Graham Beck Harvest News V

South African wine needs a fresh, focused approach
This a shorten version of the Nedbank VinPro Information Day held recently:
The South African wine industry has a lot to offer global wine consumers, but a fresh approach will be essential if producers wish to take advantage of opportunities in a rapidly changing landscape.
International research institution, Rabobank, listed the USA, Canada and China as the top three attractive target markets for wine in terms of growth and price. “Without a unique story, you only have fermented grape juice, market your uniqueness” said Rannekleiv of Rabobank. South Africa should also change the perception in some countries that its wine quality is inconsistent.
According to Mike Veseth, renowned wine economist in the USA and editor of The Wine Economist blog, the best market for wine is in your own backyard. “Think global, but drink local,” he urged producers. Africa is a lucrative destination for South African wines, with economic growth in Sub-Sahara Africa expected to reach 6% in the next four years.
An ever growing bulk wine segment – locally as well as globally – was also under the spotlight. Veseth views bulk wine as complementary to packaged wines; not their competition. “However, ensure that the volume and brand of your bulk wine is managed in such a way that it is associated with good quality, otherwise both packaged and bulk wine prices will suffer,” he advised. South Africa’s bulk wine prices remained stable over the past few years, compared to those of competing bulk wine players Australia, Chile, France and Spain.
The local wine market is entering an exciting stage – sales have increased by close to 3% year on year for the past three years, after going through a relatively stagnant period
Following a “perfect storm” in 2013 and weak rand, the South African economy is set to experience a turnaround, with increased foreign investment and expectations that the rand will stabilise in the short term. This according to Johann Els, senior economist at Old Mutual. “Inflation will be on target, interest rates will remain flat and consumers world-wide are ready to start spending again,” he added.
(As it appeared on http://www.wine.co.za\news)

Great new inovation
The University of Aveiro in Portugal has created a prototype for a cork “chip”, capable of giving full information about the wines via Bluetooth or NFC (smartphones), such as the date the wine in the bottle was produced and bottled and even the temperatures which it was subjected too.
The invention, still in the development stage, could be a breakthrough to wine counterfeiting and of interest to the producers and consumers themselves, to ensure that bottles were stored in perfect condition before serving.
Great new innovation and wonder what the lifespan of the chip will be….. Will it ‘outlive’ the wine?
Let us see if prototypes become available.

cork ID

The success of Flotation vs Vacuum Drum Filtration
Since last year we have moved from vacuum drum filtration of juice lees after settling to using flotation. The results are phenomenal and needless to say the quality of the press juices has improved tremendously.
In the past we used the rotary drum vacuum filter (RDV) to clarify our lees (sedimentation) from the settled juice. We use to start up the filter—what a mission! It uses diatomaceous earth (filter powder) which has become a nightmare as it is extremely difficult to re-cycle the used filter powder. This also is negative scoring in IPW self assessment. Not only is this process noisy, it uses a lot of energy, needs to have an operator for the duration of the time it runs. There is also the danger of possible health effects associated with prolonged exposure to the filter powder. Then recovery of volume and loss of product due to this process is 30 % loss.
The method of filtration also oxidizes the juice—negative on quality – as the drum creates a vacuum in the drum and sucks the juice through the filter powder. A very slow and tedious operation. It also normally runs over the weekend and brings a huge wage bill as a cost —in terms of overtime. Typical run of the filter on the lees from one day lees is 12 hours and then you sit a at least a ton of waste and filter powder—yes after each action!

Rotary Vacuum Drum Filter                        Flotation Machine

RDV             Floatation machine

Flotation is the reverse of a settling. Settling occurs due to flocculation of heavy/solid particles to the bottom of a tank and then the clear juice is raced from the sediment. With flotation we use Nitrogen (N2) gas which is pumped into the juice to be treated and the bubbles of the N2 fixes to the solid particles making them lighter than the liquid/juice and takes them to the surface (top of the tank). Too cause the foam particles to float we coat the juice with a fining agent (like Q up from IOC) to form a floc. This aids the particles to float to the top. The solids can be skimmed off the top of the clarified juice, or in our case, the clarified juice is racked out from underneath the solids and only the foam then remains in the tank after racking. Based on the volume a days harvest— this process only takes 2 hours to be completed, uses very little energy and the pump runs very quietly. Using Nitrogen we have no oxidation—which is great for juice quality. The recovery rate is brilliant in comparison to RDV (up to 30% loss) and average loss with flotation is only 2 %.

float1   float2    float3    float4

Before                   Start                       20 minutes       2 hours and ready to rack

On a good day we are saving in more ways than one and ultimately the quality of juice is improved. Gelatin is commonly used or even bentonite for flotation and next week we will be using a brand-new fining agent derived from potatoes which will make the wine – vegetarian and vegan friendly… finally!
Watch this space… we love R&D and also try to be one step head….

