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The fine art of MCC mastered in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

When was Domaine Des Dieux established and what is its background? The sheep farm was acquired in 2002. After completing soil analysis and various extensive studies we started planting vineyards in 2004. Our first wine was the 2006 Claudia Brut Methode Cap Classique (MCC). The farm is owned by the company Domaine des Dieux Pty Ltd and the day-to-day management and running of the farm is done by our family, my mother Sharon Parnell being the general manager, myself the sales and marketing manager and my fiancé Shane Mullis the vineyard and farm manager.

What is Domaine’s winemaking style? The wines we create are considered very much European and French influenced, from the grape varietals and clones we decided to plant, to the bottle ageing of the wines allowing for a later vintage release. The cooler climate influences the style of wines and MCC’s we produce. Our goal is to one day become a self sustainable, bio-dynamically run farm. We put the utmost focus on caring for the vineyards and allow them to produce the premium quality fruit we use in our winemaking. We are already heading in this direction by cutting the usage of poisons and finding more natural alternatives in the managing of the vineyards. In the cellar we do very little intervention, and have a more classic style of winemaking, which is why the best possible quality of fruit from the vineyards is so important to us.

What does Domaine have to offer for the public? We are a small boutique wine farm and with that have tried to use nature to our advantage, having all electricity on the farm run by solar power and all water from boreholes. The result of this is an intimate but sophisticated tasting room that focuses on our wines. We offer a tasting of six wines for R35 as well as the option to sit and enjoy a glass or bottle after your tasting. We have put together simple but wholesome cheese & meat boards to allow those who want to stay a bit longer the chance to fill their tummies. The wines are the reason people come to visit, but the breathtaking views of the whole ridge, from our glass windowed tasting room, is the reason they stay.

What was the feeling like when you won the awards for your Domaine Des Dieux Claudia Brutt MCC? We are always blown away and feel very privileged when we pick up an award of this magnitude for any of our wines. Awards are more important to some people than others but for us the most important thing it demonstrates is constant quality at the highest level.

We were blessed to have picked up the award for the Top South African MCC at the Amorim challenge twice, and the trophy for the best Brut MCC three times. I was unfortunately unable to attend the Amorim Cap Classique Awards ceremony, as I was travelling for work, but was very honoured to fly to London to pick up the trophy at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships for the best SA Brut MCC as well as the overall best SA MCC. It is quite humbling to sit in a hall among premium champagne producers, who have been doing this for generations and generations, and know that you are competing on the same stage as them, it is something we had hoped to achieve as our little estate grew but we never imagined we would be able to achieve it with our sixth vintage. We are incredibly happy and honoured.

What is the MCC made of? MCC is the acronym for Methode Cap Classique, it is a term unique to South African “sparkling wines” and it means the wines are produced using the same traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle that French Champagnes use, this method is known as methode champenois. Any sparkling wine produced outside of the region Champagne is however not allowed to call itself Champagne, so the pioneers of South African MCC sat together, among many bottles of bubbly, I’m sure, and came up with the proudly unique term Methode Cap Classique. It can be made from many different varietals that are grown in South Africa but the most popular are the classical varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The percentage in which these varietals are used is often what makes each MCC unique as well as the time in which they age the wine on lees during second fermentation in bottle, this can range anywhere from a minimum of nine months upwards. We for example age our Claudia Brut MCC for four years on lees, making it a more elegant finessed soft expression of MCC.

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