28 September 2009

Oregon Joins the Club

Oregon has joined the family of Pinotage growers. Melrose Vineyards, located in the delightfully named Umpqua Valley, near the town of Roseburg in southern Oregon, planted Pinotage in 2004 on the banks on the South Umpqua River and currently they have one acre of Pinotage.

Melrose is owned by Wayne and Deedy Parker who started their vineyards in 1996. The Parker family decided to plant Pinotage for “the unique wine experience and for the challenge of growing a grape unknown in the Umpqua Valley.” Wayne Parker says “the vines are doing exceptionally well.”

Rachael Miller at Melrose says “customers are intrigued by the delightfully fragrant nose that almost seems to contradict the unusually rich berry flavours.” She adds that “Pinotage makes a great reduction for pork tenderloin and is very flexible when pairing with food.”

Melrose released their first varietal Pinotage, from the 2006 vintage, last November and so far it has won a bronze medal at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a silver medal at the 2009 Oregon Seafood & Wine Festival.

Oregon joins fellow US states California and Virginia in growing and making commercially available varietal Pinotage along with Montana, New York and North Carolina which are growing Pinotage.


24 September 2009

Just Fancy That

From the Arniston Bay Blog, posted 21 September

A roast rack of Karoo lamb is just the right dish to prepare on Heritage Day.
This dish maybe time consuming to prepare but the result is an amazingly delicious dish which is well worth the effort.
To keep within the heritage theme, serve this meal with a uniquely South African Pinotage. The Arniston Bay Pinotage 2008 is a well balanced wine with vanilla tones and savoury flavours. This wine is a great match for the South African Karoo lamb.

From the Kumkani blog, posted 21 September

A roast rack of Karoo lamb is just the right dish to prepare on Heritage Day.
This dish maybe time consuming to prepare but the result is an amazingly delicious dish which is well worth the effort.
To keep within the heritage theme, serve this meal with a uniquely South African Pinotage. The Kumkani Pinotage 2006. This well balanced wine has a ripe berry fruit nose and French oak aromas adding vanilla and spice with a excellent finish.

Both blogs posted Sally Schneider's December 1969 recipe copied from a US site and although temperatures have been converted to Celcius from Fahrenheit the lamb pictured is not Karoo but "American lamb, because it is corn fed, is milder in flavor than Australian or New Zealand lamb, which is grass fed."

How come both Kumkani and Arniston Bay blogs happened to post the same thing on the same day? Seems that the brands have outsourced production of their blogs to the same PR Agency, Bivio Consulting.

Bivio Consulting also run the blogs of several other wine brands including Boschendal , Four Cousins ,Tall Horse and Versus . Content is mostly cut and paste items from other websites with minimal original content or news about the winery, it staff or its products.

No doubt Bivio managed to impress the wineries with the importance to a business of blogging, however Bivio themselves are not leading by example. Bivio's very own blog, hosted by the free Blogger service, has had only 3 items posted this year, the last one on 10 April declared "Our site is currently under construction".

I think these wineries are missing the point. Surely a blog is a way to communicate with their customers and to let us who cannot visit the winery to know what is going on throughout the seasons. It isn't rocket science and it needn't cost money. I can imagine the winery MD smugly boasting that 'Oh, yes, we have a blog' but I don't think that paying a PR agency to post content culled from the web that has no connection with the wine brand that owns the blog makes sense.


21 September 2009

Succesful Erections at Neethlinghof

Neethlingshof have now formally announced the renaming of their Lord Neethling Pinotage to Owl Post, as revealed here in May.

They say that the redesign emphasises elegance and rejuvenation. “The new-look labels, adopted across the range, have also created an opportunity to highlight the winery’s commitment to eco-sustainability, having recently become a member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI).”.

“the reserve tier, made exclusively from hand-picked grapes, has been named The Short Story Collection. Drawing attention to Neethlingshof’s rich and varied narratives, the three-limited edition wines in the collection each focus on a specific aspect of the estate’s philosophy or history.”

They include the Owl Post, a single-vineyard Pinotage.

“The Owl Post recognises Neethlinghof’s integrated pest management system. Owls play an important role in keeping rodent infestations in check (and without the use of chemicals). To encourage the return of these nocturnal birds of prey to the estate, Neethlingshof successfully erected breeding-friendly owl posts in the vineyards.”

No mention how many posts were “successfully erected” or whether any owls have moved into the new accommodation.

12 September 2009

Flat Roof Manor add Pink Pinotage to Portfolio

Flat Roof Manor have added a pink wine to their list. It’s called Pinot Rosé and is a 70-30 blend of Pinotage and Pinot Grigio.

No reason given for the inclusion of the Grigio but I guess it adds to the flavour profile and the fashionable Grigio name will help sales. Or is it they just didn’t have enough Grigio to make enough pink wine on its own?

The wine is made at Uitkyk winery by Estelle Lourens. On the property is an historic manor house which is one of only three 19th century Georgian flat roofed manors still standing in the Cape.

The brand’s label shows the flat roof with a cheeky cat that legend says preferred to stay on the roof long after its owners left the estate.

(Pinot Grigio – Pinot Gris in French – is a mutation of Pinot Noir whose skins vary in colour from grey to a dark pink. Usually used to make white wines, the recent international popularity of rosé wines coupled with the current popularity of Grigio have seen increasing numbers of pink Grigio’s.)

11 September 2009

On the Couch with Guy Webber

Pinotage loving winemaker Guy Webber has ventured into the world of blogging.

On the Couch with Guy Webber started on 20 July and now has three posts.

Guy is winemaker for Stellenzicht and Hill and Dale and it is on the latter’s site he is musing – mostly about women it seems.

Head over there and say hello.

(I don't think that is Guy sitting on that sofa)

07 September 2009

Pinotage News Snippets


  • Kanonkop 2005 Pinotage won the only Gold medal awarded to varietal Pinotage in the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards. Judges described it as “Violets, red fruit, subtle spice, a bit of oyster shell. Fresh and appealing palate, with lovely concentrated strawberry fruit and some pencil shavings, tomato paste and truffle. Balanced elegant tannin”. Beyerskloof Synergy 2005 Cape Blend (with 33% Pinotage) won a Gold medal. (As previously reported, a varietal Pinotage from Kaapzicht won the International Trophy for Red Single Varietal over £10 and Kaapzicht’s Vision Cape Blend won a Gold medal at the same competition.

  • Wine Spectator gave 92 points to J Vineyards 2007 Russian River Valley (California) Pinotage.

  • The successful Golden Kaan brand is now 100% owned by KWV after they bought out founding partners Racke.

  • Café Culture Pinotage 2009 is about to be released. Richard Rowe, chief winemaker at KWV, says "The 2009 Café Culture Pinotage is one of the best Café Culture wines we have produced; in fact the cooler season and absence of any heat wave conditions resulted in ideal growing conditions for the grapes. Consequently the taste experience is richer and softer, and we have been able to release the wine a few months earlier than normal - a bonus for Café Culture fans."

    Rowe recommends cooling it before serving. “The 2009 has intense, fresh coffee and mocha flavours, which are more pronounced than other years. This is a stylish wine which can be enjoyed for all occasions," says Rowe. "I recommend chilling it slightly in summer as South Africa's room temperature can get fairly high. This will ensure that your Café Culture tastes just as delicious when sipped around the pool."

  • Another coffee accented Pinotage has been launched: Cappucino by Boland Cellars

  • Pinotage is being made in Oregon. Melrose Melrose Vineyards in Roseburg Oregon released their first vintage of 100% Pinotage last year and it a won Silver medal at the Oregon Seafood & Wine Festival 2009. Unfortunately I have not received a reply to my request for information.

  • “Like a lot of people, I started out with Yellowtail; however, I have moved on to other wines now. My regular drink now is a wine from South Africa called The Ruins Pinotage.” Dr Kelly Fletcher of the University Hospital of the West Indies Department of Anaesthesia, interviewed by Christopher Reckord in the Jamaica Observer 3 September

05 September 2009

Pinotage Scoops Best Red Varietal Trophy

Kaapzicht Estate’s Steytler Pinotage 2006 has won the International Trophy for Red Single Varietal over £10 at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards, it was announced this week.

The same wine had earlier won the Trophy for South African Red Single Varietal over £10 Trophy – watch Yngvild Steytlers reaction to that award here – and their Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2006, a Cape Blend containing 35% Pinotage, won a Gold medal in the same competition.

Five years ago, at the 2004 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, the 2001 vintage Vision won the Trophy for world’s best red blend, the first Cape blend to so recognised.

The fruit for the winning Pinotage and Cape Blends came from the same block of old bush vines. Danie Steytler, cellarmaster and co-owner of Kaapzicht Estate said “Bottelary Hills is a prime winegrowing terroir for red wine. The northwestern slopes have the perfect combination of direct sunlight and cool prevailing sea breezes from False Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The hills on our estate are situated only 20 km from the coast of False Bay. The medium potential soils and dry land vineyards produce low yields of 4 to 8 tons per hectare, thus creating small berries with concentrated flavours.

“Pinotage is a very versatile red wine variety and the Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage from those vineyards is a shining example of the serious, well-oaked, full-bodied style to be enjoyed with food, especially venison, red meat, traditional South African dishes and cheeses.”

From left Danie jr Steytler (winemaker), George Steytler (owner and viticulturist) and Danie Steytler (owner and cellarmaster)

Decanter’s judges described the winning Pinotage as “Voluptuous, heady nose with very precise black fruits, plums, mocha and tar. Full-bodied and opulent in the mouth, ripe and supple fine-grained tannins with plenty of spice to enliven the finish.”

The Gold winning Vision 2006 had “Abundant blackberry fruit with pencil shaving, white pepper, cocoa and spiced oak aromas. Multi-layered ripe fruit, sleek tannins and linear progression from aroma to palate.”

Decanter World Wine Awards claim to be the world's biggest wine competition; this year there were 10,285 entries.

Congratulations to the Steytlers and the Kaapzicht team.