Johannesburg Cap Classique and Champagne Festival Presented by MasterCard

Boasting some of the country’s top Cap Classiques from estates such as Colmant, Graham Beck Wines, House of Krone, La Motte, Môreson, Pierre Jourdan, Poncracz, Simonsig, Silverthorne, Steenberg and Villiera, the festival will offer patrons the opportunity to sip and sample the finest of bubblies without having to venture into the Winelands. World-renowned Champagnes will be presented by brands such as Follet-Ramillon, Tribaut and Veuve Clicquot.

Tickets cost R250 per person and are available online at


See you there!!!


100 best dishes – London eating

100 best dishes – London eating.

Twitter Touch Point-ers

Twitter Touch Point-ers.

South African Wine-makers with French Souls by Emile Joubert

Published by Emile Joubert – Winegoggle 15 July 2012

Like the rich, the French are different. In what way? Well, going into detail cannot be done before proper broadband comes to South Africa as the reasoning is bound to be expansive.

Wine, for example, is one area in which the French are different from other nations.

Still the greatest wine country on earth. Has been and always will be. Blah.Blah. Agreed.

In the spirit of Bastille Day celebrations, thus, I’d like to take a look at five South African winemakers who to my mind have – knowingly or otherwise – been infected with French genes of vinous brilliance. Doubting Thomases can taste it in their wines.


Abrie Beeslaar, Kanonkop

The brief from Kanonkop-owner Johann Krige to Abrie on him becoming Kanonkop’s third winemaker was: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple in the cellar and allow the Estate’s terroir pedigree to do the work. Manual punchdowns. New oak. Patience.

Abrie understands this ethos, and it is displayed in his wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Paul Sauer blend have, however, under his stewardship shown a progression in fruit purity. Unlike Jan Boland Coetzee and Beyers Truter before him, Abrie uses a sorting system, resulting in opulent , unblemished fruit ending in the open-fermenters. This could easily result in over-extraction and excessively modish juiciness. However, Abrie’s understanding of the fruit and its reaction to the Kanonkop wine-making process, including the ability to handle two years in new wood, results in classical red wines that ooze real Old World excellence, character and purity.

Hannes Storm, Hamilton Russell Vineyards

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs now rank among the best South Africa has ever produced. Hannes does an incredible job in grasping his somewhat challenging windswept terrain and clay-strong soils so as to sculpt Burgundian wines in the truest sense of the world. The 2010 Chardonnay and 2009 Pinot Noir are terrific wines which deserve to be in any serious wino’s collection.

Pieter Ferreira, Graham Beck

The wines, the Blanc de Blancs being a personal favourite, say it all. But Pieter’s underlying commitment to living out the philosophy of a Champagne master not only give his wines the edge, but have and still do influence wine-makers taking the baton for Méthode Cap Classique. Arguably South Africa’s most successful wine category in terms of growth over the past 10 years, much of this has to do with the influence of Pieter, both on a skills and personal level.

Alwyn Liebenberg

He might be a specialist on the wines of Portugal, but when it comes down to the wire, Alwyn has a palate schooled in great Bordeaux and Rhône. His French flair comes in two ways: first, the Sauvignon Blanc he churns out under The Goose label. Floral, yet stony; fresh yet fleshy; zippy yet poised – Alwyn coaxes true character from a grape that does not really do very well in South Africa in terms of personality, individuality and expression.

Secondly, Alwyn’s generosity in terms of sharing great wines from his collection to add substance to conversation is a true French characteristic. For example, when talking Cabernet Franc, why not open an Angelus 1977 to help the thought processes along?

Jan Boland Coetzee

French wine-makers observe a similarity in their South African peers, I have been told at various Franco gatherings. “You see yourselves as farmers first and wine-makers second. You can’t be one without believing in the other.”

They must have been talking about Jan Boland Coetzee, first and foremost a farmer. A boer. A sun of the soil. Eternal student and meticulous recorder of climates. This guy is the real deal.

And it is there in his wines. The Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2003 was a personal revelation as to what is possible in the local Pinot Noir narrative. The Vriesenhof Chardonnay exudes a piercing spear of elegant minerality I have not yet encountered outside the wines of Beaune. His way with words, people, ideas and his take on the wine-makers life make him a national treasure, one which the French would be proud to call their own.



Monsieur Jan Boland Coetzee


Date of disgorgement on the label?

I read a great article on whether producers should incorporate the disgorgement date on the label or not. I guess there are many answers as to do so or not to do and at least stirr some debate!

However I have been noticing that Champagne producers are starting to do so. Very few of the big Grand Marques have done so, although there has been an increase in many many small and midsize producers which includes Bruno Paillard and Philipponnat that have done so for years. Ayala does now. Most significant, perhaps, Krug this year added a code that, when entered on its web site, offers detailed information about its Non Vintage that goes well beyond the disgorgement date.

As far as I’m concerned the more information we can share with our final consumer on our Graham Beck Cap Classique’s is always better. Most consumers will not care or pay attention to label information but there is a small and growing group of wine lovers does care, and catering to the curiosity of wine lovers has proved to be the best marketing of all.

