Raising the bubbly bar

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014
Graham Beck
If anybody can lay claim to having bubbles in their blood, then Graham Beck’s cellarmaster Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira is walking proof! It’s a clear sign that this man was born to create world-class sparkling wines.

Pieter and his stalwart team have, over the years, ensured that Graham Beck Cap Classiques are synonymous with quality, finesse and timeless appeal.

Early on in his career Pieter discovered the universal charm of this challenging style of wine. He credits his microbiology background with helping him to understand and appreciate the finer nuances of crafting Cap Classique. Three vintages in Champagne and various overseas study tours provided plenty of opportunities to hone Pieter’s natural affinity for this specialized style of wine.

He joined Graham Beck’s Robertson Cellar in 1990. Surprised by the intrinsic quality of the base wines even in those early days, Pieter and his team worked hard at establishing a solid platform for MCC style wines. “As South Africans we have to embrace our sunshine,” he maintains. “Our first Non Vintage was released in 1993 and we’ve never looked back!” After years of refining their focus and honing their clonal selection, site selection and vineyard and cellar practices the team is reaping the rewards.

"I really try and capture the fruit characteristics of any particular variety. It’s always my aim to contribute elegance and finesse. The wines are never ‘in your face’,” he explains. “At the end of the day you should be drinking the authentic style of the wines, not aiming for showmanship. With bubbly it’s even more vital to create that finesse and delicacy. The smaller you can create that bubble, the better the chances that the wine will develop gentle flavours.”

"I’m still in search of the perfect bubble and, until then, I’ll keep refining. The challenge of consistency and continuity in sparkling wines is vital,” maintains this gifted vintner.

Over the years Graham Beck has established a reputation as one of South Africa’s leading Cap Classique producers, striving for consistency, quality and continuous innovation. It’s been a tremendously fulfilling journey and we’re incredibly privileged to have shared it with you.

At the custom built Methode Cap Classique cellar in Robertson the Graham Beck Wines team continues to pursue the perfect bubble. Over the years these wines have notched up numerous awards both locally and internationally. Although justifiably proud of these prestigious accolades, it’s the loyal following amongst our fans which we cherish the most.

Wine critics and judges both here and overseas have on numerous occasions compared our MCC’s to the greats of the international wine arena – it’s this type of valuable feedback and benchmarking which propel us forward in our quest for quality.

It’s not every day that your wine is chosen by one of the world’s most famous men to celebrate history in the making. Graham Beck Wines has achieved this honour not once, but twice! In 1994 Graham Beck Brut NV was selected as the celebratory drink at the inauguration of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela. More recently, after declaring his intention to run for president Barack Obama took his wife, Michelle, to one of their favourite restaurants in Chicago. The sommelier recommended two glasses of Graham Beck Brut NV – an eminently suitable African fizz for an African American presidential candidate!

The Obamas were so impressed with this bubbly that they ordered six bottles for the 4th November 2008. The corks were then ceremoniously popped to celebrate the election of the 44th American president before Barack Obama addressed the world at Grant Park.

On local soils our bubblies have done us proud on numerous occasions at competitions such as the annual Veritas, Diners Club, Trophy Wine Show and Michelangelo Awards, in the John Platter Wine Guide and in the prestigious Cap Classique Challenge. Further afield our wines have been lauded at the International Wine Challenge in London and singled out by top international wine judges and journalists. Wine writer for the Daily Mail, Matthew Jukes said our Blanc de Blancs 2005 was “a most beautiful and rewarding sparkler and still one of the best values in the world”. Renowned British wine expert Jancis Robinson listed Graham Beck Brut NV in her top 25 bubblies for the 2011 festive season. We’ll say cheers to that!