Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Graham Beck's Glass Act - the right glass for your bubbles

Did you know that different glass shapes have been made to enhance different wines (and other beverages)? Millions have been spent in research by the top glass makers to find the perfect shape for each varietal to showcase that particular wine in the best way. For many years, German and Belgian brewers have used glasses shaped to enhance the flavours of their products. We have experienced several tastings over the years in these different glasses and started out being sceptical. But we have come to see how well this works. Graham Beck have now done their own research and hosted this event o show us the changes they are making to their glassware in order to help showcase their Methode Cap Classique bubblies. Flutes are out, here is the future
The event was held at The Stack (formerly known as Leinster Hall, it was the venue of The Cape Town Club before it moved to Queen Victoria Street). The building was renovated and then just as the new owners were about to open, it burned down. They had to completely rebuild it. Nothing but the decor has changed
A warm welcome by Graham Beck CEO Chris du Toit and Helen Kock, National Sales Manager at Graham Beck Enterprises
We assembled on the terrace
Canapés were served/ These were rare beef wrapped around pickled cucumber and feta
Small Croque Monsieur on brioche (French cheese and ham on toast)
Another canapé - a vegetarian Ratatouille crostini
Lisa Keulder, Marketing Manager, welcomed us
Cellarmaster, Pieter "Bubbles" Ferreira with CEO Chris du Toit
Time to sit down. Broadcaster Guy MacDonald with Wine writer and educator Cathy Marston
Chris du Toit tells us that on 14th August 2015, at a meeting in Bordeaux, the Graham Beck directorate and owners decided that, in future, Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) would be the company’s focus in future. “This change heralds the start of positioning the Graham Beck MCC range as the absolute high-end market leader in the MCC category in both the local and international market, focussing on the utmost quality. “ R150 million will be spent in the next three years on annual plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the Robertson estate. More storage will be built. Madeba 4 will hold 18,000 9 litre cases and Madeba 5 will hold 25,000 cases. They need storage capacity for 6 million bottles. A new pressing cellar will also be added to handle the increased volumes at harvest time
The premium portfolio, consisting of Railroad Red, Waterside Chardonnay and Pinno, was sold to DGB (Pty) Ltd. The ultra-premium wines in the Graham Beck still wine portfolio will be depleted in the next few months. The super-premium range of ecologically inspired wines, The Game Reserve, found a new custodian and future owner in the conservation minded Rooiberg Winery, a partner in the Rooiberg Breede River Conservancy. The two Stellenbosch farms have been sold
Then it was time to pay attention to the glasses ranged in front of us. Three normal Graham Beck Flutes and three other glasses. They are the Riedel Ouverture Champagne Flute for the Graham Beck Non-Vintage range, the Riedel Veritas Champagne Glass for the Graham Beck Vintage range, as well as the Lehmann Jamesse Prestige Grand Champagne Mouth Blown Glass to savour the Graham Beck Cuvée Clive. We were to taste the three MCC's in both glasses
Wine judge and writer Angela Lloyd
Lidia Nobrega of Chapman's Peak Hotel, Lisa Keulder, journalists Mel Minnaar and Kim Maxwell
Cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira, with winemaker Pierre de Klerk, tells us how they decided to exchange flutes for these three glasses. Pieter says it is up to us to continue our journey for the perfect bubble. In his search for it and for increased quality, he was involved in Champagne with research into glasses. The topic was to give Bubbly the best chance to perform and using different glasses will show each to its best. lose
Ndaba Dube, Sommelier at The Vineyard Hotel
Wine is poured and scepticism was in the room, until the tasting started. Journalist and wine educator Cathy Marston later embraced the use of the new glasses in her newspaper column
Chloe Canderle, Regional Sales Ambassador, paying attention
There is more surface area in the new glass and it also allows much more room for aromas. Lynne found it had more bubbles, was lively and the lemons and limes in the wine finished with more freshness. We are convinced. When we were at VinExpo in Bordeaux in 2013 and VinExpo in Hong Kong in May this year, all the Champagnes and other sparkling wines were served in similar glasses
There is also much more fizz when poured
The three wines in the six glasses. We found the middle glass, the Riedel Veritas Champagne Glass to be the most versatile with all of the wines. And we were not the only ones in the room; many of our colleagues chose to drink the MCCs served with lunch from this glass
An overhead view!
Pieter listening to the bubbles. You can hear the difference, they do produce more bubbles, which is what carries the flavours, aromas and delight to your palate
The Lehmann Jamesse Prestige Grand Champagne glass, which will be used to taste the Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, is a very light and beautiful mouth blown glass with an attractive tulip shape. However it has a very narrow base finishing in a point, which will require very special cleaning. The average price of these glasses is between R500 and R550 each, so Graham Beck is making a huge investment in tasting
Consultant Wine Buyer for Woolworths Allan Mullins, obviously enjoying the new glasses
PRO Nicolette Waterford making sure Allan has a taste of the MCCs
Time to retire upstairs to the bar while the tables are laid for lunch
A Glass Act is one of the renewed challenges Pieter faces. It will be Chapter 27 in his book "The new direction: focusing on what we do next"
This amused a shocked Mari Vigar of La Mouette Restaurant - is she reacting to the prices of the glasses?
The lunch menu
The starter was a crisp and much enjoyed tempura oyster with lime, pickled ginger, apple and squid ink aioli. We were served this Brut Zero with it, a wine that is kept 5 years on the lees and has no dosage added, so good for Banters. Lynne, who is allergic to oysters, was given a very good morsel of tempura kingklip
Brut Zero, with zero dosage, has the ultra dry style we enjoy
Allan Mullins is a Champagne expert, Champagne was the subject of his Cape Wine Master thesis
The second course was a sushi cut of cured salmon gravadlax with a crisp lentil fritter, lemon yoghurt, and topped with a grilled corn and nectarine salad, which cut through the fattiness of the salmon. It was paired with the new vintage Brut Rosé 2011, which was perfect foil for this delicate and fruity dish with its medium crisp raspberry and strawberry flavours
The third course was a perfectly cooked and tender seared duck breast, rather sausage-like confit duck leg, and a rich brandied duck liver parfait, served with a citrus marmalade sauce, pea purée and fresh asparagus. The dish might have been improved with the addition of a starch. Paired with our favourite Graham Beck wine, The Blanc de Blanc 2009. This is their most awarded wine
And dessert was a savarin, a yeast baked cake soaked in syrup or alcohol, with salted honeycomb, fresh and fermented strawberries. Served with the Graham Beck Bliss Demi-sec (but not too sweet) NV with its pretty, fruity nose echoing the dessert. The dessert was very sweet, which was moderated by the Bliss, which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Sales are growing locally and abroad for this style of wine
Three bubbly blondes: Nicolette Waterford, Lisa Keulder and Anel Grobler

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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