04 August 2017

2017 Winners- Pinotage Top 10 Competition

Winners of the 21st Pinotage Top competition were announced yesterday, 3 August, with the presentation of trophies at Cavalli estate near Somerset West in the Cape. They were, in alphbetical order:
  • Delheim Pinotage 2012, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Altus Treurnicht
  • Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Reserve 2015, WO Wellington, Winemaker Francoise Roode
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block Single Vineyard Pinotage 2015, WO Breedekloof, Winemaker Gerhard Swart
  • Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2012, WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar
  • Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2014, WO Jonkershoek Valley, Winemaker Wynand Lategan
  • Môreson MKM 2015, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Clayton Reabow
  • Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills Pinotage 2015, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis
  • Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2015, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abraham de Villiers
  • Wellington Wines La Cave Pinotage 2016, WO Wellington, Winemakers Francois van Niekerk & Chris Smit
  • Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2015, WO Paarl/Coastal, Winemaker Abraham van Heerden  

The panel of judges were Neil Ellis of Neil Ellis Wines (chair), wine educator and consultant Nomonde Kubheka, winemaker Corlea Fourie of Bosman Family Vineyards, Francois Rautenbach of Singita Premier Wine Direct, viticulturist Stephan Joubert of Douglas Green Bellingham (DGB).

Beyers Truter, chair and founder of the Pinotage Association, said 

“One of the objectives in creating the Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition was to improve the quality and perceptions of this lovely, uniquely South African wine, and, looking at the standard of the finalists this year as well as the degree to which Pinotage has been embraced, we are definitely on the right track. Pinotage is a grape that needs special viticultural and winemaking techniques. It can be tough and demanding, but when you get it right the rewards are astonishing, world-class masterpieces” 

Beyers Truter  thanked Absa, sponsor of  the competition, as the Pinotage Association’s long term “partner in wine”and “a crucial part in the expansion of our beloved Pinotage.”

There were 147 entries in the 2017 Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition, and with around half of the 21 finalists and six winners from Stellenbosch wineries. 

It was a first time win for Stellenbosch Vineyards. The other nine have multiple wins under their belt, with Kanonkop Estate making 2017 a record twelfth win.  

For the first time producers were invited to also submit entries in a Museum Class  for  wines 10 years and older.  

Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Jonkershoek Pinotage 2007

Runners- up
Neethlingshof Pinotage 1999
Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2007
Lanzerac Pinotage 1992

Congratulations to all.

31 July 2017

WoTM Chamonix Greywacke Pinotage 2011

My Wine of the Month for July is Chamonix Greywacke Pinotage 2011.

The 2.5 hectare vineyard at 350 metres altitude is planted on Greywacke (grey-wacky) soil, a grey sandstone with a high clay content and plenty of coarse-grained particles giving stony, free-draining soils.

This wine undergoes two fermentations; a carbonic maceration in stainless steel is followed by a second fermentation when partially  dried grapes are added in a similar way to the Italian ripasso method. Then after malolactic fermentation the wine is matured for 18 months in 228ℓ French oak barrels.

On the palate the wine feels very smooth with oodles of sweet fruit developing into a spicy mid-palate, balanced by a slight tartness with a raisiny thread. Definitely a serious food wine.

Cape Chamonix ‘Greywacke’ Pinotage 2011
WO Franschhoek
abv 14.5%


28 July 2017

Pinotage in the Press this Month

Pinotage has appeared in the press more than usual this month. Here are ones I've spotted:

Keep an eye out for their 2011 Karma Vineyard Pinotage, an award winner with aromas of plum jam, chocolate cake and roasted pecans says Soshi Parks after visiting Loma Prieta winery in   Where to Taste, Eat & Stay in the SantaCruz Mountains Wine Region on lifestyle site 7X7.

Writing in Forbes, Katie Kelly Bell says she has found Pinotage ‘historically disappointing’ but not Kanonkop Pinotage 2015
Wowza.   This Pinotage is loaded with rich succulent black cherry and black plum fruits. It all gets stitched together with dark chocolate, spice and mineral notes. Richly textured and full -bodied ….with  fruit of deep complexity. A terrific wine.  

