20 May 2015

Abraham and the Heretics

Just launched is Abraham and the Heretics, a new Pinotage created by Richard Kelley MW for  importer Dreyfus Ashby intended for independent stores where it should retail at under £10.

Abraham is A I Perold, creator of Pinotage and the front represents him addressing a group of Pinotage sceptics while the back label quotes Helen Keller “The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next”.

I tasted the first vintage, 2013 and found a most approachable and drinkable wine with soft ripe juicy fruits, feels light bodied although has 14% abv.

Richard (above) says Abraham and the Heretics is something of a tongue-in-cheek challenge to Pinotage non-believers to accept the variety into their vinous lives.


16 May 2015

16% More California Pinotage

2014 sees a 16% increase over 2013 in the amount of Pinotage crushed in California and that's a 400% increase from the amount crushed in 1997, the first year  records appeared, according to Jon Clements' Pinotage US website which has created some nifty graphs. 

Image courtesy of Jon Clements at Pinotage US 

13 May 2015

Toppers Mountain

Topper's Mountain Pinotage featured an my Wine of the Month for December 2104, but I didn't manage to get to the vineyard myself.

But John Lewis did and features Topper's Mountain owner Mark Kirkby and winemaker  Mike Hayes  in his article for Australia's Newcastle Herald.

30 April 2015

WoTM –Kaapzicht Estate ‘Steytler Vision’ 2001

My Wine of the Month for April is Kaapzicht Estate’s ‘Steytler Vision’ 2001. 

This was a very easy choice because it was by far the best and most enjoyable wine out of all I drank during the month. It’s a Cape Blend. The front label says Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, with 50% of the first, 40% of the second and complemented with 10% Merlot according to the rear label. 

I didn’t have high hopes of this 14 year old wine when I attempted to open it. The cork just crumbled into dust, avoiding all attempts at removing it and the remains of it had to be pushed into the bottle and the first poured glass was unusable as it was filled with dust and cork debris.

But the second glass was sublime. So much flavour, with sweet fruit, rich and ripe a background of soft tannins. It was a wine to make one stop in wonder.

The rear label says it ‘will age well up to 3-5 years’, but 14 years after vintage it is going strong, and although browing slightly at the edge seems youthful and full of life.

Unfortunately that was my last bottle, number 3,461 of 9,000. 

The bottle had been stored by me in good conditions on its side.

The 2001 Vision vintage was rated 5 stars in Platter and in 2004 won the Chateau Pichon LonguevilleComtesse de Lalande Trophy for best red wine at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, London.

31 March 2015

WoTM -Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2009

My Wine of the Month for March is Warwick’s ‘Three Cape Ladies’ 2009. This is a Cape Blend, a wine where South Africa’s Pinotage shares space with international varieties, here Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Having spent last week in Bordeaux drinking blends of varying proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot I found The Cape Ladies most impressive, lacking the leanness of Bordeaux.

2009 vintage was exceptionally good in the Cape; this wine is lush and ripe, well balanced with that seam of sweetness that Pinotage adds to blends. This 2009 is fully mature with its colour darkening but maybe that’s because I didn’t keep this bottle in cool enough conditions.

Ah, the blend…. The rear label lists Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon without giving proportions. Warwick’s website has been redesigned and regrettably no longer carries fact sheets on past vintages. An online search is no help; different merchants list different constituents and proportions that often don’t total 100%.

As always,  I want a time machine so I can go back and buy more of this delicious wine.

15 March 2015

L'Avenir Opens Exclusive Pinotage Lounge

L’Avenir Estate has  opened South Africa’s first lounge dedicated exclusively to Pinotage, located in the heart of the functioning cellar on the estate. 

The L’Avenir PINOTAGE LOUNGE invites enthusiasts of the variety to experience exclusive tastings hosted by the winemaker, Dirk Coetzee. Not only can the space be booked for intimate events & corporate functions, but offers the opportunity to taste & purchase rare older vintages dating back to the 1970’s.

The lounge was officially launched on Thursday, 5 March. The evening began with tastings of the latest vintage of L’Avenir’s Single Block Pinotage 2013 out of barrel, the latest vintage under Dirk Coetzee, moving to the current release Single Block 2012 and ending with a selection of previous winemaker, Francois Naude’s favourite rare vintages. 

Francois Naude, winemaker at L’Avenir for 13 years from 1992 until 2005, is recognized as one of the original pioneers of Pinotage in South Africa and relished the opportunity to share his experience with the variety.

L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage is made from a selected parcel of cultivated bush vines from what is known as Block 2 on the farm. This block is made up of vines ranging in age from 15 to 30 years old and has consistently produced exceptional quality fruit which, up until 2012, had been used in red blends. In 2012, it was decided to bottle the block as a single varietal, vinified to showcase the finest traits of the variety.

The L’Avenir Pinotage Lounge is open during tasting room operating hours and for private functions. Bookings are essential.

Source: wine.co.za

28 February 2015

WoTM _ Rijk's Private Cellar 2008 Pinotage

My Wine of The Month for February is Rijk’s Private Cellar 2008 Pinotage. Rijk’s – pronounced ‘rakes’ – was created by the Dorrington family in the Tulbagh valley and named in honour of Rijk Tulbagh, governor of the Cape from 1751 to 1771, who gave his name to the town and valley. Rijk’s wines achieved almost instant success from their first bottling in 2000.

This grapes for this wine were handpicked at night at the beginning of February, then underwent 48 hours cold maceration at 10° C, prior to fermentation and underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel where it was allowed to mature for 20 months in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels,  50% new, 40% 2nd fill and 10% 3rd. It was bottled in September 2010 and released in March 2012 after 18 months bottle aging.

The wine is a beautiful bright cherry red colour. It’s tight in the mouth, but opens up with time. Rijk’s website recommends the wine be decanted for 1 hour before consumption. This is good advice, which I wish I’d had taken. It’s a powerful and elegant wine, with restrained fruit flavours and a structural tannin core. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Rijk’s wine that didn’t delight, and the only disappointment with this wine is that this was my last bottle of this vintage.

This wine was a Pinotage Top 10 winner in 2012, and won  Pinotage Trophies at Michelangelo,  Old Mutual, and International Wine & Spirits Competitions