21 December 2014

Te Awa Pull Up Pinotage



Te Awa winery on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, have been making excellent Pinotage since 1993 but no more. 2010 was their last Pinotage vintage.

The vineyards lining the driveway to the winery have a gap in them where seven rows of Pinotage vines used to be. They’ve been pulled up, but nothing has yet taken their place.

I bought one of the last bottles from just a handful of remaining 2010 premium Kidnapper’s Cliff label which comes in a statement heavy bottle, closed with a cork sealed with red wax and thick textured paper labels.


The wine is dense and powerful with a berry nose, medium bodied with soft tannins and hint of toffee and chocolate.

There are a reducing number of New Zealand Pinotages being produced and Te Awa  made one of the best. Pinotage sceptic Jamie Goode awarded the 2009 Kidnapper Cliffs Pinotage 91 points, the 2010 won Double Gold at the 5 Nations Challenge, Bob Campbell, MW, rated 2010 4/5 stars and there are many positive reviews on the web.

The demise could be connected with Villa Maria’s  purchase in September 2012 of Te Awa vineyards and estate along with the Kidnapper Cliffs brand. The Kidnapper Cliff website is offline

Kidnapper Cliffs
2010 Pinotage
Hawke’s Bay
Abv: 13.5%
Bottle No. 200
Cost: $53 NZD


30 November 2014

WoTM - Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2010



My Wine of the Month for November is Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2010. Not old enough to have reached its peak, but absolutely scrummy now. Complex flavours of plum and black berries with a stiffening of tannins and a beautiful silky texture that caress the throat.

Redhill Vineyard


The Redhill comes from a vineyard growing on a low hill of red soil that rises behind the winery. Redhill Pinotage is consistently good, and a deservedly regular winner of Top 10 and other accolades.



18 November 2014

Roobois Replaces SO2 in Pioneering Pinotage

Earth's Essence is a new brand from KWV which uses a pioneering patented method of fermenting with Rooibois and Honeybush woods instead of adding SO2. 

The first wine under this label is a a 2014 Pinotage, which bears the statement 'No sulphites or preservatives added', (which, in my opinion, is a bit misleading since the whole point of fermenting with Rooibois and Honeybush wood is to extract quercetin, luteolin, orientin, iso–orientin, vitexin, iso–vitexin and aspalathin to act as antioxidants and to assist in preserving wine.)

Winemaker Louwritz Louw says "“The grapes are harvested at optimal ripeness after which they are de-stemmed and crushed into the fermentation tanks. The fermentation, with Rooibos and Honeybush wood, is done on skins. The wine is removed from the skins and pressed earlier than usual to prevent the extraction of hard tannins. In order to keep the wine sulphur free, it is also matured with wood from the indigenous Rooibos and Honeybush. After maturation the wine is fined, filtered and bottled."


Louw says that Earth’s Essence is an easy-drinking wine with a distinct flavour and by replacing traditional oak in red-wine with Honeybush and Rooibos woods the wine has a distinctive aroma and structure. “The Pinotage shows upfront fruit sweetness with prominent cranberries, Turkish delight and dark chocolate aromas,” says Louw. “Nuances of nuts, Rooibos, Honeybush and sweet basil are complimented by the grippy tannin structure and the intense, lingering finish.”

Wine fact sheet at www.earthsessence.co.za/assets/Earths-Essence-Factsheet.pdf

News source: wine.co.za

13 November 2014

Diemersfontein wins Perold Pinotage Trophy



Diemersfontein won this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage, sponsored by The Pinotage Association, for Diemersfontein ‘Carpe Diem’ Pinotage Reserve 2012. 
 Competition was fierce with entries not only from South Africa but also New Zealand and California, however the judges chose Carpe Diem which they described as 


Opaque with tight, bluish rim. Powerful, rich, full fruited nose with ripe dark berries, plums, vanilla and coffee. Bold entry into the deep, full flavoured mouth. Flavours of dark cherry black berries, lots of vanilla, leather and more coffee. Intensity develops all the while in the mouth. Incredibly smooth flow and fine tannins. Well supported by spicy oak. Very palatable now yet lots of development to come.


Diemersfontein owner David Sonnenberg accepted the trophy from Peter May, representing The Pinotage Association, last night at the International Wine & Spirit Competition Banquet in London’s Guildhall in the presence of IWSC President Laura Catena and Chairman Viscount Thurso. 

It was a good night for South Africa.

The Sauvignon Blanc Trophy was won by Bloemendal Estate’s Suider Terra Sauvignon Blanc 2013

The Chenin Blanc Trophy was won by Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2013

The Blended Red Trophy was won by Jordan Wine Estate ‘Cobblers Hill, 2010 (a stunning Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend -- Jordan also took home the South African Winery of the Year Trophy) 

The Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine Trophy was won by Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blancs 2009

The World Wide Brandy Trophy was won by KWV Grape Brandy 12 Year Old

And South Africa’s Dave Hughes was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Trophy.

Congratulations to all. 
David Sonnenberg, Diemersfontein (left) accepts the Abraham Perold Trophy from  Peter May  on behalf of  The Pinotage Association , and IWSC President Laura Cantena

07 November 2014

AWS National Conference 2014




Back now and recovered from my journey to Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina to present at the American Wine Society National Conference 2014.

On Friday 31 November I ran a seminar on South African Chenin Blanc, covering its history, how it came to be called Steen and how its true identity was discovered, why there’s so much of it in the Cape and what its characteristics and we tasted four, Van Loveren ‘No. 5’ 2014, Bellingham ‘The Bernard Series’ Old Vine 2012, Mullineaux Family Wines ‘Kloof Street’ 2013 and DeMorgenzon Reserve 2013. This session was filmed and will be available to AWS members.

Saturday 1 November it was Pinotage’s turn in the spotlight. I looked at its history, places in the world growing it, its reputation, styles and the making of it. We tasted Beyerskloof Reserve 2012, Bellingham ‘Ancient Earth’ 2013 (blend with 20% Shiraz), Bellingham ‘The Bernard Series’ Bush Vine 2013 and Kanonkop Estate 2012.

Both sessions were filled to their 80 person capacity and this was a great opportunity to show South Africa’s two iconic varieties to an audience for many of whom this was their introduction to one or both. Feedback on the wines was overwhelmingly positive.




I am very grateful to Jim Clarke of Wines of South Africa USA for his help in contacting wine agents in the USA, Ina Smith of the Chenin Blanc Association and the following distributers who contributed wines to the sessions: Alba Botha – Cape Wine Match, Molly Choi – Cape Classics, Alister Glen – DGB andFran Kysela – Kysela Pere & Fils Ltd.




Presenting at AWS National Conference