24 December 2010

PINOTAGE Book on Kindle

My book PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine is now availabe as a Amazon Kindle eBook.

Click the icons below and you could be reading it in a minute.

USA and rest of world except UK


13 December 2010

Pinotage as Icon Wine

Decanter magazine commissioned Christian Eedes some months ago to write an article on Pinotage. Eedes has never been a great proponent of the variety and during his time as deputy editor of South Africa’s WINE magazine it dropped its annual Pinotage Champion trophy in favour of Shiraz.

Back then Eedes wrote “more than a few examples of this wine [Shiraz] are recognised as unquestionably great, and this confirms the grape's inherent worth. Unfortunately, the same can still not be said for Pinotage. Shiraz, always generous in flavour, is a friendly wine, whereas Pinotage very often isn't. It would seem the writing is on the wall for Pinotage.”

Four years later in 2008 he wrote “WINE magazine is not anti-Pinotage. We do wonder how many producers are truly capable of greatness.”

What a difference a couple of years makes. In Decanter this month Eedes says “South Africa doesn’t have a single ‘icon’ wine. One that is recognised and sought after the world over. At last not yet. But could its first icon wine be a Pinotage?”

Pinotage as an icon? There are several South Africa wines that I consider icons, starting with Klein Constantia’s ‘Vin de Constance’ whose price has tripled since I first bought it.

I think an icon wine has to have a track record and Kanonkop Estate currently is the only Pinotage with iconic status in my eyes. Kaapzicht Estate’s Steytler Pinotage has also achieved great success at international competitions but I don’t think it is a name widely known. Pinotage winemaker’s are ramping up prices with special bottlings (Kanonkop’s Black Label, Beyerskloof’s Diesel, Hamilton Russell’s Ashbourne, Chateau Naude’s Vin de Francois) in an attempt to signify iconic status. All are excellent but they are wines that, I think have been more cellared than drunk.

Since 1997 The Pinotage Club has been working to raise the profile of the variety and no-one would be happier than me to see Pinotage becoming South Africa’s iconic wine* and when a former sceptic like Christian Eedes starts talking about Pinotage being it, that day is coming closer.

*Though a a drawback for people who actually enjoy drinking wine as opposed to speculating with it is that iconic prices take ones favourite wines out of the everyday drinking budget.

02 December 2010

In the Press

Irit Boxer-Shank is the youngest winemaker in Israel and one of only five women employed in Barkan Winery’s cellar. Dale Robertson , who interviewed her for the Houston Chronicle says, “at the moment, she's most passionate about Pinotage, a grape she believes has a superb future in the Israeli terroir.”

New Zealand’s Wanguini Chronicle says Kidnapper Cliffs Hawke's Bay Pinotage 2009, is “produced by the talented team at Te Awa, who have a long pedigree when it comes to making great Pinotage, this is a gorgeous, buxom red showing layers of sweet black tea, baking spices, plum and pepper. It has a delicious, warm, earthy character in the mouth and sensational persistence of flavour.”

Anthony Rose in The Independent (UK) includes Diemersfontein’s Pinotage in a list of wines he dislikes, saying its “its oak-derived flavours of coffee and chocolate” are “an aberration,” but he noted its great popularity. The recent appearance of Marks & Spencer’s Coffee Pinotage Mochatage and Tesco’s mocha-flavoured Choccochino Shiraz which are “as distasteful as the Diemersfontein Pinotage I so dislike. But I have no doubt that to those who like the taste of chocolate in their wine, they will be extremely popular.”

He say that this “goes to show that however objective we try to be about taste, beauty in the long run is in the eye – and nose – of the beholder.”

However Koos Kombuis at South Africa’s Mail & Guardian has made Pinotage the focus of his diet. The columnist writes “during the last few weeks, after eating mostly fat-free food and heaps of vegetables, aided by lots of Beyerskloof Pinotage wine (which, according to the manufacturers, contains a substance that actually enlarges blood vessels), my cholestrol count has miraculously dropped from 7,5 to 6,4, and I’ve lost an astonishing two-and-a-half kilogrammes”.


28 November 2010

Old Pinotage in Cape Town

My chums at The Wine Cellar in Cape Town have just held a tasting of old wines sourced from a private collector. Among them were threee Pinotages:

- Zonnebloem Pinotage 1974
- Simonsig Pinotage 1974
- Lanzarac Pinotage 1966

I couldn't be there (coz, amongst other reasons, I was in Tampa, Florida) but fellow bloggers The Cru Master and Harry Reginald Haddon were. The Cru at thecru.co.za has an attractive sepia photo of the tasting cellar and says Special mention must be made of the aged Pinotage's - sensational stuff but Harry at wineandi.wordpress.com has detailed tasting notes.

Interesting reading.

