Cap Classique soars with record achievements in authoritative report on SA wine

Tuesday, 19 September, 2023
Cap Classique Association
South African Cap Classique producers are on a high following unprecedented acknowledgement for the quality being achieved.

In his latest report on South African wine, a voluminous and esteemed evaluation of quality, Wine Master Tim Atkin awarded over 70% of 121 Cap Classiques he tasted with a score of more than 90 points.

“[It’s] a record haul for fizz,” he declares. “South Africa’s Cap Classique bubblies are increasingly impressive…No wonder sales are growing by 12% per annum.”

Cap Classique is bottle-fermented sparkling wine, made according to the traditional method. The name was conceived by South African winemakers when producers in the Champagne region in France objected to the use of the word Champenoise by other producers.

“South Africa’s first Cap Classique was released in 1971, just over 50 years ago. That is relatively young. So, to receive recognition for such a broad selection of these wines speaks volumes of the resilience and persistence our industry and its pursuit of world-class quality,” says Cap Classique Producers Association chairman Pieter Ferreira. “It is a great achievement and most certainly deserves more than a few corks to be popped in celebration!”

Atkin’s judgement is highly regarded and influential, partly because he is based in the UK – one of the biggest markets for international wine. More importantly, however, is that the award-winning wine writer has built a loyal following, bringing more than 30 years’ experience to bear as he travels every year to compile reports on what he says are “the world’s most important wine regions”.

The reports regularly focus on regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, Chile and Champagne. For this year’s 317-page South Africa 2023 Special Report, Atkin once again singled out his “podium” wines – essentially, the best of the best. Where Cap Classique is concerned, this recognition befell the 2018 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive as Overall Sparkling Wine Of The Year.

In his assessment of the wine, Atkin states: “One of the best-ever releases of Cuvée Clive, the 2018 wouldn’t look out of place in a lineup of prestige bubblies from Champagne…World class.”

His Sparkling Wine Discovery of the Year came from the same Robertson producer and was the 2009 Graham Beck Artisan Collection Extra Brut 157. “Rich, dense, layered and complex, it's a brilliant small-volume cuvée…,” he writes.

For his Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year, Atkin decided on the NV KWV Laborie Brut from Paarl.

In fact, good value was a characteristic that applied across the sector, he writes in his discussion on the category.

“[Cap Classique wines] have complexity, balance and finesse... What’s more, they are mostly sold at approachable prices. There has never been a better time to drink Cap Classique wines.”

In tasting the 121 wines submitted from producers across the South African winelands, Atkin says he was impressed by stylistic diversity, the increased number of regions where the style is produced, and the expanding use of different varieties, techniques and practices.

He points out that South African sparkling wine is barely half a century old but seen significant improvements due to several factors. These include increasing influence of bubbly specialists; the availability of high-quality Cap Classiques from “very good still wine producers”; the release of wines with substantial time on the lees; and, vine age, better clonal material, greater experience with sites and blending across regions.

In addition to the podium selection, the South Africa 2023 Special Report also lists Atkin’s Wines of the Year:





Graham Beck Cuvée Clive MCC 2018



‘One of the best-ever’

Graham Beck Artisan Collection Extra Brut 157 2009




Le Lude Venus Brut Nature MCC 2014



‘Rich and intense’

Silverthorn Jewel Box MCC 2018




Silverthorn The Green Man Magnum MCC 2017





The Cap Classique Producers Association is on Facebook and Instagram. For information, visit or phone 021 863 1599.