10 June 2008

Guy Webber's 'South African-ism’

"I’m not trying to make Pinotage better, just trying to give it a spin,” says Guy Webber, uncorking an unlabelled bottle.
“You don’t want me to quote you on that,” I ask, “surely you are always trying to make better Pinotage?”

“I already make the best Pinotage – Stellenzicht,” Guy replies, “that is the best there is.”

Guy pours me a glass of wine from the bottle, “This is a ‘South African-ism’ – it’s a tank sample - an experimental Pinotage co-fermented with about 13% Chenin Blanc.”

Guy Webber’s Pinotage/Chenin experiment is very soft and fruity with a distinct floral edge. It tastes quite sweet, very soft and maybe a little hot on the finish. “I think the Chenin brings out a certain herbaceousness,” says Guy. “The fruit comes from vineyards on Uitkyk farm that we use for our Hill & Dale label. The Pinotage and Chenin grown there both ripen at the same time.” With a top-up I’m finding the wine opening and its ripe floral softness becoming even more attractive.

It is just an experiment, the wine is in tank, and Guy isn’t intending bottling it for commercial release. “Think again,” I suggest, “how about a limited edition ‘winemakers experimental programme’ bottling like some California wineries do?” "Hmmmm...." replies Guy.

Guy Webber, winemaker at Stellenzicht (right) with Peter F May. No, he's not standing on a box.

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