12 August 2004

WINE Magazine's Pinotage Whines

WINE MAGAZINE - South Africa's equivalent to Decanter - has recently turned against Pinotage with a vengeance. Deputy editor Christian Eedes is a big fan of Shiraz but is unable to praise that variety without disparaging Pinotage at the same time. Some of his email newsletters have literally infuriated Pinotage makers and the print magazine seems to miss no opportunity to take a dig at the variety. It’s a rare issue that doesn't have an anti-Pinotage letter. One was from a man who had taken a mouthful of a Cape Blend from a friends glass; he didn't like it so felt compelled to write to WINE to complain about Pinotage. Another called for all Pinotage to be uprooted as it’s an 'embarrassment to our country". If you're surprised that no-one has written in response, well they have, but printing pro-Pinotage letters doesn't seem to match WINE’s current direction.

Since 1997 WINE has promoted a Pinotage Champion Award, in association with the SPAR grocery chain, but the competition was abruptly junked this year in favour of a similar Shiraz challenge. In its place was ‘Value for Money’ Pinotage, awarded to 2002 vintage Pinotage costing under 40 ZAR that scored highest in the magazine’s tasting over the previous year.

Editor Fiona McDonald says “There’s a level of excitement and enthusiasm about Shiraz and its potential that Pinotage cannot match”

Congratulations to the three winners of WINE’s new value for money award

  • Du Toitskloof 2002 (28 ZAR)
  • McGregor 2002 (24 ZAR)
  • Lutzville ‘Most Westerly’ 2002 (18.40 ZAR)

Meanwhile in the rest of the world, Israel has produced it first Pinotage “not only a rousing success in its own right but perhaps the very best wine ever from Barkan” winery , and Muddy Water winery in New Zealand claims Pinotage “could be to New Zealand what Zinfandel is to California."

Christian Eedes, whose opinion is "Pinotage is so 1990s", said in February 2004 "Cape Blends in general, might be superficially entertaining but they ultimately lack the depth to count amongst the truly great wines of the world." In July 2004 the International Wine & Spirit Competition declared the worlds best blended red wine is a Cape Blend. That is the best of any red blend from the 30 countries who entered the competition.

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