Harvest News II


A Beautiful sight – Monday morning and we are thinking CHARDONNAY! Brilliant fruit great ripeness and ideal for our Blanc de Blancs base wine Cap Classique at Graham Beck Robertson! Very happy that the weather has turned,  as I know it is pouring elsewhere this morning, we are fortunte to go flat out today. The vines have recovered from the heat wave and is looking better that ever. The sampling of sugars are spot on and we are happy…. bring on Harvest 2012


Two new members join Cape Winemakers Guild

Issued by:        GC Communications                  Contact: Gudrun Clark           Tel: +27 +21-462 0520                Email: gudrun@gc-com


The membership of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild has grown to 45 with the induction of two new members, Bartho Eksteen of Hermanuspietersfontein Wingerde and Miles Mossop of Tokara.

 Besides being a phenomenal winemaker, Bartho Eksteen, 2010 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, is known above all for his passion for Sauvignon blanc. He is one of the protagonists of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, his annual Sauvignon Blanc Celebration enjoys a loyal following and he was involved in the founding of the Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Wine Academy. His wines always feature prominently in the South African Terroir Awards both as Regional and National winners, his 2009 Die Bartho and 2010 Nr. 5 Sauvignon Blanc are 5-star Platter wines, the 2006 and 2007 Kleinboet are Wine Magazine Top 10 Bordeaux Blends, and he boasts numerous Berliner Wein Trophy Gold medals. Over the years his wines have also been served on leading international airlines, KLM, British Airways, Swiss International Airlines as well as South African Airways.

 Miles Mossop is at the forefront of modern winemaking in South Africa with a remarkable list of awards accumulated in a decade at the helm of Tokara. Having achieved practically every level of award that a South African wine can possibly garner, Miles is extremely professional in his approach to winemaking and his meticulous attention to detail bodes well for future Cape Winemakers Guild auction wines. His string of awards include numerous trophies from the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, a Veritas Double Gold medal, and Gold medals from numerous local and international competitions including the International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine Awards and the Tri-Nations Challenge.

 The Management Committee of the Cape Winemakers Guild also enters 2012 with a few changes. Louis Strydom of Ernie Els Wines commences his second year as Chairman and will be supported by new Vice Chairman, Jeff Grier of Villiera, and new Treasurer, David Finlayson of Edgebaston. The Guild also has a new Cellarmaster, Andries Burger of Paul Cluver, and Assistant Cellarmaster, Frans Smit of Spier. 

 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the Guild, and with the growth and changes over the years, many of the original members have reached a stage in their careers, where they are no longer at the coalface in the wineries but continue to make a crucial contribution as respected authorities to the industry as a whole.

 To ensure that this valuable expertise and knowledge is safeguarded within the Cape Winemakers Guild, an additional membership category of Technical Member has evolved. This will enable members who no longer fulfil the requirements of the Producing Membership category to remain active members of the Guild.  

 Membership of the Cape Winemakers Guild as Producing Members is by invitation only and is extended to winemakers who have been responsible for the production of outstanding wines for a minimum of five years, and who continue to do so.

 The Guild is committed, through its members, to innovation and consistent production of high quality, limited edition wines and prides itself on setting new benchmarks for the South African wine industry.

In conjunction with Nedbank, the Guild runs various upliftment programmes in the winelands such as bursaries for secondary and tertiary education and the Protégé Programme, a mentorship programme for young, aspirant winemakers.  

 For more information on the Guild, visit: www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call Tel: +27 +21-852 0408.


Issued by:        GC Communications                  Contact: Gudrun Clark          Tel: +27 +21-462 0520                Email: gudrun@gc-com

 On behalf of:    Cape Winemakers Guild     Contact: Kate Jonker        Tel: +27 +21-852 0408                E-mail: kate@capewinemakersguild.com


Records tumble at best ever Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction 2011

For immediate release
Issued by: GC Communications Contact: Gudrun Clark PO Box 27203, Rhine Road, Cape Town 8050 South Africa Tel: +27 +21-462 0520 Cel: 082 8022 627 e-mail: gudrun@gc-com.co.za

Records tumble at best ever Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Records tumbled at the 27th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild auction held in the Stellenbosch winelands over the weekend, with a record turnover of R5 286 700, a new record price for red wine and overseas sales doubling. Despite the record turnover up by R1,4 million over the previous year and some outstanding prices, the 2011 Auction offered excellent value for money and great diversity.

