Graham Beck launches gorgeous new Gorgeous Pinot Noir Chardonnay still wine!

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Graham Beck Gorgeous Label Whale CottageOn 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 Graham Beck Gorgeous Pieter Ferreira Pierre de Klerk Whale CottageRobertson;  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 are great marketing collateral, and are ideal for gifts; climate change is evident – in his 24 years at Graham Beck it never rained in January, but in the past nine years it has rained weekly in January; more Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines are being planted at the Graham Beck farms in Robertson and Stellenbosch.  Pieter is assisted by Pierre de Klerk, who has worked with him for the past four years.

Graham Beck Gorgeous Blanc de Blancs tasting sheet Whale CottageIn doing the vertical tasting, Pieter wanted us to see the evolution of the Blanc de Blancs, the quality improvement noticeable over the five vintages, which Pieter put down to the use of grapes which are ‘100% virus free’.  The 2010 Blanc de Blancs was disgorged three week ago, and will appear on the market in September.   Graham Beck now adds the date of disgorgement on the back label of its MCC bottles.   The 2007 was described as having Marmite and brioche aromas.  Overall there was little colour difference in the five vintages.  Pieter described the 2006 vintage as a ‘feather on the tongue‘.  The 2008 was described as the ‘tipping point’ in the vintage range, and a show of hands voted this as the most liked of the five, showing minerality.   The Blanc de Blancs cost around R200 in retail outlets.

Pieter spoke about the future of the Graham Beck MCC portfolio, which has nothing missing in its range of seven MCCs, but something new can still be created, he said.  It may be a new MCC which is kept on the lees for 10 – 12 years.  In celebrating their 25th anniversary next year, they will be tasting a 1991 MCC which is still on the lees!

The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa excelled in the lunch they prepared, five courses each having been carefully paired with a MCC andGraham Beck Gorgeous Salmon Trout Whale Cottage one with Gorgeous. Their service generally is very good, the Food & Beverage Manager, Banqueting Manager, and Deputy Food & Beverage Manager all being on the floor with their waiting staff (who unfortunately tend to stretch in front of patrons in putting down knives and forks), and their Sommelier pouring the wines per course, giving continued interaction at the table. The flame grilled smoked salmon trout was served with a number of elements, including tartare, cucumber, pickled cauliflower, and miso Graham Beck Gorgeous Prawn and apple salad Whale Cottagevinaigrette, which was paired with the new Graham Beck Gorgeous Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2014.  This was followed by a prawn and apple salad, paired with Graham Beck Brut Zero 2008, which consisted of butter poached prawns, compressed apple, apple cloud, lime crème fraîche, and vanilla and parsnip purée.

I needed to leave the hotel at 14h00, to get to Franschhoek, and Gavin Ferreira with the co-operation ofGraham Beck Gorgeous Goats Cheese Tortellini Whale Cottage the kitchen was able to get the rest of the menu fast-tracked for me, so that I could taste and photograph the dishes.  The goats cheese tortellini was served in a Graham Beck Gorgeous Potato Gnocchi Whale Cottagesmall glass with a prominent tomato chutney, basil pesto, and Parmesan foam, paired with Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2009.  This was followed by a potato gnocchi, which was served in a corn velouté, a forest mushroom ragout, and oven-roasted shallots, and paired with Brut Rosé NV.

The main course was roast chicken, and was a busy plate with a crispy baby chicken wing, a star anise and carrot purée, baby rainbow carrots, citrus glazed pearl onions, pommes anna,Graham Beck Gorgeous Roast chicken Whale Cottage and a raisin jus, which was served with Graham Beck Cuvée Clive 2009. I was Graham Beck Gorgeous Butterscotch Mousse Whale Cottageinterested to see the plating of the dessert on one half of the plate only, which was a butterscotch mousse, a butterscotch veil, honey coral sponge, and yummy crunchy praline ice cream, served with a citrus salad.  The pairing was with Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec NV.

The view from the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa onto the Atlantic Ocean and Lion’s Head makes it a very special venue for functions.  Chef Christo Pretorius and his team did a great job to prepare so many courses for such a large group on a Gorgeous day in Camps Bay!

Disclosure:  We received a bottle of Graham Beck Brut Blanc de Blancs 2009, Graham Beck Gorgeous 2014, as well as Gorgeous themed biscuits with our media pack.

Graham Beck Wines,  Robertson (Tasting Room) and Franschhoek (Marketing & Sales).  Tel (021)  874-1258/(023) 626-1214 www.grahambeckwines.com  Twitter: @GrahamBeckWines

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage  Facebook: click here

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