Champagne is one of the categories that defines the idea of fine wine. The famous Grandes Marques serve as both aspiration and inspiration to Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira; the dynamo with 26 years of experience and the man behind the Graham Beck’s Méthode Cap Classiques.
Graham Beck are now focusing solely on the production of Cap Classique. At the very apex is the new-release Cuvée Clive 2012 which is a testimony to this new-found focus. It is a limited release and is only made in exceptional vintages. There will be no 2013. In a recent tasting, we pit the Graham Beck vintage releases against some top Champagnes. They were hard to tell apart from their French counterparts which re-iterates Pieter’s craftsmanship.
The 2009 and 2011 Cuvée Clives were both awarded Tim Atkin’s ‘Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year’ in their respective SA Reports and the Cuvée Clive 2012 is the epitome of fine wine. It is a blend of Robertson Chardonnay from limestone soils and Pinot Noir from Stellenbosch. With 60 months on the lees, it’s a complex wine with a fine nose of oyster shell, delicate fruit and brioche that follows on to an exceptionally fine mousse and a briny, full-flavoured palate. This is a grand wine!
Equally impressive are the other vintage releases which offer exceptional value. They each have an impressive refinement without losing their new-world charm. The Blanc de Blancs 2013 is especially good considering that there will be no Cuvée Clive in 2013. The rare Brut Zero 2012 is vibrant and austere while the Brut Rosé Vintage 2012 must be our finest local sparkling rosé. It is bone-dry and should be enjoyed with food.
Graham Beck, Cuvée Clive 2012 – R 695
In the cellar both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were whole bunched pressed, separately. Only the highest quality juice (tête de cuvée) was settled overnight and then fermented in stainless steel at 16°C, with a small portion of Chardonnay fermented in specific Piece Champenoise (205 L) oak barrels. After fermentation the portions were selected to enhance the minerality, elegance and finesse. It was then bottled for the secondary bottle fermentation with a minimum of 60 months’ yeast contact before disgorgement. This exceptionally complex, yet subtle MCC is approachable and round with the potential to age and remarkably versatile with food. – Graham Beck
Graham Beck, Brut Zero 2012 – R 365
There will be no 2013 or 2014 Brut Zero, so if you are a fan of the style (and I wouldn’t blame you) stock up now. Combining Pinot Noir with 23% Chardonnay, it spends five years on lees, but is still a bracingly austere style. Pithy and focused, it’s a mouth-watering aperitif rather than a food wine. 2018-22. – Tim Atkin MW, 93/100
Graham Beck, Blanc de Blancs 2013 – R 250
Produced from 100% Chardonnay this delicious and versatile bubbly combines rich creamy aromas with hints of fresh lime fruit on the nose. On the palate you can expect an exciting fine mousse with an explosion of tangerines. Great brioche and yeast complexity broadens the palate leading to a long elegant finish. – Graham Beck
Graham Beck, Brut Rosé Vintage 2012 – R 250
‘The Chardonnay keeps the Pinot Noir honest with finesse and elegance’ is how Pieter Ferreira describes this brilliant vintage cuvée. Mature, bronze pink and very complex, it spends four years on lees. Concentrated, dry and chalky with fine bubbles and some toast and wild strawberry sweetness. 2017-22. – Tim Atkin MW, 94/100