The highest price per case, a new Auction record of R6 000, was paid by a Belgian buyer for the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2009. “We got the balance right between the ratio of white and the red wines on offer this year and the great diversity of wines ensured keen bidding and interest from the floor right until the end. There was something for everyone with good value on offer as buyers snatched up wines at competitive prices on the one hand, with the more sought-after collector’s items fetching exceptionally good prices on the other,” said Louis Strydom, Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild.

The auction, conducted by Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers for the 14th consecutive year, attracted 122 buyers this year including 19 from overseas with a total of 2 955 cases sold at an average price of R1 789 per case equivalent of 6 X 750ml bottles. The lineup of 56 wines included 38 red wines, 13 white wines, 2 Méthode Cap Classiques, a dessert wine, a port and a potstill brandy.

Alan Pick of The Butcher Shop and Grill triumphed for the 10th consecutive year as the biggest spender at R1,3 million. The bulk of the wines, over 70%, was bought by local buyers with a record R1,5 million spent by overseas bidders headed by the United Kingdom with R586 400 this year. Overseas bids came from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Namibia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Netherlands and Canada.

In addition to the record breaking red wine, other top selling wines included Kanonkop CWG Pinotage 2009 with an average price per case of R3 843, Hartenberg Estate Auction Shiraz 2009 selling at R3 264, Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2008 at R3 237, Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir 2009 at R3 212, Neil Ellis Rodanos 2007 at R3 125 and the Saronsberg Die Erf Grenache 2010 averaging at R2 677. more … CWG 2011 Auction two/last … Amongst the white wines, top selling wines were the Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2010 with an average price per case of R2 285, Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009 at R2 100, the Cape Point Vineyards Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2010 at R1 822.

In addition to the main auction, a total of R132 600 was raised on the day in aid of the Cape Winemaker’s Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative for young, upcoming winemakers. Every year a very special charity item is auctioned off to raise funds. This year’s item, a one-of-a-kind 18-litre 2009 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Reserve comprising a blend of top wines from members of the Guild, was purchased by Zdenek Lang of the Czech Republic for R25 000. This was the third consecutive year that the charity item was bought by Lang, who has donated it back to the Guild for resale at the 2012 charity auction.

Exceptional wines with a creative edge and great diversity of styles was the hallmark of the Guild’s 2011 auction, recognised as South Africa’s leading wine auction open to the wine trade and the general public. All the wines are crafted exclusively for the Auction by members of the Guild to represent the pinnacle of what can be achieved in South African winemaking.

For further information visit http://www.capewinemakersguild.com or contact the Guild Office on Tel: 021 852 0408 or email info@capewinemakersguild.com.
Issued by: GC Communications Contact: Gudrun Clark PO Box 27203, Rhine Road, Cape Town 8050 South Africa Tel: +27 +21-462 0520 Cel: 082 8022 627 e-mail: gudrun@gc-com.co.za On behalf of: Cape Winemakers Guild
Contact: Kate Jonker Tel: +27 +21-852 0408 e-mail: kate@capewinemakersguild.com

South Africa, France toast to wine exchange programme


25 May 2011 By Emily Visser


Two cellar workers, from the Graham Beck
estate in Franschoek, who participated in
the programme. Graham Beck and the
estate’s cellar master Pieter Ferreira are
South African partners in the initiative.


Isaac Frederick (l) and Jean Michel Jacob
in Burgundy. Frederick travelled to
the Lucien Jacob wine estate in France.
(Images: Philippe Maupetit)

• Andre Morgenthal
  Communications Manager, Wines of SA
+27 21 883 3860
• Florence Zito
+33 80 24 79 95
• Thuthukile Skweyiya Western Cape-
Burgundy Wine Exchange Programme
(Western Cape Ministry of Agriculture)
+27 21 483 4700/1

• Black, female and making great wine
• Wine: South Africa’s French connection
• Zuma in France to strengthen ties
• Paul Cluver lauded by wine trade
• Sommeliers’ world cup in SA

Emily Visser

The art of making and enjoying wine has always brought people closer together. Now this rich form of exchange – and the benefits thereof – is being felt on a national level with the Thutukile Skweyiya Western Cape programme, which celebrates a decade of achievement in July 2011.

The programme, which entails previously disadvantaged South Africans visiting France to learn the fine skills of wine-making, was established in 2001 and has so far changed the lives of more than 250 workers, some in profound ways.

It is the brainchild of South Africa’s then ambassador to France and Unesco Thutukile Skweyiya, whose primary mandate was to strengthen relations between France and South Africa to enhance the lives of her compatriots.

“In 1999 I identified the wine sector as one area, among others, where we could give practical impetus of our objective to better the lives of our people at home.”

