12 September 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Rijk's 2001 & Beyerskloof 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday is a web institution in which people around the world blog on a theme. For the 37th WBW on 12 September, which is hosted by Dr Vino, the subject is “go native” with an indigenous grape variety.

Pinotage -- pronounced 'pinno-targe' -- is the local red variety of South Africa, having been developed there eighty years ago. It is a variety used to make wines in all styles, including sparkling, pink and fortified. But the best expression of the variety is in serious red wines. Since Pinotage is a fairly recent variety, and because there is no old world model to measure it against, wine makers have been interpreting the variety in several styles.

My take is that Pinotage’s taste profile should be found within the oenological region bounded by the southern Rhone, northern Italian red and Californian Zinfandel. There should be the rich spicinessof Zin and warm depth of Syrah with a twist of the gamey kick of Italian reds. Plus, a lush sweet mouthfeel that is uniquely Pinotage.

For WBW I am tasting two Pinotages. First is a mature wine from the 2001 vintage. This vintage is sold out now at the winery but you may still find it in a specialist shop. The second you should be able to find inexpensively almost anywhere.

Rijk's Pinotage 2001

RijksThe nose is closed, not offering much at all, and it feels quite firm on the front palate. But first impressions are deceptive because this wine soon opens in the glass to offer yummy blackberry fruit with a pleasing sweet uplift on the finish. There’s some acidity also, and integrated oak (40% new French oak barrels) is working its creamy magic behind the scenes. It has 14.5% abv but feels light and refreshing, making it an ideal food wine.

Rijk’s – pronounced ‘rakes’ – was created by the Dorrington family in the Tulbagh valley and named in honour of Rijk Tulbagh, governor of the Cape from 1751 to 1771, who gave his name to the town and valley. Rijk’s wines achieved almost instant success from their first bottling in 2000. Their very first Pinotage won Top 10 in 2001 and this Pinotage, from the 2001 vintage was a Top 10 winner in 2004.

Although it’s a bit of a drive from Cape Town, I like to visit Rijk’s to enjoy lunch in their open air restaurant shaded under vine leaves and overlooking a lake and vineyards. And, as usual in the Cape, I have a glass or two of cold Chenin Blanc with my food. Rijk’s make stunning Chenins which are not to be missed.

Although vines have been grown in Tulbagh for generations, the land bought by Neville Dorrington had never previously been cultivated. The Norringtons started planting vines in 1997 and three years later, when the winery had been built, they produced their first wines and now make about 11,000 cases annually from a variety of cultivars.

Rijks Private Cellar
Winemaker: Charl du Plessis
Variety: 100% Pinotage
Appellation: Coastal
Cost: around 18GBP/36 USD

Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006

Beyerskloof winery specialises in Pinotage - the red leaf label is the world's largest selling Pinotage brand - which is no surprise as its winemaking owner, Beyers Truter, championed the variety and is known as the Pinotage King.

Although made in huge quantities -- 1.5 million bottles of the 2006 were produced -- quality is maintained and all the grapes are grown only in the premium Stellenbosch region of South Africa.

I chilled this wine by putting it in the fridge for half an hour before opening -- which is how they serve it at Beyerskloof. On opening there is an strong fruity bouquet as if the wine can't wait to get into the glass. Well, let's pour it. It has a deep black core with a bright purple red rim, and a powerful fruity taste. This is a gutsy wine -- I often have it to accompany spicy Indian food with which it matches well.

There's black fruits, cherry and plums, some blackcurrant leaf and a lick of leather on the back palate. Somewhere I'm also getting black olive tapenade. This wine is so yummy I keep drinking for the sheer pleasure rather than analyzing. No matter, lets pour another glass. What do you mean 'the bottle is empty'?

Owner winemaker Beyers Truter is a man with boundless energy. Now a young 50 year old, he was a rugby-player in his youth before being appointed winemaker at Kanonkop Estate where he championed and elevated the Pinotage variety, along the way being named International Winemaker of the year at the 1991 Wine & Spirit Competition held in London. He is the only winemaker ever to twice receive the Pichon Longueville Comtesse de la Lalande trophy for the best blended red wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. That was in 1994 and 1999.

He founded his own Beyerskloof winery in 1998 on a property owned until 1895 by five generations of ancestors and so he became the sixth generation to farm this particular land.

Beyers Truter is active in the Church and in politics (he has stood for the ANC and founded a farmers political party) and his latest venture is the ‘Faith Fund’ charity focusing on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. This year at Beyerskloof he extended the cellars and opened the instantly popular ‘Red Leaf’ restaurant featuring dishes cooked in and with Pinotage -- my favourite being the Pinotage Burger.

Producer: Beyerskloof
Winemaker: Beyers Truter
Variety: 100% Pinotage
Appellation: Stellenbosch
Cost: 5 GBP/10 USD/35ZAR


  1. Wow, a whole blog dedicated to Pinotage, well done! Pinotage is not one of my favourites although I really enjoyed a Pinotage made by Boekenhoutskloof and selling for 9.00 GBP at Tesco.

  2. Craig19:20

    I have a 5litre bottle of Beyerskloof Pinotage, are you able to tell me it's value

  3. Craig -- depends on the vintage and where abouts you are

  4. Greetings, I have a 2004 Beyerskloof Pinotage 5L what would be the value and where could I sell it?

  5. Hi Malcolm, where are you?

  6. Anonymous11:33

    What is Bottle of Beyerskloof Pinotage 2001 worth Today ?

  7. Hi Anonymous -- it's hard to say, depends on how it has been stored, but since it isn't a collectors wine it won't make you rich.