20 December 2004

Name Changes

Don't ask for Pinotage - or other wines - from Bellevue, Erica, Uiterwyk or Vlottenburg. All have changed the name on their labels.

Bellevue found it impossible to use that name in Europe, so are branding their wines 'Morkel' after the owning family. Erica Vineyards also had problems with registration and chose the name 'Raka' after owner Piet Dreyer's fishing boat.

Vlottenburg have discarded their distinctive name and chosen the anodyne and immediately forgettable 'Stellenbosch Hills' instead. Apparently they thought 'Vlottenburg' was too difficult for English speakers. I had no problem pronouncing 'Vlottenburg', unlike 'Uiterwyk'. To help people like me, and to avoid confusion with Uitwyk, Uiterwyk wines have been branded with the family name 'De Waal'.

18 December 2004

Bath University Pinotage Tasting

Professor Keiran Molloy at the University of Bath organised a Pinotage tasting for the University Staff Wine Society. He writes " Thank you for your help on the tasting, which was extremely successful and well received. You have converted a lot of people to Pinotage, and personally I will be stocking up on the Stellenzicht, L'Avenir and Kanonkop (which was far more approachable even at this stage than I had expected)".

His notes with "an unscientific marking of each wine out of 10, which reflects relative rather than absolute merit" follow.

Southern Right 2002 - The lightest of all the wines tasted. Bright red colour, mix of red and black fruit flavours, full flavour in mouth, short on finish. An uncomplicated wine that won't disappoint but is unmemorable. No noticeable tannins so a wine for drinking now rather than keeping. (5.5/10)

Flagstone Writers Block 2002 -
Mid-red colour, light tannins, sweetish red fruit flavours with a smokey finish. More body and slightly longer in the finish than Southern Right. A popular wine for immediate drinking. (7/10).

Groot Constantia Estate 2001 -
Similar in colour to the Southern Right. Darker fruit flavours becoming more apparent than the earlier two wines. Full flavour in mouth but again short on finish. Earthy flavours, with smoke/tar finish. A more lively wine than the opening pair with more of a zing. By the end of the tasting, after being open for about 3h, this wine developed pronounced southern Rhône flavours becoming reminiscent of a Gigondas and far more complex in nature (6/10, based on early evening opinion)

Bellevue Estate 2000 - Deep red colour with well integrated tannins. This is a far more complex wine and would work better at this stage in its life with food. There is a hint of eucalyptus on the nose and nice mixed red/black fruit flavours. Other tasting notes suggested this was a controversial "new age" wine but that was not the opinion of the group. Good value for money as the cheapest wine in the tasting. (7/10)

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle 2000 -
Deep red colour with purple hue. Obvious and yet soft tannins which are well balanced with the fruit, this is a wine which is drinking well now (perhaps better with food) but a long and exceptional future ahead of it. A long, full mouthful of plums and black fruit flavours. (7.5/10)

Neethlingshof Estate Lord Neethling 1998 -
The most controversial of the wines presented. Dry tannins with less weight of fruit than the Stellenzicht. Mid-weight fruit overall, plum, blackcurrant and mulberry flavours with a slightly smokey edge. The fruit/tannin balance is not as good as Stellenzicht, and the wine has a sharp, spicey, slightly burning finish with met with divergent reaction. (7.5/10 but some much higher, some much lower )

L'Avenir Estate 2002 - The most popular of the wines tasted, drinking perfectly now but with enough soft tannins to ensure a long life. This is a very smooth wine with a hint of creamy vanilla on the nose. The flavours are of sweetish red and black fruits and there is a very long finish from this wine. Excellent. (8.5/10)

Kanonkop Estate 2001 -
This wine could be described as a younger version of the L'Avenir in that it has similar characteristics but is less well evolved at this stage in its life. There is again the soft creamy flavours of oak/vanilla with loads of dark fruit flavours, but which are more hidden at this stage than for the l'Avenir. This wine became better and better with increased aeration. A wine that can be drunk with pleasure now but will be a real star in 5+ years time. (8/10)"


13 December 2004

African Queen Promotes Pinotage

Melissa Dicent has been travelling the USA in "The African Queen" tour bus promoting South Africa wines for importer Hemingway and Hale.

She says "The most exciting thing is people's interest in Pinotage and is by far my favorite part of the presentation. Not only do we have the excellent Indalo Pinotage which is doing very well, but we also have the Serengeti (migration) Pinotage - wine maker- Jan du Preez- has been very well received in the market place - a favorite - and was actually made wine of the week by Jane Garvey in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and I have no doubt that she will write up on the Indalo Pinotage in the near future. We also have the Goiya - shiraz/pinotage blend which has proved to be a real hit!!

Anyway I will continue to do my utmost to promote Pinotage!!"

12 December 2004

A Pocket full of Pinotage

Graham Howe

Take three adjoining vineyards with award-winning Pinotage - and one winemaker with a hand in the making of all three wines. What have you got? A pocketful of Pinotage that is the origin of a spectrum of styles from single vineyards planted 300 hundred metres apart. The man with the winery in the middle is Pinotage guru Pierre Wahl, winemaker at Rijk's Cellar and consultant at both neighbouring Tecoma and Manley Private Cellars.

Is Tulbagh the new terroir for Pinotage? Two of the wines from adjacent vineyards made the top twenty finalists in the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition 2004 - Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage 2001 (a top ten winner for the third time) and Tecoma Unfiltered Pinotage 2002. Pierre Wahl gave us a lesson in Pinotage at the awards luncheon at the Mount Nelson, describing the different slope orientation of the vineyards and the different styles of wine produced by distinctions in micro-climate and cellar treatment.