In September 2002 the relationship was formalised when then-premier of Western Cape Gerald Morkel and the president of the regional council of Burgundy signed an agreement stipulating the areas of cooperation.

The decade of empowering people will also be celebrated with the launch in the Western Cape in July, and later in Burgundy, of a book.

Different courses

The programme is jointly managed by two agricultural colleges: the Centre de Formation Professionnelle et de Promotion Agricole (CFPPA) in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, and the agricultural college in Elsenburg, Stellenbosch.

Every year a panel of representatives from Elsenburg college, the Department of Agriculture in the Western Cape and industry bodies in the province selects between five and eight workers for the different courses – sommelier training, project management, wine-making, barrel management and maintenance, and cheese-making.

These workers then receive training and skills exchange at the CFPPA in Beaune over several weeks, depending on the course.

As part of the programme, and perhaps the most exciting, is the time workers spend with French host families on small family-owned wine estates across Burgundy. It is during this time that they really experience French living, with its culture so strongly grounded in food and wine.

In 2006 the programme introduced a reciprocal component with 10 French students from the CFPPA coming to work and learn on wine farms in the Western Cape each year.

And, every alternate year, a rugby team from Elsenburg visits the CFPPA and vice versa.

But, says Marius Paulse, chief director of structural agricultural training at the Elsenburg college, the focus of the project remains on capacity-building of workers in the wine industry, especially for the unskilled orchard or cellar worker.

New perspective

It’s the stories of change taking place in the lives of beneficiaries and their hosts which really lies at the heart of the exchange programme’s success, says CFPPA project manager Florence Zito.

Paulse agrees, adding that he has seen remarkable change taking place among participants. Workers return from France with a completely new perspective on viticulture and oenology, but more importantly, often with a profoundly different view on life and their own personal abilities and ambitions.

Moira van der Merwe is one such a success story. She started out as an ordinary cleaner and labourer in the Cape vineyards and was selected to participate in the programme.

Van der Merwe visited Burgundy twice, first completing a technical course of five weeks at the CFPPA and then spending a further three weeks with a host family during the wine-making period.

After this training, she was promoted from the vineyard to the tasting room, resulting in her attending a second full-time sommelier course to help her specialise in her new job.

Today she is an assistant in the wine-tasting room at Bilton Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch wine region.

Another example is Felicity Sheloba: with very little formal schooling, Sheloba progressed from tea-maker and cleaner to assistant wine-maker at the Company of Wine People, also based in Stellenbosch, after receiving training in France.

‘Exchange of life’

Zito admits that her own life has been changed as a result of the project, and that many of the French host families feel the same, despite an initial reluctance on their part to be involved with the project.

But this same group of people has continued to receive South African workers year after year because they have found that the programme has added so much value to their own lives.

“Something changed inside them,” Zito says.

She adds: “Above all this programme is a human exchange. Everybody grows, everybody has become richer as a result of this programme, not just the beneficiaries.”

Former South African rugby legend and now renowned wine-maker Jan Boland Coetzee, owner of Vriesenhof Vineyards in Stellenbosch, says two of his workers attended a course in Burgundy and he noticed a remarkable change on their return.

In essence, the programme is about more than just an exchange of skills in viticulture and oenology, Zito feels.

“It is an exchange of life. It is a profoundly human story that has touched the lives of everybody who has had dealings with it.”

Proudly French

Zito is proud of the Burgundy region and its wonderful “living” culture of wine and food. She laughingly admits that she finds it horrifying that South Africa refers to viticulture and oenology as the wine industry.

“Industry is for cars. Industry is a word for machines,” she says.

“We have some people who came to do the courses who have never tasted wine, even if they work in the cellars or the vineyards for a very long time. They didn’t know anything about the fine art of wine, they thought about wine just as alcohol,” she says.

For the French, wine is not an industry and in Burgundy, wine is not alcohol, she stresses. With a history of wine-making stretching back 2 000 years, Burgundy wines are a living story of culture and family heritage grounded in everyday life.

“Wine in Burgundy is culture, it is heritage, it is style of life, it is gastronomy, it is the link between people, it is love, yes it is pleasure, friendship: this is wine.”

And it is this essence that the South African workers discover when they visit France.

Exchange to continue

Although the cost of the programme poses many challenges for the budget of the Western Cape Agricultural Department, positive change in people’s lives is one of the determining factors which has convinced the provincial government to continue with the programme, Paulse says.

“We are therefore committed to continue and see the programme grow.”

The same sentiment is expressed by the French counterparts. The success of the project so far has convinced the politicians that the programme should continue, says Zito.

