27 August 2008

Truter's Two Times Top 10 Triumph !

History was made today when Beyerskloof’s owner and winemaker Beyers Truter accepted the Top 10 prize twice. For the first time in the competition’s history two wines entered from the same winery had both been selected for the ABSA Pinotage Top 10 Competition.

Truter stepped up to accept two winner's awards at a ceremony held earlier today, 27 August, at Neethlingshof Estate near Stellenbosch.

The 2008 winning wines are :-

Anura Pinotage 2007
Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2006
Beyerskloof Reserve Pinotage 2006
Cloof Pinotage 2005
DeWaal Top of the Hill Pinotage 2006
Fairview Primo Pinotage 2007
Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2004
Simonsig Red Hill Pinotage 2006
Stellenzicht Cellarmaster’s Release Pinotage 2005
Tukulu Pinotage 2006

All but three of this years winners had won previously. "We have seen the quality of wines in the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition improve year-on-year and what is more encouraging is that new winemakers are continuously joining the competition. Experience, consistency, commitment and focus can however never be replaced and this year we have seen a number of the more experienced winemakers come out on top,” said Robert Emslie, Executive Director with sponsor Absa Corporate & Business Bank at the awards ceremony on 27 August 2008.

Beyerskloof historic winners are Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2006 and Beyerskloof Reserve Pinotage 2006. They are the third and fourth wins for the Beyerskloof label, and winemaker Beyers Truter eighth and ninth Top 10 wines, having previously won seven times when winemaker at Kanonkop.

Guy Webber’s Stellenzicht wins for the fourth consecutive year with his sixth Top 10 wine.

Daniël de Waal of Uiterwyk Estate gains his sixth win with the Top of the Hill, the world oldest Pinotage vineyard, after a break of four years.

It is a fifth Top 10 win in nine years for Tukulu, the flagship black empowerment brand, this time with winemaker Samuel Viljoen

Simonsig Estate have a second consecutive wine with their Red Hill Pinotage 2006. It is their fourth winning wine in eight years.

Pierre Wahl at Rijk’s Private Cellar produced their fourth winning wine in eight years.

First time winners are

Anura 2007, with winemakers Carla Pauw and Johnnie Calitz

Cloof 2005 whose winemaker is Christopher van Dieren

Fairview Primo 2007 with winemaker Anthony de Jager.

Five of the 2008 Absa Top 10 Pinotage winners are from the 2006 vintage, two from the 2007 vintage, two from the 2005 vintage and one from the 2004 vintage. Five of the winning wines are from the Stellenbosch district, two from Darling and one each from Paarl, Tulbagh and the Coastal region. It is only the second time that wines from more than 3 vintages reached the Top 10.

The 10 runners up are
Conradie Barrel Selection Reserve 2007
Deetlefs Oak Matured 2007
Groot Constantia 2006
Môreson 2007
Raka 2007
Roland’s Reserve 2006
Spier Private Collection 2005
Wamakersvallei La Cave 2006
Welbedacht 2006
Windmeul Reserve 2007

Presentation packages of the 2008 Absa Top 10 Pinotage wines will soon be available for sale in South Africa from the Wine-of-the-Month-Club.

Tel. 021-6578100.
E-mail: wineclub@wineofthemonth.co.za


25 August 2008

Simonsig's Brut Rosé renamed Kaapse Vonkel Rosé

Simonsig's popular Pinotage based Brut Rosé methode champenoise sparkler is changing its name.

In future it will be Kaapse Vonkel Rosé, bringing it into line with their famous white Kaapse Vonkel .

Kaapse Vonkel means Cape Sparkle and Kaapse Vonkel was the first methode champenoise wine to be made in South Africa.

2008 vintage is the 40th anniversary of Simonsig wines and it is looking good.

"Our Pinotage yields were higher, with all the different vineyards producing top-notch wines which already flaunt more elegance and finesse than their predecessors," says Cellarmaster Johan Malan .

22 August 2008

Mature Pinotage Parcels Released by Bergkelder

Mature Pinotages from Durbanville Hills, Fleur du Cap, Jacobsdal, Tukulu and Zonnebloem have just been released by the Bergkelder Vinoteque.

The oldest is a 1996 from Jacobsdal. These wines have been stored in the Bergkelder (literally Mountain Cellar which are cellars dug deep into a hill in Stellenbosch) until they reached maturity and optimum drinking time so they are now readyto be enjoyed.

An order form with details and prices, which include delivery anywhere in South Africa, is here http://www.vinoteque.co.za/pdf/specialrelease.pdf

20 August 2008

Pinotage in North Carolina

Where is this Pinotage growing was the question posed in the last post. Grant Liddell, from Hermanus in South Africa's winelands correctly guessed North Carolina.

These grapes are in a vineyard at Villa Kleinheksel in North Carolina, USA.

