This remarkably gifted and passionate vintner has undoubtedly had a life-long love affair with all things bubbly. Affectionately known as “Mr Bubbles”, Pieter Ferreira eats, drinks and breathes bubbles! Pieter has been with the team from the very first vintage and has been instrumental in cementing Graham Beck as one of the world’s leading producers of premium Méthode Cap Classique style sparkling wines.
Pieter’s love affair with MCC style sparkling wines started early on in his winemaking career when he joined South Africa’s first specialist producer of Cap Classique, Pierre Jourdan in Franschhoek, in 1984. He joined Graham Beck in Robertson, in 1990 and produced their first Cap Classiques in 1991. Today Pieter is highly regarded as south Africa’s leading specialist in Cap Classique production. The bubbly bug bit hard and wouldn’t let go as his innate admiration for the universal charm of this challenging style of wine took hold. He credits his microbiology and plant science background with helping him to understand and appreciate the finer nuances of crafting Cap Classique. Numerous vintages in Champagne, France which have provided plenty of opportunities for Pieter to hone his natural affinity for this specialised and exacting craft. Since 2013 he has been producing Méthode Traditionelle in Sonoma County for the Jackson Family Wines and recently in Hampshire, since 2018, producing English sparkling wine, under the Graham Beck banner, in the UK.
His extraordinary dedication to crafting wines of authenticity, consistency and supreme elegance has seen him and his team reap countless high profile awards both here and abroad. As chairman of the Cap Classique Producers Association (CCPA) Pieter continues to innovate and inspire in his tireless quest for ‘the perfect bubble’. Over the years he’s been asked countless times “what defines a truly outstanding Cap Classique?” The answer is as simple as this: it’s when you ask for that second bottle! “A truly ‘world-class’ Cap Classique is the result of favourable vintage conditions and reflects stricter fruit selection and the utmost care in the cellar in the pursuit of even greater excellence. That’s the academic response, but most importantly to us producers it’s the reaction from the consumer,” explains Pieter.
For Pieter, the challenge of sparkling wines is consistency, continuity and finesse. Capturing the fruit characteristics of a variety is also key: “You should be drinking the authentic style of the wines, not aiming for showmanship,” he says. “The smaller you can create that bubble, the better the chances that the wine will develop gentle flavours.” Pieter’s philosophy and Graham Beck dedication to ‘Nothing Less’ has garnered their wines many awards and loyal fans, with their Cap Classique chosen to celebrate President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and Barack Obama’s presidential nomination, and in 2004 Pieter was awarded the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award.
Belinda Kemp is the Senior Staff Scientist in Oenology at CCOVI, Brock University, Ontario, Canada. Belinda gained her PhD at Lincoln University, New Zealand studying Pinot noir tannin, flavour and sensory characteristics of wine. As well as a scientist, Belinda has gained practical winemaking in commercial wineries in New Zealand and the UK. Her main research areas are optimum conditions for Maillard Reaction in sparkling wine during aging, influence of yeast nutrients on sparkling wine flavour, off-flavours in sparkling wines, and the impact of sugar and dosage solutions on sparkling wine flavours. She currently organises FIZZ Club for Ontario sparkling winemakers to disseminate research results and serves on the Vintners Quality Alliance - Ontario (VQA-O) Wine Standards Development Committee and the VQA-O sparkling wine regulations committee.
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