29 April 2007

Pinotage Jam and Scones

My homemade sconesScones are a Sunday treat here at Pinotage Towers. And what better topping than Pinotage jam?

I find it strange that grape jam is not more common. I am not aware of any being available in the UK. In South Africa you can buy Hanepoot jam, made from those large golden intensely sweet Muscat grapes used for making dessert wines.

Ripe Pinotage grapes are also quite sweet, and this jam comes from
Beyerskloof Winery. Owner Beyers Truter has been incorporating Pinotage in many foods, sausages, ice-cream, yoghurts, meat sauces etc. See Red Leaf and Green Pinotage.

So, what is it like? On opening it has a lumpy texture from the berries and a dark, browny black colour which doesn't look too appetising. The nose is not sweet like other jams -- ahh I get it! Some wines we call 'jammy', and this jam is definitely 'winey'.
My homemade scone with Pinotage jam
Spread on the opened scone -- broken open where the side of the rising scone has fractured -- take a quick photo (see picture right) and take a bite. Umm, tastes good. There is a winery grapiness, it is not overly sweet. Definitely an adult jam, and I am thinking that it maybe good as an accompanient to savoury dishes, such as bobotie or with turkey instead of red-currant sauce.

Unfortunately Pinotage jam is currently available only from the winery, but scones are easy and quick to make.

My scone recipe takes about 20 minutes to make and 20-25 minutes to cook


225g/8oz self raising flour
Pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter
Handful of sultanas
150ml/5fl oz milk

1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter to get a bread crumb-like texture.
3. Sprinkle in the sultanas and stir them through, there should be plenty so add more if you want as they are the only sweetening* in the scones.
4. Mix in milk to get a soft dough
5. Turn on to a floured board and knead for a few minutes
6. Gently roll out to 2.5cm/1in thick – making them too thin is the biggest cause of disappointment.
7. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Knead remaining dough, roll out and stamp out more scones till all used. Cutting the edges helps the dough rise.
8. . Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and top is firm.
9. Place on a wire rack and serve with butter and good jam and cream to taste.

Eat while hot. They also freeze well; defrost before use and warm

*With the sultanas and sweet jam topping I think it is totally unnecessary to also add sugar to the scone

(Note: Scone is pronounced skoan (to rhyme with loan) or skon (to rhyme with ‘on’ – in Pinotage Towers those from the north say skon and those from the south say skoan. Thus both are correct.)

24 April 2007

Horton Virginia Pinotage

I reported in December (see here) that Horton Vineyards in Virginia USA was going to release a varietal Pinotage in 2007.

I am indebted to Dezel of Virginia Wine Spot for permission to quote from his tasting notes for this wine, and the use of his photo of the bottle.

Dezel says

"The wine is accessible and done in a fruit forward style displaying a brilliant deep ruby color. On the nose are enticing red berry fruit aromas, mild spice and soft cocoa hints. The aromas follow through on the palate with an abundance of upfront fresh red berry fruit flavors, namely raspberry. Well balanced and substantial, 17% of Tannat is added and provides a solid tannic structure that comes across on the taste as velvety. This wine for me is of an easy drinking, fresh fruit style that is thinly framed in soft spicy oak with a medium length finish.

In closing friends, this is a nicely made wine, however not the rustic, bramble berry and smoky characteristics found in quintessential South African Pinotage. Perhaps Pinotage is indeed suited to its native South African terrior to capture its true expressionism. But, lets not be fooled, this Virginia Pinotage is a very good wine that I recommend readers seek out. This is a rare find in Virginia and exemplifies what the grape can do in Virginia’s soil and climate. Try this on its own or with red meat dishes, spicy foods and even traditional barbecue."

Thanks Dezel. I look forward to being able to taste the wine myself.

21 April 2007

Pinotage = Pinot Noir x Sancerre?

I can't resist mentioning another vidcast merchant. Vinappris, based in Birmingham, UK, sell wine through their satellite TV channel and simulcast broadcast on their website. (pictured right Managing Director/Presenter Steve Bennett)

Vinappris currently list the following Pinotages - False Bay 2006 (£7) Spier Private Collection 2004 (£15) Keerweder Estate 2003 (£17) and Graham Beck Old Road 2001 (£19).

The shows are professionally put together, cutting between studio presenters tasting and talking about the wines and filmed inserts from vineyards and wineries around the world.

But on their website background country information they state:

"South Africa also holds an international attention seeker, pinotage, the indigenous grape variety to this picturesque country. Found nowhere else on earth it creates some fantastic well balanced reds. Pinotage is a cross between two different grape varieties, moulding and creating the best of both worlds. Pinot Noir and Sancerre, Pinot Noir offers the delicate flavours of red berry’s, strawberry, raspberry, an elegant wine which is beautifully complex. Sancerre offers body and strength and even a little spice. Combined, these two grape varieties move into new territory, creating a world class grape known as pinotage. "

I cannot disagree with their conclusion, but can only repeat what I said here - its time to stop talking about Pinotages parentage -- even when you can get it correct.

(Update on 30 April -- Following the comment by Julian Twaites, Head of Purchasing at Vinappris, to this item, the Vinappris site has been updated and all references to Pinotage parentage has been removed)

19 April 2007

A 1970's Banana Metal Band?

A 1970's rock group -- a heavy metal banana band -- that is what Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibraryTV.com (pictured right) likened to Kanonkop 2004 Pinotage.

For the first time in his vidcasts, he tasted four bottles of the same wine to experience the differences that opening times and decanting made.

And the wine he chose was the same wine he raved about in yesterdays episode, Kanonkop 2004 Pinotage.

Today he first tasted the bottle he'd opened 24 hours earlier which he has used in the previous tasting. Then he compared two Kanonkop 2004's that he had opened 5 hours previously; one had been decanted while the other had been left in the bottle. The fourth was opened on camera and tasted immediately.

To find out what he discovered, sit back and let Gary's enthusiasm take you away.

18 April 2007

Kanonkop - "Polished Pinotage"

Gary Vaynerchuk Gary Vaynerchuk (pictured right) of WineLibraryTV.com isn’t a big Pinotage fan, but he says of Kanonkop Pinotage 2004 "This wine is rocking".

In his 218th on-line video tasting 'vidcast', first shown on 17 April, he features South Africa, with two whites and two reds including the Kanonkop.

Gary says of it "Dark colour. Hint of banana on nose (really cool!) surrounded by amount of rusty old beer cans, rusty nail, rusty aluminium. Nose now getting really outrageous tremendous banana. This is a clean cut, polished Pinotage.

I like this wine, beautiful red cabbage profile, oil & vinegar & olives. Bananas are jumping, (I Iove bananas, structured like Bordeaux, terroir driven, this is essential class Pinotage. Comes from granite soil, you’re getting some of this. Its really polished, but young, need another three years. Now getting dark liquorice flavour, gets olive & smoky on finish.

I highly recommend it, I’m giving it 91 points. If you like extremely well polished and intriguing wines, seek this bottle out.

See Gary nose, taste and enthuse about Kanonkop Pinotage 2004 by clicking on the image below:

The other wines were

  • Black Rock White 2004

  • Tokara Chardonnay 2004

  • Rustenberg John X Merriman 2003 - corked.

17 April 2007

Lunch, Pinotages
- and More at Neethlingshof Estate
Bringing Grapes to Neetlingshof
I am lazy; I don’t like to work but I quite like watching others doing so, thus lunch at Neethlingshof Estate was particularly enjoyable. Not only were a team of gardeners being industrious in the flowerbeds but every now and again a tractor towing a grape hopper passed the restaurant veranda under me (see picture right to be unloaded into the de-stemmer almost opposite.

On one side of the courtyard is the old manor house with the Lord Neethling restaurant (see picture below left) and facing it on the other side is the winery building and tasting room. And every now again during harvest visitors and tour groups are scattered by the need to tractor in freshly gathered grapes. The restaurant serves a good Escalope of Veal Milanese – a dish to which I am very partial and which just suited a bottle of Neethlingshof 2002 Pinotage (95 rand). Lord Neethling RestaurantI found this wine a little too tannic at first; it definitely needed food, though as time went on it opened up delivering some bright berry flavours.

I’d met Neethlingshof’s winemaker, De Wet Viljoen at a party a few days and when I said I was coming for lunch he insisted I ask for him when I arrived which I did, only to be told that no one of that name worked there. “But he is your winemaker!” I exclaimed. It was then I had some help on my slow and stumbling path to speaking Afrikaans and learned to say D’Vet Vill –Yo – en.

De Wet is one of the nicest people in the business and a good friend of Pinotage, and he offered to organise a tasting of Pinotage from the Cape Legends portfolio. Cape Legends markets fourteen brands from eleven wineries. Each winery operates as a separate company, some are part owned by Cape Legends' owner Distell, some are privately owned with only Plaisir de Merle being completely owned.

The Tasting

De Wet and Carlen Groenewald (Cape Legends European Business Manager) had lined up the following six wines:

Distell Pinotage Tasting
Hill & Dale 2005 WO Stellenbosch

Soft ripe plum and berry fruits, immediately appealing, some very soft tannins and a tangy finish.

Hill & Dale (Hillandale was the name of a real farm) is made by Stellenzicht’s winemaker Guy Webber using fruit that didn’t end up in Neethlingshof and Stellenzicht.

Jacobsdal 2004 Estate WO Stellenbosch 14.5%abv

Good deep colour, firm bodied black cherry flavours, drying finish.

I noticed the label had a new logo on it saying ‘Naturally Fermented’. “Yes, they use only natural yeast fermentation at Jacobsdal” said Carlen. “It is a winery I have always wanted to visit”, I said, “but they are not open to the public.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” replied Carlen. And she did – but that is another story.

Neethlingshof 2002 Estate WO Stellenbosch 15%abv

This wine was fuller bodied and rounder with more fruit flavours than the one I had with lunch at the Neethlingshof restaurant. “It is cooler and has been open longer” explained DeWet. But it still dried the mouth with some firm tannins on the finish. Definitely needs food.

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle 2005 14.5%abv

Deep garnet colour, silky and spicy front palate with some wood underneath. Umm, this is quite complex; a moreish wine.

Tukulu 2004 WO Darling

Bright dark red colour, purple rim, looks quite young. Very sweet upfront strawberry and cherry flavours. Mouth filling, great structure and balanced tannins with a medium finish.
De Wet Viljoen

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling 2001 ‘Limited Release’ Estate WO Stellenbosch 14.5%abv

Bright dark red colour, wooded nose, there’s berry fruits and a sweet feel but a firm middle and a wooded finish.

Thanks to De Wet (pictured right) I was also able to taste, prior to release.

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling 2005 ‘Limited Release’ Estate WO Stellenbosch

Wow, wonderful deep fruit flavours and soft soft tannins, great depth and complexity, this is a super wine that just begs to be drunk.

Many thanks to Carlen and De Wet.

15 April 2007

Frozen Wine

Frozen Pinotage the bottle is upright
I very rarely have the problem of left-over-wine. But I am frequently asked by others what to do with wine left in the bottle. My usual answer is to stick the cork back in the bottle and keep the bottle upright in the fridge door. It’ll be OK for a day or so, and for some red wines maybe longer.

However I took the opportunity this trip to the Cape to experiment with freezing wine. I was ordering a bottle of wine at lunch, consuming a glass or so, and taking the bottle with me. But by dinner time I frequently had another ‘must open’ bottle.

So into the freezer compartment of the fridge went some lunchtime bottles. A couple of weeks later I moved them to the fridge door in the morning to thaw during the day, and I opened them in the evening to taste.
(photo left - the bottle is upright, the wine is frozen)

First was a white wine,
Simonsig 2006 Verdelho*. When I opened its spiffy screwcap the wine went cloudy. I left it for a while to clear. The photo (below right) clearly shows the white powdery deposits of tartaric crystals, brought out of solution by the cold.

Many mass market wineries practise ‘cold stabilisation’ where they chill wines to precipitate these crystals so that they will not appear after sale as many casual wine drinkers mistake them for glass fragments and return the wine to the shop. However this chilling also removes something of the flavour, and is frequently not done on better wines.

And so it proved here. The wine was quite acceptable and drinkable, but it wasn’t quite as crisp, racy and exciting as I remembered from when I first opened it.

Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 was also most drinkable, and showed little change, maybe just slightly dulled.

But freezing hadn’t destroyed the wines. Now you might argue that these were quite gutsy wines, especially the Pinotage with lots of upfront flavours. Would a delicate wine, such as a mature Mouton-Rothschild survive such treatment? All I can say is that I am willing to do the experiment if someone will supply the wine.

So if you have opened wines you want to keep – try freezing them.

*Simonsig Verdelho 2006 is an Estate wine especially produced for the SA Pick'n'Pay supermarket chain. Verdelho is a Portuguese variety used to make Madeira and Vinho Verde, and has been recently been achieving success in Australia. Simonsig's Verdelho vines were planted by the late Frans Malan and I guess the juice from these grapes usually go into Simonsig's blends, and well done to the Pick'n'Pay winebuyer for winkling it out. I'd dearly love to know what other rare varieties are planted in Simonsig's vineyards ....

