10 November 2019

Platter's 2020 5 Star Pinotages

The 2020 edition of Platter's South African Wine Guide has just announced it 5 star wines.

There are six varietal Pinotages and two Cape Blends. 

Beeslaar Pinotage 2017
Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2017
Diemersdal Reserve Pinotage 2018
Flagstone Time Manner Place Pinotage 2017 *
Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2017


Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2017

Beyerskloof Faith 2015 (Cape Blend) *

Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2017 (Cape Blend)

* indicates the  highest-scoring 5-star wines in their category and chosen as Platter’s Wines of the Year.



Two winemakers each have two wines with the coveted five stars. Abrie Beeslaar (Beeslaar and Kanonkop) and Anri Truter (Beyerskloof).

Congratulations to all involved, and also to the Platter Guide in its 40th annual edition of this invaluable and unique miniature encyclopaedia of South African wine.


31 October 2019

WoTM - Neethlingshof Owl Post Pinotage 2015

My Wine of The Month for October is  Neethlingshof Estate 'Owl Post' Pinotage 2015.



Owl Post is a barrel selection from hand picked single vineyard Pinotage, named after posts erected through-out the vineyard.  

Neethingshof says “The Owl Post recognises Neethlinghof’s integrated pest management system. Owls play an important role in keeping rodent infestations in check (and without the use of chemicals). To encourage the return of these nocturnal birds of prey to the estate, Neethlingshof successfully erected breeding-friendly owl posts in the vineyards.”

Winemaker De Wet Viljoen told me that he thought the 2015 Owl Post would reach its best in 2019.

On pouring it was opaque, a dense dusty red/black damson colour. On the nose there's cedarwood and berry fruits. This is a serious wine, slowly revealing dark plums, damsons and cherries, with a hint of tobacco and leather. Though enjoyable drinking now, this is one that will last.




12 October 2019

Pinotage Day is Today

Today, 12 October, is International Pinotage Day 2019. 




Join me in celebrating with a glass of Pinotage.

07 October 2019

Kanonkop Pinotage Tasting at Vivat Bacchus

To London’s Farringdon Vivat Bacchus Restaurant and Wine Bar for a tasting of five Kanonkop Estate  Pinotages from 1993 to 2000.

There are 14 of us in the lower basement room. Our host is South African owner Gerrie Knoetze. The bottles, which come from the restaurant's cellar, were opened an hour before the start of the 7pm tasting.

We have a fresh ISO glass for each wine, which are served in turn. All wines are the Estate bottling.

Gerrie starts with a brief history of wine in the Cape, Pinotage and Kanonkop.

Gerrie Knoetze

1993 – it’s hard to realise this wine is 26 and a half years old. It has good colour though fading and light bodied. It’s quite austere, offering flavours of dried fruit, leather and tobacco.

1995 – slight vegetal nose, light bodied but lots more fruit on the palate. With time in the glass, and returning to it we are surprised how it has opened and added mocha to its flavours
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1997 – touch of mustiness on the nose, and colour is fading. While there’s richer fruit flavours, this tastes older and more closed

1998 – darker colour, cedar wood, strawberry and cherry tastes, enjoyable drinking

2000 – tastes young, fresh rich deep colour, beautiful sweet berry fruit flavours.

A vote on the favourite wine of the night was split between the 1998 and 2000.


A Pair of Pinotage Podcasts

Beyers Truter cellar master and owner of Beyerskloof was on air at Cape Talk 567AM Radio talking Cape Blends with wine writer Malu Lamber and host Zain Johnson.

Why have a Cape Blend starring Pinotage? Beyers says "If you taste a Bordeaux blend, it reminds you of Bordeaux. If you taste an Italian blend, it reminds you of Italy. You taste a Cape Blend, it reminds you of the Cape". 

The talk, which lasts 17 minutes, can be listened to here.


In the USA Johan Malan, cellar master and owner of Simonsig was interviewed by Scott Greenberg of Washington D.C.'s WTOP 103.5 FM  Radio. Johan discusses the role Pinotage plays in Simonsig's Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose MCC sparkler, the history of Simonsig  and their Redhill Pinotage.

They open and taste Simonsig wines and Scott Greenberg says: "Until now, I was generally not a fan of Pinotage. But the 2016 Simonsig Estate Redhill Pinotage made me a big fan of the hearty red grape."

The interview, which lasts 46 minutes, can be listened to here. The same page has Scott Greenberg's notes on the wines they tasted.


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02 October 2019

Upcoming Kanonkop Pinotage Tasting in London

Five mature vintages of Kanonkop Estate's Pinotage will be poured next 7pm, Monday 7 October, at a tasting organised by London's Vivat Bacchus restaurant.



The wines, from Vivat Bacchus's cellar, will be tasted from oldest to youngest, starting with 1993 vintage, then 1995, 1997, 1998 and finishing with 2000.

Tickets cost £39 plus booking fee. Attendees are offeredt a 15% discount on food and wine when they eat at the restaurant before or after the tasting.

See you there!

Details and booking here

30 September 2019

WoTM - Short Street Pinotage Barbera 2018


My Wine of the Month for September is Short Street Pinotage Barbera 2018




I’ve not seen this blend before, so had to try it and was glad I did.

The winery behind the wine is not mentioned on the label, but as Short Street is “the shortest street in Riebeek Valley” and the appellation is Swartland I guessed it was made by Riebeek Cellars, which was confirmed by its A-Code - A250.



Riebeek don’t have such a blend shown on their website, so perhaps it is a special  bottling for UK importers Off-Piste Wines. It has a UK specific back label.


The blend proportions aren’t available, but since Pinotage is listed first I assume Barbera is the junior partner. However, from the taste there’s more than a dash of it.


On the nose there’s cedar wood and berry fruits. The wine is a rich damson red colour and it has a creamy mouthfeel backed by tannins. Barbera’s bright fruitiness shines. I really enjoyed this wine which had lots of fruit and spice.


It’s bottled in the Cape and closed with a screwcap. It cost £9.99 from Majestic in the UK
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18 September 2019

No More Vin de Francois Auctions

For the past 11 years Le Vin de Francois has been launched with an auction where all the bottles were sold. The only way to get this wonderful wine was by bidding or from someone who had a winning bid.

Francois Naudé with his wine
Now Francois Naudé has decided that in future "I will dedicate my time to bringing Le Vin de Francois to many more people" he has written to auction attendees.

The wine will now be released "on a particular date", but details of when this will be, and how and where to buy the wine are yet to be announced.