At the custom built Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique cellar our team continues to pursue the perfect bubble. We are constantly raising the bar in terms of quality and consistency, whilst refining our approach and technique – this is the foundation of The Graham Beck Way and what sets us apart.
The first Non Vintage was released in 1993. After years of honing our choice of suitable clones, site selection and vineyard and cellar practices we are reaping the rewards."We always aim to capture the unique fruit characteristics of each variety. It’s our goal to ensure the ultimate in elegance and finesse,” explains our Cellarmaster Pieter.
In the cellar whole bunch pressing is one of the pivotal elements ensuring quality. Entire grape bunches are pressed extraordinarily gently to extract the juice, allowing the team to separate the cuvee fraction (highest quality) from the press fraction. Whole bunches are taken directly into PERA presses for immediate extremely gentle pressing. The fractions are then cold-settled overnight in stainless steel tanks before racking them for fermentation.
The influence of oak is also paramount. Today only 3 000 Piece Champenoise – a very special French oak wine barrel holding only 205 litres – are made in the Champagne region and Graham Beck is fortunate to receive a small allocation each year. More recently the 2000 litre Foudre has also been included for fermentation. With the introduction of the Foudre the volume of wine to the volume of oak contact is more subtle and has introduced an element of creaminess.
Blending (which reflects the talents of the team) is a true art form. Consistency and continuity is crucial for the Graham Beck house style. The magic of secondary fermentation is where the yeast goes to work and converts the sugar to alcohol and the magical bubbles (effervescence) develop.
Time on the lees is crucial for each product to maximise the quality while the wine is in contact with the yeast cells (lees). During this time the wine develops its own unique character as well as texture and complexity. This phase is yet another instance where The Graham Beck Way follows a golden thread of superior quality and uncompromising attention to detail. Typical time on the lees for the NV collection is 15 months, the Vintage collection 40 months and the Icon 60 months. According to MCC legislation the minimum time that a MCC must spend on the lees is 9 months.
Automated remuage or riddling on gyropalettes follows, after which the bottles are ready to be disgorged. The addition of the liqueur de dosage is a very vital component of the end result. A few months before the dosage is added, the winemaking team experiments with different dosages, finally selecting the one with the most complementary characteristics to give harmony and balance. The role of dosage in the bubbly’s sensory development varies according to the style of our various Cap Classiques.
After disgorgement the bottles will rest for a couple of weeks before they are finally labeled. All Graham Beck MCC’s have the date of disgorging on the back label, informing the consumer and wine experts alike of the character of each of the Cap Classiques and the time they are on the final cork.
A passionate commitment to quality standards helps us to develop a strong sense of prestige and perfection in our products. With clear guidelines towards always striving to improve the quality of our product, these standards help to make the difference. This is naturally of considerable benefit to our business philosophy as a whole and adds significant value for our consumers.
In our pursuit of the perfect bubble - this is our pledge to maintain the highest standards of grape selection, hand-crafted when making, blending and aging the wine on the lees, in keeping with the traditions of this méthode.
These are our guiding principles and quality pledge:
Grapes are selected from a diversity of regions within the Cape. The different soil types ensure a wide range of aromas and flavours leading to style differentiation and individualism, yet consistency and continuity.2.
Specific varieties: Only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties are permitted to be used to ensure delicate fruit and rich complexity.3.
Grape selection in the vineyard ensures that only perfect and healthy grapes come to the cellar for vinification. These grapes are meticulously selected and only hand-picked.4.
Whole bunch pressing is a strict rule and compulsory to ensure the purist extraction of juice with low phenolic content and minimum colour pigment in the juice, used for the base wine preparation.5.
When pressing the whole bunches, careful selection and separation of the quality juice (Cuvee) from the press juice (taille) fraction is preferred for better quality and future blending opportunities.6.
Fermentation of the base wine is done in temperature controlled vessels, however a portion is fermented in small oak barrels for extra dimension of texture and complexity. Malolactic fermentation is not encouraged to preserve the natural acidity in the base wines.7.
Reserve wines may be used from time to time in our Non-Vintage collection to maintain the specific house-style during the blending of the different cuvees, prior to the secondary fermentation in the bottle.8.
Yeast contact time: The Non-Vintage is matured on the yeast for a minimum yeast contact time of 15 months. The Vintage is matured on the yeast for a minimum of 36 months and our Prestige is matured for a minimum of 60 months. All the bottles ferment and mature in a horizontal position for maximum yeast exposure and in cool conditions.9.
After riddling and disgorgement Cap Classique wines are left on the cork for some time to ensure integration and balance prior to labelling and dispatch.10.
The date of disgorgement is vital information that is printed on all of our Cap Classique back labels for traceability and to share the final time on cork.
Our passion for the job at hand shines through in every bottle, every sip and each tiny bubble, as we work tirelessly to ensure that Graham Beck Cap Classiques remain synonymous with sophistication, flair and timeless appeal.