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south african wine, part 9
Graham Beck

Graham Beck Wines is, along with Vergelegen, highly visible as the modern face of South African wine. These are both big operations, well supported financially, and aim to make high quality wines in reasonable quantities, with a broad range of styles.

Established by coal magnate and all round business person Graham Beck, the first wines were made here in 1991. Expansion has led to the creation of a second cellar, in Franschhoek (pictured above), to complement the original one in Robertson, and this is where I visited to see some vineyards and taste through the range with winemaker Erika Obermeyer.  

The grapes come from four sizeable vineyard holdings in the Western Cape. The two largest are the original Madeba farm in Robertson (146 hectares) and in Franschoek (130 hectares), and the other two are in the Heldeberg region of Stellenbosch. Altogether production ranges from 275 000–400 000 cases each year, from a total of 400 hectares of vineyard.

One of the specialities here is Méthode Cap Classique (fizz) created by Pieter Ferreira, who was on the closures debate panel with me in May at the London Wine Fair. Pieter has overall responsibility for all the Graham Beck wines.

Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2004
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes  make this, and they go into the press together. It’s a deliciously fresh strawberry-tinged fizz with a nice acid zing. Dry and fresh with good grip. Very good+ 85/100

Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Durbanville
Quite youthful and zesty with forward fruit. The palate has a rounded, fruity character. This tastes youthful and a bit awkward, but there’s lots of fruit here. Very good+ 85/100 (Tasted subsequently – this has since developed and is nicely balanced with a contrast between the richer, moe tropical notes and the steely freshness.)

Graham Beck Viognier 2004
Perfumed, fruity nose is quite bright with lemony, peachy fruit. The palate is quite rich and rounded, with lovely soft texture to the fruit. Very accessible and quite delicious, with just a subtle hint of oak. Very good+88/100

Graham Beck Shiraz 2003 Franschoek/Stellenbosch
From four vineayrds, 20 000 cases produced, aged mainly in American oak. Nice dark fruits on the nose, which is quite sweet with some spicy tarriness. The palate is concentrated and modern with rich, spicy oak overlaying the fruit. A satisfying, full-on wine. Very good+ 89/100

Graham Beck The William 2001
A Cape blend with 65% Cabernet and 35% Pinotage. Lush, smooth dark fruits nose with some refined gravelly notes. The palate is concentrated and quite richly fruited with a sophisticated tarry, minerally twist to the dark fruits on the palate. A lovely concentrated, dark wine with some future ahead of it. Very good/excellent 91/100

Graham Beck The Joshua 2003
A Shiraz/Viognier blend. Lovely dark fruits nose with a perfumed, slightly meaty twist. Deep and satisfying. The palate shows a good concentration of rather elegant, well defined black fruits. Good ripeness, some meatiness and also nice weight and structure. Very good/excellent 92/100

Wines tasted 12/05
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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