She foresees, however, that the programme will need to adapt to the changing needs and challenges of the target beneficiaries, but that no matter the form it takes in future, the exchange of skills and the story of wine will continue between South Africa and Burgundy.

“The society in South Africa has changed a lot, so has the demand, therefore this programme will be adapted. The need is not the same. The questions are not the same. So we must adapt the partnership to the needs of the society,” Zito adds.

Inspired by the success of the South African exchange programme, Burgundy and the region of Maule in Chile initiated a similar programme in 2010.

The human story behind the project

In July 2011 South Africa and France will celebrate its 10 years of working together to empower unskilled workers in the Western Cape wine industry with the publication of a book.

The book will first be launched in the Western Cape “as a testimony to what we, as humans, can do when we all work together for the common good,” Zito says.

“With this book and with the pictures we hope that it will also tell the human story behind the project because it is such a noble story.”

The initial launch takes place from 18 to 22 July, before the book’s unveiling later in the year in Burgundy. It will be published in English and French.

Read more: http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2367%3Awine-250511&catid=43%3Aculturenews&Itemid=112#ixzz1NvowNA1j

Unbroken Graham Beck (Pheasants’) run at Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Wine Awards

Originally posted by Erica Liebenberg from EricaMeles PR – Friday, 22 October 2010

The announcement at the Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Wine Awards 2010 on Wednesday 20 October was met with great celebration at Graham Beck Wines. Two vintages of the Pheasants’ Run were placed in the Top Ten, securing an unbroken history of achievement at the event.

The wine, whose likening in style to the cult region of Sancerre is affirmed by its vast popularity, is the sole contender to have appeared in the line up every year in the four years since the awards commenced. This, coupled with its second placement for two vintages is another Top 10 first, and a great delight to its maker, Erika Obermeyer; whose love for the cultivar reaches near-obsessive proportions.

“Although enjoyment of the wine is the foremost factor to me, obviously this kind of recognition can’t be beat,” Erika says. “It’s great to be amongst those thought to do justice to the cultivar!”

The quality of entries to the awards overall this year led the convenors at WINE magazine to conclude that there is “little dispute” that Sauvignon Blanc is South Africa’s “strongest category”*.
The Pheasants’ Run wines, 2009 and 2010, were awarded four and a half stars; the perfect score of five stars having been achieved last year with vintage 2009 – this widely recognised as the best vintage in years for Sauvignon Blanc. A single perfect score was awarded for 2010, among a record number of entries that catapulted the cultivar to the biggest category to be assessed by the magazine panel.

Both of the Pheasants’ Run wines won Veritas Gold last month; the achievement of their predecessors including, among others, Veritas Double Gold; Grand D’or and Double Gold at the Michelangelo Wine Awards; a Winemakers’ Choice Diamond Award; and three-times selection as the Best Sauvignon Blanc at the SA Young Wine Show.

The wines were also instrumental in Erika’s selection as the 2008 Woman Winemaker of the Year; and in news announced the same day as the Sauvignon Blanc Top 10, the Pheasants’ Run 2010 had been placed in the Bartho Eksteen Sauvignon Blanc Celebration top ten listing for 2010.

The recent performance of the wider Graham Beck range has included seven Veritas and Michelangelo Gold awards; these spread broadly across varietals. Graham Beck Cellar Master Pieter Ferreira said, “the variety of cultivars performing recently indicates our shared belief in creating ‘nothing less’. We keep this goal to heart regardless of cultivar; whether it’s a still wine or Méthode Cap Classique. I think this makes the recent results all the more significant to our team – and none more so than Erika.”

The full Michelangelo and Veritas results are shown below.

Michelangelo Wine Awards, Gold, 2010
– Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs MCC 2007
– Graham Beck The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009

Veritas Awards, Gold, 2010
– Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2009
– Graham Beck The Ridge Syrah 2006
– Graham Beck Bowed Head Chenin Blanc 2009
– Graham Beck Lonehill Chardonnay 2008
– Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2010
– Ends –
*Reference: winemag.co.za, 20 October 2010, click here

Amoirm Cork Cap Classique Public Tasting

Amoirm Cork Cap Classique Public Tasting.

Franschhoek Uncorked – 4 & 5 September 2010

Make your way to the picturesque Franschhoek Wine Valley, over the weekend of 4 and 5 September, for the unique spring wine meander, Franschhoek Uncorked. This multi-faceted celebration takes place on satellite farms throughout the Valley, and affords award-winning wineries – as well as the smaller hidden gems – the opportunity to ‘bloom’ as they showcase new vintages and releases, coinciding with the onset of spring.

