The hallmarks of a great MCCDecember 23rd, 2020
Learn all about Babylonstoren’s Sprankel MCC.
Nothing suggests a festive mood better than a glass filled with bubbles. As we head into the holidays, our vibrant MCC, Babylonstoren Sprankel makes for the perfect celebratory drink. We asked cellar master Charl Coetzee and winemaker Klaas Stoffberg to share their thoughts on this effervescent drink.
- First, it’s important to note that not all bubbles are created equal. The term Méthode Cap Classique (MCC for short) refers to, you guessed it, the method of making sparkling wine. Champagne is, of course, named for the namesake region in France where it is grown, fermented, and bottled. Only these wines can be called ‘Champagne’. Outside of the region, many winemakers still use the traditional Champagne method. The style of winemaking which produces sparkling wine is practiced all over the world.
- The biggest difference between an Champagne-style wine, like Babylonstoren Sprankel, and a run-of-the-mill sparkling wine, is this traditional method. In a nutshell, Champagne gets its sparkle from a second fermentation that takes place in the bottle, while sparkling wine is simply still wine with gas added after bottling.
- The process of making MCC is very lengthy. Grapes are picked and fermented as with any other wine. The still wine is then bottled along with a mixture of yeast and sugar to start the second fermentation. Over time, trapped CO2, a byproduct of fermentation, carbonates the wine to form the trademark bubbles. The wine is then aged in the bottle for a lengthy period – Sprankel is matured between 48 and 54 months – on the lees, or dead yeast cells, which adds texture and complexity to the wine. A very specific method of rotating the bottles called riddling then ensures that all the lees are captured in the neck of the bottle. Before being sealed, yeast residue is removed through a process called dégorgement à la glace, by freezing the neck of the bottle. Once the bottle is turned upright again, internal pressure forces the frozen yeast out of the bottle. Only then can the wine be sealed with the trademark cork and wire.
- During this second fermentation, the pressure inside the bottles can be as high as 6 bar, or the equivalent of three times the internal pressure of your car’s tyres!
- Babylonstoren Sprankel is made in this traditional method over four long years, meaning that the first release of Sprankel in 2015 was only ready four years after the first harvest.
- MCC boasts superior bubbles, thanks to all that time spent fermenting on the lees. This results in smaller, finer bubbles compared to sparkling wine, and ensures a wonderful taste sensation and a fine mousse (the ‘foam’ at the top of your glass).
- It’s not only the bubbles that are captivating, the taste is like liquid gold. A good MCC has a delicious fresh acidity with notes of brioche on the nose.
- Babylonstoren Sprankel is a Brut style MCC, which means it is a dry style wine. This also means that very little sugar (less than 1.5%) is added to the wine, as with all things at Babylonstoren, our Sprankel is made with as little intervention as possible.
- Certain regions are extremely favourable for growing grapes for MCC. Usually grapes are picked with less sugar and a resulting higher acidity. Cooler climates, like England, are favourable for preserving the acidity in the wine. Sprankel is a proud blanc de blanc of selected Chardonnay grapes from various vineyards on the farm.
- You don’t have to save the MCC only for special occasions. The French believe that all occasions are good to enjoy the delightful bubbles. MCC is a wine, and pairs well with a variety of food, and therefore occasions. Sprankel combines well with cheese, fruit, salmon, shellfish and caviar. Its smooth character sits beautifully with poultry and seafood dishes.
- Open the bottle like a pro by facing the cork away from you. A champagne cork can exit the bottle at up to 96km/h!