11 April 2007

Obscure Pinotage

Obscurity label
Pinotage is one of the wines made by Obscurity Cellars at the memorable address Slug Gulch Road, Fair Play, California.

Owner winemaker John Smith says “Pinotage is, like many of our offerings, one of the most obscure grapes in California. It originated in South Africa … and has been known to produce anything from a violet-infused light-bodied wine to a heavier wine with flavors of earth and mushrooms. This version has ripe, almost ethereal aromas, with an extremely fruity, yet complex combination of flavors in the mouth. Since this is our first version of this wine, we don't have much experience pairing it, but we think it will be ideally suited to prosciutto-wrapped figs, and other complex, fruit-rich snacks or main dishes."

The grapes from that initial 2003 vintage wine came from California’s largest Pinotage vineyard; John Bree’s Sutter Ridge Vineyard in Amador County. I visited John in 2002 and tasted his own excellent Sutter Ridge Estate Pinotage. But John Smith tells me "John Bree, after years of pleading with people to take his Pinotage grapes, sold his entire crop early last year, and couldn't supply me any. Instead, the good folks at Vino Con Brio sold me two tons from their KARMA Vineyard (the name is an acronym of all the Matson family members' first names)" for the Obscurity 2006 vintage.

I like Obscurity Cellars philosophy “Many grapes have gotten a bad rap because they were not understood, or weren’t planted in the right places, or just had odd quirks that required a little curiosity and experimentation to uncover. So here we are, launching a new venture into very small quantities of really good wines made from many uncommon grape varieties. They won’t all be for everyone, but …. for the adventurous, the eclectic, the curious and the skeptics, we will produce just enough of each wine to provide a serious challenge to the status quo. After all, there are plenty of really good Merlots and Chardonnays offered by California’s other wineries to satisfy the taste buds of those who mostly prefer what they’ve had before.”
Okha Pinotage
John Smith says to look out for "Obscurity Dolcetto this summer (only 25 cases made) and Carmenere in the near future. We also did a Malbec Rose this year, and we think it's the first one in North America."

Another obscure Pinotage is Okha (right) which has been sold in Japan for at least four years. I’m guessing it is a shippers brand: does anyone know anything about it?

And, harking back to a recent post, is Warthog Pinotage, whose US importers confidently state the varietals in the bottle are Pinot Noir & Cinsault and intriguingly inform us that "All the vineyards from which our wines in the Stellenbosch area come, are actually bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The climate and area is typically Mediterranean, perhaps even more so than the actual Mediterranean." (my emphasis)

Warthog Pinotage

09 April 2007

"Sensational South Africa" - Tesco

"It's a country where the magnificent scenery is matched by terrific wines", states Tesco in its March Wine Club Magazine.
And which wine is dominating the cover but Beyers Truter's Pinotage. It has a cracking classy label that would grace any table. It's in Tesco's 'Finest' range, and -- since they already stock Beyerskloof standard Pinotage -- I guess this is a relabelled Beyerskloof Reserve. It is priced at £7.99, two pounds more than the standard Beyerskloof.

Graham Nash writes in the magazine "Some would say that a country that first planted vines in the 1650s, and whose wines were favourites of Napoleon and Jane Austen, hardly qualifies as ‘New World’. However, it’s only in the post-apartheid era that South Africa has again begun to make an impression on our palates. As in sports such as rugby and cricket, it’s taken a while to make an impact, but the wines since then have improved beyond recognition.

"Many of the grapes grown are familiar. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were the first to become popular, but the fashionable grapes at the moment are Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc. The style of both – as with many South African wines – sits at a very attractive halfway house between the exuberant fruitiness of the New World and the elegance of the Old. There is also some very good Pinot Noir being made, especially in the country’s cooler areas. But the country does have two points of difference, in the shape of Pinotage and Chenin Blanc.

"Pinotage produces wines with lively flavours of wild berry fruit, occasionally spiced up with hints of banana and toasted marshmallows. You’ll find full and light-bodied reds, and surprisingly good rosés, ranging from good value wines to some that are amongst the finest in the country.

W"hatever food you’re planning, you won’t have trouble finding a South African wine to match it. The local cuisine sees the influence of several cultures – European, Indian, African and Indonesian – combined to extremely tasty effect, and the refined yet flavourful wines are excellent accompaniments. And of course there’s the braai, South Africa’s super-sized version of a barbecue. Forget formal dining. Simply charge your glass with Pinotage, gaze up at the starlit sky and enjoy."

