G Spot: Graham Beck Wines, Franschhoek

Posted by Virtual Explorer on 15 may 2010.

It is not very often that one gets to drink or taste wine that is the drink of choice for Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.

Graham Beck wines first came to the attention of Jocelyn when she found out that Obama personally asked for this wine to be served at his inauguration in January 2009. So when we saw that Graham Beck Wine Estates were on our route, we didn’t hesitate to see for ourselves what makes the wine so special.

Cellar master Pieter Ferreira took us on a tour of the winery and showed us the massive silver containers weighing up to 30 000 litres in which the wine is fermented. Walking around the winery, the pungent smell of the red wine was intoxicating.

Pieter’s enthusiasm for the wine industry shines through as he explains the process of making wine. Asked how he got involved in the business, he said “you fall into a wine tangle and learn to swim”.

We asked Pieter about the Obama connection. At his inauguration dinner in May 1994, former president Nelson Mandela insisted that the wine be served, and this is how Graham Beck wines, markets their products.

So in 2008, on the eve of announcing his candidacy for the US presidential election, Barack and Michelle Obama went to the Blackbird Restaurant in Chicago and had their first encounter with this proudly South African wine. They chose it after hearing that Mandela had drunk it at his inauguration.

It is clear that first impressions last as Michelle Obama ordered the wine for election night, and it was served again at Obama’s inaugiration dinner.

At the tasting centre, Pieter pulled out all the stops, and we certainly understood why the wine is the preferred choice.

Rich and fruity, we had a taste of Brut and Bliss and it was well, uh, blissful.

And for those of you who thought Rose was merely a summer drink, Pieter says “Pink is in. Cape Town is Pink man. It’s fashion”.

– Sipho Masondo and Jocelyn Uithaler


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