Graham Beck Brut

April 7, 2005

I’ve always been a huge fan of South African wines. There’s something about them that I find really appealing (and it’s not just the price!). In 1994, when I worked over Christmas at the MLCC, I didn’t know much about wine. I picked up a bottle of the Neethlingshof Estate Neethlingshoffer”, a simple, easy-drinking white blend and I was hooked.

So when I noticed this wine at my local liquor store, I had to pick it up. I don’t think $16.71 is unreasonable for a good sparkling wine, since I love real Champagne, but only if someone else is buying. Decent Champagnes in this part of the world will generally cost you at least $50. A good Napa Valley sparkling wine will set you back around $25, and the better Spanish wines are around $13 or $14.

On to the wine. The Graham Beck Brut is made from Pinot Noir (50%) and Chardonnay (50%), which is a classic sparkling wine combination. It’s made in the traditional Champagne style (fermented in the bottle), which is called “Méthode Cap Classique” in South Africa. Since only wines from the Champagne region in France can legally be called Champagne (although this rule is widely ignored), many countries have come up with their own terms for sparkling wine.

In the glass, it shows a pale golden yellow; with a very fine mousse (“mousse” refers to the size of the bubbles). The nose was like a bakery in the morning; lots of yeast, fresh-baked bread and butter. This followed through in the mouth, where it showed off a rich, almost creamy flavour and lots of nice little bubbles to roll over your tastebuds. And it’s got a very long finish to top it all off.

An excellent sparkling wine and worth $16.71 ($19.05 after taxes).

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