While you are at Wine & I have a look at the menu tabs at the top. Harry is campaigning against the practise of restaurants charging fees to list wines and he's going further by naming (allegedly) guilty parties.

17 November 2010

5 Stars for Beyerskloof Diesel 2008

The annual announcement of wines awarded Five Stars by the Platter tasting team has just been made.

Out of more than 6,000 wines from 800 producers and brands tasted and rated for the Platter's South African Wines 2011 guide, just 58 have achieved 5 Star rating.

The only Pinotage is Beyerskloof 'Diesel' 2008.

Diesel is a premium label, named after owner Beyers Truter's dearly loved dog, that was introduced in 2008 with the 2006 vintage.

Diesel 2007 was awarded Five Stars in last year's 2010 guide. See winemaker Anrie Truter talk about the vision behind the wine and how it got its name here

The full list is

Cabernet Sauvignon
•Boekenhoutskloof 2008
•Delaire Graff Reserve 2008
•Kanonkop 2007
•Klein Constantia 2008
•Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2007
•Le Riche CWG Auction Reserve 2007

•Neil Ellis Vineyard Selections 2008

Pinot Noir
•Meerlust 2008
•Newton Johnson Domaine 2009

•Beyerskloof Diesel 2008

•Boschendal Cecil John Reserve 2008
•De Trafford 2008 (Red Wine of the Year)
•Eagles’ Nest 2008
•Haskell Pillars 2008
•Rijk’s Private Cellar 2005
•Saxenburg Select Limited Release 2006

•Shannon Mount Bullet 2008

Red Blends
•Ernie Els Signature 2007
•Graham Beck Ad Honorem 2007
•Hartenberg The Mackenzie Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2007
•Nederburg Ingenuity Red 2007
•Reyneke Reserve Red 2008
•Spier Frans K. Smit 2006
•Vergelegen Red 2005

•Groot Constantia Gouverneurs 2009
•Julien Schaal 2009
•Mulderbosch 2008
•Rustenberg Five Soldiers 2008

Chenin Blanc
•Botanica 2009
•StellenRust ‘45’ Barrel Fermented 2009

Grenache Blanc
•The Foundry 2009

Sauvignon Blanc
•Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run 2010
•Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2009
•Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2009
•The Berrio 2009
•Zevenwacht 360° 2009

White Blends
•Cape Point Isliedh 2009
•Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho 2009
•Lammershoek Roulette Blanc 2009
•Nederburg Ingenuity White 2009
•Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay Private Bin D253 2009
•Rall White 2009
•Sadie Family Palladius 2009
•Steenberg Magna Carta 2009
•Steenberg CWG Auction Reserve The Magus 2009
•Strandveld Adamastor 2009
•Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2009

Méthode Cap Classique
•Topiary Blanc de Blancs Brut 2008
•Villiera Monro Brut 2005

Dessert Wine, Unfortified
•Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2009
•Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2009 (White Wine of the Year)
•Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2006
•Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2009
•Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur 2009

•Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2008
•De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2008
•De Krans Cape Tawny NV
•JP Bredell Cape Vintage Reserve 2007

15 November 2010

Video - Alex Milner- Boer and Brit Pinotage and Petit Verdot

Alex Milner is the Brit half (with Stefan Gerber) of an exciting -- and very attractively designed -- winemaking team with a new label Boer and Brit.

I enjoyed his Pinotage which is blended with 15% Petite Verdot. This wine is under their second label Suiker Boisse which means “Sugarbush, I want you so”. (I'm not so keen about that design though.)

The wine is tremendous, and so are their other reds. I got the feeling that Alex (who reminds me a bit of the new Dr Who) isn't that keen on Pinotage but I hope his success with this one will encourage him to make it a regular.

I think we'll be hearing a lot more from Boer & Brit. They're young, have some good ideas -- the red wine in a crown cap beer bottle and modern designed sparkling wine bottle are just two -- and make some good wines.

08 November 2010

Video - Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate - Pinotage in China

Mike Ratcliffe talks about Warwick's Old Vine Pinotage in China, how it matches with spicy Chinese food and the benefits of chilling.

Mike is MD of Warwick Estate

04 November 2010

Video- Norma Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate

It was good to renew acquaintence with Norma Ratcliffe owner of, and first winemaker at, Warwick Estate.

MD son Mike usually travels the world on his own promoting Warwick but Norma joined him on this trip. They had just returned from a couple of weeks in China where they got involved in matching Chinese cuisine with Warwick wines. Norma said the Chinese were very enthusiastic about the wine with Pinotage especially successful matching dishes.

Here Norma talks about Warwick's Three Cape Ladies 2007 Cape Blend comprising 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Pinotage, 27% Shiraz, 4% Merlot

31 October 2010

Video - Zakkie Bester of Riebeek Cellars

Zakkie is spending more and more time on the road spreading the word about Riebeek Cellars. I have been drinking his wines for many years and their quality wines are excellent for a bargain price.

