09 June 2009

Kanonkop & Beyerskloof makePremium Pinotages

The best Pinotages are going to get less good in order for the cream of the crop to be bottled separately as 'super-cuvees' at super-expensive prices.

Currently Kanonkop Pinotage costs around 18 pounds in the UK or 170 R from the winery, Beyerskloof’s top Pinotage is their black label Reserve at 8 – 11 pounds in the UK or around 100 R at the winery.

But they won’t be the best wines for much longer. Kanonkop and Beyerskloof both intend bringing out premium ‘super-cuvees’. I guess they’ve been spurred on by seeing newcomers like Ashbourne (24 pounds), Laroche’s L’Avenir Grand Vin (a stonking 27 pounds) and Francois Naudé’s own label (400 R) come on the market.

But if you’re already making the best Pinotage how do you encourage the punters to pay more? Seems like barrel selection is the answer. Identify a special barrel and – instead of using it to improve the rest – bottle it separately and price it accordingly.

Beyerskloof got two wines into the 2008 Pinotage Top 10; the Reserve and a new label called Diesel. Diesel, named after owner Beyers Truter’s recently deceased favourite hound, was a barrel selection. It was placed in a standard bottle and the normal black ‘Reserve’ label was tweaked with Diesel replacing the word Reserve.

Diesel will be the name of Beyeskloof’s new flagship Pinotage. It will have a new label and a heavily impressive new bottle. And will cost as much as three times the price of the Reserve, according to June’s issue of The Drinks Business. Retailing it at around 30 pounds brings it into line with L’Avenir Grand Vin.

But what about the Reserve? What about the standard Kanonkop? I reported back in April 2007 Kanonkop owner Johann Krige’s reaction to a question about whether they’ll be a ‘Reserve’ Kanonkop. Johann stepped in to answer vehemently that there never will be. “Kanonkop wines are the best we make,” he stated. “We only make the best. We don’t make second best wines.” But the experimental wines they have made at Kanonkop from 50 year old plus vines are “mind-boggling” according to Johann.

So does releasing a limited bottling of a special barrel selection automatically mean the standard label is not the best? It’s a moot question which they are tussling with at Kanonkop, as Johann admits in the video below taken at last months London wine fair. He wants to expose the wine to imbibers – maybe these wines will not be sold but poured at tastings


I’m torn. Pinotage is a great wine, so you would expect there to be premium priced bottles and people willing to pay the money. Problem is that I’m not one of them. Much as I like to drink the very best Pinotages, thirty quid a bottle is a bit too much for my pension. And I’m not sure how I feel about the concept of wines whose prices are yanked sky high even although they cost no more to make just in order to have a prestige premium priced wine.

As always the market will decide.

1 comment:

  1. I am also not part of that market. Even if it cost more to make, I will not be in that market.

    Wines at these prices certainly do not add that much value to my life