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Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2008



“I want Pheasants’ Run to be the ultimate expression of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc,” says Erika Obermeyer, Graham Beck winemaker before presenting a vertical tasting of the 2006 to 2012 vintages. The name of the wine is a translation of Fisantekraal in Durbanville, the source of at least some of the grapes every year up until 2011. From 2007, Obermeyer started incorporating Darling fruit as well and the 2012 sees Durbanville fall away altogether to be replaced by Stellenbosch.

The 2004 was the maiden vintage but was mainly sold outside the country, while the 2005 was closed under a synthetic cork and apparently hasn’t lasted well. Obermeyer made the 2005 under the supervision of Charles Hopkins before his departure for De Grendel and has been solely responsible for all subsequent vintages.

On the controversial topic of whether greener (pyrazine-derived) flavours or more tropical fruit (thiol-derived) flavours should prevail, Obermeyer believes that there should be balance and synergy between the two compounds: “I like to use a Christmas tree analogy. The tree itself is green but once it’s decorated, you don’t see the tree. Pyrazines provide substance, thiols are the embellishment.”

My tasting notes and scores as follows:

2006: Closed under cork and showing a pleasant developed character. Flavours of lemon and asparagus. Rich and thick textured with tangy acidity. Has an “Old World” feel about it.

Score: 90/100.

2007: Lime, cut grass and tinned peas on the nose. Lean yet super-intense with bracing acidity and long, pithy finish. Pyrazine driven.

Score: 90/100.

2008: Citrus, blossom and honey aromas. Sweet fruited, rich and full with coated acidity. Plush in texture and extremely rewarding to drink.

Score: 93/100.

2009: Dusty on the nose. Intense lime flavour and bright acidity – clean and pure. Made with great precision.

Score: 93/100.

2010: Shy nose. Citrus flavour, good palate weight and coated acidity but lacks some of the presence and length of the other vintages.

Score: 88/100.

2011: Dusty nose.  Lighter in body than other vintages but still compelling – lime flavour, really zesty acidity. Poised and elegant.

Score: 91/100.

2012: Something of a stylistic shift apparent with this wine showing more thiol character – granadilla and white peach in addition to herbal and white pepper notes. Rich and full with coated acidity. Seamlessly assembled.

Score: 90/100.


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