• Graham Beck wins Battle of the Bubbles for second year running

    Michelin star chef and wine explorer, Roger Jones has spent the last two weeks trawling through the hills of Stellenbosch for new wines, however on Sunday he hosted the first of his three international wine Challenges, which are held this week at the luxury Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. The first was Battle of the Bubbles, an international sparkling wine competition, in which, after a tough contest, Graham Beck shone for the second year in a row. But where were the English and Welsh sparkling wines?

    Michelin star chef and wine explorer, Roger Jones has spent the last two weeks trawling through the hills of Stellenbosch for new wines, however on Sunday he hosted the first of his three international wine Challenges, which are held this week at the luxury Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. The first was Battle of the Bubbles, an international sparkling wine competition, in which, after a tough contest, Graham Beck shone for the second year in a row. But where were the English and Welsh sparkling wines?

    mm By January 9, 2017

    Cuvée Clive from Graham Beck narrowly beats Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve in The Battle of The Bubbles, but Australia and New Zealand dominate the top 10.

    The first international challenge involved eight nations competing in the Battle of The Bubbles.

    South Africa’s MCC (Methode Cap Classique) is very popular in the Cape but, despite its great value and quality, struggles to make an impact abroad, unlike English and Welsh Sparkling Wine. Last year in a straight battle between MCC and English and Welsh Sparkling, MCC was the clear winner getting 8 places in the top 10.

    Graham Beck
    Roger Jones (left) with Battle off the Bubbles winner Graham Beck

    This year the Challenge was opened up to a much bigger participation, to see how South Africa would do on the world stage. The judging panel of 25 was made up of both British and South Africans, and included some of Cape Town’s top sommeliers, Allan Mullins, the head of wines at Woolworths; Wines of South Africa (WOSA)’s CEO Siobhan Thompson; and international wine judges Dr Winnie Bowman, Angela Lloyd, Lynne Sherriff MW & Fiona McDonald.

    The process was simple – taste 37 sparkling wines blind in an air conditioned room (the temperature outside was a sunny 30 degrees) and mark the wines out of 20, the results were corroborated by a non-judging team.

    England did not get into the top 10, the best being Sugrue Pierre 2010 coming in at number 12, but Australia or more specifically Tasmania had four wines in the top 10 and New Zealand’s Nautilus NV came in at number 4.

    Von Bull’s Brut Reserve Riesling excited many and came 14th.

    The top two places were very close with just under half a mark between them, Graham Beck’s Cuvée Clive for the second year won, but Charles Heidsieck was a commendable second with more top marks from the judges.

    Those Battle of the Bubbles results in full

    The top 15 from 37 wines entered.

    1. Cuvée Clive Graham Beck – South Africa
    2. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve – France
    3. Durbanville Hills Sparkling – South Africa
    4. Nautilus NV. – New Zealand
    5. Arras Rare Disgorged 2003 – Australia
    6. Jansz Premium Cuvée – Australia
    7. Le Lude – South Africa
    8. Arras Rose – Australia
    9. Pipers Brook Chardonnay/Pinot 2009 – Australia
    10. Avondale Amilla Blanc de Blancs 2009 – South Africa
    11. Sparklehorse Brut Ken Forrester – South Africa
    12. Sugrue Pierre 2010 – England
    13. Simonsig Cuvée Royal – South Africa
    14. Van Bull Brut Reserve – Germany
    15. Le Lude Rose – South Africa

    This Tuesday Roger Jones is hosting a comparative Sparkling tasting between England and Wales’ finest and South Africa’s top MCC. Apart from Cuvée Clive all the wines for this coming event were not entered in yesterday’s competition and include Nyetimber, Hattingley Valley, Hambledon, Ancre Hill and Wiston.

    All the wines will be paired in twos and matched by five Michelin-star courses to highlight how Sparkling wine evolves with food.

    Graham Beck

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