There is merrit in both “time on the lees” and that of “time on the cork” and the effect of these are quite different. Rule of thumb is the longer the lees contact period the quicker you can start drinking the wines after disgorgement and the shorter the period on the lees the longer you have to wait to start enjoying the wine after disgorgement.

At the end of the day it is all about  the authenticity and provenance of the product that will ensure sustainable brand recognition and follow. It is important that a Non Vintage style from a house making bottle fermented wines expresses the true essence of the house style. When it comes to Vintage it has more the expression of the intrinsic of that specific year.

I am sure that this is a debate that will continue for a while but at the end of the day the more you are informed the better choice you can make!


Great to have met you and share the delights of Garth with our beautiful bubblies. Hope to catch up soon!

Research to be done: “Effect of yeast contact time on the flavour profile and quality of Méthode Cap Classique.”

Very exciting news is that Winetech has finally given priority on the following topic which will be funded for two years. Hopefully this will be accepted by the end of July 2012 and introduced in March 2013. The project leader for this work will be done by Dr Neil Jolly. We will kindly be inviting up to six wineries to participate. In consideration of one of the aims of the Association to eventually aim to have a two tier system I think this will help to substantiate the aim of this research, very exciting.  Please see below the extract of the study:

“Effect of yeast contact time on the flavour profile and quality of Méthode Cap Classique.”

A two tier system (twelve month and 24 month) is being implemented for South African bottled fermented sparkling wine (Méthode Cap Classique). However, very little scientific data is available to support this classification.  This research topic has been given a high priority (level 1) by the Winetech Vinification Technology Committee. The objective of the project will be to collaborate with the Cap Classique Producers Association and specific Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) producers e.g. Graham Beck, in microbial, chemical and sensory monitoring and analyses of Chardonnay and Pinot noir MCC wines to confirm anecdotal evidence and give scientific support to legislation.

 The following requirement and commitment will be needed to participate form a member.

Six batches of commercial MCC wines will be identified in collaboration with the CCPA, three Chardonnays and three Pinot noirs. The Chardonnay wine will be 100% Chardonnay, but the Pinot noir may be a blend. The blends (cultivar and percentage) will be the same for the three batches wines as very few 100% Pinot noir MCC are produced in South Africa. The statistical design for the project can accept three participating cellars, each providing a Chardonnay as well as a Pinot noir, or six cellars providing one wine each.  Each batch will comprise of 72 individual bottles (yeast intact). The yeast used in all the wines will be the same industry standard.

Analyses will take place at 12 intervals. The first will be at eight months after bottling to provide a base measurement. Thereafter analyses will take place at nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 21, 23 24 and 25 months. At each analysis interval five bottles will be obtained from the participating cellars. Three will be used for microbial and chemical analyses, one for sensory analyses and the remaining bottle will serve as a back-up. Where logistically possible, the bottles will be removed in a randomised manner. A second vintage will be evaluated in a similar manner to reduce vintage effects.

Sensory analyses will be performed on the wines with an expert panel from industry (representatives and/or winemakers belonging to the CCPA). Two ARC project team members will also form part of the sensory panel. Analyses will be by descriptive sensory analyses, followed by a panel discussion.

Should any one of you be interested in being part of the project and research please let me know so I could let Neil Jolly have the details of the wineries/cellars that would like to be involved. An outline of his research will be discussed at our up and coming technical day. Remember that you are required to sponsor 72 bottles at no charge and be able to get the wines to Nietvoorbji in Stellenbosch.

More information will follow shortly or as it becomes available. Please let me know if you are interested




Talented Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s, who also provides the canapé menu for the Gorgeous by Graham Beck Bubbly Bar, co-presented a Bubbly and Canapé Workshop at the recent South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba, along with Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, cellar master at Graham Beck Wines. The talented duo paired three delicious canapés created especially for this sparkling occasion, together with selected Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique wines.


The popular workshop, which was booked out well beforehand, was attended by 20 respected food and wine bloggers, who gave the superb canapé and wine pairings a resounding thumbs-up.





Photographs courtesy of  Caylee Scholtz of who also attended the workshop during the SA Food & Wine Bloggers Indaba.

Just so GORGEOUS!!!!

Just Gorgeous!!

For an experience somewhat out of the ordinary, Chef Garth Almazan is serving up a new Canapé and Cap Classique menu at Gorgeous by Graham Beck, the brand-exclusive bubbly bar that shares a building with Catharina’s. Featuring five sumptuous canapés, to be savoured with selected wines within Graham Beck’s award-winning Méthode Cap Classique range, this is a sophisticated food and wine journey in a setting that is quite simply, well – gorgeous!

Savour delicious matches such as the Sugar Cured Grilled Salmon Trout with teriyaki sauce, salmon caviar and fried seaweed sipped with the flirtatious and fruity Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2009; and round off your gourmet and wine journey with a heavenly bubbly and dessert duet of the Vanilla Panna Cotta with berry & lemon grass consommé and the Graham Beck Bliss NV.

The menu is available until 1 September 2012.

Opening hours are from 12pm to 10pm seven days a week. Seating is limited.