20 May 2009

Tony Laithwaite: Pinotage is a race horse worth backing

Tony Laithwaite owns the worlds largest specialist home delivery wine business. He started in 1969 loading his van with wines in Bordeaux and selling them back home in the UK. Now his company, Direct Wines, as well as selling wines under the Laithwaites trading name operates wine clubs for American Express, British Airways and The Sunday Times as well as several others, owns Averys of Bristol and Virgin Wines and runs the largest mail order wine business in the USA .

So when Tony Laithwaite talks about Pinotage it is worth listening. At the moment he is in South Africa where he enjoyed a braii and "most importantly, I rediscovered Pinotage."

In his blog yesterday he wrote :

"I have tasted a range of styles of Pinotage, each well made and enticing in their own way. From soft juicy, summer fruit bombs of the younger styles to rich, mocha tasting lightly oaked wines with a bit of age. I am loving them all!

Perhaps at last South Africa has cracked its red wines - will Pinotage do for South Africa what Malbec has done for Argentina? Only time will tell, but for me, this is a race horse worth backing."

Read his article in full here.

I look forward to seeing a larger range of Pinotages on Laithwaites list than the current pair, Stanford Hills Jacksons Pinotage 2006 and Drakenskloof Pinotage 2007 . Stanford Hills gain 4 stars in Platter 2008 but Drakenskloof is a name unknown to me.

Laithwaites likes to sell labels exclusive to themselves. It makes it impossible for consumers to compare prices. The winemaker is named as Frans Smit who is the cellarmaster at Spier. Spier make a range of 'own label' wines for UK supermarkets and it is likely this is something similar.


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