Winner of double gold at Veritas 2001 and a trophy winner at the International Wine Challenge 2002, Rijk's Pinotage 2001 bears more medals than an American general. Made from low yields (1,4 tons per ha) from a single vineyard, the succulent, spicy Pinotage with hallmark plum and banana flavours was thoroughly pampered - night-harvested, handpicked and romanced in new French and American oak for 18 months. The result is a blockbuster - from a cellar which put Tulbagh reds on the map with Rijk's Pinotage 2000, winning Wine's Champion Pinotage 2002 and a Absa Top 10 place.

Pinotage is big business in these hills. On a walk through the vineyards, Pierre Wahl pointed out the highly-prized patch of Pinotage in a picturesque landscape of mountain peaks and rolling vineyards. Rijk's cellar also makes and sells Tecoma's Pinotage (winner of Veritas 2004 gold) from the fruit farm next-door - an elegant wine with a rich complex nose, intense purple colour and spicy berry, plum and coffee flavours with ripe tannins.

On the other side of Rijk's, we strolled through the tiny patch of vineyards of Manley Private Cellar located at Hunter's Retreat guest-house. David Jordan has won acclaim for its maiden wines, with a big individualistic Pinotage 2002 matured in all new oak in the micro-cellar with ripe berry flavours. Jordan says, "I tore out a pear orchard to plant wines. Winemaking is my passion now. We've disproved the notion that you can't grow reds in Tulbagh. I'm just a mechanic really - I do the simple things like designing a tumble drier as a destemmer to gently handle the berries!"

While Stellenbosch continued to dominate the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition 2004, taking the lion's share of the awards, Raka winery made history by winning a place with the first certified wine of origin from the new Kleinrivier ward near Stanford, Hermanus. Made by woman winemaker Teresa Fourie, the Raka Pinotage 2003 was made from a single vineyard and matured in a combination of first, second and third fill French oak. Other areas performing consistently on the show include Wellington and Franschhoek.

(Courtesy of http://www.wine.co.za/)

11 December 2004

Simonsig Redhill 2002

The first red wine made by Simonsig was a 1970 Pinotage. They now craft two styes, unwooded and a oak aged Pinotage called Redhill; they're particularly proud of the just released 2002 Redhill Pinotage.

The name Redhill comes from a vineyard block named ‘Rooibult’. Simonsig viticulturist Francois Malan says “the terroir of this specific vineyard block with its deep red soil composition of decomposed shale and granite definitely improved our odds to reap the full potential of this wine”

The 2002 vintage endured an exceptionally wet winter followed by excessive rainfall during spring leading to 25% of the crop lost to downy mildew. However cool temperatures helped develop optimum flavour and acidity in the grapes.

“Fortunately February and March were warm and dry, which accelerated the ripening period, resulting in a beautifully, albeit small, balanced Pinotage crop with remarkable colour and concentration,” said Johan Malan, Simonsig’s winemaker, who describes the 2002 Redhill Pinotage as “an intense style wine with awesome depth and length of concentrated Pinotage sweetness, lusciously melded with toasty new oak and grained tannins that satisfies with a long ripe fruit finish.”

10 December 2004

Tasting Wheel

In the July 2003 we reported that Dr Johann Marais, Specialist Scientist at ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij had been asked by the Pinotage Association to develop a Pinotage aroma wheel.

The project is now complete. The wheel lists 14 primary and 44 secondary characteristics. The wheel can be ordered from the Pinotage association at info@pinotage.co.za , or downloaded from http://www.wynboer.co.za/recentarticles/0409wheel.php3


07 December 2004

More NZ Pinotage

New Zealand's northernmost winery has just released its first wines, which include a Pinotage.

Karikari Estate vineyard and winery located on the Karikari Peninsula, with an neighbouring 18-hole golf course is owned by American tycoon Paul Kelly.

The first vines were planted in 1998 and by the end of next year they will have 101 acres under vines. The first wines, from the 2003 vintage, were released in September 2004. Karikari's winemaker is Ben Dugdale assisted by consultant Kim Crawford.

06 December 2004

Recent Dinner Wines

Beyerskloof 'Reserve Selection' 2003, WO Stellenbosch, 15% abv -- A not yet
released 'barrel selection' for the UK Sainsbury chain from 20-40 year old
un-irrigated bush vines. Another serious offering from Mr Truter, attractive nose leads into a brooding giant of a wine, there's tobacco leaf and tangy spices on top over unplumbed depths just waiting for time to release them. Beyers told me he made it to be at its best in 10 years but I wonder how many Sainsbury's customers will keep it that long. A 2004 Top 10 finalist.

Deetlefs 2001, Rawsonville 13.5% abv -- Deep garnet, berry nose, intense blueberry and plum flavours backed by medium tannins and a medium long finish. Enjoyable drinkable meal friendly wine.

Delheim Estate 2001, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5%abv -- Closed and shy when first opened, but after 30 minutes it opens out to show sophisticated plummy flavours and soft well integrated tannins - a European style dinner wine rather than an in-your-face fruit bomb, and all the better for it!

Swartland Winery Indalo 2002, WO Swartland -- Slow to show soft spicy nose, plums, mulberries, Pinotage sweetness with refreshing acidity, spicy mid palate, later developing flavours of mocha, chocolate and tobacco leaf. A delicious wine from Pinotage master Andries Blake.

Olsen Wineries 2003, WO Paarl, 14.5% abv -- Pleasant medium light bodied wine, a little green on front palate on first opening, but after a while opened it develops soft blueberry fruits at the forefront and ripe fruits in the middle and a shortish finish. Needs decanting.