I tasted two delicious Chenin Blanc, one wooded , one not. I preferred the unwooded 2010 which has a lively racy acidity while the wooded version, Reserve 2009 was creamier with more body.

The rose Pinotage 2010 was clean fresh and refreshing but I prefer my Pinotage to be red and was taken with the Riebeek 2009 Pinotage.

I asked Zakkie to say a few words about this wine and talk about the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

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.

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

27 July 2010

Diemersfontein scores in SA and USA

Diemersfontein is doubly chuffed: their 'Carpe Diem' Pinotage 2008 (labelled 'Reserve' in the USA) has been awarded the National Award for best Pinotage in the 2010 SA Terroir Wine Awards and while celebrating that win they received notification that the standard 'coffee and chocolate' Diemersfontein Pinotage 2009 has scored 91 points in USA's influential Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Owner David Sonnenberg told me "Diemersfontein is so excited about this – couldn’t be a better 10th birthday present!"

Congrats to all at Diemersfontein.


26 July 2010

USA's first wine club for Pinotage

Loma Prieta Winery in California have started a Pinotage wine club, the first in North America to focus solely on Pinotage. Wine clubs allows members to buy wines at a discount and to receive regular deliveries of wines including special limited releases not generally available.

Owner Paul Kemp says "This year we will receive fruit from three different vineyards and next year will also receive fruit from our estate Pinotage."

To join or for more information contact Loma Prieta Winery here.


21 July 2010

Barkan Pinotage: A Vertical Tasting

Rogov writes from Israel:

This afternoon (Monday, 19 July 2010), I attended the unveiling of the 2007 Pinotage in Barkan's top-of-the-line Superieur series. The unveiling was also the raison d'etre of each of the Superieur and Reserve Pinotage wines released since Barkan was the first winery in the country to introduce this varietal wine in 2001.

Vertical tastings are always appreciated as they add perspective to one's knowledge about a particular wine. I will admit to a bit of surprise in this case, however, for the releases tasted dated back to 2001 and even the very best Pinotage wines that I have sampled over the years rarely cellar well for more than six years, many in fact destined for drinking within 3 – 4 years of the vintage.

The tasting was attended by CEO Shmuel Boxer, senior executive Carmi Lebenstein, and winemakers Ed Salzberg, Yotam Sharon and Irit Boxer. My thanks to each of them for a fine tasting and good conversation.


Barkan, Pinotage, Superieur, 2007: Dark, almost impenetrable garnet and full-bodied, a meaty and herbal wine with near sweet, gently gripping tannins and spicy wood parting to reveal plums, currants and dried figs, those supported nicely by notes of sweet herbs. Long and generous, with tannins and fruits rising on the finish. Drink now-2014. Score 90. K (Tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Superieur, 2002: Dark garnet with a bit of clearing at the rim, full-bodied, with its ripe blackberry, black cherry and currant fruits now showing light overlays of roasted herbs and earthy minerals and first notes of oxidation giving away its maturity. Holds nicely in the glass for 10 minutes and then quietly falls apart. Showing age, so drink up. Score 88. K (Re-tasted twice with consistent notes 19 Jul 2010)


Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2008: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins. Developed in French and American oak, full-bodied, with aromas and flavors of black currants, plums and figs, those supported nicely by notes of sweet herbs and briar. Drink now-2013. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2007: My most recent tasting note holds firmly. Oak-aged for 12 months, dark garnet and concentrated, with purple plum and blackberry notes along with sweet and spicy notes that run through this medium- to full-bodied and gently tannic wine. Drink now. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2006: Dark garnet with orange reflections, its once gripping tannins now integrated nicely and parting to show generous berry, black cherry, purple plum and cassis notes, those supported by notes of earthy minerals and tobacco. Notes of cloves and cinnamon rise on the moderately-long finish. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2005: Garnet toward purple, now showing medium- to full-bodied, with soft, near-sweet tannins and reflecting its 12 months in oak with generous spicy wood. Opens to show straightforward berry, cherry and plum fruits on a lightly spicy background. Showing better than at earlier tastings but not meant for further cellaring. Drink now. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2004: With its generous wood and tannins now integrated nicely and parting to reveal blackberries, plums and black cherries, those on a light herbal and leathery background. Medium- to full bodied, still drinking well but not for further cellaring. Drink up. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2002: Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with its once firm tannins now integrated. Alas, suffering from the "2002 curse" and its berry and currant fruits are now marred by overlays of bitter herbs and a note of balsamic vinegar that develop as the wine sits in the glass. Drink up. Score 85. (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

Barkan, Pinotage, Reserve, 2001: Dark garnet with hints of browning and clearing at the rim, with the acidity now rising together with notes of balsamic vinegar, and on the palate not so much fruity as it is meaty and herbal. Well past its peak and no longer scoreable. K (Re-tasted 19 Jul 2010)

(K) indicates a Kosher wine.

Rogov is an Israeli wine writer, journalist and author. This item was first published at Rogov's Place on the Wine Lovers Discussion Group forum, posted here by permission and with my thanks. Copyright (c) D Rogov 2010

12 July 2010

Bottelary Hills and Klippenkop?

I’ve had a couple of mystery Pinotages recently. The first is the attractively named Klippenkop 2008. That is on the new winelist of my favourite local Indian restaurant. For the past decade their menu hasn’t changed which meant that inflation made eating there become increasingly inexpensive. The wine list, inherited en-bloc from an even older one was dotted with basic generic names like Chablis, Liebfraumilch, Chianti, St Emilion etc and as the years passed so the restaurant sourced even cheaper representatives of these names till they could no longer buy some wine at less than what they were selling it. Gone from the new list are unfashionable unsellable Liebfraumilchs and their like, in come new world wines and, gulp, new prices.

Klippenkop is modern clean fruit led wine, no rough edges, enough acidity and body to pair well with modern Indian cooking and I’ve enjoyed several bottles in the past weeks. But who makes it? Some online sellers say it comes from Robertson Winery but my email to them asking if it is one of theirs has not been answered. The A number is A371 which belongs to Vinfruco which I believe is now part of The Company of Wine People. Probably Klippenkop is a shippers label sourced from whoever has excess at the time. But I like to think there is a winemaker somewhere who lays claim to it and so if you know who made this wine please tell me, in confidence if you prefer.

Bottelary Hills is the other mystery wine. There’s a newish promotional organisation called Bottelary Hills representing the wineries of this Stellenbosch Ward whose website states “Bottelary Hills will offer 2 brands, an entry / mid range brand named M23 and the other named Bottelary Hills which will be directed at the upper limits of the South African / New World range.” That’s pretty clear, then.

Except in their reply to my email asking for more information they say it’s not their wine and they don’t know what it is. The wine is closed with screw-cap on which is printed Koopmanskloof – which is another winery in the area but not one listed as a member of the Bottelary Hills group and the number is A317. No wine labelled Bottelary Hills is shown on the Koopmanskloof website and my email to them remains unanswered.

But what of the wine? Clean, some fruit but light bodied, even watery, workmanlike but unexciting.

09 July 2010

The Den Joins Painted Wolf

Seems only yesterday that Jeremy Borg launched his new Painted Wolf wine range and now a second label has joined the portfolio.

The Den Pinotage 2009 is immediately attractive with a bright luscious spicyness, good body and length. Clean modern winemaking at its best delivering a wine with character and interest which is just delicious. It's enjoyable drinking now.

Painted Wolf 'The Den'
Pinotage 2009
14% abv WO Coastal

05 July 2010

Pinotage on Tap: Booking Opens

It’s the tenth anniversary of the style of Pinotage that kicked off a huge trend and, to celebrate the launch of the 2010 Diemersfontein Pinotage, the originator of the ‘coffee’n’chocolate’ wine is extending the annual Pinotage on Tap celebration to three locations in addition its home on Diemersfontein Estate

KZN Midlands
Date: 11 September 2010
Venue: Piggly Wiggly Farm, Lions River
Band: Lonesome Dave and Farrel Purkiss

On the River
Date: 26 September 2010
Venue: Stonehaven on Vaal, The Vaal River, Vanderbijlpark

Date: 2 October 2010
Venue: The Cradle Restaurant, The Cradle of Humankind, Lanseria
Band: Lonehill Estate

The Cape
Date: 30 October 2010
Venue: Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate
Band: Lonesome Dave and Cassette

Booking is open on the website www.diemersfontein.co.za or phone 021 864 5050

04 July 2010

Sweden wants Pinotage

The Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget has published its plans for 2011. “We will continue to renew our selection of Pinotage wines from South Africa,” they say and are tendering for a minimum of 260,000 bottles of “modern style “Coffee Pinotage”.

“We are looking for a full-bodied and tasty wine with substantial tones of roasted coffee, chocolate, spices and dark cherries. The wine should partly be aged and fermented in oak barrels.” They require a “Stelvin Screwcap closure” (hooray) and a “colour picture on the bottle with readable label.” Interesting, does that mean they want a Swedish language label? This wine will retail at between 70-99SEK.

They also want 70,000 bottles of a 2010 Stellenbosch WO Pinotage to retails above 100SEK.

