31 October 2008

Durbanville Hills Pinotage is the Star

Durbanville Hills cellarmaster Martin Moore has been travelling through Canada and the United States promoting his wines. He writes in his current newsletter:

"On the visit to North America the Pinotage was the star of the show, and I found myself sharing many a glass of it over extended lunches with wine writers before rushing to even longer dinners with agents and clients. Agents and their customers often tell us our Pinotage is very different from what is usually produced from this cultivar."

He says it's the cool climate environment in the Durbanville hills that brings out the Pinot Noir heritage resulting in more strawberry and blackberry flavours coming to the fore.

28 October 2008

Lease a Stormhoek Block

If owning a Stormhoek vine isn't enough, now you can lease a block of 200 of Stormhoek's vines and have all the wine they produce delivered to you in personally labelled and numbered bottles.

Stormhoek have teamed up with Barrington's International Vine Leasing Ltd to offer the benefits of owning (part of) a vineyard without having to do all the hard work such as pruning, weeding and spraying. Not to mention staying up all night during vintage time to press down the cap.

With Christmas coming fast, its a present idea for the Pinotage lover who has everything.

Stormhoek's Guava Block vineyard

Avondale Pinotage - The Trouble Wine

Pinotage came out top at a blind tasting of the Williamsburg chapter of the American Wine Society last month.

Debra Gordon writes in Virginia's Newport News "We tasted four reds blind, so we didn't know what they were or how much they cost. When the bags the votes were tallied, the classic South African varietal — Pinotage — came out a clear winner.We love Pinotage. It has a flavor unlike any other I've tasted — funky, complex, yet amazingly fruity. Turns out the rest of our group loved it, too.

The 2006 Pinotage ($14) we tasted came from Avondale, an organic winery located in the Paarl region.

One member described it as 'the trouble wine,' as in: 'the wine that will get you in trouble because you want to keep drinking glass after glass.'"

27 October 2008

Wine Society's New Pinotage

The UK's Wine Society has a new Cape red, and this time it is Pinotage.

The Society's wine-buyer Joanna Locke MW says the wine is an "unusually fresh-tasting, modern Pinotage, which happens to be made from organic grapes, to enjoy while it is young and fruity, or later when its part pinot noir parentage will develop spicier flavours. Try it with Asian foods."

The wine inside comes from 40 year old vines and was made by Bon Cap Organic Winery in Roberston. It is actually their second wine range, 'The Ruins', labelled especially for the Wine Society.

The label was designed by Tanya Tanaka of the Slade School of Fine Art. She says "I was inspired by maps of the regions and the idea of an Old World product in a New World environment."

I last visited Bon Cap in February 2008; my report is here.

26 October 2008

October Newsletter

October's newsletter has been emailed out. You can download it by clicking on the front cover image, left.

To be placed on the newsletter mailing list send an email to peter (at) pinotage (dot) org

22 October 2008

Lovingston - Outside the Bordeaux Spectrum

Lovingston was the first winery I visited on my trip last month to Virginia, USA. The winery is in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and built into a hillside so they can use gravity feed. They make wines on a small scale and they don't pump-overs because they don't want to mechanically handle the wine.

Lovingston have been making Pinotage from vineyard they have leased for a few years and have been so pleased with the results that they have now planted their own Pinotage vineyard on a ridge behind the winery. "We're giving it a shot," says winemaker Riaan Rossouw, "we're very enthusiastic about it. We don't mind at all being outside the Bordeaux spectrum."

This first short video was taken in that new vineyard with its tremendous views. Owner Ed Puckett is on the vehicle and winemaker Riaan Rossouw tells us about growing Pinotage in Virginia and how he doen't mind being outside the Bordeaux spectrum

Then we are in the winery where Riaan discusses making Pinotage in Virginia

Upstairs Ed Puckett tells about how he constructed the winery and how they handle the grapes.

As this clip ends he reveals that they remove the grape seeds during fermentation. I have not previously heard of such a practise, but in Virginia I am told that it is fairly common because the grapes do not usually get to completely full ripeness, and so in the last clip Riaan tells how they remove the seeds.

As you can see, everyone at Lovingston has quality to the forefront, and it shows in their wines.

Many thanks to everyone at Lovingston for showing The Pinotage Club around your winery and vineyards. The movies were taken with my new really neat Flip Mino camera.

