Having written about the opening of Gorgeous by Graham Beck, I was invited to visit Steenberg Hotel (also a Graham Beck Wines property) and try out the first brand-specific bubbly bar in Cape Town, a chic transformed space alongside Catharina’s restaurant. Its staff are bubbly, the canapés well-paired with the Graham Beck MCCs tasted, and the interior is trendy. The bubbly bar has been named after the late Graham Beck’s favourite descriptive word.
A nice surprise was to discover that Jenna Adams is the manager of Gorgeous by Graham Beck, having impressed with her friendliness at Bistro 1682, also on the Steenberg estate. She bubbles with charm and information about the Graham Beck bubblies, and was willing to search for answers to all my questions.
Guests are encouraged to sit at the counter, with a Carrara marble top, on comfortable leather bar chairs, facing the Gorgeous by Graham Beck branded glass doors. Against one side of the wall is a constantly changing projection of gorgeous ladies across a broad spectrum, designed by Daniel du Plessis. The walls have a glitter effect, and the ‘Paper Jewellery’ wallpaper was designed by Vivienne Westwood. The copper pendant lamps are by Tom Dixon. The design of the bubbly bar was by architect Johan Wessels and his wife Erna, who have been involved in the design of most Graham Beck property projects. Couch corners are also available as seating.
Jenna explained the seven Graham Beck MCCs as she poured them into Graham Beck branded frosted glasses, grouped as follows:
* Non-vintage Collection (R40 per glass, R200 per bottle)
. Brut, with light and yeasty aromas, and lime on the nose, with 15 – 18 months on the lees. Bubbly used to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and President Barack Obama’s presidential nomination.
. Rosé, with 50 % Chardonnay and 50 % Pinot Noir, 15 months on the lees, with cherry and berry notes
. Bliss Demi Sec, a bubbly I had not heard of before, with 49 % Chardonnay and 51 % Pinot Noir, 15 months on the lees, butterscotch, praline, and honeycomb notes, and has more residual sugar
This group was described by Jenna as a ‘palate cleanser’, to the more serious Vintage MCCs.
* Vintage Collection (R65 per glass, R 325 per bottle)
. Brut Zero 2005, with 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir, spent six years on the lees, with fresh green apple, baked brioche, and crispy notes, with only 2,4 gram residual sugar, with no dosage added in its making. It was my favourite by far, and the driest of the MCCs tasted
. Rosé 2008, with 80% Pinot Noir and 20 % Chardonnay, spending 36 months on the lees, with strawberry, mousse, and sherbet.
* Icon (R100 per glass, R500 per bottle)
. The Cuvée Clive 2005 is the Graham Beck MCC flagship, and is not available for tasting but can be bought by the glass and bottle, made up of 87% Chardonnay and 13 % Pinot Noir, and having spent five years on the lees. It is only produced in excellent vintages.
One can taste flights of the Graham Beck MCCs, at R60 for a flight of the three Non-Vintage MCCs, R85 for a flight of the three Vintage MCCs, and R60 for a Rosé MCC flight. Gorgeous to Go allows one to buy the Graham Beck MCCs to take home, at (reduced) prices: Non-Vintage Collection MCCs cost R105, also available in 375 ml and 1,5 litre bottles; Vintage Collection MCCs cost R205; and Cuvée Clive costs R450.
Catharina’s Executive Chef Garth Almazan created a gorgeous tasting platter of four savoury canapés (R95); and of four canapés and a sweet treat berry terrine, served on a modern glass plate (R110). Each canapé can also be ordered individually: fresh Saldanha Bay oysters cost R18, and are served with lime wedges, Tabasco and crushed black pepper; a tian of cured Franschhoek salmon trout is served with poached quail egg and salmon caviar (R30); a poached tiger prawn is served with an avocado salsa, Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger and sesame seed salad (R30); and an asparagus and goats cheese risotto croquette is served with pickled shemeji mushrooms and white truffle oil (R25). The Graham Beck Brut berry terrine rests on a Valrhona chocolate foundation (R22).
The opening of Gorgeous by Graham Beck stems from the closure of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm and tasting room in winter, due to the sale of the farm to Johan Rupert. It is planned to transform a meeting room on Steenberg into a tasting room for the other Graham Beck wines. Graham Beck Wines Cellarmaster Erica Obermeyer is completing her 2012 white wine harvest at Graham Beck Franschhoek and her red wine harvest at a cellar in Stellenbosch.
Gorgeous by Graham Beck, Steenberg Estate, Tokai. Tel (021) 713-7177 www.gorgeousbygrahambeck.com Twitter: @GorgeousbyGB Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 22h00
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage