31 January 2007

Early Cape Vintage

I like to time my visits to the Cape winelands for February as I enjoy seeing the bustle of the grape harvest, but it seems I will be too late this year when I arrrive on 11 February . "Soaring temperatures during the week of January 22nd brought early harvest activity in the Stellenbosch area," reports Kim Maxwell, for wine.co.za.

Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof says 2007 is 'the earliest harvest since '67, for me personally. It seems to be between 10 and 14 days earlier. The main cause is the heat. We had an inch of rain on New Years Eve, and nothing since. We call that the vetmaakreëntjie. It’s the combination of no rain, and the sudden heat we had last week. We were getting up to 37 degrees for two days.'

Vriesenhof started harvesting on January 23rd, and the cellar activity hasn’t stopped. ‘We’ve finished with Chardonnay and Sauvignon. The Sauvignon was in first, which is unusual for us, and then the Pinot Noir. So now we’re starting with Pinotage, and some Merlot is also ready,’ Coetzee reports. Are there sunburnt grapes? ‘No. Luckily not. The analysis at the moment is still unbelievable,’ he says. ‘pHs are fairly low, which is kinda nice. It’s a lot cooler,’ he said of the weather on January 29th. ‘We’ve been starting at 4am, because of the heat. We were harvesting right over the weekend.’

Full report at http://www.wine.co.za/news/news.aspx?NEWSID=9637&Source=News

15 January 2007

Fort Ross 2002 Pinotage

"Fort Ross 2002 Pinotage, one of only a handful produced in California, is a marvel. Deep inky purple, it gives off concentrated aromas of dark red fruit – dried strawberries, blackberries, black cherries – spiced with white pepper and infused with smoke. The fruit grows luscious, creamy and mouth-filling but not in a big-wine, jammy way. Rather, it's like dipping through layers of mousse, with dry tannins and nice acidity that roll to a chewy finish."

I have not tasted Fort Ross's Pinotage -- yet! (I must get back to California soon ), but don't you just want to drink that wine after reading Kim Pierce's review in
Dallas News?

Kim tells us that Fort Ross's owners Lester and Linda Schwartz came from South Africa, and that they imported the vines from there and had to wait 5 years for them to clear quarantine. The wait was worth it.

08 January 2007

Jamie's 'edgy funk'

My old mate Jamie Goode - the Wine Anorak has never been a fan of Pinotage so I was pleased to see him giving a try to the inexpensive Ken Forrester's Petit Pinotage 2005. Jamie says "By not taking Pinotage too seriously - and interpreting it as a good-time, slightly off-the-wall variety - Ken has made an attractive, juicy berry fruited red with some green herbal and medicinal Pinotage funk, in a format where this funk helps add to the fun character of the wine. I'd serve this wine slightly chilled with honest, rustic fare. It has edges, and these are all too often lacking in inexpensive wines. The packaging is great, too." See