This year’s vineyard challenges
1. Botrytis
Botrytis cinerea is a mold responsible for fruit rot in many fruit plants. Grapes are susceptible to this fungus. Generally it causes bunch rot commonly known as botrytis rot or grey rot.
It also creates conditions favorable for the growth of other spoilage organisms. Botrytis and a mix of other microorganisms including yeast, mold, and bacteria are involved in miscellaneous fruit rots.
Under certain ideal microclimatic conditions the fungus causes noble rot, which is responsible for the production of some of the world’s finest sweet white wines. It is important to realize that the same fungus (botrytis) can cause noble rot or ignoble rot depending on the conditions of development.

botrytis
Temperature and humidity are the two critical factors influencing the development of noble rot. During the infection phase, a temperature of 20-25°C and a relative humidity of 85 –95% for a maximum of 24 hours are considered desirable. Once the infection has occurred the relative humidity should drop below 60%. This drop in humidity is a key factor in dehydration of the infected berries.
During the course of development the mold mycelium penetrates the grape skin. The skin becomes permeable but does not split. This condition facilitates drying of the berries. The loss of water from the berries leads to the concentration of sugar and other constituents. The osmotic pressure inside the berry increases, consequently the metabolic activity of the fungus decreases. The limited activity of this mold causes certain changes in the fruit which enable vintners to produce unique and prestigious sweet white wines. However this can develop into Sour Bunch Rot.
Following infection by Botrytis, if the relative humidity remains high, and drying of the berries does not occur, the fungus continues to grow and produce certain undesirable changes in the fruit. The berries swell and burst. This splitting of the berry makes it susceptible to attack by other spoilage organisms, especially molds and acetic acid bacteria. This condition is often called vulgar rot or sour bunch rot. Thank goodness we hand-pick for MCC.
2. Downy Mildew
Although all green parts of the grapevine are susceptible, the first symptoms of downy mildew of grapes, caused by Plasmopara viticola, are usually seen on the leaves as soon as 5 to 7 days after infection. Foliar symptoms appear as yellow circular spots with an oily appearance (oilspots). Young oilspots on young leaves are surrounded by a brownish-yellow halo. This halo fades as the oilspot matures. The spots are yellow in white grape varieties and red in some red grape varieties (e.g., Ruby Red). Under favorable weather conditions, large numbers of oilspots may develop and coalesce to cover most of the leaf surface. After suitably warm, humid nights, a white downy fungal growth (sporangia) will appear on the underside of the leaves and other infected plant parts.

md oily    md     md bunch

The disease gets its name “downy mildew” from the presence of this downy growth. In late summer and early fall, the diseased leaves take on a tapestry-like appearance when the growth of the pathogen is restricted by the veinlets. Confirmation of active downy mildew is made by the “bag test.” To do this test, seal suspect diseased leaves and/or fruit bunches in a moistened (not wet) plastic bag and incubate in a warm (13-28ºC/ 55-82ºF), dark place overnight. Look for fresh, white downy sporulation beneath suspect oilspots or on shoots or fruit bunches. Note that mature berries, although they may be symptomatic and harbor the pathogen, may not support sporulation even when provided with ideal conditions. Infected parts of young fruit bunches turn brown, wither, and die rapidly. If infections occur on the young bunch stalk, the entire inflorescence may die. Developing young berries will either die or, if between 3 and 5 mm in diameter, become discolored. Berries become resistant to infection within 2-3 week after bloom, although all parts of the rachis may remain susceptible 2 months after bloom.

Best Small Hotel Award for 2014 in the world goes to Franschhoek
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House is delighted at having been awarded the Best Small Hotel in the world in the annual TripAdvisor 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards.
TripAdvisor® the world’s largest travel site, makes up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 260 million unique monthly visitors and over 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 34 countries worldwide, including China under daodao.com. “We’re excited to recognize the world’s best properties, based on the opinions of those who know them best – the millions of travellers around the globe who come to TripAdvisor to share their experiences,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “For those seeking inspiration for their 2014 travel planning, this list of spectacular accommodation that received 2014 Travellers’ Choice awards is a perfect place to start.”
Travellers’ Choice award winners were determined based on the reviews and opinions of millions of TripAdvisor travellers around the globe.
Akademie

