27 August 2009

2009 Pinotage Top 10 Winners

Winning Wines Announced Today

  • Altydgedacht 2008 (Durbanville)
  • Beyerskloof Diesel 2007 (Stellenbosch)
  • Cathedral Cellar 2006 (Coastal)
  • Darling Cellars Onyx 2006 (Darling)
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block 2007 (Worcester vineyards)
  • Kanonkop Estate 2005 (Stellenbosch)
  • Longridge 2007 (Stellenbosch)
  • Lyngrove Platinum 2007 (Stellenbosch)
  • Viljoensdrift River Grandeur 2008 (Robertson)
  • Windmeul Reserve 2008 (Paarl)

Results of the 2009 Absa Pinotage Top 10 Competition were announced today 27 August at a ceremony following lunch at Val de Vie Wine and Polo Estate near Paarl.

Half the wineries represented are first time winners: Altydgedacht, Darling Cellars, Flagstone, Lyngrove, and Viljoensdrift.

Kanonkop wins for their eighth time and Beyerskloof for their fifth with the second vintage of Diesel which has also been awarded 5 Stars in the 2010 Platter Guide.

This year there were 139 wines competing, the 2nd highest number of entries, and these included three wines from New Zealand, the second year running the competition has attracted international interest.

This year’s judges were Duimpie Bayly (convener), Francois Naudé, Allan Cheesman, Neil Pendock, Wendy Burridge, Chris Roux and Gert Boerssen who over two days drew up a short list of 28 wines from which were selected the winners and 10 runners-up.

Duimpie Bayly said that the wines showed elegance and beautiful fruit, while sensible wood treatment created a fine balance of flavours. “There were very few bad wines and the 2007 vintage stood out with wines of supreme quality.”

Co-judge Neil Pendock said it was a hard task to select the top 10 from the final 28 wines. Allan Cheesman, former Director of Wine for UK Sainsbury’s supermarkets said that he'd been tasting wine for 37 years and this was a great experience with all the superb wines.

Runners up were: Bellingham Bernard Series Bush Vine 2007,
Cathedral Cellar 2007, DeWaal Top of the Hill 2007, Diemersfontein Carpe Diem 2007, Fort Simon 2006, Kanonkop Estate 2006, Simonsig Redhill 2007, Spier Lesebo 2007, Stellenzicht Cellarmaster's Release 2007 and Wildekrans Barrel Selection 2007

The winners of the 2009 Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition share with their award. Front from left are Anri Truter (Beyerskloof), Francois van Niekerk (Windmeul), James Slabbert (Managing Executive of Absa Corporate and Business Bank), Fred Viljoen (Viljoensdrift) and Danielle le Roux (Lyngrove). Behind from left are Abé Beukes (Darling Cellars/Onyx), Clinton Le Sueur (Longridge), Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop), Etienne Louw (Altydgedacht), Gerhard Swart (Flagstone) and Thys Loubser (KWV/Cathedral Cellar).

Photographer: Hannes Oosthuizen

26 August 2009

5 Platter Stars for Beyerskloof's Diesel

Earlier than usual the Platter team have announced the wines awarded five stars in the forthcoming 2010 Platter Guide, due for publication end of November.

Beyerskloof's Diesel Pinotage 2007 is the sole varietal representative in the list.

The Platter Guide annually tastes and rates more than 6,000 South African awarding from zero to a maximum of 5 stars. Very few wines achieve the highest score which indicates a wine the tasters agreed was 'superlative, a Cape classic'.

For the 2010 Guide there just 43 five-star wines, which includes 7 fortified and dessert wines.

Congratulations to Beyers Truter (pictured right) and his team at Beyerskloof. The first vintage of this barrel selection wine, named after Beyers' recently deceased and much missed dog, the 2006 vintage was a Pinotage Top 10 winner last year.

The full list of five star wines:
White Wine of the Year
Sadie Family Palladius 2008
Red Wine of the Year
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005
Sauvignon blanc
Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Blanc Unfiltered 2009
Lomond Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Woolworths Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release 2009
Cape Point Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2008
White blends - Bordeaux style
Woolworths Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Reserve 2009
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2008
The Berrio Wines The Weathergirl 2008
Vergelegen White 2008
Chenin blanc
Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2008
White blends
Nederburg Ingenuity White 2008
Rall 2008
Sadie Family Palladius 2008
Woolworths Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Spectrum White Limited Release 2008
Ataraxia Chardonnay 2008
Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve 2008
Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2008
Pinot noir
Newton Johnson Domaine Pinot Noir 2008
Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 2008
Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Grenache 2007
Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2007
Red blends
Sadie Family Columella 2007
Spier Frans K. Smit 2005
Dunstone Shiraz 2008
Haskell Vineyards Pillars Shiraz 2007
Rustenberg Stellenbosch Syrah 2007
Saxenburg Shiraz Select Limited Release 2005
Red blends - Bordeaux style
De Trafford CWG Auction Reserve Perspective 2006
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2006
Morgenster Estate Morgenster 2006
Stony Brook Ghost Gum 2006
Woolworths Jordan Cobblers Hill Classic 2005
Cabernet Sauvignon
Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005
Boplaas Vintage Reserve Port 2007
De Krans Cape Tawny Port NV
Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Port 1997
Unfortified dessert wine
Buitenverwachting 1769 2007
Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2008
Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2008
Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2008
Congrats to all..

25 August 2009

Called to the Bar for Bertus's Latest Coffee Pinotage

Bertus Fourie is the winemaker who achieved fame, and some say notoriety, for launching the coffee’n’chocolate Pinotage style upon the world while he was working at Diemersfontein. Some purists object that it is not varietally correct, but there is no doubting that Diemersfontein’s Pinotage is hugely successful and has introduced many people to the delights of Pinotage.

Bertus, by now nicknamed Starbucks, moved on to KWV for whom he created their mocha toned Café Culture Pinotage.

Bertus told me “I love to make ‘coffee Pinotage’- it is such a consumer friendly wine and I have met thousands of people as a result “

One of the people he met was Martin Venter, developer of Val de Vie Lifestyle Polo Estate, who offered Bertus the position of managing director at associated Val de Vie Wines in 2004.

Val de Vie specialises in Rhône style wines, so when Bertus and Martin got the itch to create their own coffee Pinotage a new label was called for, and Barista is its name.

Barista Coffee Pinotage 2009 will be released soon, marketed by Vinimark in South Africa, and I hope to taste it soon and report back.

23 August 2009

24 October is POT Day

POT -- Pinotage on Tap -- takes place on 24 October this year. The popular annual festival celebrates the release of the new vintage of Diemersfontein’s famous coffee’n’chocolate Pinotage.

They’ll be music from aKING, Haydn Gardner's Swing Band and Lonesome Dave Ferguson. Food includes Pinotage friendly canapés, an XX-large chocolate fountain and strawberries, snack-pack goodie bags and ‘some frolicsome Pinotage games’ are promised.

And, of course, barrels and barrels tapped and pouring 2009 Diemersfontein Pinotage.

Price stays the same as last year – see for full details and to book.

(The date this year is a month later than last year: if only they’d put it back an extra week I could have attended, grrrr!)

21 August 2009

DeWaal Top of the Hill 2006

Has it really been that long? Last Top of the Hill I tasted was the 2004 vintage when I visited the winery in 2007. Then I found the 2004 an “older style Pinotage, with firm firm dry tannins, less approachable fruit, and crisp acidity.”

This 2006 is a different beast being very approachable and well balanced with tannins well restrained on opening and an ideal wine with enough body to match food. The wine opens up in the glass showing ripe cherry flavours. The Top of The Hill is made for aging, and I think I’ll put away my remaining bottle to see how it develops, as the few dregs of this bottle were showing intriguing spices and plums when I emptied them the following day.
A well deserved Top 10 winner in 2008.

I must admit though my total puzzlement at the labelling. The front label does not mention the grape variety. The rear label has a vague all purpose waffle about “the diversity of soil and vineyard sites on this Stellenbosch Kloof Estate enable judicious partnering of classic varietals with ideal terroir.

What relevance does the diversity of vineyard sites on the farm have to with this specific wine? It is a single vineyard wine from a named vineyard which happens to be on the top of a hill, not in a ravine as kloof implies. Not only that, but the historic Top of the Hill vineyard is planted with the world’s oldest Pinotage vines. I’d have thought that was worthy of mention.

18 August 2009

2009 is a good vintage at Wildekrans

Wildekran's winemaker, William Wilkinson, reports that

2009 is been a very good vintage. Our yields are up from the previous vintage and our red wines show clean fruit flavour with excellent soft tannins. Pinotage and Shiraz would be classed as our premium red cultivars.

Our Pinotage Barrel Selection could be described as a multilayered complex full-bodied wine which was matured in first fill French American 225 litre barriques. Being a rather cool climate area our Pinotage lean more to fresher style that brings out strawberry, raspberry, cherry aromas well balanced with integrated bouquet of vanilla butterscotch and cherry tobacco. Ageing potential of about 10 years and recently rewarded with 2009 Silver Decanter Medal.

I'm looking forward to tasting it :)


03 August 2009

Anura 2007 Pinotage

Anura is not a winery I’m familiar with.

They bottled their first wine in 2001 and in 2008 won Pinotage Top 10 with this, their 2007 vintage. I opened my first bottle of Anura last night and heartily concur with the Top 10 judges. This is a very good wine.

Packaging is not quite there. The bottle is a classy heavy one and the front label is good, but the rear label has a blurb printed in tiny dull gold against black that is difficult to read and is confusing. Resorting to the Anura’s informative website all becomes clear. Anura means frog, which explains the image on the front, and is taken from the name of a hill on their farm. We used to find frogs in our garden when we had a small pond but that is now filled in and planted with courgettes and beans that get eaten by unseen predators the moment they emerge from their flowers. However a benefit is that we no longer find mutilated frogs after mowing our lawn.

I was expecting a DIAM technical cork at the end of my waiters’ friend but found a smoothed natural cork which was stained with wine along its length and top. So I was concerned for a while about the seal.

The first sip was rewarding with an intriguing spiciness which became less apparent as time progressed. The wine was smooth as an ivory boat with silk sails on a mill pond and twice as enjoyable. This was not one of your exuberant braai Pinotages with big flavours that leap out the glass but a quietly elegant one you could take to a Michelin starred restaurant knowing it wouldn’t embarrass. That’s not to say there wasn’t any fruit: layers of flavour yielded plums and raspberry restrained by tannins that were there if you were paying attention, but again they didn’t shout about it. This is one of those wines where you pour another glass while saying “I can’t believe how good this is – oh, we’ve finished it.”

Although some of Anura wines are available from Anura's fullfilment partner in Europe, the 2007 Pinotage isn't one of them, and I can't find any stockists in Europe or the USA, but Grapeland in England list the 2005 vintage Pinotage.

Anura Pinotage 2007
WO Paarl
14.5% abv (actually 14.63%)
60 ZAR