Highly acclaimed wineries, participating in this much loved event include Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cabrière, Solms-Delta, Graham Beck Wines, La Motte, Anthonji Rupert Wines, Môreson, Vrede en Lust and Plaisir de Merle. Also included in the line up are some of Franschhoek’s smaller gems such as Dieu Donné, GlenWood, Haut Espoir, La Bri, La Petite Ferme, Topiary and Maison. In addition select wineries will keep their visitors entertained with a range of events, whilst sampling their fine wines.

Take in the picturesque scenery while soaking in country hospitality at its best. Wander along leisurely from farm to farm, enjoying some of live entertainment on show while sampling fine wines and delectable treats, such as oysters, smoked salmon, creative curry combos, tapas and al fresco platters; a taste of what you can expect from South Africa’s gourmet capital.

With most of the Franschhoek Vignerons participating in this innovative initiative, there promises to be something for everyone with: cellar- and vineyard tours, barrel-tastings, a micro-brewery tasting , delectable food- and wine pairings, art exhibitions, a flower-bulb market, a food-and-wine market boasting fresh, organic food, a fynbos trail and wine-blending, to name but a few. For music-lovers, there are live music extravaganzas which cater for all tastes, ranging from jazz- and blues bands to French bistro genres to fiesta Española flamenco. To add to the ‘local is lekker’ flavour, visitors can also expect to be entertained by a handful of top local musicians. Motor car exhibitions add an innovative and ‘racy’ element to this year’s Uncorked with: Aston Martin, Porsche, Maserati and Ferrari’s all on show.

An access card system will be implemented to ensure the successful running of Franschhoek Uncorked. The access cards, available directly from participating wineries on the day or through Computicket, at R80.00 each, includes a tasting glass and free wine tasting at participating wineries for the duration of the event. A shuttle service will assist responsible tasting and allow for easy, hassle-free transport at this popular social calendar event.

So, with something for everyone, make a weekend of your visit, taking full advantage of the various accommodation packages on offer. Come and indulge yourself as you witness the country’s gourmet capital blossom and come alive.

For more information about the festival, please contact: Darielle Robertson Events Manager: Franschhoek Wine Valley Tel: 021 876 2861 Email: events@franschhoek.org.za

Please visit the Computicket website to pre-book your tickets for the festival.

Graham Beck Wines – 2010 Harvest Report

With soccer mania building to a fever pitch around the country Graham Beck Wines has naturally been imbued with the infectious spirit of the impending World Cup. So it’s no surprise then that the team dubbed Harvest 2010 “Operation Ayoba”! You’re bound to hear this exuberant expression echoing throughout the stadium during football matches when a goal is scored. And, perhaps, around the cellar when a particularly good parcel of fruit comes in!

Harvest time is, in fact, much like a game of football, requiring precision timing, match tactics, dexterity, sound strategy, adequate warming up, sufficient preparation, deft obstacle dodging and some fiercely fancy footwork! It’s a time of year that tests every member of the team to their limits, requiring long hours, meticulous attention to detail and more than a few sacrifices along the way! Fortunately the hard work has paid off and we’ve got some stunners in the cellar which we can’t wait to share with you. Laduuuuuuuma!

On your marks, get set…go!

Kick-off this year was on 12 January, while the last grapes were received on Thursday, 25 March. “This means we were on the go for a solid 11 weeks from the first day of harvest to the last,” comments Graham Beck Wines cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira. The total number of actual days harvested was 47 – a much shorter harvest then, but more compact and naturally far busier. Total tons brought into the Robertson cellar was 2 066, while the Franschhoek cellar took in a total of 1 088 tons. At our Robertson Cellar most of the pressing this year was completed before the Easter Weekend – a first for us!

 A word from our weatherman

It’s a well known fact in vineyard management and winemaking that all the gadgets, gizmos, planning and prep work one has stashed in your arsenal don’t stand a chance against the vagaries of Mother Nature. This year’s weather conditions once again put us to the test on more than one occasion. Fortunately, however, the Graham Beck Wines team is adroit at ‘rolling with the punches’ as viticulturist Marco Ventrella explains.

At times the weather had us all as baffled as Adam on Mother’s Day! “El Niño played a starring role for vintage 2010 in South Africa with a cold wet winter and a colder than expected start to spring. This resulted in budbreak occurring two weeks earlier than usual, however the cool September temperatures also delayed shoot growth,” explains Marco.

