Cap Classique Day in South Africa Date in the current year: September 1, 2024

Cap Classique Day in South Africa Cap Classique Day, sometimes referred to as International Cap Classique Day, is celebrated by South African winemakers every September 1. It was created to promote South African sparkling wines produced using the traditional method.

Sparkling wines can be produced using several methods. The most common ones are the traditional method, the Charmat method, and the carbonation method. The traditional method, also known as the classic method or the Champagne method, involves two fermentations: first in the barrel, and then in the bottle. The second fermentation in the bottle is responsible for high carbon dioxide levels in the wine. The Charmat method involves fermentation in a stainless steel pressure tank. Finally, the carbonation method, also known as the soda method, involves simply adding carbon dioxide to the wine.

Since the term “Champagne” is reserved for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France and is protected by EU laws and regulations, sparkling wines made using the traditional method have other names in other countries: Cava in Spain, Espumante in Portugal, Franciacorta in Italy, etc. Sparkling wines produced in the Western Cape province of South Africa are labeled with the term Méthode Cap Classique (MCC).

Although the history of winemaking in South Africa dates back to the mid-17th century, the history of South African sparkling wines isn’t that long. The first sparkling wines made in the classic bottle-fermented style were produced in South Africa in 1971. They came from Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

Initially, MCC wines were produced from Chenin blanc, since it was (and still is) the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa. Over time, winemakers switched to traditional Champagne grape varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot meunier, and Pinot noir. However, MCC wines made from Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, and other grape varieties that are widely grown in South Africa are still available.

In order to be labeled as MCC, sparkling wine must meet a number of quality standards (in addition to undergoing the second fermentation in the bottle). For example, all the grapes must be whole bunch pressed and remain in contact with the lees for a minimum time of 12 months (until 2023, the time was nine months).

South African winemakers created Cap Classique Day to spread awareness of traditional method sparkling wines produced in South Africa and to raise their profile locally, nationally, and internationally. The holiday is observed on September 1 because it is the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and raising a glass of sparkling wine is probably one of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of spring.

To celebrate Cap Classique Day, South African wineries, restaurants, distributors, and other stakeholders organize wine tastings, vineyard tours, and other exciting events. If you happen to be in South Africa on or around September 1, look up events near you. If participating in a live event is not an option, open a bottle of MCC, enjoy the wine, and compare it to traditional method sparkling wines from other countries.

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