I want that classy black label Beyers Truter Pinotage, but sadly it hasn't yet appeared in my local Tesco stores.

08 April 2007

Martin Meinert Makes Pinotage - Video

Martin Meinert is caught on video in mid-harvest. He is making Pinotage and trying to avoid funkiness.

In the second part, Martin discussed some of the challenges Pinotage presents, including excess malic acids, and how he tackles them.

If the images above from YouTube fail to appear, the videos can also be seen by clicking here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

See www.winefilms.co.za/ for the rest of the harvest 2007 film reports plus others focusing on individual wine farms

05 April 2007

A Decade of Kanonkop Pinotage - Part 2

The tasting notes.

Kanonkop Estate has been making Estate wine since 1973, and in that time there have been only four winemakers, Jannie Krige and famed rugby player Jan “Boland” Coetzee (now at Vriesenhof), then Beyers Truter (now at Beyerskloof) from 1980, and currrently Abrie Beeslaar took over the reins in in 2002. The owners are Johann and Paul Krige, the fourth generation at this family owned wine farm.

Kanonkop were pioneers in planting Pinotage and their old Pinotage vineyard (pictured below) still contains many of the original vines.

2005 Kanonkop Kadette
Soft front, easy drinking, some body from the Cabernet plus the typical Pinotage sweetness, pleasant tang on finish. 60% Pinotage/25% Cabernet S/15% Merlot. Made from the younger vines, up to 15 years old. (85 pts.)

1995 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage - Cape Winemakers Guild
Black core, red rim. Clean nose, red berry fruits, soft tannins, ripe and delicious. Dry tannins on a very long finish (93 pts.)

1997 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Dense black colour, red rim. Sharp nose, less fruit, firmer and higher toned, crisp tannins, higher acidity. (84 pts.)

1998 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Dark red, wider red rim. Slight barnyardy nose, sweet fruits but I think this has started its downward path -- fades in glass. (83 pts.)

1999 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Dark core, slightly paler rim. Blackberry fruits. Theres a depth of ripe fruits with sweetness and tannins intertwined and a good balance of acidity. There's a freshness and liveliness about this wine, best of the evening. I remember having enjoyed several 99s over the years and recommending it as a Kanonkop that could be enjoyed young. Wish I'd kept some. Now, where can I buy more? (97 pts.)

2000 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Farmyard nose, deep core red rim. Good fruits, but drying tannins - and a bit matallic - on the finish (84 pts.)

2001 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Intense black core, really ripe approachable fruits, good structure and balance, very very nice. (94 pts.)

2002 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Very dark, sweet nose. This is quite different on the palate from the previous 6 vintages – there’s wine gums, sweet jamminess. It is very drinkable, but it doesn't have that same family style all the others do. This is the handover vintage with both Abrie Beeslaar and Beyers Truter working the cellar. (89 pts.)

2003 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Very dark, purple rim. Very easy on the front palate. There are some firm tannins on finish, nicely drinkable. This is Abrie Beeslaar first solo vintage. (85 pts.)

2004 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Intense opaque with purple rim, extracted fruity front palate, sweet body, good fruit/acid/tannin balance. Very soft integrated tannins, coming to fore on the medium long finish (89 pts.)

2005 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Lightest body colour, fragrant nose, rounded berry fruits of forest in mouth. There's a lot going on here, good tannins. This will be wonderful in 2015. Only 6K cases made (usually around 8K) (94 pts.)

2006 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage *Barrel sample*
Sweet fruit, beautiful welcoming fruit mulberry/blackberry with spices and coffee tones. Superb and stunning. From the the old vineyard, 3 tons per hectare, will spend 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels (97 pts.)

2007 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage *Tank sample*
This is just starting malolactic fermentation so it’s way too early to form any judgement, but it has intense colour and bubblegum flavours and very interesting to sample it on its path from vineyard to eventual bottling.

Many thanks to owners Johann & Paul Krige, Abrie Beeslaw and all the hardworking team at Kanonkop Estate for the opportunity to taste these wines and for a most enjoyable evening.

Kanonkop Old Pinotage Vineyard

The old Pinotage vineyard at Kanonkop

03 April 2007

A Decade of Kanonkop Pinotage - Part 1

Kanonkop Estate EntranceWhen Kanonkop throws a party, it starts with a bang!

