When thinking about MCC wines in South Africa, certain names immediately spring to mind. These are people who have put them on the map in a really big way. They have made sure that some of our bubblies often confound the wine experts in blind tastings in Europe, when they rate them higher than the ‘real’ thing.
One of these people is Pieter Ferreira, affectionately known as ‘Bubbles’ to aficionados. His name is synonymous with Graham Beck MCCs, where he has been the driving force for 26 years. His easygoing, fun nature hides a great talent and a determined sense of purpose. A self-confessed ex surfer dude, he is quintessentially a people’s person, most at home in congenial company where his wines are a most delicious accompaniment. We sat down with him for a chat…
Very easy – with my darling wife. We decided that I would propose on a park bench in Champagne. We arrived from Paris on the day, at the train station in Reims. I carried a bottle of Dom Perignon 1978 all the way from SA with me but we realised that we did not have glasses to drink from. So we found a store nearby and managed to find Champagne flutes, and a park bench, and opened the bottle. Indeed the best glass ever.
Just remember there is a difference to enjoying your best glass as pleasure, and tasting your best glass ever. A subtle one.
And the worst?
Luckily not many because you must remember that your palate never lies to you. My best wine is always the one in my glass. If you do find your worst wine ever then find the closest potplant or flowerbed and throw it out – never use it for cooking.
Is there something that makes South African wines special? Can you describe it?
Yes, it is called sunshine. We are blessed in South Africa to have ample sunshine in the Cape and it really is reflected in our wines. It is even more so expressed in our Cap Classiques. The vibrant, racy freshness and bright fruit aromas just ‘smack’ of sunshine. Another special point is that our wines uniquely express the diversity of our varied locations in the Cape. I think we are just starting to understand this aspect of our wines.
What do you find attracts you to people — as friends?
Their passion and enthusiasm and love for life. It is rather addictive, is great food for the soul and stimulates good conversation. It makes me happy and fills my world with love – feeling special and blessed.
What do you like most about yourself?
I am patient, willing and able, and I like assisting and being a mentor for I meet along the way or journey. My bubbly personality helps to express my joy for life and those who I meet along the way hopefully are touched by it.
Not having enough time in a day to get to do all the things that I would want to. This builds frustration.
Growing up in Durban as a ‘surfer dude’, I narrowly escaped entering dentistry after completing microbiology and plant science studies. Instead, to the delight of partygoers and presidents around the world today, I sank my teeth into a winemaking career that gives much cause for celebration with some premium-quality bubbly, literally from day one. I have had the challenge of producing sparkling wines of 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. It’s all part of my continued extraordinary journey in search of the perfect bubble. This is what seriously has been my happiest time of my life.
What can you just not do without in your life?
My wonderful family – my soulmate and wife Ann, our son William and daughter Kate. They are my family, yet my best friends. But if and when they are not around or with me then maybe a glass (or two) of good bubbles.
When do you think it is right to tell a teensy-weensy lie?
Ooh, that is tempting but rather not as I have learnt that it is those little teensy-weensy lies that come back to bite or haunt you.
In meetings with no outcome. It is not only a waste of drinking/tasting time but is soulless.
What is your greatest regret?
Not having enough hours to spend with my family and to go to our wonderful house at Pearly Beach to spend quality time together.
What is your motto?
You snooze you lose. There is nothing like the present as the bus might just hit you tomorrow morning. Act on the moment – you will never say you’re sorry.
If you could choose to come back as something else, what or who would it be?
A magnum of bubbles. Make sure your partner doesn’t drink.
Words: Greg Landman