Owner Brent Kleinheksel says “My Pinotage is looking good...it's a different grape....we are in a drought now, and most of my other varietals had poor fruit set as a result. Not the Pinotage, it really puts out full clusters. The drought has kept the vigor down, and I heard that is very key to making a good Pinotage. It ripens very early and the sugars shoot up so fast...it's tough to keep the bees and the birds out it... I do love Pinotage though...I've been drinking a Pinotage from Vino Con Brio in California. It took a few years for it to calm down, but the 2000 vintage is pretty good now. My whole family now loves Pinotage...specifically Stormhoek.. Which must be South Africa. My favorite is still Te Awa Farms in New Zealand. I hope Pinotage stays a secret...because it can be such a great wine.”

Unfortunately Brent need to move for family reasons and the property is for sale. Brent says “I will be sad to sell the vineyard... But I've found I love drinking wine much more than I do fighting all the disease and weather issues in North Carolina...I don't like to spray chemicals and being organic is almost impossible here...but I did get by with only 2 fungicide sprays this year...no pesticides and no herbicides...so for this area, that's pretty good. “

The first Pinotage vintage is due this year. “I am very excited,” Brent tells me.

Brent’s Villa Kleinheksel blog is at www.greatncwines.com

photographs (c) Copyright Brent Kleinheksel and used by permission

15 August 2008

Where is this Pinotage Vineyard?

You can see the distinctive Pinotage leaf with its toothlike indentation, and look at those plump healthy grapes.

This vineyard is not in South Africa, so can you guess where in the world are they growing?

photographs (c) Copyright Brent Kleinheksel and used by permission

10 August 2008

Worth Winning - World Cup Pinotage

The Pinotage Association has asked FIFA to designate Pinotage as the official wine for the 2010 Football World Cup, which will take place in South Africa in June and July 2010. This is the first time the World Cup has been held in Africa.

Cobus Dowry, Minister of Agriculture for Western Cape, came out in strong support and has undertaken to present the request to the World Cup Committee. "The Department of Agriculture Western Cape wholeheartedly supports the initiative and agrees that 2010 Soccer World Cup is the ideal opportunity to present a truly unique South African wine. Pinotage wine at the official functions during the World Cup celebrations will assist to strengthen the image and value of Pinotage," he said.

Beyers Truter, Pinotage Association Chairman, said that South Africa has practical and patriotic reasons for promoting Pinotage as a grape variety that provides wines of superior quality. He said "If the request is accepted, we will donate a sufficient quantity of wood-matured Pinotage wine for official functions and for participants and winners of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. We do not want to become involved in the commercial opportunities, as there are enough cellars and other instances that are structured to do this."

The 2010 World Cup Pinotage wines will be selected by a panel of experts and will be bottled under a generic Pinotage label..

Although Pinotage grapes became part of the SA national vineyards at a much later stage than the classic European red wine cultivars, it produces nearly 15% of the total tonnage of red wine grapes harvested in South Africa. The international demand for Pinotage wines is thus clearly illustrated by the fact that it comprises about 11% of all these natural wines exported from South Africa.

The Pinotage Association also requested South African Airways to name one of their aeroplanes ‘Pinotage’ on the route between London and Cape Town in order to increase the awareness of the variety.

From left:-
Beyers Truter (Pinotage Association Chairman), Minister Cobus Dowry, Gert Boerssen (Pinotage Association Board Member).

08 August 2008

Steyter by Kaapzicht Estate 2001 ~ Perfect Pinotage

From vineyards high on the slopes of Bottelary Hills you can see ships in the hazy distance entering Cape Town harbour. The view inspired the name of this family owned estate. Kaapzicht means Cape View, and the Steytler have been growing grapes there on the hillls since they bought the farm in 1946. They sold their first wines under the Kaapzicht label in 1984. Danie Steytler is the wine maker, his wife Yngvild travels the world marketing it and Danie’s brother George is the viticulturist and manages the farm and his wife Mandy manages the function rooms and self-catering cottage.

Danie makes quite a large range of wines both red and white, but his top two wines are both red and labelled as Steytler by Kaapzicht Estate. They are a 100% Pinotage and a Cape Blend called Vision which is a Cabernet, Pinotage and Merlot blend and both have garnered multiple awards over the year.

I have been keeping this 2001 Steytler Pinotage for some years and I was in two minds whether to open it or keep it till 2011. Impatience won.

Kaapzicht Estate
Steytler Pinotage 2001
WO Stellenbosch 15%abv

This vintage won one of Platters rare 5 star awards; they called it a ‘perfect Pinotage’, so I’m expecting great things. As the cork is lifted a most spicy bouquet scents the air and the initial tastes are of spices and fruits of the forest. It is medium bodied, elegant and really quite sweet on the finish, with impressions of pencil shavings and cedar wood, and there’s an intimation of age with a faint scent of cabbage. As time passes, toffee and caramel flavours come to the fore. After thirty minutes the up-front berry fruit flavours are fading and cabbage and toffee are coming to the fore. And then my glass was empty….. I think I made the correct decision in opening the wine as I really enjoyed it - and that is what drinking wine is about - but I have a nagging feeling that maybe the wine was at the point where it was starting to transform into one of those ageless Pinotages which keep for decades showing Pinot Noir characteristics. I have one bottle of this wine remaining – now shall I keep it and see?

