29 August 2004

2004 Pinotage Vintage

The annual Pinotage new vintage tasting sampled 13 wines from tanks and barrels selected from various regions. Although 2004 was one of the most difficult harvests ever for the wine industry, the flexibility and continuous quality of Pinotage clearly showed to the eighty wine experts, wine makers and wine writers who gathered at Doornbosch in Stellenbosch in June.

“Compared to last year’s excellent harvest overall, it took much more effort in 2004 to source the prime vineyards, but the wines from all the regions still showed good structure and high quality,” says Charles Hopkins, board member of the Pinotage Association “After enjoying one of the best vintages in decades last year, the Cape winelands this year experienced one of the most difficult vintages ever. It is therefore very gratifying that in spite of the adverse climatic conditions and high volume harvest, which usually has a detrimental effect on quality, the 2004 Pinotage wines which were tasted showed a constant line of fine quality.”

The vice-chairman of the Pinotage Association and Cape Wine Master, Duimpie Bayly, emphasised the versatility of the Pinotage variety. “Pinotage is a very stable variety – this was a very challenging harvest, but it still delivered superb wines. With regard to the market, this South African variety’s versatility is a plus factor. A good example is Rosé wines, which are now becoming increasingly popular internationally and Pinotage is also ideal for this style of wine. People are looking for good quality wines that are very drinkable.

Prof. Joël van Wyk, a retired lecturer in Oenology and honorary member of the Pinotage Association, agreed that the versatility of Pinotage is not fully utilized. “You can make top quality Rosé wines with Pinotage grapes, while it also supplies an excellent base for Port. The different approaches in styles of Pinotage red wines which were experienced at the new vintage tasting, is also very gratifying. With Pinotage you can satisfy everybody’s taste preferences.

“Because Pinotage grapes ripen early, it usually is harvested before the heat wave that hits the Cape winelands in February. Pressing techniques also play a role. Pinotage grapes have beautiful fruit, colour and tannins and the long skin contact during fermentation is not always necessary. The result is more elegant wines with lower alcohol without sacrificing structure and fruit flavours,” says Prof. Van Wyk.

The 2004 vintage is one of the largest ever for Pinotage by volume. The common characteristics of the 2004 Pinotage wines tasted include excellent colour and typical banana and plum flavours. Experts agreed that although most of the wines were very accessible, all the wines boasted an aftertaste full of lingering flavours.

The wine cellars from the regions and wards whose wines were selected for the new vintage tasting by their representatives, were Aan-de-Doorns (Worcester), Citrusdal Kelder, Diemersfontein (Wellington), Domaine Brahms (Paarl), Lanzerac (Stellenbosch), Middelvlei (Devon Valley), Mooiplaas (Bottelary), Neethlingshof (Stellenbosch), Rico Suter Landgoed (Rawsonville), Seidelberg Landgoed (Paarl), Sumaridge Wyne (Walker Bay), Swartland Wynkelder (Malmesbury) en Viljoensdrift (Robertson).

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