25 September 2007

From Rusty Nail to Elegant Fruit

Julian Brind MW at the Pinotage Top 10 judgingArticles about Pinotage all too often tell of the group of British Masters of Wine who visited South Africa in 1976 and, comparing Pinotage’s taste to "rusty nails", declared that the variety had no future.

In that group was Julian Brind MW (pictured right) , until recently head wine buyer for the UK Waitrose supermarket chain. Thirty-one years later he again tasted Pinotage in South Africa, this time as a judge at the Pinotage Top 10 Competition.

Interviewed after the judging, Julian remarked that most of the wines in the competition were of an exceptionally high quality based on international standards, and it was almost impossible to select only the top ten wines.

"I think the rest of the world must discover these wines and South Africans must be very proud of it,” he said. “The balance of fruit, elegance and good integration of tannins is an indication of the talent of South Africa's viticulturists and winemakers. They made it very difficult for us to select only the top ten."

Fellow judge South African Dave Hughes emphasised the combination of quality and diversity. "People think there is only one kind of Pinotage, but the variety of styles makes it a real tasting experience, but every wine still is a Pinotage,” he stated. “A few years ago, it was my opinion that you could only select the top five to seven out of all the entries, now it is difficult to select the top fifteen. The quality and fine balance of the wines improve year after year."

The results of the 2007 Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition will be announced on 31 October at the Arrabella Sheraton Hotel in Cape Town.

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