It was with insightful reports on changing climate conditions, the 2009 harvest and why this one is supposed to be the "big one", that we sat down at the annual Pinotage vintage tasting in Stellenbosch. The fact remains - the weather is still acting strange, but Pinotage seems to love it. "The good, cold winter allowed the vines to rest properly, while the dry weather and rainfall in December, kept the foliage fresh and provided sufficient water and flavour development during the berry forming phase, which resulted in smaller berries," said Leon Dippenaar, Breedekloof viticulturist.
The first four of the thirteen pino's were placed in front of us. Blindtasting, I might add - for the extra touch of objectivity and surely to make some sparks fly between winemakers all cradling their vintages like newborn puppies. As all senses involve a wine tasting of the highest standard, the Pinotage Association made sure all five were involved. With Steve Hofmeyr and Jakkie Louw ensuring our auditory senses were alert and all is South African, we could finally set off to write down our praises (and criticisms) of the chosen wines in a well-laidout booklet.
Thirteen tank and barrel samples formed the basis of this year's Pinotage tasting. Comments that flew across the room, as each table had a chance to give a summarised opinion, were mostly that the wines were confectionary, with strong aromas of fruit conserve, dried banana and sweet mocha. "All of these wines are commercial, easy drinking wines. As winemakers we're being a little shy on our tannins and structure. Pinotage is a thick skin grape and has the potential to become more than a New World style wine," commented Anthony Hamilton Russell.
According to De Wet Viljoen, presenter for the event and chairman of the Pinotage Association's organising committee, the annual tasting serves as a barometer for the rest of the year, as well as an indicator of how the wines are going to show when bottled.
All in all, everyone seem excited about the 2009 vintage Pinotage as different climate conditions seems to be the make or break of this wine.
Thanks to Nikki Lordan and WINE.CO.ZA
Pictured are Leon Dippenaar, De Wet Viljoen (front), Ilse van Dijk and Francois Bezuidenhout (rear)