THE GRAHAM BECK WAY
From grape to glass the entire process of producing a Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) relies on meticulous attention to detail, dedication to authenticity, precision timing and plenty of patience. At Graham Beck our team is passionately pursuing the perfect bubble – a golden thread of excellence runs throughout the entire process and portfolio. The term Cap Classique has been used in South Africa since 1992. The name is derived from the fact that, by law, sparkling wines are not allowed to be called “Champagnes” in SA, although we use exactly the same methods as in France – giving rise to: Cap (Cape) Classique (classic French method). It has become a prestigious category that’s exclusive to South Africa. Our Graham Beck bubblies have received numerous awards and accolades both locally and abroad, testimony to the fact that they are serious contenders in the international arena, often setting the quality benchmark in terms of forging a unique style and unmistakable identity.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TERROIR
With its natural limestone deposits and huge diurnal temperature shifts between day and night Robertson is one of the most important wine regions for base wines and the making of Cap Classique. For our Cap Classique, 80% of all fruit (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) comes from Graham Beck’s own estate. The balance of the grapes is sourced from seven other geographical areas including areas renowned for their cool climate and close proximity to the oceans. This assists in pursuing consistency and continuity.
The two classic varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are used. Chardonnay, considered to be the noblest of all white grapes, with its traditional flinty character often produces buttery, lemon flavours, (occasionally nutty flavours), often with a strong hint of tropical fruit. This cultivar contributes to finesse and elegance with the brightness of acidity.
Pinot Noir (predominantly raspberry and strawberry flavours, with a hint of cherries) lends mouthfeel, palate weight and texture. Intensive work is done on clonal selections for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay clones are planted for their ability to express unique aromatic and palate profiles. Some clones that are specifically earmarked as sparkling wine clones originate from Champagne, in France. Our Chardonnay clones therefore contribute specific aromas and structures to the different styles of Cap Classique we make.
The key to quality is the final preparation done by the viticultural team and the winemakers when deciding on exactly the precise time to harvest the perfectly ‘ripe’ grapes. The team is adamant that no blocks are harvested before they have walked through them, and tasted the grapes.
One of the vital and pivotal elements ensuring quality. Each bunch is carefully selected and picked by hand to avoid any damage. The hours are long and picking in the extreme heat of the day is avoided. The grapes are then transported to the winery where they begin their winemaking journey. Entire grape bunches are pressed very gently to extract the juice. This minimizes the amount of harsh malic acid and astringent tannins that naturally exist in the skins, seeds and stems. The difference is that the winemaking team can separate the cuvée fraction from the press fraction, as the juice is gently pressed in the press.