 Although downy mildew outbreaks were common throughout the wine regions, a combination of good luck and sound planning ensured that crop losses were minimal, although mildew spores were regularly seen on the tops of the young shoots. “Our weather stations paid for themselves ten times over this season, as the vineyard spray programmes could be planned in advance of any cold fronts that seemed to hit the Cape with monotonous regularity,” reports Marco.

 Early summer canopy management was vital due to predicted wind speeds. In the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek areas phenomenal wind damage wreaked havoc in the vineyards. “The September and October wind speeds were almost double the average for the summer months and this delayed early vineyard growth,” says Marco.

 The wild and windy conditions then gave way to a summer of searing heat and drought in the Western Cape with almost no rain from December through to mid-February. Heat waves buffeted the Cape from 2nd January and the mercury soared. This resulted in a harvest characterized by plenty of ‘hurry up and wait’! We experienced ‘stop start’ ripening that had everything in a cultivar or style range ready simultaneously, followed by an agonizing wait for the next run. February delivered a few scorchers as well. “Never a dull moment and challenging to be sure! Thanks El Niño…but hold the hot sauce!” concludes Marco.

 Something stellar in the cellar!

Despite the best efforts of the elements to outplay us with a few sneaky curveballs and cunning conundrums the winemaking team is more than chuffed with the overall fruit quality this year.

 White wine winners…

“Regardless of all the external factors the fruit quality has been exceptional,” affirms Pieter. “We are thrilled with the fresh fruity Chardonnays with tons of minerality and Pinot Noirs with lovely strawberry, cherry structure for the base wines, while the Sauvignon Blancs showed good concentration and complexity,” he reports. Erika Obermeyer our Franschhoek winemaker and self confessed Sauvignon devotee agrees: “At this stage the Sauvignon Blanc may just be on par with our champion vintage of 2007, but we wouldn’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet,” she quips.

The Sauvignon Blanc in general and especially those portions destined for Pheasants’ Run received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Erika. “The juice I tasted during harvest was really remarkable,” she recalls. Cool ripening conditions and sufficient sun exposure resulted in fantastic flavour profiles for this cultivar. “I’m almost more excited about these delicious flavours than I was for the fantastic Sauvignons of 2009. Pheasants’ Run 2010 is going to knock your socks off,” she maintains.

 Still on the white side, the Viognier proved to be “a maniac” with sudden spurts of ripening resulting in a frantic “all hands on deck” situation during the picking period. Chenin Blanc also toyed with the team’s emotions, with a few ‘feminine wiles’ coming to the fore in those frustrating episodes where this cultivar said both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time! Fortunately the Chenin redeemed itself by expressing great complexity and freshness of character. “In fact the Chardonnay (at slightly lower alcohols than previous harvests), Viognier and Chenin Blanc have all proved to be true to their varietal characteristics and promise to produce some gorgeous wines,” confides Pieter.

 Ravishing reds…

The reds were not to be outdone and 2010 shows all the signs of being a particularly good vintage for Graham Beck Wines. “We believe it’s going to be a great year for our reds, despite a few nerve wracking moments in the cellar,” comments our Robertson winemaker Irene Waller. “There were stages in the final ripening that the reds threatened to roll in like a motorcycle gang fresh from a rally, brimming with bravado and testosterone, to take over the cellars en mass. All the while we nervously eyed the sky as weather bulletins were predicting rain and possible flash floods in some areas in the last week of February,” she recalls.

 In Franschhoek, too, the intense heat accelerated the ripening of almost every block of red and Erika reports it was the first time in her 11 years of winemaking that she was able to harvest everything within two weeks. This of course caused consternation in the cellar and fermentation space became more sought after than white gold! The new sorting table in the red wine cellar also afforded the team an opportunity for even more rigorous and meticulous berry selection – adding a whole new dimension to the wines. Shiraz and Cab in particular show great promise this year…expect some lip-smacking moments with these beauties!

 Overall the reds are looking radiant with great depth of colour and bright upfront fruit. The tannins are gentle and far more aligned with the rest of the fruit and structure, which will ensure a mouthfeel that is wonderfully rich, yet elegant and refined.

Blissful bubblies…

Robertson remains the stalwart on the base wine front for our Cap Classique production, proving just how well suited this region’s terroir is for the cultivation of these varieties.

 Notes from the trenches include this one from Pieter penned during the height of harvest mania: “Just to let you know that we are all still alive and well and that the ‘Bubbly Grapes’ are finally just about all harvested. After today we are very, very close to 1 000 tons. Bloody brilliant! We are happy that the grapes, after what is considered to be a difficult season, have arrived in a pristine and healthy condition! By Wednesday 3rd February we should have all the grapes in for our Cap Classiques. After the weekend 50% of the base wines will be fermented dry and we can get a good idea of where we are in terms of taste profiles for our various styles. We are constantly monitoring the progress of fermentation and will report then… over and out!”