“We are looking for a fruity, elegant and balanced wine with integrated character of oak barrel and hints of dark berries, spices and herbs. The wine will not be visible smoky, jam or burnt notes. The wine should be aged at least 12 months, mostly in French oak barrels.”

The Systembolaget is one of the world’s largest single purchasers of wine, which isn’t surprising as it is buying wine for an entire country. For a consumer, if the Systembolaget hasn’t got it, then it doesn’t exist. Currently they list the following varietal Pinotages.

Cafê Culture Pinotage
Fairview Pinotage Viognier
Fairview Pinotage
Graham Beck Pinotage
Jacobsdal Pinotage
KWV Pinotage
L'Avenir Pinotage 2008
Lyngrove Podium Pinotage
MAN Vintners Pinotage 2009
Rijk's Pinotage 2004
Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage
Stormhoek The Siren Pinotage

Doesn’t look to me that the Systembolaget wine buyers get out the office much. That's not the list for one shop, that's the list for an entire country.


Recipe: Pinotage Pears

Juleta Hirner at Longevity magazine has an appetising recipe for Pinotage Pears which she says "is a gorgeous winter dessert that will impress your friends and warm their tummies too". It is winter in South Africa now, but I reckon this'll make a cracking summer dessert too -- chilled and served with vanilla ice-cream.

The recipe is here

02 July 2010

Pinotage Comeback says Fridjhon

There's a Pinotage comeback, reckons industry guru Michael Fridjhon at Grape.co.za

"Half of Beyerskloof's 2007 vintage was exported," he says "suggesting a real rather than a cosmetic international demand. More importantly, it's a sign that once the sometimes aggressive tannins of pinotage are properly managed, there's an international market for its earthy flavours and smoky aromatic notes."

Michael looks at the newly released high-priced Pinotages such as Beyerskloof Diesel
and Kanonkop's Black Label and names Mutual Trophy Show gold medallists that are worthy drinking

Read his article here

01 July 2010

Barista Coffee Pinotage Comes to USA

Barista Pinotage has come to the USA, imported by the Indigo Wine Group, of Venice, Florida and being distributed throughout the country.

Barista, as the name implies, is a coffee accented wine maded by Bertus Fourie who pioneered the style a decade ago.

The coffee flavours come purely from the wine: real coffee is no more used in its production than there is cats' pee in Sauvignon Blanc. The coffee flavours are accentuated by judicious oaking and choice of yeast plus Pinotage attributes.

Bertus talks about Barista in the following video

23 June 2010

First N. America Rose Pinotage -- from View

The View Winery has released America's first rosé Pinotage together with its third red Pinotage. The rosé is produced by the saignée method in which juice is drawn off during fermentiion thus leaving a greater ratio of grape skins to juice and resulting in a deeper more intense red wine. The removed pale pink juice is used to make a rose.

Sarah Willard, for BC Local News, tasted the wines and reported:

2009 ‘Distraction’ Rosé $13.95
Perhaps North America’s only Pinotage bleed, it’s hard to find anything quite like it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some copycats in future years. Exhibits wonderful strawberry notes reminiscent of a purely Pinot Noir Rosé, but the pomegranate and cherry are incomparable and addictive! A fantastic Rosé at an even more fantastic price. Don’t disappoint yourself. This will sell-out fast.

2009 Pinotage $19.95
Much darker in colour than their previous vintage, this Pinotage features lots of red fruits and spice that carries through on the finish. A great food pairing wine (if you are barbequing, this is a must!), but equally enjoyable on its own. Winner of ‘Finalist’ award at 2010 Okanagan Spring Wine Festival.

The View Winery is located at Kelowna, in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. The 2008 Pinotage featured in The View's must-see video, as mentioned yesterday.

22 June 2010

View Pinotage's Starring Movie Role

(click on video to see it full size on YouTube - also on The View Website)

The View Winery’s Red Shoe Pinotage 2008 (left) is featured in this clever and funny film starring Winery President Jennifer Molgat and the Okanagen Valley's winery team.

Do watch right to the end.

15 June 2010

WINE Magazine's Pinotage Tasting

In April I posted about WINE magazine's upcoming Pinotage tastings to be hosted by a "leading Pinotage winemaker". I couldn't attend so I am indebted to Dusan Jelic who went to the 10 June event at Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town which was hosted by L'Avenir winemaker Tinus Els.

Dusan says

"The first time I tried Pinotage some seventeen years ago in Johannesburg I was lost. Completely overwhelmed and swamped by a wave of tastes, ideas and subtle signs I had never experienced beforehand.

It was like plunging into a meadow of unfamiliar flowers, unknown birds singing in strange tunes about lands I could only have ever guessed at. That wine was so different than anything I tasted before.

My pretty modest wine knowledge at the time couldn’t help me understand it, so probably out of genuine curiosity I swiftly fell in love with Pinotage..."

