The next big thing

Out of the Press

If there’s anything that irritates me about South African wine, it’s when people, whether local or foreigners, announce; ‘….. is going to be the next big thing’ (You fill the gap, there’s plenty of choice). It sounds good, it sounds exciting but it’s used rather too frequently and hastily. The only word I can think of which couldn’t fill that gap sufficiently often is ‘Quality’ but that’s another matter.

Nowadays, cinsaut often crops up in this sort of conversation. As Tim James reminds in his Wines of the New South Africa, cinsaut is a variety with a long association at the Cape, being ‘grown here since the middle of the nineteenth century’ and, at one time was ‘South Africa’s most planted variety, occupying nearly a third of the vineyard and used for everything from brandy, through rosé, to sweet, dry, and fortified red wines.’

Three shades of cinsaut Three shades of cinsaut

As the…

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champagne hiking 18.0

Richard Juhlin has taken on his next big project – the book ‘Champagne hiking’.

Source: champagne hiking 18.0

English Fizz – Update

On the 9th July I will be doing going on a short study tour and tasting of presumably and arguably the Top 10 English Fizz producers in the UK. Through friends I have managed to arrange a detailed visit and route which I am looking forward to – to taste and getting an update. Some four years ago I have been to some of these producers and knowing that so much has changed in the time – it is time to catch up with them.

The producers I will visit and report back on will be:

  • Acre Hill Estate – Richard Morris
  • Exton Park Vineyard – Fred Langdale & Corinne Seely
  • Hattingley Valley – Emma Rice
  • Coates & Seely
  • Nyetimber – Cherie Spriggs
  • Wiston – Dermot Surgue
  • Ridgeview – Simon Roberts
  • Breaky Bottom – Peter Hall
  • Rathfinny Estate – Jonathan Medard
  • Gusbourne – Charlie Holland
  • Hush Heath – Victoria

With two Champagne Houses that has recently invested in some vineyards in the UK, these producers are enjoying the benefit of these investments.

Earlier this year Michelin Star UK chef Roger Jones, arranged over 24 local MCC’s and UK Sparkling Wines to be sampled and scored.  Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira from Graham Beck led the South African team of judges while Richard Morris of Ancre Hill Estate in Wales led the Wales and UK team. This was held at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town.

‘Bubbles’ Ferreira took the SA team to victory with 8 of the 11 blind tastings going in SA’s favour and also claimed the overall win on the night for his Graham Beck’s Cuveé Clive. Said Roger Jones about the evening, “It was not ultimately about winning. But the idea behind the evening was more to highlight the enormous steps UK sparkling wine has taken in recent years, as well as put more of an international spotlight on South African MCC”.

I cannot wait to give feedback, once I have been there and to meet up with friends on the other side.






The Real Stockholm Marathon – 2004 – 2005 – 2006

Wow comprehensive!! Love to taste them ALL!

the champagne blog by the champagnesommelier

Or The Richard Juhlin Stockholm Tasting 2016 as it is called. Richard Juhlin gathered his tasting gruop Teh Richard Juhlin Champagne Club to go trough the 150 best champagnes of the vintages 2004, 2005 & 2006.

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Clos Lanson – one of the most exciting new wines of the entire Champagne region

the champagne blog by the champagnesommelier

The unique baby taken care of by the super talented Hervé Dantan is one of the most exciting new wines of the entire Champagne region.

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Graham Beck Bubbly Harvest 2016 – Episode I

Happy New Year to everyone and may 2016 surprise us all and be a fantastic vintage! The Graham Beck cellar team was back from holidays and started on the 5th of January. I was still ‘literally’ trying to get rid of my sun tan lotion from New Year but we immediately prepared for the harvest! Our harvest at Graham Beck in Robertson started on the 8th January. It is the exact day as last year. As per usual our first load of grapes is paraded to the cellar where our farm manager, Pieter Fouche hands over the first load in a bit of fanfare. The vineyard team arranges beautiful and colourful banners that is paraded from the vineyard to the cellar and arrives with the first load of grapes.

