Yesterday I attended a presentation by Graham Beck winemaker of 27 years, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, at the colourful The Stack, sharing with us what a difference stemware makes in the tasting experience and enjoyment of Graham Beck sparkling wines. Continue reading →
Graham Beck flagship MCC Cuvée Clive 2009 has been named best South African sparkling wine at the 2016 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships held in London earlier this week, at an event attended by a hundred top sparkling wine and champagne producers from around the world. Continue reading →
A surprise announcement yesterday was that Graham Beck Wines will consolidate all the wine interests in its Graham Beck brand portfolio in its Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) range. The Graham Beck MCC focus will be supported by a ‘substantial financial investment‘, its CEO Chris du Toit has announced. Continue reading →
On Friday writers and the trade were treated to a vertical tasting of Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs MCCs, were surprised with the launch of new Graham Beck Gorgeous 2014, and were spoilt with a lunch at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.
The late Mr Beck loved the ‘gorgeous’ adjective, and because he loved the Graham Beck wines, it was decided to name the new wine Gorgeous. Having Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes available from its MCC production, it was decided to use the same ‘recipe’ in making its range of seven MCCs, by blending the two grape varieties (58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay) to produce a still wine, in beautiful soft feminine packaging. It has a lower alcohol level, at 11,2%, and is good value for money at R60. The grapes used are from newly planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards, which will produce fruit going into the production of the Graham Beck MCCs over time.
Pieter ‘Bubbles‘ Ferreira took us through the 2006 – 2010 vertical tasting of the Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs. He shared interesting information about wines and winemaking in general, such as that the wine region demarcations are becoming smaller and smaller; that Graham Beck produces 1 million bottles of MCC per year, for which 85% of the grapes are brought in from other areas outside of Robertson; that their non-vintage MCCs spends 18 months on the lees, while their vintage MCCs spend 4 years or more on the lees; to qualify as a Cap Classique the wine needs to spend at least 9 months on the lees; a Champagne spends a minimum of 15 months on the lees; at 12 – 15 months the effect of the yeast is most pronounced, there not being much impact in the firsts nine months; for their Cuvée Clive there are no rules, Pieter going with his ‘gut feel‘ in deciding when this exceptional MCC should be made, the fourth release in the past 11 years about to be launched; they don’t encourage malolactic fermentation, but it can happen to 10 – 15% of the wine; they are building up a vinoteque of their MCCs; Magnums Continue reading →
On Tuesday last week a gathering of wine writers was spoilt with an invitation to taste the portfolio of seven Graham Beck Wines MCCs at The Westin Cape Town, followed by a sparkling lunch in the hotel’s Executive Club, pairing the MCCs and delectable dishes prepared by Chef Johann Breedt and his team.
Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira is synonymous with Graham Beck’s MCCs, having started with the company at its inception 24 years ago. He quickly earned the nickname ‘Bubbles‘, given to him by wine writer Melvyn Minnaar, and now wears the ‘branded’ shirt with his name on it! He truly is a bubbly character, and the passion for his seven MCCs comes to the fore when he speaks about them. The pay-off line for the MCC range has been ‘In Pursuit of the Perfect Bubble’, and is printed on the marketing collateral, representing Pieter’s quest to make the ultimate MCC. The brand has received outstanding international publicity as being the preferred sparkling wine of royals (served at the wedding of Swedish Princess Madeleine) and politicians such as the Obamas, who drank it on the eve of the President’s inauguration, and with President Zuma when the Obamas visited Pretoria ten days ago. In June Michelle Obama was spoilt with the bubbly, being on the menu for her lunch with Bono in his home town of Dalkey in Ireland. It was served at the inauguration of former President Nelson Mandela too. Prince Harry toasted his Sentebale Trust with Graham Beck earlier this year. Given the publicity, which was achieved without paying a cent for it, and the brand being the preference of such sterling customers, the pay-off line used now for the MCCs is ‘Graham Beck: The Crown of Celebration’. A crown has been added to the Graham Beck logo for the MCC range, looking as if it has always been there. Continue reading →
Graham Beck’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) has made headline news in the past ten days, when it appeared on the menu of a lunch hosted by Bono for American First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as on the menu of the wedding celebration dinner of Princess Madeleine and her husband Chris O’Neill, putting Graham Beck’s MCCs on a par with French champagnes in celebrating celebrity occasions! Continue reading →
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
Deriving its name from the favoured term of endearment of the late Mr Graham Beck, Gorgeous is a statement in indulgent elegance, from the Vivienne Westwood wallpaper to the Tom Dixon lighting above the bar. Guests can enjoy the gorgeous Graham Beck bubblies in the lounge-style area or alongside the bar.
The full selection of Graham Beck Wines’ Méthode Cap Classique can be enjoyed with canapés prepared exclusively for Gorgeous by Executive Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s restaurant, located in the same historic building. Among the five dishes on the menu are fresh Saldanha Bay oysters; poached tiger prawn; and asparagus and goat’s cheese risotto croquette, created to complement the Graham Beck sparkling wines.
The Graham Beck sparkling wines will be the exclusive beverage offered, with prices starting at R40 per flute and R200 per bottle. Guests can also try a specific range: the three-wine non-vintage Graham Beck sparkling wines, the three vintage cuvées, or the Cap Classique flagship, Cuvée Clive.
Gorgeous is the latest addition to the Steenberg estate, recently voted among the Top 100 Experiences in the World by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler in the USA. The opening of the Gorgeous Bubbly Bar stems from the closure of the Graham Beck Tasting Room in Franschhoek later this year, due to the sale of the Franschhoek farm.
Gorgeous by Graham Beck, Steenberg Estate, Tokai Road, Constantia. Tel (021) 713 7177, www.gorgeousbygrahambeck.com Twitter: @GorgeousbyGB, Facebook @Gorgeous by Graham Beck. Monday – Sunday 11h00 – 22h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage