30 December 2009

Fairview Launch La Capra range

I was reminded of the Beatles tune ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’ when I opened La Capra 2008 Pinotage. The fab four’s song had been inspired by a circus poster, as surely is La Capra.

The ranges’ back labels promising that “each glass will transport you to a magical place where the wine flows freely, laughter fills the air and you dance until the sunrise” recall Victorian fairground posters.

La Capra seems a strange name for a new wine brand until you learn that it’s a Latin reference to goats and then you understand. For behind La Capra stands someone who George Taber in his recent book ‘In Search of Bacchus’ calls “a man who never heard a pun about goats he didn’t like”.

Yup, it’s Charles Back; chief goat herder, cheese maker extraordinaire, wine maker, tracker down of old blocks of rare grape varieties and consummate marketer whose brands include Fairview, Goats du Roam, Spice Route and who has interests in MAN Vintners, Juno and more.

Da Capra labels’ claim that ‘Fairview presents AMAZING tastes, sounds and sights of the La Capra Festival’ will come true, says Anita Streicher, manager at Fairview Winery’s master tasting room. She tells me that Fairview will be hosting an annual live La Capra fair with stalls, jugglers, fire eaters and other circus and fairground entertainments, and no doubt plentiful wines and goats’ cheese to accompany them.

La Capra is meant to be an easy drinking, non-serious, fun wine range. Individual pricing is not yet announced but for an indication currently any six wines from the nine strong range are available at Fairview for 200 rands (£16.50/$33). The La Capra range includes a Malbec, still an uncommon variety in the Cape and the wine which Anita recommends, as well as Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

So what of La Capra Pinotage 2008? It is said to be ‘as brooding and complex as a troubadour’, but I am not up to date on the psychology of travelling balladeers. I found it to be a clean, modern, fruity wine for drinking, which is what I did with it. It went down quickly and enjoyably -- but it didn’t sing to me.

29 December 2009

In the Press - Spier Pinotage 2006

The Private Collection Pinotage 2006 (rsp: £15.99) is pleasantly delicate and elegant for the variety, with a lovely nose of raspberries and redcurrants and almost like a Kiwi Pinot Noir in the mouth. Clare Hu in Harpers (UK trade magazine)

Harpers reports that Spier are "pulling out of supermarkets in favour of a push in the on-trade and independent merchants", but they do not mention whether this affects the many own-label wines Spier produce for UK supermarkets, for instance the ASDA Pinotage 'wine of year' praised by Tim Atkin, see here.


28 December 2009

Pink Kadette for Kanonkop

Kanonkop Estate’s popular red blend Kadette will soon have a pink partner. The rosé Kadette will be made from Pinotage.

For some years Kanonkop has concentrated on just four wines; as well as Kadette there is varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage and the Paul Sauer Bordeaux blend.

“You can’t stand still,” owner Johann Krige told me, “you must keep innovating.” Currently in barrel is a premium Pinotage which the estate will release in 2010 through negocients. “We won’t even sell it at the winery,” said Johan. “It will be a very special wine at a price to match.”


16 December 2009

Wine Society Plants Pinotage

For some years The Wine Society, the world’s oldest wine society, has sourced their own label Pinotage from organic wine farm Bon Cap in the Eilanda valley near Robertson.

In order to meet growing demand and showing their faith in the variety they have contracted Bon Cap to plant a Pinotage vineyard exclusively for their own wines.

The Wine Society is a UK based non-profit making mutual society owned by its members which operates primarily via mail order and the internet.

15 December 2009

Pinotage Association Saves Trophy

The International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Pinotage has been saved by the swift intervention of the Pinotage Association when KWV withdrew their 13 years sponsorship at short notice.

The Pinotage Association, with the backing of their sponsors ABSA, immediately stepped in to ensure that Pinotage continues as a Trophy category.

The Trophy has been renamed the Abraham Perold Trophy for Best Pinotage to give recognition to the father of Pinotage, Abraham Perold. KWV, who hold the rights to the Abraham Perold brand name, graciously consented to the re-naming of the Trophy. “We believe that this will enable a more collective drive in honouring the legacy of both Pinotage and Perold internationally”, said KWV CEO, Thys Loubser.

The IWSC is one of the world’s biggest and most authoritative wine competitions and South Africa’s own grape variety, Pinotage, was introduced as a category in this competition in 1995.

Frances Horder, IWSC Competition Director, said “with the sponsorship of this trophy now coming from South Africa’s Pinotage Association and their sponsor, Absa, it will for many years be an established and prestigious part of the Wine and Spirit Competition.”

This year the 2009 Abraham Perold Trophy was awarded to Rijk’s Private Cellar for their Pinotage Reserve 2006.

Photograph shows Dave Hughes, South African’s international wine expert and honorary member of the Pinotage Association (left) holding the new Trophy with Sir Ian Good, 2009 President of the IWSC. Photo courtesy of the Pinotage Association

12 December 2009

In the Blogs - Ch Leoville-Barton & Rhone?

Nicolas Pierron, Head Sommelier at Hong Kong's Island Shangri-La hotel selects De Waals'Top of the Hill Pinotage for his wine of the week at winebuzz.hk

He says "At Restaurant Petrus I usually use this wine in a blind tasting and most of the guests think that it originates from the Rhone Valley."

While Brian Freedman - WineChateau.com's resident blogger at UnCorkLife.com finds Wildekrans' 2006 Pinotage reminded him "in a lot of ways, of some sort of cousin to a Leoville-Barton, though it never lost its own identity. Just gorgeous."

As he says "Unfortunately, too many people still aren’t familiar enough with Pinotage. But it’s a grape worth exploring. You never know when you’ll find a standout...or two."


08 December 2009

Spiers ASDA Pinotage 'wine of year'

Tim Atkins, writing in The Guardian (London) rates an own label Pinotage made for supermarket chain ASDA by Spier winery as one of the two best wines of the year priced under £5.

2009 Asda South African Pinotage, Spier (£3.78, 14%) Shows Pinotage's better side: gluggable raspberry fruit and a hint of liquorice.

In his round up of 2009 he awards South Africa as the Wine Producing Country of the Year.

Congrats to Spier.

01 December 2009

Beyers Truter launches FAITH Cape Blend

Beyers Truter shares FAITH with diners in his restaurantThere is no doubt Beyers Truter is the King of Pinotage, but he is also a master of Bordeaux varieties, gaining much kudos for them when at Kanonkop and subsequently for his Beyerskloof ‘field blend’ of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

So when he melds Pinotage, Cabernet and Merlot together you know you’re going to get something special as his Synergy Cape Blends have shown.

But now comes Faith, a blend of 30% each of Cab and Merlot with 20% each of Pinotage and Shiraz. You’ll have already noted the FAITH logo on the back labels of Beyerskloof wines. FAITH is a charity set up by Truter to aid those affected by Foetal Alcohol syndrome.

The new Faith blend will directly help the charity. But it also denotes Truter’s faith in the terroir of his vineyards which is not only reflected in the wine but gravel from those vineyards is incorporated in the raised surface of the word Faith on the front label. (pictured below)

And what of the wine inside? It has just been bottled but is surprisingly approachable for a wine meant to be aged. It has an incredible red purple colour with a sweet lavender nose and it is soft on the palate; very soft and sweet. I thought it was a tremendous wine.

Only ten barrels were made and it is expected to sell at around 750R a bottle. Expensive yes, but every purchase helps the FAITH charity.

Beyers Truter is pictured above pouring tastes of Faith to diners in his restaurant.