Harvest kicked off with a serious bang this year… Extraordinary weather with lots of heatwaves before the New Year has set the tone for a challenging vintage of 2016. We tell ourselves, actually in Robertson by now; know that this is the effect of El Niño and global warming. “Remember in Robertson we know have to work with sunshine, after all there is only one ‘son and that is Robertson!

Early to really predict on quality but our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir destined for Cap Classique is healthy and all has smaller berries…. Never a bad thing – promises concentrated flavours. On the blocks of Chardonnay we have completed the crop estimation, for now, is running on the expected yields but the Pinot Noir is about 10% lighter on the estimated yields.

It has been a very dry start for us all in the Western Cape this year and we do not really welcome the hot days and lots of sunshine…. However (at Graham Beck) we really struggled at the start of harvest at the cellar as we had a few unforeseen breakdowns occurring! Having a great support team here and Robertson, we have managed to bring all the problems to a ‘ready-steady-go’ phase. We see this as just another part of our challenges in our constant strive for the perfect bubble.

Here are some notes on the latest conditions and the effect of the weather from Pieter Fouche—Farm Manager: “Disease pressure has been low due to the very dry conditions but the demand on water has been extraordinary. In these conditions we need to pulse the vineyard blocks all the time, as the last thing we need is for the vineyards to stress as this will cause (what we call) “bevange” or pseudo ripeness. I don’t think the winemakers will mind if we get a good down pour as long as things dry up quickly! The morale in the vineyard team remains high! Current weather stations are indicating moderate sunshine over the weekend…. Bring is on, please!

We now on day five of the harvest and we have received 530 Tons of grapes. We have harvested Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Robertson, Darling, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Durbanville.


Cape Winemakers Guild launches CWG VinPro Viticulture Protégé Programme

Committed to driving transformation in the South African wine industry, the Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) in association with VinPro has expanded its highly successful Oenology Protégé Programme with the launch of a similar internship scheme to develop young viticulturists.

The new CWG VinPro Viticulture Protégé Programme, an initiative of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, gives promising individuals the opportunity to realise their dreams of becoming fully fledged viticulturists after a two-year internship.

“The Protégé Programme is a major priority for all of our members. Thanks to a generous contribution from the VinPro Foundation, we are now able to branch out into niche areas of the wine industry which will broaden the reach of our transformation efforts significantly,” says Louis Strydom, Chairman of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust.

“We will start by taking in one Viticulture Protégé in 2015 and hope to see it grow and be just as successful as the existing Oenology Protégé Programme,” says Strydom.

Since its inception in 2006, the CWG Oenology Protégé Programme has seen the appointment of five graduates in full time winemaking positions.

“Although it is great to invest in initiatives that show positive short term results, we prefer to take a longer term view of the industry and focus our involvement on projects that will make a critical contribution towards the sustainability of the industry and its people over the years to come,” says VinPro Transformation and Development Manager Johan Giliomee, an advisory service that renders professional and need-driven consultation services in viticulture, oenology, soil science, agro-economy and general management to wine producers.

“We regard the Cape Winemakers Guild, with their innovative approach to training as
one such organisation that can make a difference,” adds Giliomee.

Established in 2013, the VinPro Foundation serves as a vehicle for funding key initiatives that can make a difference to the wellbeing of all participants in the South African wine industry.

The CWG VinPro Viticulture Protégé Programme aims to cultivate, nurture and empower promising individuals to become viticulturists of excellence. Mentored by members of the Cape Winemakers Guild, interns receive hands-on training with regards to the intricacies of cultivation practices to ensure top quality grapes for the production of diverse wine types and styles. Successful candidates admitted to this cutting edge programme receive a salary, coaching and life skills mentorship, attendance of selected Cape Winemakers Guild functions and wine tastings, industry networking opportunities and a certificate of completion at the end of the two-year internship.

Students interested in applying for the Oenology Protégé Programme or the CWG VinPro Viticulture Protégé Programme can visit, call Tel: 021 852 0408 or send an email to