 Subsequent missives during this year’s rather challenging ‘pars’ were equally ebullient…it appears, true to form, that we’re in for some top notch Cap Classiques.

 Many hands make light work

At Graham Beck Wines we understand the pivotal role that teamwork and strong morale plays in a successful harvest. This year proved to be no exception with both our Franschhoek and Robertson teams showing remarkable passion and commitment under particularly trying conditions. “The vineyard and cellar ‘spanne’ were fantastic with their effort and dedication,” says Pieter proudly.

Irene reports: “The harvest interns we had this year must be the best to date. Elisma, Pierre and Praisy managed the night harvesting with aplomb but were understandably relieved to go back to normal hours. Despite becoming a father for the third time early into harvest Lusanda spent most weekends in the cellar doing his bit. Our casuals Flip, Chris, Stiaan and Mias gave endless support to Benna especially on weekends when pumpovers were required at odd hours.”

“Overall morale was tremendous and everyone is extremely proud of Ayoba 2010,” agrees Pieter. This year a four-legged, wet-nosed team mascot joined the gang in the form of Erika’s new German Pointer puppy, named Milla.

Keeping our eye on the ball

In conclusion here are a few general observations from our exhausted, but elated team…

 Erika: “It was without doubt a tricky harvest with plenty of long hours. But after tasting the wines in the fermentation tanks I can happily say it was worth every drop of sweat. If I had to compare it to a previous vintage I’d say it appears very similar to 2007. Soft tannins, excellent fruit and most likely one of the top vintages I’ve had the privilege of being part of.”

Irene: “I can’t wait to share a glass of 2010 Graham Beck with you!”

Marco: “Mmmm. Yum!

Pieter: “Only time will tell how the 2010 vintage pans out, but all indicators at this stage point to a blockbuster year – truly one for the books.”

 Ayoba, ayoba!

Well, the final whistle may have blown on harvest 2010, but the teams are still hard at work fine tuning their moves and upping their game. Winemaking is a continual process of refinement, evolution and enrichment and at Graham Beck Wines we’re more than up to the challenge. So, blow those vuvuzelas as we celebrate yet another vintage with vooma!

 Cheers from Graham Beck Wines

All creatures great and small

Graham Beck Wines unveils an exciting ‘new’ label

Out with the old and in with the new! Aficionados of the popular Graham Beck Wines  Gamekeeper’s Reserve range will be thrilled to discover a sophisticated new makeover to this eye-catching and distinctive label. Whilst the message behind the wine and the outstanding quality in the bottle remain unchanged, the name has been altered to better reflect this innovative producer’s unswerving concern for the environment.

The 2009 Chenin Blanc and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon in this range now sport the new name ‘The Game Reserve’, which more aptly expresses this well loved cellar’s commitment to conservation and biodiversity. Over the years Graham Beck Wines has become an internationally recognized leader in sustainable wine production and most recently was lauded for their efforts in the high profile inaugural Drinks Business Green Awards.

The label design for both The Game Reserve wines has also been subtly tweaked to be more contemporary and appealing, while still remaining authentic to the theme of conservation. The Chenin features the endangered and highly elusive South African Riverine Rabbit and taking pride of place on the Cab is the majestic kudu (antelope) – both are fitting symbols of Graham Beck Wines’ commitment to preserving the country’s unique fauna and flora.

“At Graham Beck Wines we believe in giving nothing less than our very best. Our dedication to farming sustainably and producing environmentally and ethically responsible wines in harmony with nature is a long term commitment to safeguarding the health and welfare of our planet,” maintains Graham Beck Wines GM, Gary Baumgarten.

“In recognition of our dedication to reducing the environmental impact of our activities and ensuring the preservation of our ecological future, Graham Beck Wines holds no less than Champion Status from the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative (BWI), a partnership between the South African wine industry and conservationist concerns,” comments celebrated Graham Beck Wines cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira.

The wildlife reserve situated on Graham and Rhona Beck’s Robertson estate, Madeba, is an unparalleled success story. Around 1885 hectares of natural vegetation have been demarcated for conservation, inspiring many neighbouring farms to follow suit. The Reserve is home to many endangered animal and plant species and comprises large tracts of highly sensitive succulent Karoo veld, one of the three major types of vegetation found within the world famous Cape Floral Kingdom. By purchasing The Game Reserve wines, wine lovers are making a tangible contribution towards the preservation of South Africa’s precious natural heritage.

