought to be much better known than it is. Their other wines are well made too, and one can spend a pleasant few hours sitting in the shady courtyard and working through the list. They’re open 7 days a week from 10:00 until 16:00 and they also have a restaurant. Tastings are R20.
Contact: phone (021) 855-1422, email email@example.com
I am a wine lover and a writer, and this blog is my way of combining the two. As far as writing goes, I have been doing it since I learned how, and I’m currently freelancing as a journalist, editor and technical writer. I write a monthly column for winemag.co.za. My wine knowledge comes from tasting wines more or less non-stop for 20 years, as well as studying at the Cape Wine Academy, where I’m currently studying for a diploma. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, in a flat at the foot of Lion’s Head, surrounded by books and wine.