I land at 8 am and I’m met at the airport by Nicolette Waterford, South African wine PR star, who has arranged for me to visit two of her clients. Nicolette’s husband Darryl owns a helicopter charter form, so we are travelling in style, along with Graham Beck winemaker Erika Obermeyer.
After an amazing flight over the de Toitskloof mountains, passing over Stellenbosch, Paarl and then, on the other side, Worcester, we arrive in Robertson, where we are met by Pieter Ferreira, one of the world’s top sparkling winemakers, and responsible for the fizz that Graham Beck are so well known for.
We taste through the range, which is consistently excellent, with the Blanc de Blancs, the Vintage Rose and the high-end cuvee ‘Clive’ being the particular highlights. I’ll report in full, in due course. We also taste through some base wines – always a good learning experience – and a vertical of Clives, including the as yet unreleased wines.
The table wines also showed very well, with a particular favourite being the remarkable Pheasants Run Sauvignon Blanc 2012, which is beautifully detailed and precise, and must rank among South Africa’s best.
The visit also included a look at the 2000 hectare game reserve, which is a conservation project that Graham Beck have initiated.
Then it was into another helicopter, to head to my next appointment: Delaire Graff, for a tasting, dinner in the restaurant and an overnight stay. This is a big deal, because it is a truly beautiful spot, and the accommodation here has to be seen to be beleived. Guests have their own lodge, each with its own private pool. The first thing I did after checking in (I had a spare 45 minutes) was to get in my pool and bask in the early evening sun, looking out over the Simonsberg and Tokara’s property.
Then it was time for a tasting, with winemaker Morne Vrey and GM Johann Laubser. Someone quipped to me that Delaire Graff have spent more on their gardens than their vineyards, and this may be true, but they have certainly spent quite a bit on their vineyards, and the wines here are now very smart indeed.
Dinner was brilliant. The restaurant here (I was at the main one; there is also another called Indochine) is very high and and very good. The views from the terrace, of the Simonsberg in the evening light, were also incredible. It was a good first day.