The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009

The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009 is a 100% Chenin Blanc. The fruit for this wine was harvested from 40 – 50 year old dryland low yielding bush vines planted on very deep soils. The grapes were left to ripen fully to ensure the development of rich, ripe flavours and complexity.

Aromas of upfront tropical fruit, ripe melon, pineapple, peaches and honey abound, while on the palate delicate flavours of ripe tropical fruit intermingle. The final product is a rich, full-bodied wine with a juicy palate and long, clean and crisp aftertaste. It’s an ideal food wine, great company for alfresco lunches and perfectly suited to a wide variety of dishes such as grilled chicken or fish, rich pasta dishes and spicy food.

“I love Chenin Blanc as it’s such a rewarding varietal. Chenin loves the South African climate and is an extremely versatile grape. The older vineyards deliver some of the best fruit and can undoubtedly produce world class wines,” comments Erika Obermeyer, Graham Beck Wines Franschhoek winemaker.

The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is a 100% Cab. The fruit for this wine was sourced from a selection of prime Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards from the Robertson Estate including a site located on the South-East facing slope of the Rooiberg Mountain that incorporates the game reserve on the Graham Beck property. The vines are planted on red Karoo soil which is also home to the delicate, yet resilient fynbos which the game feed on adjacent to the vineyard. These vines yield around eight tons per hectare.

The grapes for this wine were handpicked at full phenolic ripeness during the second week of March 2008. In the cellar they were destalked, gently crushed and fermented with four daily pump overs to ensure maximum extraction. Once dry, the juice was pressed and transferred into 2nd fill French and American oak for malolactic fermentation in barrel. The wine spent a further 10 months in barrel to develop complexity and a full mouthfeel.

“It’s a wine with gorgeous aromas of black berry fruit, dark chocolate and cassis on the nose complemented by secondary cigar box whiffs and spicy mineral flavours. This classy Cab delivers a rich, juicy entry and elegant palate with a long satisfying finish,” says Irene Waller, Graham Beck Wines Robertson winemaker. “It’s divine with roast meat dishes, barbeques, venison or even as an excellent match for a robust and creamy mushroom risotto,” she reveals.

Both wines are available from the Graham Beck Wines cellar door at  R50.00 (Incl VAT) per bottle for The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009 and  R80.00 (Incl VAT) per bottle for the The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. These wines, distributed by DGB on behalf of Graham Beck Wines, are also available at Makro, Ultra Liquors and other selected retailers as well as bespoke restaurants. For more information contact Etienne Heyns on 021 874 1258 or etienne@grahambeckwines.co.za

The Pleasure is PINK!


Daring yet demure, classy yet coquettish, elegant yet effervescent…introducing one of this year’s most exciting Graham Beck debuts – the vivacious new Brut Rosé NV. The latest addition to the Graham Beck Cap Classique portfolio has wine lovers simply bubbling over with delight.

The Brut Rosé NV embodies all that a traditional and finely crafted MCC should, while exuding an infectious spirit of joie de vivre. Elegant and refined, while simultaneously exuberant and racy, this blushing starlet is as versatile as it is good value.

Unashamedly flirtatious and feminine, the Brut Rosé NV turns heads with its alluring silver-pink hue and playful packaging. This classic blend of 55%Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir combines elegance and complexity with fruity intensity. With its fresh cherry berry flavours, lively acids and exhilarating bubbles this is one tantalizing tingle from luscious start to lingering finish.

“When sipping the new Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV you should encounter lively bubbles that dance around your mouth. These bubbles are neither harsh, nor aggressive; rather they will be pin-prick tiny and burst gently and exhilaratingly on your tongue. It’s a tingle no celebration or sunset should be without!” comments Graham Beck Cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira.

The Brut Rosé NV forms part of the Non Vintage collection. Together with the Vintage Collection and Prestige Collection these three ranges comprise the carefully structured Graham Beck Cap Classique portfolio. This three tiered approach mirrors that of the famous French Champagne Houses – further indication that Graham Beck Wines is infinitely capable of keeping such legendary company.

The current Graham Beck Cap Classique portfolio comprises:
The NV Collection
Graham Beck Brut NV (Non Vintage)
Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV (Non Vintage)
Graham Beck Demi-Sec NV (Non Vintage)
The Vintage Collection
Graham Beck Brut Rosé (Vintage)
Graham Beck Brut Blanc de Blancs (Vintage)
The Prestige Collection
Graham Beck Cuvée Clive (Vintage)