Eric Hanson visited Canada’s Okanagan Valley for RichmondNews to report that Stoneboat specializes in Pinots. Their Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinotage are delicious examples. The Stoned, a blend of Pinot and Pinotage has nothing to do with drugs. Instead it celebrates the rocky terrain that adds minerality and terroir to their wines.

The UK’s Swindon Advertiser  recommended KWV Earth’s Essence as a barbecue wine:  

If you're on a quest for a bold pinotage, here's a good example of how appealing South Africa's signature grape can be when the damson fruit has an upfront sweetness and builds intensity with notes of cranberries, spice and bush teas. The smooth tannins have plenty of grip without being aggressive. Enjoy with a gourmet burger.

Lauren Hartzenberg, writing in South Africas bizcommunity.com , interviewed Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor of  US-based publication Wine Enthusiast who told her:

 I'm really excited by the quality of South African Chardonnays and also Pinotages. It's a new day for Pinotage - time to move on from those negative perceptions of acetone and burnt rubber flavours. There's a new generation of wine consumers keen to taste interesting and unusual wines. They aren't aware of the baggage around Pinotage and are ready and willing to taste the refined and elegant wines of today.”

Gina Birch interviewed Nick Gebers, owner and winemaker of Post House Wines in Floridas  The News-Press. One of her favourites was Post House  Missing Virgin. This full-bodied blend of pinotage and petit verdot is named after a stamp.

But she has some odd ideas 

Pinotage vines are the result of grafting pinot noir and cinsault, and are one of the most widely planted red varieties in South Africa. It’s a bush vine, meaning some of the grapes can actually sit in the dirt and at times you can taste the dust.

As do Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr writing in Maryland’s Capital Gazette who repeat the old canards about Pinotage, but when they actually taste Simonsig Redhill Pinotage  2014  they found it certainly proved to be an exception. This Pinotage presents as an elegant, high-end cabernet sauvignon with bright cassis, black cherry and cedar flavors and nose.
It’s a great wine but it’s not an exception.  They conclude Maybe we should keep our minds open about pinotage in the future.   Yep!

 Julia Jenkins, writing about rosés in England’s Herts Advertiser says Jeremy Borg’s Rosalind Rosé from the Pinotage grape in South Africa are elegant yet bursting with ripe berry fruit flavours and are great with food.

Thomas Rydberg in Ekstra Bladet  tested wines newly arrived in Denmark in cooperation  with wine magazine DinVinGuide. They found the best purchase was a Pinotage from South Africa.

Spier Private Collection Pinotage 2016, South Africa. 5 stars OUR BEST BUY

Dark carrots in the smell. Nicely concentrated with plum, licorice, red meat, pepper and vanilla in the taste. Well done with a nice acid. Spiced nice finish.
(translation courtesy of Google Translate)

14 July 2017

2017 Pinotage Top 10 Finalists

This year sees the 21st Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition, and in recognition of the anniversary there are 21 finalists from which the winning Top 10 will be selected.

The 21 wines being considered for Absa Top 10 Pinotage status this year are:

Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter
Bon Courage Pinotage 2015 – WO Robertson, Winemakers Jacques Bruwer & Philip Viljoen
Delheim Pinotage 2012 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Altus Treurnicht
Delheim Vera Cruz Pinotage 2014 – WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Altus Treurnicht
Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Reserve 2015 – WO Wellington, Winemaker Francoise Roode
Flagstone Writer's Block Single Vineyard Pinotage 2015, WO Breedekloof, Winemaker Gerhard Swart
Kanonkop Pinotage 2012 – WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar
Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2014 – WO Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Winemaker Wynand Lategan
Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2015 – WO Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Winemaker Wynand Lategan
Marianne Pinotage 2015 – WO Simonsberg-Paarl, Winemaker Jos van Wyk
Môreson MKM 2015 – Franschhoek Cellar, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Clayton Reabow
Môreson The Widow Maker Pinotage 2015 – Franschhoek Cellar, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Clayton Reabow
Neethlingshof The Short Story Collection The Owl Post Pinotage 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker De Wet Viljoen
Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills Pinotage 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis
Neil Ellis Pinotage 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis
Rickety Bridge Pinotage 2015 – Franschhoek Cellar, WO Coastal, Winemaker Wynand Grobler
Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abraham de Villiers
La Cave Pinotage 2016 – Wellington Wines, Winemakers Francois van Niekerk & Chris Smit
La Cave Pinotage 2015 – Wellington Wines, Winemakers Francois van Niekerk & Chris Smit
Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2015 – WO Paarl/Coastal, Winemaker Abraham van Heerden
Windmeul Pinotage 2015 –WO Coastal, Winemaker Abraham van Heerden