There was a real cannon on the grass, a red box marked ‘Danger - Explosives’ and a man with a smouldering fuse. We’re standing around, glasses in hand, offering jocular advice to the man with the fuse and a cannon loaded with gunpowder that refuses to light. It takes a couple of attempts before there is an incredibly loud explosion, a jet of smoke and shaking trees and we’re stunned to silence.

Inside the tasting room we find chairs and take glasses of Kadette 2005, followed by Pinotage 2004 and then Pinotage 06 from the barrel and 07 from the tanks. The 06 has sweet beautiful welcoming fruits - mulberry/blackberry with spices and coffee tones. Superb and stunning. From the the old vineyard, 3 tons per hectare, 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. The 07 is just starting malolactic fermentation so it’s too early to form any judgement, but it has intense colour and bubblegum flavours and tonight we’ll go from this juice that is not yet a completed wine and taste back through the vintages to 1995.

Johann Krige, co-owner with brother Paul, has the job of welcoming us and introducing the event, which is an annual occasion for friends of Kanonkop. “This is an informal evening”, Johann tell us, “it is all done in house – there’s no catering firm” as he introduces his brother Paul who has the onerous task of running the braai , cooking the snook and feeding us all.

Wine maker Abrie Beeslaar (pictured right) speaks Abrie Beeslaar in the old Pinotage vineyard to us about winemaking at Kanonkop. “We try to capture the vintage – not make the same wine every year,” he says. Mentioning the 07 juice we have in our hands, he tells us that “this year we picked 3 tons a hectare from our 53 year old vines. We find that old vines give structure, good mouth-feel and tannins that you just don’t get with young fruit.”

Someone asks a question about whether they’ll be a ‘Reserve’ Kanonkop. Johann steps in to answer vehemently that there never will be. “Kanonkop wines are the best we make,” he states. “We only make the best. We don’t make second best wines.”

Then we are invited to visit two tasting stations in the cellars for verticals of Pinotage and Cabernet, to wander through the winery and to assist the cellar staff with the two hourly punch-downs of the cap of skins that form on the fermenting grapes in the open tanks, and not to forget the braai.

I first taste the Pinotages – tasting notes in Part 2 – then go to punch down the cap. (picture below) Now I have frequently seen this done. People stand on boards over the fermenting tanks with poles pushing down the hard skins so that they go back down in the juice and give up their colour and flavour. The workers have a good rhythm and it seems an easy task. Well, it is not. It is hard physical graft that pulls at ones muscles. The pole seems to get heavier by the moment and you must keep your balance on a swaying plank. And it must be done every two hours throughout t the day and night. So I didn’t last long at that. Are there any jobs in a winery that are easy? Picking grapes is back breaking…

It is now past midnight and, although many people have left, there are deep discussions going on and bottle after bottle of Kanonkop still circulating. Never mind tasting note scores – it’s the one you choose to drink when you have your choice of them all that is the real winner.

I won’t name names since they were talking in a social occasion, but one winemaker famous for his award winning Pinotages firmly stated that “South African wines that go past 10-15 years are past their best. But Pinotage is the exception. It changes in character. The wine itself stays intact but it develops into something really special. If you go beyond 10 years Pinotage knocks the socks off Cabernet – it needs to age.” And another winemaker agreed, saying “anyone can make a decent Shiraz, it is an easy simple grape that makes an easy simple wine, but to make decent Pinotage needs skill.

Tasting notes follow in Part 2

Punching down the Cape at Kanonkop

Picture - Pitching in and Punching the Kanonkop Cap

01 April 2007

Pinotage & Vindaloo? No Problem!

Wine and food writer Fiona Beckett has tried matching a curries with various beverages, and recounts the experience on her Food & Wine Matching website in an article titled Can any Wine survive a Vindaloo?

Armed with a "can of supermarket lager, a bottle of Greene King IPA (Indian Pale Ale), an Alsace Gewurztraminer, a full bodied, fruity red Stormhoek Pinotage from South Africa and a mango lassi - all served chilled, even the Pinotage" she started with a medium hot Chicken Rogan Josh, moving on to a supermarket vindaloo and finishing with a "vindaloo from the takeaway, which was hotter still. The Gewurztraminer really couldn’t cope with this unless you added some raita and dal but the Pinotage still kept going"

She concludes that "the big surprise - although I’d had an inkling it would work because South Africans regard it as the best match for curry - was the Pinotage, welcome news to those who prefer drinking red wine to white. But don’t drink it at room temperature, chill it first!"

That Pinotage is a good match for spicy foods is no surprise to Pinotage lovers, but it is good to hear the word is spreading.