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)"


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