There was an eclectic choice of ten wines which included some less familiar names...

Dusan blogged detailed tasting notes here.


07 June 2010

My First Cypriot Pinotage

Chateau St Hilarion Pinotage 2009, Cyprus (unfinished vat sample)

It is not fair to review this wine since it’s an unfinished sample of a work in progress that international consultant Keith Grainger syphoned from a tank and put into a bottle just before he returned to the UK some weeks ago ... but it is so promising I just have to share.

Good bright colour cherry red colour and vanilla strongly on the nose. Has a creamy mouth feel offering subdued blackberry flavours, vanilla and a slightly dusty finish.

It is likely that this maiden vintage of Cyprus’s first Pinotage won’t be commercially released but used for evaluation by the winery. The vines were planted just three years ago on a trial basis so are very young.

I think it shows great promise. The wine has a very pleasing flavour, clean and without any earthiness, a little like Beaujolais crossed with Cotes du Rhone. On the basis of this Chateau St Hilarion could have a real winner on its hands.

Many thanks to Keith for getting the sample to me. And let me take the opportunity to congratulate Keith for winning the Gourmand Award for the Best Wine Education Book in the World for his latest book Wine Quality: Tasting and Selection (Food Industry Briefing).


04 June 2010

Tinus Els of L'Avenir with Grand Vin 2007 Pinotage

Tinus Els, cellar master and winemaker at L'Avenir in Stellenbosch, tells us about the making of his soft elegant 2007 Grand Vin Pinotage and how it will age

01 June 2010

Kanonkop Pink and Black

For all the years I have known Kanonkop their range has been limited to four wines, all red. Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paul Sauer Bordeaux blend and Kadette Cape Blend. This year has seen two new wines join the team, Kadette Pink Pinotage and the seriously expensive Black Label Pinotage with its hologram logo on thefront and individual bottle number on the back.

Thanks to the generosity of owner Johann Krige I was able to taste both at the recent London wine show.

I wasn't keen on the pink Kadette 2010 which had too much bubble-gum about it for me but the Black Label 2006l!!

Wonderful rich silky ripe deep concentrated plum and bramble berry flavours, perfectly balanced, like an even more refined version of their usual bottling. This is a seriously good wine.

I understand this wine is meant for keeping – so speculators can trade it – but it is drinking so well now, a real delight but one few people will be able to drink.

(Quality of the label photo's was affected by being on an glass counter with lights underneath .)

25 May 2010

Video - Pieter Malan of Simonsig & Sparkling Pinotage

Pieter Malan is one of three brothers who own and run Simonsig winery and vineyards in Stellenbosch. Pieter's task is marketing and he constantly travels the world, having just returned from China where they wanted to buy his entire Pinotage production.

I caught him resting his feet at the rear of the stand after another busy day at the London International Wine Fair. An accident on his motor bike as he was about to depart for London had left Pieter in discomfort with a swollen lacerated leg on which he needed to stand for three long days to pour and talk about his wines.

Pieter gamely agreed to tell us about Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose, Simonsig's very succesful pink Cap Classique (= methode champenoise) made from 90% Pinotage and 10% Pinot Noir.

21 May 2010

Video - Mark Lindhorst and Lindhorst Pinotage

Mark Lindhorst slaved as an accountant until he had enough to buy a farm in Paarl where he re-planted vineyards and added .6ha of Pinotage from which is made around 4,000 bottles "with love and devotion because we are Proudly South African."

Mark was in London for the annual wine trade fair where I asked him to tell us about his silver medal winning 2006 Pinotage.

17 May 2010

Top 10 2010 Entries Invited

If you make Pinotage then enter now for the 2010 Top 10 Competition sponsored bt ABSA and organised by the Pinotage Association. Deadline for entries is 15 July 2010 and winners will be announced on 9 September 2010.

While Pinotage is made in many styles this competition is restricted to dry red Pinotages and international entries are welcome. In previous years wineries in California and New Zealand have participated.

The competition is unusual in that there are 10 equal winners in order to be able to reflect the many different interpretations of this intriguing variety.

The competition rules are available here and the entry form is here

13 May 2010

Gold Rush for Loma Prieta Pinotage

Pinotage is the mother lode of a modern day California gold rush for Loma Prieta Winery with their first Pinotage release.

So far this year the Loma Prieta 2008 'Amorosa Vineyard' Pinotage has won Double Gold at the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, and Gold at the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival in South Carolina, plus Gold at the prestigious San Francisico Chronicle Wine Competition, the worlds largest competition of American wines.

