Simonsig top MCC producer for the fourth time

The winners of the 2017 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge: Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines, Frans Malan Trophy; Sharon Parnell of Domaine de Dieux, best brut MCC; Hannes Meyer of Simonsig Wine Estate, best producer; and Pierre de Klerk of Graham Beck Wines, best museum class MCC.

Stellenbosch methode cap classique (MCC) producer, Simonsig Wine Estate, situated on the Kromme Rhee Road in Stellenbosch, took top honours for the fourth time with its Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012, at the 16th Amorim Cork Cap Classique Awards at the 12 Apostles Hotel recently.

The competition is run under the auspices of the Cap Classique Association, which numbers among its members, 73 of the 220 South African MCC producers.

This win makes Simonsig the most awarded MCC producer in the history of the competition, a significant achievement by the cellar which produced the first MCC in South Africa way back in 1972.Simonsig also took top honours in the rosé category with its Pinot Noir Rosé 2015.

Returning from an inspiring trip to the Champagne district in France, the late Frans Malan set about making the first Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel from chenin blanc grapes, as at that time, the noble champagne varietals – chardonnay and pinot noir – were not yet planted in South Africa. As a tribute to Frans Malan’s pioneering spirit, the Malan family established the Frans Malan Trophy, awarded annually to the individual who has contributed significantly to the MCC wine category, and this year, it was awarded to Pieter “Bubbles” Ferreira, cellar master at Graham Beck Wines in Robertson. Graham Beck also won the museum class category, for MCCs eight years or older, with its Brut Zero 2005.

Overberg producer Domaine de Dieux’s Sharon Parnell, won the brut category with her Claudia Brut MCC 2011.

Judging panel convener, Cape Wine Master, Heidi Duminy, expressed her excitement about the 97 entries: “The top-scoring wines displayed purity of fruit and deft use of varieties, outstanding balance, complexity, freshness and harmony. There is tangible evidence of a better understanding of the intricacies of fruit quality, more strategic intent in blending of cuvées, the role of varieties, careful use of oak and restraint of dosage.”

The fastest growing category in the local wine industry, MCC offers a great deal to the industry and consumers, according to Ms Duminy.

“Thanks to the dedication and passion of the producers, the Cap Classique Association as well as consumer demand and healthy burgeoning competition, Cap Classique offers the best value proposition to wine lovers and is brilliantly poised to continue to rise in all aspects,” she said.

In his keynote address, Amorim South Africa managing director, Joaquim Sá, spoke about the growth in the MCC sector, which has 220 producers, making MCC under 300 labels.

“In 2016, 4.4 million bottles of MCC were sold in South Africa, which represents 24.5% growth – or nearly one million bottles – over 2015 sales,” said Mr Sá, adding that 16 years ago, when the competition was held for the first time, total annual sales were just over 700 000 bottles.

Exports of local MCC are
also on the up and up, with the United Kingdom, America and African countries showing significant demand for locally-produced bubblies.

Mr Sá also said that with significant growth in imports of competing products Champagne, Prosecco and Cava – from France, Italy and Spain respectively – the local MCC industry needs to continue to improve the presence of strong local brands, in order to sustain its growth.