The winning Top 10 wines for 2017 will be announced on 3 August at   an award ceremony at Cavalli Estate, Somerset West.

Congratulations to all.

30 June 2017

WoTM Spioenkop 1900 Pinotage 2012

My Wine of The Month for June is Spioenkop ‘1900’ Pinotage 2012.

At a tasting of premium Pinotages I recently presented, one of the attendees told me afterwards that he’d come to get an ‘understanding of what Pinotage is’, and he said he was leaving feeling just as confused as when he came. 

One of the delights of the variety is that there is no old-world region producing a template in the way there is for Pinot or Cabernet/Merlot etc, and so Pinotage can – and is – interpreted in many different ways. 

My seeker after the essence of Pinotage would have left even more confused had he been poured Spioenkop ‘1900’ Pinotage 2012.

This was a Platter 5 Star wine in the 2014 Guide, praised as “Pinotage re-imagined”.

With just 12.5% abv it feels light bodied, there’s a distinct perfume of violets on the nose with layers of sweet fruit on top with a short finish. It’s restrained, more Fleurie Beaujolais than Stellenbosch Pinotage. It’s agreeable with raspberry flavours, and although a nice wine I doubt it’d be identified as Pinotage in a blind tasting. Which would be an attraction to many, but, interesting as it is, it’s not my preferred style.

The ‘latest’ vintages listed on Spioenkop’s website are from the 2011 vintage, so there’s no information about this wine. Spioenkop’s ‘1900’ label is used for wines made from grapes source from outside winery’s Elgin location and refers to the year of a victory at Spionkop in Natal by the Afrikaners in the war with the British. 

05 June 2017

NEWTS Premium Pinotage Tasting

To North Ealing on Friday 2 June to present a tasting of premium Pinotages to the NEWTS, which is the delightful acronym of North Ealing Wine Tasting Society.

We started with a double pour of Beyerskloof Pinotage 2015 to synchronise palates, before the main feature, which were:

Springfontein Estate
Daredevils’ Drums
Blushes Inverse
Blanc de Pinotage 2015 
Estate Wine of Origin Walker Bay

David & Nadia Wines
Pinotage 2015
Wine of Origin Swartland

Pinotage  2012
Wine of Origin Citrusdal Mountain

Loma Prieta
Amarosa Vineyard
Pinotage 2010
AVA Lodi (California)

Wine of Origin Hemel-in-Aarde Valley
 (Pinotage 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, Malbec & Petite Verdot each 3.5%)

L’Avenir Estate
Single Block 02
Pinotage 2014
Single Vineyard  Estate Wine of Origin Stellenbosch

Pinotage 2013
Wine of Origin Stellenbosch

Kanonkop Estate
Pinotage 2005
Estate Wine of Origin Simonsberg-Stellenbosch

Averaging out scoring at the end of the evening showed the Kanonkop came top, just above Beeslaar and Loma Prieta which tied, then L’Avenir.

The white Pinotage, which as its name Blushes Inverse suggested, was faintly pink, had been made in an oxidative style had its fans but they were outnumbered.

Andrew Price and Peter May at NEWTS

Thanks to Andrew Price for organising the tasting for NEWTS, and for the photographs which you can ‘like’ on Andrew’s Instagram site here