The 'Cap Classique' Process or, how to make your own champagne!!

The 'Cap Classique' Process or, how to make your own champagne!!

South Africa was one of the first places outside of Champagne to make sparkling wine using the Champagne method, or 'Methode Traditional' or, using the name the South Africans gave it - 'Cap Classique'!

So, if you're lucky enough to have your own vineyard and a good few years to spare, oh, a lot of spare cash and fancy giving it a go yourself, here is a rough guide on how to make your own! 

(*Note:  if you do actually decide to make your own Cap Classique, please do seek further advice and guidance before you start!)  

Step 1:

Move to South Africa.

Step 2:

Make a still wine and blend it to your desired style.

Step 3:

Pop your still wine into your fizz bottle, add sugar and yeast and seal the bottle with a crown cap.  Lay it down horizontally and let the yeast do its job!  This is the 2nd Fermentation inside the bottle which creates your sparkle - the yeast will turn the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide has nowhere to go and becomes bubbles.

Step 4:

Lees Aging - Once the yeast has done its job it sadly dies and creates a by-product called lees.  This stays in the bottle and is what adds complexity to your sparkles and gives it the bready, biscuity taste of champagne.  By varying the time spent at this stage (called 'on the lees') you can further vary the taste of your sparkling wine.

Step 5:

Riddling - After your determined length of aging 'on the lees', you need to remove the lees by going through the process of riddling.  Place your bottles on a rack at a 45 degrees and every few days turn your bottles and give them a little shake to move the sediment down to the neck of the bottle. Gradually increase the angle of the bottle until all the sediment is in the neck of the bottle.

Step 6:

Disgorgement - This process removes the dead yeast cells from the bottle.  Dip the neck of your bottles into a freezing solution (at -27 degrees c), this solidifies the sediment, release the crown cap and the internal pressure of the bottle will push out the sediment along with a small amount of wine.

Step 7:

Dosage - You will need to replace the small amount of wine that has come out, so to ensure your sparkling wine has your desired level of sweetness you will need to add a small amount of still wine with a particular amount of sweetness to meet your needs.  This will then dictate how you label your wine - Extra Brut (very dry), Brut (dry), Sec (slightly sweet) or Demi-sec (sweet).

Step 8:

All you need to do now is insert your final cork and cover it with a wire cage to counteract the pressure from the bubbles inside, pop on a label and lay it down to rest for a few weeks or years, depending your desired style.

And there you have it! You've made your very own sparkling wine using the Cap Classique Method (or, Champagne Method as it's known in France!) 

Well Done and happy drinking!

PS.  Drink safely and know your limits!




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