This small artisan winery is found 2,300 feet up in California's Santa Cruz mountains. Owner Paul Kemp told me that he got interested in Pinotage
"by knowing the owner and winemaker of Vino Con Brio in Lodi, CA. I liked the wine so much that I got one ton in 2008 and five tons in 2009. This year I will probably do close to 20 tons which may make my winery the largest producer in the USA. I have already grafted over 500 vines to Pinotage and will plant another 500 bench grafts."

Stett Holbrook, reporting for the Los Gatos Observer wrote of the maiden 2008 wine, of which only 51 cases (two barrels) were made, and which included 10% Pinot Noir:

"It has the soft fruit and perfumed flavors of pinot noir and the backbone and earthy, spicy notes of a syrah or cabernet sauvignon. If pinot noir is described as a feminine wine and cabernet sauvignon as a masculine wine (yes, these are lame gender stereotypes; female soft, male brawny), then Kemp’s pinotage exhibits traits of both. It’s got yin and yang going on in equal measure.

In spite of its relatively high 15 percent alcohol content, pinotage is not the fat fruit grenade you might expect. Yes, it’s a big wine loaded with juicy, round grape and blueberry flavors, but the acid and tannins balance and tame what could otherwise be a sloppy, lip-gloss-covered kiss of a wine. As pinotage decants in the glass, it seems to get a little leaner and racier.

That lively acidity makes pinotage great with food, too. Unlike South African pinotage, Kemp’s wine lacks the telltale banana flavor. He says he didn’t like the few South African pinotages he tried. He is out to make a California pinotage."

The image used for the label was painted for Loma Prieta by New Orleans artist Martin LaBorde. The rolling green mountains in the background depict the view of Mt. Loma Prieta as seen from the Loma Prieta Winery. The yellow, red, and orange running beneath the mountains represent the famous 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The flying wine connoisseur in the painting is a recurring character in Martin LaBorde's work, a little magician named Bodo.

Welcome to the Pinotage Family, Loma Prieta.


10 May 2010

Cricketers knocked for six by 36 year old Meerendal Pinotage

The Daily Telegraph / English cricket team third wine tasting was was hosted by Johann Rupert at his L'Ormarins Estate in Franschhoek.

After the formal tasting Graham Boynton reports that
Johann Rupert pulled out two very old wines – a 1982 Rustenberg cabernet sauvignon and a 1974 Meerendal pinotage – which we drank after the formal tasting. Both were lovely, complex aged wines but it was the Pinotage that provided the big surprise. Pinotage is South Africa's one indigenous grape varietal, a cross between cinsault and pinot noir, and has been described by critics as having no redeeming features.

Yet here was an aged Pinotage that was balanced, luscious and with none of the bitter aftertaste that characterises so many younger pinotages. The lesson: even a capricious style flourishes under the African sun if nature and nurture are applied in the correct balance.

Read the full Telegraph report here

08 May 2010

Pinotage excites Old Mutual Judges

Some interesting comments about Pinotage from the judges of this years Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Simon Tam said he was asked what he was looking for with Pinotage he replied
"'I've no bloody idea' and I still don't. I do know one thing and that is that Pinotage is capable of producing in many different personalities some really sublime wines and those are some delicious memories I will take away with me."

Angela Lloyd reported
"There was one which was my wine of the whole tasting, which I hope comes from a cooler area. It was much more Pinot like, tighter, had a nice sort of fynbos quality to it; something really individual which you felt came from where it was grown. The other ones which are fuller, richer wines also lovely characters, miles away from that old acetone, rusty nails, whatever, not over-oaked.

And if the Viognier wasn't found in the Shiraz, we think some of it's come across to the Pinotage. Carefully used with some benefit, but again Viognier is a pushy bloody grape and if you put more than just a dab in and it'll overpower the grape that's really the dominant one, specially if Pinotage is on the label.

Cabernet I felt had less character than the Pinotage"

Gary Jordan said
"Pinotage blends was a very small class, but there is a wine there that is fantastic."

Chairman Michael Fridjhon remarked on
"the palpable strength of the Pinotage class. When I walk in as Show Chairman and there's this kind of line-up of stuff that they want to show me for gold, I'm thinking we can't have ten Pinotage golds, we've got to knock a few of them out.

The truth of the matter is that is was a really lovely class. There is a statement in the number of golds coming out of it, but one thing is absolutely clear, the days of judging Pinotage being a little bit of a penance are over. It had excitement, it has fruit sweetness, it had fewer faults than ever and it's certainly something worth discussing at greater length."

Read the full report of the Judges Feedback Session at WineMag.co.za. Results of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show will be released later this month

05 May 2010

Haddock and Pinotage

Chris Stenberg's favourite fish recipe is halibut with a red pepper puree and bread crumb crust. But what to drink with it?