Arthur and Katherine McWilliam Smith, owners and managers of Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House said “We could not have won this award without our wonderful guests and staff who make our work so rewarding and enjoyable.”
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House also won the 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards for the Best Luxury Hotel in the world and 2nd place as the most Romantic Hotel in the world. It was placed 5th in the World in the 2013 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards and was awarded the Best Hotel in Africa in 2011 by TripAdvisor.
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House is situated in the French Huguenot valley of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands. Six rooms are encompassed in five unique buildings all situated on the same beautiful property in a quiet area of the village Franschhoek. It offers a personal service that only a very small, family-owned and managed, five-star, luxury guest house and boutique hotel can give. From this retreat, guests can stroll to the village centre and explore its famous restaurants. The Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House collection is rich in atmosphere, luxury, peace and privacy – it is the ideal hiding place for the traveller who is no longer impressed with five star hotels.

Graham Beck Harvest News III

We keep attracting attention
Generally speaking we seem to do a ’good job’. We never siege a dull moment. Through the vintage we had had many students and winemakers passing by in Robertson. Yet again we have the privilege to welcome a Sommelier from The Vineyard Hotel & Spa — Ndabezinhle w Dube known as Ndaba Dube. He spent two days with our team learning what is like making wine rather than just selling wine onto the consumer. Ndaba has been has been capped as Cape Town’s most up and coming wine steward for 2013.
Dube was selected from a pool of young trainee chefs and sommeliers in Showcook’s new ‘Inter Hotel Challenge’. The award sees the top 10 premier luxury hotels in Cape Town competing for top honours in a competition where the chefs and sommeliers are tested and pushed in their knowledge, skills, aptitude and talents.
Ndaba, who has been part of The Vineyard Hotel & Spa’s team for four years, is passionate about all things wine. He remarks: “The Inter Hotel Challenge has been a fascinating and wonderful experience and it was a privilege to be part of it all. Top wine, like top service, go hand in hand and this award means a great deal to me – thank you!”
Ndaba
Roy Davies, General Manager of the Vineyard Hotel & Spa, remarked: “Kudos to Ndaba for this fine achievement. To be lauded as the most up and coming wine steward in a category with fierce competition is absolutely fantastic. His knowledge of wine, his attention to detail, and gentility mark him out as a true wine ambassador.
“We pride ourselves on our long and historic association with wine and this award further cements our status as the Cape’s premier wine destination hotel,” Davies added.
We sincerely hoped that Ndaba, by the way a charming man, has enjoyed his stay with us and that we will have fond memories and have learnt something he can apply in his position. Should your road take you past The Vineyard Hotel & Spa pop-in and say hallo to him.

Harvest Parade number 24
Harv parade

This year the theme for the harvest parade in Robertson was The Year of The Game Reserve wine range. Colourfull banners aand the nice big wire ‘statues’ lined the reception area. Lots and lots of happy faces accompanied the first load of grapes to the cellar. We hope that most of you could by know had a chance to see the little movie of the parade. Now with the parade over we can concentrate on the load and loads of grapes that is expected in the next two weeks for our Cap Classique base wines.

Our Cabernet Sauvignon is King!

French:Pronounced as “Ka.ber.ne So.vij,non” is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. This variety has played a significant role in the development of our The Game Reserve range.
Every year there is a vineyard block competition organized by VinPro in the Robertson region and this year the emphasis is on Cabernet Sauvignon. Pieter Fouche entered block 10 Cabernet (one of the TGR Cabernet blocks) and we have just learnt that Pieter and his vineyard team has won the competition. This block was places 1st of all blocks in Robertson.
Picture3

This is a huge feather in our cap for all of us and we are extremely proud of this achievement.
Despite all the rains and huge disease pressure Pieter has managed to be top of the pops!
Well done!!!

Kapokbos – Beautifil, tasty and very versitile
Stunning indigenous plants emanate at The Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve and surrounds. One of them in particular is especially useful. This beauty is called the Kapokbos, or Wild Rosemary, or (for you serious botanists) Eriocephalus africanus L. In southern Africa there are 34 species of Eriocephalus. With its forked, silvery leaves and flat radiant flower heads at the branch tips, this fascinating plant stands proudly rooted in the clay and granite hillsides in the Robertson region and is resplendent during the month of November. Flowering times vary, but the best displays are in winter when the whole shrub is covered in small, white flowers. Soon after blooming fruits are formed, which are covered in long, white hairs. These pretty fluffy seed heads look like cotton wool or snow, which gave rise to the common name for Eriocephalus, namely “Kapokbos” (kapok in Afrikaans means snow).Kapokbos
If you look closely at the plant, you’ll recognize the features which allow the Kapokbos to survive in the Cape areas where water supplies are negligible. The grey leaf colour reflects sunlight and also acts to reduce the temperature of the leaves. To retain moisture and trap transpiration, the leaves are covered in tiny silvery hairs.
Mossie likes to use Kapokbos when enjoying the traditional South African braaivleis or barbeque. He says it is a fantastic herb to use with skaaptjops (lamb chops). Traditionally been used as an effective remedy for many ailments and is one of the ingredients used in the popular cold ointment Vicks.

