26 September 2010

Pinotage is "an easy sell" in the USA

An interesting response by Ezanne Gouws, Ernst & Co marketing manager, to Neil Pendock's question about marketing SAf wine in the USA

I get the "what makes your wine industry unique?" question a lot, and Pinotage is right up there with boerewors, Nelson Mandela and World Cup Rugby champions. That's why Argentinian malbec does so well in America, because it is an Argentinian calling card. My American customers know South Africa produces a wide variety of quality wines, but so do many other countries. But what makes us unique is Pinotage.

I actually start off by offering my customers a chance to taste a good red wine without telling them what it is. After I have identified it for them and told them the Pinotage stories, it's an easy sell. It's not brain surgery, but it works every time.

Read the full article in in SAf's Sunday Times here

23 September 2010

Virginia Cape Blend

At a wine fair in Renton, Virginia, last week I met Susan Prokop and Jim Turpin (pictured) who own Democracy Vineyards in Lovingston. They started in April 2009 with the aim of having 12 acres of their farm planted to vines.

So far they haven’t planted Pinotage but Jim told me they were thinking of doing so in their upper field vineyard. In the meantime, while waiting for their vines to mature, they are buying grapes.

For Democracy Vineyards ‘Forum’ 2009, which is a 50/50 blend of Pinotage and Cabernet Franc, they sourced Pinotage from nearby Lovingston Winery. Riaan Rossouw, who is winemaker at Lovingston, crafted this wine for them.

“We wanted to make a lighter styled wine,” said Susan. I found the wine to very easy drinking, being soft and very fruity with ripe cherry tones, and good value at $10. The Cab Franc, which has not seen any oak, makes a good partner.

Jim’s background in politics inspired the venture’s name and his large collection of historic campaign material is destined to decorate their tasting room.

21 September 2010

Welbedacht's Wellington Win

Welbedacht’s confidence in their Wellington terroir was confirmed when their very first Estate labelled wine -- 2008 Welbedacht Estate Pinotage – won in the 2010 Top 10 Pinotage competition. Owner Schalk Burger said
“it is our first wine under our new Estate label, launched this month, that has achieved an accolade and all kudos go to our wonderful terroir and our cellar master Jacques Wentzel.”

Grapes for the 2008 Welbedacht Estate Pinotage were hand selected from a 21 year old Bush Vine block growing on decomposed granite soils.

Marketing and Sales Manager Tiaan Burger said
“these grapes were specially selected and hand harvested with plenty of hands-on devotion during the vinification process. The Estate boasts some impressively senescent soils and this is prevalent in the intensity and multi-faceted character the 2008 Pinotage.

What makes this wine ever so more special is the divine coincidence that the fruit was harvested on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2008. We can truly lay claim to the fact that it was made with love!!”

16 September 2010

New Super Premium NZ Pinotage launched

Kidnapper Cliffs, a new super premium wine label, has been launched by two New Zealand wineries located on the North Island; Te Awa in Hawkes Bay and Dry River in Martinborough.

The Kidnapper Cliffs brand name refers to Cape Kidnappers at the southern end of Hawkes Bay which gained its name after a crewman was captured by Maoris during Captain Cook's maiden voyage to New Zealand in October of 1769.

The range of five wines includes a Pinotage. Kidnapper Cliffs say
“With careful vineyard management and conservative winemaking we intend to explore the full potential of this somewhat unfashionable variety. We expect such wines to have a distinctive personality and an enhanced cellaring potential. This Pinotage has a vibrant purple-red colour and a nose which speaks of an armful of roses, red skinned apples and baking spice. Layers of fine fruit tannin and savoury characters balance the flamboyant berry fruit and rose petal flavours. The underlying structural integrity of this wine suggests a good future in the cellar.”

I look forward to tasting it sometime...

14 September 2010

Top Ten Pinotages - 2010

The Top Ten Pinotages 2010 are, in alphabetical order:

  • Altydgedacht Pinotage 2009 (Durbanville)
  • Anura Reserve Pinotage 2008 (Paarl)
  • Fairvew Pinotage 2009 (Coastal)
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage 2008 (Worcester vineyards)
  • Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2007 (Stellenbosch)
  • Lyngrove Platinum Pinotage 2008 (Stellenbosch)
  • Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2006 (Tulbagh)
  • Welbedacht Estate Pinotage 2008 (Wellington)
  • Die Laan Pinotage 2008 (Stellenbosch) from the Welgevallen Kelder
  • Wildekrans Barrel Selection 2008 (Botrivier)

I find it regreshing to see so many new names in the winners list but of course they take the place of some well loved familiar names.

Neil Pendock called it Changing the Guards at Pinotage Palace noting that the Pinotage's traditional terroir this time only supplied two of Top 10.

Interestingly the Die Laan is made by students studying winemaking at the Stellenbosch University in the small cellar adjoining the house that Abraham Perold lived in while serving as the University's first Professor of Viniculture and Oenology.

Does the influx of new names mean that the mystery of making great wines from the challenging Pinotage variety is no secret any more? If so, the Pinotage Association must be congratulated on their work in research and disseminating their findings.

02 September 2010

Wamakersvallei 'La Cave' 2004 Pinotage

  La Cave 2004
Six years old and it's just perfect. Starting to lose some of its bright colour and beginning to brown. Beautiful smooth dusky damson fruit flavours with a long lingering finish. Like a good claret but with lots of sweet fruit.

'La Cave' is Wamakersvallei's premium label and they really have nailed making consistently fine classic Pinotage.

It is named after La Cave, the winery's arched brick cellar in Wellington.