On Saturday, Graham Beck cellarmaster Pieter Ferriera threw a surprise birthday party for his wife Ann, and since Ann and my wife Jane are cousins, I got to attend. To start, Graham Beck Brut Non-vintage from magnum with a choice between tomato and basil on crostini or salmon trout sashimi; for main course, suckling pig cooked in the on-site pizza oven with Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2008; and finally Graham Beck 1001 Nights Muscat de Frontignan 2002 (as sold at the 2008 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction) with honey ice cream.
The relatively humble Non-vintage Graham Beck Brut Rosé outperformed the 2008 in this year’s Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge reported on in the last ever issue of Wine magazine, the former rating 3½ Stars and taking the title of best Rosé in the competition compared to the latter’s 2½ Stars but Ferreira was convinced that the 2008 had the extra complexity and all-round grunt necessary to stand up to the pork. An 80:20 blend of Pinot and Chardonnay, it worked a storm, the red grape providing a complimentary earthiness, the white grape providing freshness to offset the fattiness of the dish.
Eventually, it was time to move on to some still wine and Ferreira poured blind what he termed a “more serious” red. Great fruit expression, fresh acidity, firm but fine tannins. It turned out to be Graham Beck Ad Honorem 2007, a wine released to honour the legacy of the late Graham Beck. From Stellenbosch grapes, it’s a combination of 72% Cabernet Sauvingon and 28% Shiraz and spent 27 months in French oak, 100% new. Once you know what the blend comprises, it’s uncanny how the wine shows the structure of Cab on the one hand and the fleshiness of Shiraz, on the other. It rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011 and I can only agree that this is an excellent wine. Score: 18/20.