When we celebrate an occasion with friends and family, we love to include a little glass of bubbly to make that all-important toast. However, not all bubbly is created equal, so we went on the hunt to find the best-value méthode cap classique (MCC) available in South African supermarkets this festive season.
We invited Joseph Dhafana to join us on the panel of judges. Joseph recently won the Eat Out Wine Service award at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. Along with his position at the Eat Out Restaurant of the Year, La Colombe, he’s considered the best sommelier in the country.
What’s the difference between champagne and sparkling wine, anyway? We’ve answered all your questions about sparkling wine, including the difference between champagne and MCC:
The criteria for our test were as follows:
Only brut (dry, not sweet) méthode cap classique wines were tasted.
The wines must retail at less than R200 per bottle.
The wines must be easily available in most SA supermarkets and wine stores.
When you’re faced with all the labels and gold foil, it can be difficult to know which one is the right one for you. Let’s see the results:
9. Boschendal Cap Classique Brut – R150
At R150, the Boschendal is in in the middle of the range with a classic look, but its taste didn’t impress our judges too much.
Remarks from the panel: “More of an easy-drinking bubbly.” “Not my favourite sample”, “Quite crisp and light with a fine bubble, but the finish is a little short”.
SCORE: 5.5 /10 8.
Woolworths No Name MCC – R124.99
This wine is well known by the striking label but without this identifier, it failed to take the lead in the scores.
Remarks from the panel: “Lovely strawberry notes. Easy to drink.” “MCC needs bubbles – and this one was disappointing! R70 I reckon.” “Not a fan of the larger bubble here. Richer and more biscuity notes.”
SCORE: 5.74 / 10
7. Krone – R160
This sample didn’t wow the judges, especially on the nose.
The panel said: “The nose is way too intense. I was slightly offended.” “Smell not so great, but tastes better than it smells.” “Odd. Upon the nose and the palate.”
SCORE: 5.81 / 10
6. Pierre Jourdan – R150
The wine brought a lot of fizz, but not a whole lot of flavour. This might be the one to save for your brunchtime mimosas.
One taster said: “It promises much – strong through the middle order, and then runs out of batting. A bit like the Proteas, in other words”, while another said that it’s “fizzy but not bold in flavour at all”.
SCORE: 5.82 /10
5. Pongracz – R160
We found out this is one of SA’s most popular MCCs for a reason. A great bubbly for the less-serious drinker, it got a higher score than some others, but also received some criticism.
The panel said: “Doesn’t taste as expected. I needed more of the chardonnay grapes here. Tastes more like sparkling wine and less like MCC.” “It lacks the chardonnay taste that I was expecting. I don’t like this one so much”
SCORE: 6 /10
4. Graham Beck Brut – R190
Well-loved and at a premium price, this wine was popular with the panel.
Comments included: “Nicest one so far! I could have it all summer long!” and “Tastes like Friday 7pm: within the weekend! The bubbles pop in the mouth and it tastes fun!”
SCORE: 6.77 / 10
3. Laborie – R130
The second cheapest in the line-up earns itself a surprisingly high spot.
The panel said: “Smooth and subtle. Yum.” “An interesting ‘beery’ sub-flavour and pleasantly soft on the palate. Top 3 for me.”
SCORE: 6.87 / 10
2. Steenberg 1682 Chardonnay – R195
The highest-priced MCC in the panel also scored well, coming in second place.
Remarks from the panel: “This tastes like summer nights that should never end”“After 6 tastings, I was a bit worried that I might not in fact like MCC after all. Thankfully this one reinforced that I do enjoy bubbly” “Brioche and a bit of a citric nose and honey nose, with a great complexity on the palate. Very harmonious wine.”
SCORE: 7.07 / 10
1. Villiera Tradition – R140
At this price, Villiera is a reason to celebrate all on its own!
The panel said: “Primary fruits, citrus and bready character. Great acidity and fine persisting bubbles.”“This tastes and feels familiar in a good way, like weekends with my girlfriends. Great for amazing memories.” “Lovely, smooth and easy drink.”
SCORE: 7.38 / 10
*Note: Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel was tasted in this line up, but was excluded due to cork taint. It happens sometimes.
All prices are RRP. Errors, omissions and special prices excluded.