Graham Beck – In Good Company with Pieter ‘bubbles’ Ferreira and Some Great Bottles of Fizz…

I had been looking forward to my lunch tasting date with Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira for many weeks. The opportunity to discuss Method Cap Classique (MCC) and Champagne intricacies with one of South Africa’s best winemakers is always a privilege … and of course MCC was my topic of choice for my Master of Wine dissertation completed back in 2007. 

New 2011 Cuvee Clive MCC release
On this trip, Pieter and Graham Beck Export Manager Kobie were on their well rehearsed mission to share the diversity and opportunities that great MCC offers with fine cuisine food matching. 


Expertly conceived and delivered, I can’t think of a better way to promote super premium sparkling wines than this. Well done chaps! Great wines and a wonderful occasion.

Graham Beck Cuvee Clive 2011 Brut, 12.5 Abv. 

This excellent 76% Chardonnay / 24% Pinot Noir prestige cuvee blend spent 6 years on its lees and was created from 120 micro-vinified parcels of fruit from Robertson and Graham Beck’s Firgrove farm in Stellenbosch. This new release shows fantastic lemon cream biscuit and seductive brioche notes, lemon rind, salty briney intensity and subtle wet chalk and savoury lemony sourdough complexity. Such subtlety, interwoven, nuanced blossom fruit and limestone minerality. The palate breadth and depth is tantalising, with tingling acids dancing across the tongue but tempered by rich creamy brioche, and leesy, dusty mineral restraint. Beautiful pin point focus, delicate maritime salty kelp and salt marsh umami notes, and a very long, intense, focused finished. This is a benchmark sparkling wine in every possible way and a phenomenal follow-up to both the 2009 and 2010 Cuvee Clive vintages. Pieter Bubbles Ferreira is a veritable genius! 

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Burrata, caviar, confit lemon, fennel

Prawn pain perdu, cucumber relish, tarragon with Graham Beck Brut Zero 2011
Ayrshire beef chateaubriand, truffled potato with Graham Beck Vintage Rose 2012

Gooseberry posset, Gin sorbet and Graham Beck Brut NV

Great to be joined by Gary and Cathy Jordan from Jordan Winery in SA

Catching Up With the Legendary Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira in London…

It’s been a long week with moderate jeg lag after arriving back from San Francisco last Sunday. By Friday, I felt I was just about back to normal, only waking up at 5am… instead of 3am. But there can certainly be no better pick-me-up than some bubbles, and today I had a lovely visit from Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira himself, the master of Cape MCC.


As someone who did their MW dissertation on MCC Production in Constantia Valley, I am of course a great lover and eternal ambassador of fine Cape Methode Champenoise sparking wines, or Methode Cap Classique as they are classified in South Africa. And there are no greater names in MCC circles than Bubbles Ferreira, who makes some of the greatest examples of bottle fermented sparkling wine outside of Champagne.


Interesting to hear from Pieter that MCC sales continue to grow around 14% per year for them in SA and I suspect this is probably only slightly higher than the overall category average. For three quarters of the year, South Africa is almost too hot to drink too much red wine, so beer, white wine and of course chilled bubbles are the order of the day. South Africa has developed into a serious producer and quality of MCC across the board is very high on average. Not surprisingly, South Africa is now also the largest market for French Champagne on the African continent.


So it was great to have another look at the famous Graham Beck Cuvee Clive 2009, the most prestigious cuvee in the Graham Beck portfolio and an absolute personification of Pieter’s passion and obsession for creating the perfect sparkling wine. Grab a bottle if you can get your hands on some of the tiny allocation that has made it to the UK for the first time.


Tasting Note: A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, both were whole bunch pressed and only the tete de cuvee was used, being mostly fermented in stainless steel but with a small percentage in Piece Champenoise 205 litre oak barrels. The wine is pale straw and wonderfully vibrant and fresh. The nose is rich, subtly savoury and exceptionally complex, showing wonderful opulence and attractive notes of biscuit, dusty limestone, shitake mushrooms, and white truffles. The whole while, the nose and palate are underpinned by vibrant, creamy citrus fruit purity. Lemon and dried herbs, yellow grapefruit and white citrus blossom. The texture is hedonistic and luxurious with a real salty, briney sea breeze character coming through on the long, toasty, nutty finish. Beautiful creamy mousse is perfectly assembled and in fine balance with fresh acids and elegant mineral finesse. A truly world class expression. Bravo Bubbles Ferreira.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)