27 February 2007

There is no Secret!

“There is no secret,” insisted Francois Roode, winemaker at Diemersfontein. (pictured). I had managed to trap him at the rear of his cellar with his back to the wall and barrels stacked either side blocking him in, and before he could get past me and back to the vintage he’d have to tell me the secret behind Diemersfontein’s cult ‘coffee and chocolate’ Pinotage.

“Anyone can make it,” Francois told me. “All they need is the fruit from the old dry-farmed bush vines grown on the farm plus some from nearby Wellington vineyards. “Grown without any watering, the berries are tiny with thick skins. Very distinctive flavours from Wellington terroir.”

“And?” I prompted. “Well,” replied Francois “ there are certain staves we use, they are called “Mocha toasted”. Last year the delivery by ship was severely delayed because of storms at sea and we experimented with some alternatives, but we realised we needed these special ones so had them air-freighted in just in time.”


“Um – the yeast we use is important in developing the right flavours. And of course one cannot discount the winemaker’s techniques. But, seriously, anyone can make it.”

I tasted some of the new 2007 Pinotage, it was, of course every young and not yet exhibiting the overt coffee (or maybe I should say mocha?) and chocolate tones of previous years. “It still has to go through malolactic fermentation”, Francois told me, but the flavour changes day by day.”

But Francois is quietly confident he has another winner on his hands, and the 2007 vintage will keep the legion of fans for this most distinctive wine very happy.

“But really,” he insisted, “there is no secret.”

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