04 April 2008

In the Blogs

Here's a round up of Pinotage reviews on the web in the past month

The team at Another Food Blog celebrated their second anniversary at The Fat Duck in Bray. The restaurant has been named best in the world and chef/owner Heston Blumenthal's creations, such as snail porridge and bacon and egg icecream, have gained much publicity. With the £125 tasting menu was served a selection of wines, about which Paul Woods writes:

"The wine was really beautifully balanced, starting with a bottle of Tattinger champagne, moving on to a flowery Marlboro ‘Isabel’ 13 percent ‘06 sauvignon blanc (from New Zealand, of course!) and finishing with a South African Jonathan’s Ridge ‘05 pinotage from the Springfontein Estate in Walker Bay (14.5 percent). The pinotage was notably tasty, with various levels at each stage - the nose was not only flowery but also a little chocolatey, the body being very heavily characterised by blackcurrants and the finish with a very appropriate bitter edge. "

Simon Woods at Drinking Outside the Box is spending a few weeks drinking only wines selected from the top 10 UK off-trade brands, and he is not enjoying it. He recalls a visit to South Africa in the 1990s where he was invited to a braai in Worcester with TC Botha, an ex-member of the Springbok tug'o'war team. TC passed him a glass of wine:

" 'Try this,' growled TC. 'This' was spectacularly good, lithe and leathery, brimming with meaty fruit, mature yet still full of life, like a smokier version of old-style Châteauneuf du Pape. It was a 1973 KWV Pinotage, and even though I visited some of the best addresses in the Cape over the next few days, it was a rare cellar that had anything that topped it. "

Marc Ricca on Robert Parkers forum enjoyed

Ashbourne Pinotage 2004 Walker Bay SA
Color: Clear, bright, medium ruby
Nose: Smoke, menthol, floral, and
candied fruit aromas with some fresh mint notes also
Palate: Bright red fruit, cherry and strawberry flavors with electric high acid notes, some smokiness to the mid-palate and a long bright finish. Tannins were fine and well integrated. Medium to full bodied.
Overall perception: This is not your Mama's Pinotage. This is a wine of much lighter weight, yet much greater elegance than I've seen this variety display previously. The levels of fruit intensity, acid, and freshness of color suggest that it will evolve well and pick up a little weight while defining its complexity further. No burnt rubber here.

Michael Pinkus writes about wines available in Ontario's state operated monopoly:

"I remember a time when Pinotage was a scary grape variety to make wine out of, many a wine was considered “rustic” and that was putting it nicely. Lammershoek 2005 Pinotage ($18.95 - #954594) is as far removed from those original Pinotage wines as you can get. The nose is spicy with black fruit, bramble and a touch of floral; while the flavours are explosive in the mouth: black currant, blackberry, spicy and tannin, there is a little bit of the typical South Africa flavours on the finish, but it’s so “way back there” that it’s practically standing in the corner un-noticed."

Douglas Blyde at The Daily Wine attended the London tasting of 'Platter' top rated wines that I was unable to get to. Among the 'exemplary' wines he tasted was:

Ashbourne '04 Pinotage (Hamilton Russell) Walker Bay: startlingly fresh, with a charming carafe rusticity. Not remotely reminiscent of what I consider to be Pinotage's traditional signature (sun-baked road kill mingled with tarmac, rubber and thirsty dog’s breath).

Richard Stoneham at A Passionate Foodie visited the Boston Wine Expo where he tasted:

2003 Slaley Pinotage ($30-35). This is a 100% Pinotage from the Stellenbosch region. The vines are about 48 years old. It has an alcohol content of 14.5% and spent about 13 months in wood (90% new oak), 40% American oak. This is a wine that is meant to be cellared for about eight years. It is not really intended to be drank now.The wine is fairly dark red in color and is very tight on the palate. It is obviously a big wine with elements of cocoa, plum, vanilla, dark berries, and spice. It also has a very long finish. I liked this wine and it definitely has much potential. I would be very interested taste this in several years to see how it developed. If you like Pinotage, it would be worth buying this wine to cellar it for a time.

2006 Spice Route Pinotage (about $22-23). The wine is made from grapes in the Rheeboksfontein vineyards in the Swartland. The vines are grown on deep red oakleaf soils. The vineyard is trellised and is dryland farmed. The wine was matured in American oak barrels for 10 months. It has an alcohol content of 13.94%. This wine was dark red in color with a spicy nose that followed through on the palate. This was a very spicy wine with dark berry accents and a tinge of vanilla. The tannins were well balanced and it was a very smooth drinking wine that lingered long in my mouth. I very much enjoyed this wine. It lacked any earthy components and was more about fruit and spice. For the price, this is a very good buy. It is complex, with excellent flavors and and a satisfying finish. A wine I definitely recommend

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