Spotlight on: Carel van der Merwe
Carel is no stranger to the team! After having completed Viticulture and Oenology in Wellington at CPUT he did his first harvest with us in Robertson in 2012. He also assisted in the transition in Franschhoek that year. He stayed for 2013 harvest and then went on to do a harvest at Stonestreet Winery in the Sonoma County (USA). Now back for 2014 and will be leaving for Australia in the last week of February to Australia. He will do a harvest with Cape Jaffa Wines.
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He is an avid cricketer, golfer, tennis and rugby player and supporter and my preferred team is the DHL Stormers (I guess we can’t hold that against him). Furthermore I adore the ocean and fishing with my father as well as camping and hiking in our beautiful countryside.
The things that bothers Carel: “when someone doesn’t do their part—as the saying goes—in for penny in for a pound”
What makes Carel happy: “I am a team player and love it when the whole team works together as a unit “

What is a fermentation?
Wine fermentation is the critical conversion of a grape’s sugar content into alcohol by active yeast. The higher the sugar content in the grape the higher the alcohol content in the wine, if there is not vintner intervention. The common form of sugars that reside in a grape’s juice are the fairly familiar glucose and fructose.
Technically speaking in alcohol fermentation, sugar + yeast = alcohol, CO2 and heat.
Fermentation is where the magic happens. After harvest the grapes are sorted and separated, slightly crushed to split the grape’s skin and allow the juice to flow. The grape juice, skin, and seed are collectively called the “must.” In the case of red wines these essential components will all be fermented together to extract the color and tannin from the grape skins. With white wines, fermentation generally takes place with only the grape juice, skins are removed prior to the start up of the fermentation process. Yeast, either naturally occurring or more typically added by the winemaking team, jump starts the metabolic process of converting the grape’s innate sugars into alcohol.
This chemical conversion results in the formation of thousands of chemical compounds. Many of them are highly aromatic chemical compounds ranging from fruit to floral, and veggie to earthy. It’s these unique chemical compounds that give wine, made only from grapes, a spectrum of smells ranging from fruits, flowers, earth and a variety of other familiar scents, not just grape juice. Typically wine fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks or neutral oak barrels. The primary fermentation process typically takes a week to two weeks to be completed.
Cap Classique and Champagne undergo a secondary fermentation process in the bottle (the traditional Champagne method). In this case the secondary wine fermentation, additional yeast and sugar is added to the base wine to initiate another round of fermentation, but this time in a closed or crown capped to trap the carbon dioxide bubbles, resulting in the famous bubbles of sparkling wine.

Recap on Dosage in Cap Classique
Second Fermentation takes about four to eight weeks using around 24g/l sugar which creates a pressure of 5-6 atmospheres of CO2 and provides an extra 1.2-1.3%abv. The Cap Classique is then normally stored horizontally at a temperature of 12 to 15C in the cellars, with minimum ageing requirements for NV of 15 months and a minimum 36 months total ageing for vintage Cap Classique at Graham Beck Wines. After ageing there is the process of disgorgement in order to be able to finalise the last stage in the making of Cap Classique by the addition of dosage. Disgorgement is usually done mechanically, by freezing the bottle neck and its deposit by plunging it in to a bath of freezing solution.
Bottles are then up ended, opened and allow the internal pressure to push the slushy yeast plug out. This process is where the dosage is added along with the cork and muzzle.
Dosage in Cap Classique is the final addition made to the wine, and will also reflect the final sweetness or residual sugar of the resulting wine. In France this is known as the liqueur d’expedition and generally is a combination of sugar syrup and wine. Champagne is made with a highly acidic base wine that even with reasonably high residual sugar it can taste bone dry. This may be followed by ageing on a second cork, which helps the dosage integrate, and allows the beginning of further aging processes involving the gentle caramelisation of the sugars in the dosage.
Below is a table of the sweetness levels as set out by the EU which must be stated on the label: Sweetness levels are as follow:
Brut Nature/Zero <3g/l
Extra Brut < 6g/l
Brut 50 g/l
So I hope you have a better idea know of sugar levels in sparkling wine!

