Original post by John & Lynne Ford of Main Ingredient

This is the logo for Graham Beck’s newly launched range of wines, The Game Reserve. The media lunch was held today, appropriately at The Camps Bay Retreat and Nature Reserve in the Glen in Camps Bay, a magnificent old house now part of the Village and Life Group, built in 1908 overlooking the bay, the crashing waves and its magnificent gardens. We sat at long tables underneath the pergola and listened intently to Mossie Basson, formerly of the Department of Conservation, and now Graham Beck Wines’ conservation manager; and award winning Cellarmaster, Erika Obermeyer tell us about the Graham Beck Nature Reserve and the range of wines they are launching to support the reserve. Each of the 9 wines: 4 whites, one rosé and 4 reds, represents the precious animals on the Reserve. Graham Beck Wines is the only wine brand in the world associated with a private nature reserve that can demonstrate measurable actions taken to conserve the natural environment, something so necessary in our world.

The Graham Beck property, Madeba in Robertson, is situated in the heart of the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem in the Breede River Valley, an area extremely rich in plant and geological diversity. Of the 1,500 species of vegetation in the area, 115 are endemic and, of these, 77% are succulents. Only 2.4% of the region is formally conserved. Graham Beck Wines is proud to be one of the earliest pioneers in the initiative to conserve the biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The winery was appointed the second BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) Biodiversity Champion and is currently still one of around only 28 wineries in South Africa that can lay claim to this prestigious status.

Bordering Madeba is the Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve, an area that extends to the eastern slopes of the Rooiberg. The reserve was set aside in the 1990s shortly after the Becks purchased the farm, in the hope of reversing the devastating effects of 200 years of over-utilization of the natural resources. They have even discovered a new mop head vygie (mesembrianthemum) now named Esterhuysenia grahambeckii and this now is on the Rosé label. Each animal or plant depicted on the label is endemic to the region and nature reserve on the property.

In July 2007, 27 neighbouring landholders pledged to join the conservation effort. The Rooiberg Breede River Conservancy was born, and remains a strong focus of the efforts, comprising no fewer than 13,500 hectares of natural vegetation. For every 1 hectare of land utilized for producing wine or stud horse farming on the Graham Beck Estate at Robertson, 4,5 hectares of land are conserved today.

The list of wines we tasted and Fauna and Flora depicted on the labels are:

•        The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc – The Riverine Rabbit

•        The Game Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – The Fish Eagle

•        The Game Reserve Chardonnay – The Cape Eagle Owl

•        The Game Reserve Viognier – The Honey Badger

•        The Game Reserve Rosé – Esterhuysenia grahambeckii

•        The Game Reserve Pinotage – The Bat Eared Fox

•        The Game Reserve Merlot – The Cape Clawless Otter

•        The Game Reserve Shiraz – The Eland

•        The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – The Cape Leopard

The white wines retail for around R60 per bottle and the reds for around R85

We particularly liked the Honey Badger 2010 Viognier, full of white peaches and honey but crisp and dry and elegant with a long finish.  Also the spicy and fruity Eland Shiraz, full of perfume and ripe red berries. This over-delivers with white pepper, cranberries, raspberries and is made in quite a serious style with 18 month in 1st to 3rd fill barrels: 80% French, 20% American. But all the wines are good and well worth drinking. Some, like the white wines and the rosé are easy drinking and ready now. Others like the Merlot and the Cabernet may need some time and could be put down in your cellar for a year or two.

Canapés were served on the lawn before lunch, while we drank glasses of Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc and then we sat down to a very nice lunch, the best course being a rack of pink lamb which was the most tender and flavourful lamb we think we have ever had.  After coffee we wandered around the house and gardens and got a feel for its history.


Press Release: English fizz producers add to their range

The Oenophiliac

henners Vineyard logo2Henners is delighted to announce the release of two new wines to their range: 2009 Vintage Reserve and 2010 Rosé.

Henners Vintage Reserve 2009 is a Chardonnay dominant cuvée (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir), created to complement their Pinot dominant Vintage 2009 (33% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier) which was released in 2012. The Vintage Reserve, which won a Silver medal in last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, has been given an additional year on its lees in bottle in order for the Chardonnay in the blend to develop a fuller complexity.  Lawrence Warr, owner and winemaker at Henners adds his comments on the wine: “The Vintage Reserve is a truly elegant wine, with citrus and yeast on the nose, a wonderfully fine and soft mousse, a honeyed and biscuitty palate with almond sweetness, and an outstandingly long finish.”  Both wines scored in the top 12 of 79 English sparkling…

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