Ok so for starters, you can only call it Champagne if it comes from the region in France called Champagne. The rest of the world calls it names from Methode Champenoise to Methode Traditonelle and the list goes on. In South Africa, we call it Methode Cap Classique or MCC for short. Essentially all it means is that it is made the same way Champagne is made in France, we just have a different dialing code!
What makes MCC different to Sparkling Wine is the way the bubbles are formed in the bottle. One of the most popular Sparkling Wines in South Africa is JC Le Roux's. In that, bubbles are formed simply by injecting carbon dioxide into the bottle. Think of it as the wine industry's SodaStream. MCC, on the other hand, is another beast altogether. With MCC the bubbles are formed through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The video above explains the process in more detail. The most common grapes used in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Although, it is not that easy to find Pinot Meunier in South Africa.
MCC comes in such a wide variety of styles, from your dry acidic ones to creamier, more complex options. South Africa is producing some amazing MCCs. Winemakers are also using other grapes such as Chenin Blanc and Pinotage to create really cool unique wines! So explore MCC the way you would any wine, and don't feel it's only meant for special occasions!