Danie has made some interesting short videos where he talks about his wines and shows the vineyards. Take a look at them at www.kaapzicht.co.za

06 August 2008

Pinotage Top 10 -- The Finalists

The 20 finalists for the 2008 Pinotage Top 10 competition are:

  • Anura 2007 WO Paarl
  • Beyerskloof Diesel 2006 WO Stellenbosch
  • Beyerskloof Reserve 2006 WO Stellenbosch
  • Cathedral Cellar 2005 WO Coastal Region
  • Cloof 2005 WO Darling
  • Conradie Barrel Selection Reserve 2007 WO Nuy
  • Deetlefs Oak Matured 2007 WO Breedekloof
  • DeWaal Top of the Hill 2006 WO Stellenbosch
  • Fairview Primo 2007 WO Paarl
  • Groot Constantia 2006 WO Constantia
  • Môreson 2007 WO Coastal Region
  • Raka 2007 WO Western Cape
  • Rijk's Private Cellar 2004 WO Tulbagh
  • Seidelberg Estate Roland's Reserve 2006 WO Paarl
  • Simonsig Redhill 2006 WO Stellenbosch
  • Spier Private Collection 2005 WO Stellenbosch
  • Stellenzicht Cellarmaster's Release 2006 WO Stellenbosch
  • Tukulu 2006 WO Darling
  • Wamakersvallei La Cave 2006 WO Wellington
  • Welbedacht 2006 WO Wellington

From these twenty the Top 10 will be selected and it is going to be tough. There are some famous names and great winemakers in the running and they cannot all be in the Top 10.

The second wine on the list is a new one to me. Apparently it is a prestige bottling from Beyers Truter retailing at 250R, more than twice the cost of the Reserve. The wine is named after Beyers' sadly missed dog, Diesel .

The 10 winners will be announced on 27 August.


03 August 2008

Top 10 Panel Tastes 138 Wines

Last week the 2008 Pinotage Top 10 Judging Panel tasted 136 wines, including eleven first time entries, over three days. This year’s judges, pictured above, (front row from left) were Graham Nash, Wendy Burridge and David Biggs ( back row from left ) Gert Boerssen, Francois Naudé,. Duimpie Bayly CWM (convenor), and Chris Roux.

International judge Graham Nash is product development manager and wine trader for UK supermarket Tesco and Thresher wine stores. His main task is to evaluate the quality of wines and he focuses on France, Germany and South Africa.

"I am very impressed with the Pinotage wines we judged. Most of the wines show a classic balance of fruit and wood treatment, as well as a good combination of complexity and elegance,” said Graham. “There are many rich, full-bodied wines that are also accessible. These Pinotage wines show a red cultivar with personality and distinctive characteristics. It can be compared with the highest quality wines of all the international wine cultivars. I have been tasting South African wines for quite a while now and Pinotage is showing more constant quality, year after year."

Duimpie Bayly said that the majority of the entries showed the best style and structure since he has been involved as a Top 10 Pinotage judge.

"It seems as if the 2006 and 2007 vintages delivered most of the top wines, with excellent balance and versatility, wines that will complement various dishes. These are not blockbuster wines and most of them can compete internationally,” said Duimpie."The flavours of mulberry, ripe plums and hints of tropical fruit stood out as typical of the cultivar. There was consensus about the wines that reached the finals and the wines that received the highest ranking. The wines were obviously tasted blind and we are looking forward to the results."

Winning wines will be announced on 27 August, during a lunch time ceremony at Neethlingshof Estate near Stellenbosch.

01 August 2008

Crianza Pinotage?

Cathy van Zyl MW thinks she may have the solution of how to identify the style in which a Pinotage has been made. She takes her inspiration from France and Spain.

"We could have Pinotage Nouveau to denote an unoaked, fruity wine intended for consumption within a year, maximum two, of production", she blogs. "Then, there’d be something like ‘Crianza’, and here wines could have been aged for a minimum period of time with wood (that is, either in it or with it – that is, staved or chipped) but still be for youthful, uncomplicated drinking. It would be a fruity wine flavoured with, and given texture by, oak … for those who like the flavours and textures of oak.

"We could move to a ‘Reserva’ category, which could denote an extended period of time in wood (note, not ‘with’ wood) and that would be made in a style that is structured for three to six years of aging, and finally, could we also have a category similar to ‘Gran Reserva’ for wines which have been crafted to be aged for at least a decade?"

It is an intriguing idea that has merits. But would the Pinotage wine makers welcome more regulation in an industry that, even after the end of the KWV's iron grip, is still heavy with rules and bureaucracy. And would they ever agree to the suggested parameters or names? The Cape Blend project suggests not...