Graham Beck Wines – Robertson – Harvest News VI

Harvest News VI

Graham Beck Wines – Robertson – Harvest News IX

Harvest News IX

Graham Beck Wines – Robertson – Harvest News VIII

Harvest News VIII

Graham Beck Wines – Robertson – Harvest News VII

Harvest News VII

Graham Beck Wines – Robertson Harvest News VI

Harvest News VI

Harvest News V

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2013 – News IV

15 February 2013  by Graham Beck
“On the money…..”
Just completed the 18th day of the bubbly grape harvest and we can report that we are quietly getting to the end of the picking whole bunches of our bubbly – It certainly has been a testing period for the cellar team, with a short window period – one of the most concentrated and focused one’s for the last couple of year’s of harvests’ at Graham Beck Wines. There is still one or two parcels to come in – from cooler sites and that of altitude.

Just about all our new ‘bubbly-babies’ are in fermentation and the cellar smells of lemons, limes, citrus, apricots, strawberries and even some exotic fruit aromas. If you are around please come and taste them with the team as it is all very exciting indeed. With the very first of the base wines fermented dry starts a new episode in our lives …

Tasting of the completed fermentations of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir components in order to work out a rack and stack program part of alleviating the game of “Tank Tetris”. It is important that the dry tanks are topped to the brim after fermentation to prevent and minimize the risk of oxidation and to switch on cooling for the fermentation yeast and lees to settle.

With an array of flavours and spectrum of colour we slowly direct these young base wines in to our different Cap Classique styles. Tasting base wines twice a week is lots of fun but really hard work as we can also tell you that your teeth takes a pounding because of all the acidity…eina! Amazing how sensitive one’s teeth become!

Visitors to the winery have been good and our tasting room staff has had a good run. I can always judge them by the smile on their faces. Recently we also entertained our agent from Poland in Robertson. This week there is a sense of ‘romance’ in the air… Something called Valentine’s Day… I am sure that we will share in some shorts of activity around the theme of love… “For the love of thy grape”.

Wooohooo – Surprize!!!!
Some activities to report on – remember there are so many things happening but then I guess I am also part of the chain that work in the team that one gets tied up in the important day to day work, so as to capturing the harvest progresses remains difficult – being so busy. Here is just a few – Still the most unusual way to get to Vintage Rose is the Saampars of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Yes, a blend of these grapes prior to pressing (see images).

Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is still very healthy and disease free despite the scare last weekend of a brewing thunderstorm. Robertson was spared but other areas such as Stellenbosch and Paarl had lots of rain. But the smell of a brewing thunderstorm is wonderful.

Progress in tons by day so far – our own ‘big dipper’ experience. Lookout for more harvest information soon.

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2013 – News III

“From a small POP to a big BANG!!”
Just completed the 12th day of the bubbly grape harvest, which started very peacefully – like a bubbly cork gently popping open – until this past week. The last week of January – Oh, my what a BANG! This is the busiest harvest week in 23 years of harvesting at Graham Beck. Load after load after load after load.. and then just a little more and more…. I think by now we have seen our fair share of grapes that is destined for our base wines – but you won’t believe it there is more from where it comes!

Just for interest – a week ago we had 14 different components of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the cellar and we now currently stand on 58 components. What a team I have! Guys and Girls you have been amazing… Thank you all for making such a huge effort to work through the ‘mountain’ of grapes.

We have had a few visitors during this busy period but it all seems to pay off for us. We had a few wine and life style journalists, visiting to experience the feel of harvest with us. From vine to juice to the glass (or few) was enjoyed by them all.

We have entered our last week of harvest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for our MCC’s. There is a healthy crop out there and slow but surely our tanks are filling up fast. The whole cellar smells great with all the fermentations going on. The air smells like white blossoms, yellow fruits and red berry flavours… real abundance of magic aromas. Our team is holding strong. A big thank you again to all and a special thanks to Julie (better half of Pierre…hehe – sorry Pierre) for making ‘dinner’ for all of us every evening so far. It is truly appreciated by all. We still await your magical braai-boordjies!

If you recall the first few days of harvest – the intake graph looked pretty normal but you will understand where the theory comes in from POP to BANG! It remains me of Harvest 2000 which had the same trend…….. but it goes with the saying … “you got to do what you got to do”

As you can see it is all still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir all destined to our delightful MCC range. Efficiency of a 105 Tons per day all 100% whole bunch and I would say quite remarkable.

I know that everyone loves pictures and maybe the next newsletter will be a collage and it is difficult to always only use a few pictures…. I don’t want anyone to feel that they are missed during all the action of harvest

Lookout for more information soon.