18 October 2008

Spex Selex -- Simonsig

Simonsig Pinotage 2004 was chosen as Wine Spectator Online editors Daily Pick for 30 September 2008

James Molesworth says "This has a slightly jammy core of plum and blueberry fruit, with notes of briar, black licorice and coffee. The grape's rustic persona lurks in the background too, with a burly edge on the finish. Drink now through 2009. 5,000 cases made. (87 points, $14) "

Simonsig make two Pinotages. This one is unwooded whereas the 'Redhill' is aged 16 months in oak barrels. The Spex reviewed the Redhill 2004 vintage 18 months ago in March 2007.

17 October 2008

We Can't Meet Demand for Café Culture -- says KWV

Café Culture, launched just one year ago in September 2007, has proved to be a runaway success.

Demand for the wine is so great, especially in the Far East, that KWV CEO Thys Loubser told South Africa's Business Report that "we cannot get enough".

Therefore he has ordered that production of the mocha 'n' chocolate accented Pinotage be increased to exceed one million litres.

15 October 2008

Francois Naude launches his own wine

When Francois Naude stepped down as winemaker at L’Avenir Estate on its sale to Laroche he told me that he was looking forward to not having the day to day responsibility, the night shifts and the call-outs that winemaking involves. As a consultant he would advise and let others carry the burden.

But winemaking is in his blood and he has now started a new venture Le Vin de Françoise, whose first wine – a Pinotage -- sold out its entire production within a few hours*.

Marketing was unusual. Potential buyers were invited to a black-tie function where the Pinotage was auctioned. 200 cases were sold realising an average price of 250R a bottle (about £15.20 or $26.30). Well known Johannesburg steak house owner Alan Pick took home 60 cases of Le Vin de Françoise Pinotage 2007.

Francois is well known for Pinotage. “I am a huge Pinotage fan and was lucky enough to have seven of the nine wines I entered for the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition make the final line up. Pinotage is in my blood, like family, and it was only natural that our first product should be a Pinotage”, he said

Le Vin de Françoise Pinotage 2007 is a blend of barrel selected wines from wineries where Francois has been consulting: Delheim, Hartenberg, Lanzerac, L’Avenir and Neil Ellis.

Packing is special. The bottle is a reproduction of the original Bordeaux bottle used in 1855 The twelve bottle wooden cases that the wine comes in are custom made, stackable and sturdy, and the label a unique work of art from design studio Haumann Smal.

“We wanted to create a “magic” product. A product that would secure the first step for the brand to grow and prosper into something the generations that follow can be proud of” added Francois.

The icon that was used on the label is a wing nut, symbolising the clasping together of family ideals, with the different wines from a variety of terroirs that created this unique wine. Francois also jokingly added that the wing nuts look a little bit like his ears!

* Except for three more cases of the wine were kept back for a public on-line action to benefit The Faith Fund charity. You can place your bid at http://www.levindefrancois.com/ and three cases kept for Francois' own use. In total, just 206 cases of the 2007 vintage was made.

12 October 2008

Beyerskloof wins IWSC Trophy

I've written before about the Beyers Truter Reserve own label made for UK supermarket Tesco. I have bought a goodly number of them myself, and by co-incidence opened a bottle of the 2006 last night.

I'm not the only fan though --- the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2008 recently announced that they'd awarded the KWV Trophy for Pinotage to Beyerskloof for their Tesco Finest Beyers Truter Pinotage 2006.

7000 wines from more than 70 countries were entered into the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2008, the premier competition of its kind in the world, held in London . Amongst the Trophies being announced 15 were open to wines from anywhere in the world. South Africa picked up five trophies and it is remarkable that four of the trophies were won by producers that come from within a radius of ten kilometres. The other three, some from wineries that have appeared on these pages for their Pinotages, are The Mission Hill Family Estate Trophy for Chardonnay presented to Delheim Wines for their Delheim Chardonnay Sur Lie 2007.The Spier Trophy for Merlot presented to Hartenberg for their Hartenberg Merlot 2005. The Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for Blended Red Wine presented to Kanonkop Wine Estate for their Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2003.
Pictured left to right are Beyers Truter (Beyerskloof), Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop), Brenda van Niekerk (Delheim) and Carl Schultz (Hartenberg).

Pump-overs give lower colour and anti-oxidents

Results of a four year study into whether the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), colour and phenolic composition of Pinotage wines are affected by growing methods and locations and winemaking practises have been published.

The research by Dalene de Beer, Elizabeth Joubert & Johan Marais into vintages from 2000 to 2003 doesn’t appear to come to any firm conclusions, except that wines from warmer areas and those that underwent the pumping of juice over skin caps gave wines with the lowest TAC and colour saturation.

The full report in Afrikaans is in the magazines August issue and an English version can be read on the Wynboer site at http://www.wynboer.co.za/recentarticles/200808pinotage.php3