29 August 2010

Pinotage "takes pinot to a new level"

Laura Ness at The Salinas Californian asks
"Have you tried pinotage yet? This attention-getting cross of pinot and cinsault was created for South Africa: it takes pinot to a new level. Pinotage puts a gun to your head and holds you hostage. It's as relentless as a 13-year-old bent on a tattoo in a questionable location.

There is nothing subtle or delicate about this wine. It is the big sister of pinot noir, the one who can change her own flat tire, the one who would never expect to have the door held open for her. No, this is a big strapping girl who would not hesitate to thumb a ride from a complete stranger or fling her sturdy legs over the back of a motorcycle and head on down the road of life.

The 2008 J Vineyards pinotage delivers a relentless onslaught of flavors that begin with ancho chili, basil and cedar aromas; then it takes your palate on a crazy, wild ride with sensual flavors of crisp red plums, bright red currants, exotic guava and green banana, sun-dried tomatoes, red licorice and green olives. Truly an amusement park ride for your mouth: great for celebrating the return of summer. Order some; they'll be happy to send some J your way."

26 August 2010

Lammershoek and Barista in Canada

Canadian wine lovers suffering under the dead hand of government monopoly supply look forward to the regular updates to the ‘Vintages’ list of limited supply wines.

The latest release features Lammershoek Pinotage 07 (though I recall Lammershoek have been available for some years) and Barista 09.

Here are what the local bloggers had to say about the Lammershoek Pinotage 07:
Billy Munnelly at www.billysbestbottles.com

Lammershoek does for Pinotage what Henry of Pelham does for Baco. It puts a charming spin on a rustic grape variety. This combine the lush richness of a Rhone with the earthy feeling of a Portuguese red. Sexy with a light roughness

Michael Pinkus at grapeguyvintages.blogspot.com

not a wine that’s popular with everyone but this version just might change a few minds: Full of flavour with coffee and mocha notes, cherry, plum and smooth tannins, I was rightfully impressed here

David at daveswinedomaine.blogspot.com

Now, who doesn’t like Pinotage? Oh yeah? Well, check out what you're missing. Handpicked and hand-sorted. Fermentation in open concrete tanks, then Malolactic fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 12 months. Unfiltered.

And Alan Kerr at blogs.gangofpour.com was won over by Barista
Without wanting to sound like I am not a fan of this varietal, which incidentally, I do struggle with, this is one tasty Pinotage. One needs however, to be a fan of coffee as the Mocha note is somewhat overwhelming, but behind it lays sweet blackberry fruit, dark silky chocolate and a note of clove. The palate bears pure clean dark fruit, a note of espresso, a hint of molasses and crisp clean acidity. The finish is long and well balanced. Not to be missed I should add.

Update on 28 August
Gord Stimmell asks in The Toronto Star how come "Two bottles of the same wine taste totally different"? and it is Lammershoek Pinotage 2007 he is referring to:

"Tasted in the LCBO laboratory, it merely rated an 88/100, which is good for any pinotage, in my book. But it showed hints of tar and asphalt and rustiness among the sturdy fruit. Then I got a hold of another bottle and what a difference. All of a sudden, it rose to first class, with rich smoky coffee bean, blackberry and summer plums wrapped in a totally silky texture. This rates 90.

I frankly do not know which batch will be hitting shelves. If it is the silky seductive one, it is definitely worth a serious detour as this summer’s quintessential barbecue red. If it is the rougher-edged, more rustic pinotage, then it’s slightly overpriced"

Gord puts it down to batch variation.

"Wineries assemble final wines from different tanks and casks, and sometimes absolute consistency of aromas and flavours falls by the wayside between the various bottlings."

(Note: LCBO is Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the state wine monopoly)

15 August 2010

Pinotage and Petite Sirah?

Interesting article by Gerald D Boyd highlighting similarities between Pinotage and Petite Sirah over at

Gerald Boyd writes:

"I was thinking about 'six degrees of separation' ....... my muse whispered, “Why not a relationship between Petite Sirah and Pinotage?” On the surface the idea sounded implausible, but these two seemingly different grapes do share some things, and maybe at one of those six levels Petite Sirah and Pinotage are related"

It looks to me as if the article is incomplete but the meat of the historical links are there.

Talking of Petite Sirah: it is a variety I greatly enjoy and have long thought would be ideal for the Capes sunny climate. Fairview released South Africa's first varietal Petite Sirah which I have drunk twice and it confirmed I was right; it was an excellent wine.

And there is a real connection between Pinotage and Petite Sirah. A parent of Petite Sirah is Syrah, and a parent of Pinotage is Pinot Noir. Pinot is an ancester of Syrah, thus Pinotage and Petite Sirah are related.


07 August 2010

Pinotage Party this Weekend at Loma Prieta

'Come visit Loma Prieta Winery on August 7-8, and fall in love with Pinotage!' says the invite.

Loma Prieta Winery in Los Gatos, California, (pictured above) are celebrating the release this weekend of the second bottling of their award-winning 2008 Pinotage from the Amorosa Vineyard in Lodi. The first bottling of the 2008 Pinotage quickly sold out.

Visitors will be able to enjoy light appetizers all weekend as well as the beautiful jewelry designs of Elizabeth Lynn Moon and there will also be live music on Saturday afternoon.

The initial bottling of the 2008 Pinotage, released in October 2009, won three Gold medals and was written about in the Mercury News and the Los Gatos Observer.

Loma Prieta are the first winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains to plant Pinotage for production and are looking forward to their first crop of Estate Pinotage in 2011.

Loma Prieta Winery
26985 Loma Prieta Way
Los Gatos, California 9503