He says

I didn’t feel like going the obvious road of Pinot Gris or Chardonnay with halibut. It’s tougher and more rewarding to find a red that goes with the delicate halibut. In this case I chose the Stoneboat Pinotage Solo 2007 served slightly chilled (20 minutes in the fridge), which if I may toot my own horn for a minute, was a great choice. The Pinotage was a nice compliment to the red pepper puree. The wine was interesting enough, but not overwhelming, and I think it tied it all together quite nicely.

Read the full story at chrisstenberg.com

24 April 2010

Diemersfontein -- London Concert

Diemersfontein -- famous for creating the original coffee'n'chocolate 'Peoples Pinotage -- are hosting a fundraising concert on London on Wednesday 26th May at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London W1.

All proceeds from the concert go to a support programme for exceptional young artists and singers and Wellington Preparatory School.

Headlining the concert is soprano Pretty Yende now attending the student programme at La Scala.

Cost of the concert is £35 and for an additional £15 you get priority seating, and meet the artists after the concert at a wine and canapes reception at Hotel Le Meridien opposite the church.

Full details at www.diemersfontein.co.za/london-concert.html


23 April 2010

Middelvlei release Free Run Pinotage

Middelvlei Estate have released a free run Pinotage.

The 2008 vintage wine is made from juice released before the grapes were pressed. The weight of grapes in hoppers squashes out some juice before the press is operated. This juice is considered the purist and best with fewer tannins but there is never very much of it.

Middelvlei Free Run Pinotage 2008 is priced at 84.50R.

22 April 2010

WINE magazine Pinotage tastings

In June WINE magazine will be holding seated Pinotage tastings in Johannesburg and Cape Town of top scoring wines from their Pinotage category tasting presented by a "leading Pinotage winemaker".

Cost is 150R, full details are here.

Dates and locations are

Date: 3 June 2010
Time: 18:30
Venue: Crowne Plaza The Rosebank, Rosebank

Cape Town
Date: 10 June 2010
Time: 18:30
Venue: Mount Nelson Hotel, Gardens


20 April 2010

Steltzner Pinotage with the Casual Connoisseur

Kristin Hanson, a native Californian, is a Napa Valley resident, attorney, writer, artist, and self-described “casual connoisseur” of California wine and food. This year she discovered Pinotage from California's oldest vineyard, Steltzner. Kristin writes in her Casual Connoisseur blog :

Steltzner Vineyards (“Steltzner”), located in the Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley, is known for producing an excellent Pinotage each year and is one of the few local wineries to do so.

A quality Pinotage is recognized for being medium-bodied and subtly flavored. Steltzner’s 2005 Pinotage accomplishes both of these elements. The 2005 Pinotage presents a nose which has an ever-so-slight floral note of lavender, warm allspice, cherry and an essence of smoke. In the mouth, the wine is a medium-bodied red wine with a smooth feel. The tannins are not overwhelming (nor should they be), which allows the fruit flavors found in the wine to burst forth.

Soft notes of cherry (which is characteristic of grapes from the Stags Leap District), spice and a tiny dash of white pepper dance across the palate. Red wine lovers should readily embrace this Pinotage and wine aficionados who typically wrestle with the overly bold, tannic red wines of Napa Valley should love this wine, too. If the wine’s mere accessibility is not enough, given the characteristics of both the nose and the mouth, it is readily apparent that this Pinotage will pair beautifully with a wide range of foods. In short, the discovery of Pinotage is a giant “win” due to its versatility.

Kristin pairs the Steltzner Pinotage with Honey Lavender Barbequed Chicken and Oven-Roasted Potatoes Au Gratin noting that "just as lavender will sometimes pair well with certain Pinot Noirs, it is equally well-suited to Pinotage".

She concludes with the advice to "explore Pinotage. It is a great red wine that most people can enjoy and if served at a gathering, it is a great conversation piece as most will learn something new".

Read Kristin's full report with recipes and pictures of her recommended dishes at The Casual Connoisseur

19 April 2010

WSJ's take on Pinotage

The Wall Street Journal let go of its well loved wine columnists John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter after 579 articles.

Their replacements are Jay McInerney and Lettie Teague who introduced themselves in a question and answer session as follows:

Jay: Well, is there a wine that you really don’t like?

Lettie: Pinotage, the red grape of South Africa (and fortunately nowhere else, at least that I know of). I loathe Pinotage. How a wine like that was actually deliberately created is one of the great vinous mysteries to me. It has all the charm of a burnt tire in a glass. Years ago when I served a Pinotage to a neophyte wine friend of mine, he actually suggested I not only dump out the wine but bury the bottle in my backyard. True story. In other words, I know I’m not alone in hating on Pinotage.

Of course it could be a ploy to encourage Wines of South Africa to bring them to the Cape to change Letties opinion. Hating Pinotage is no bar to such trips as certain English writers well know.

07 April 2010

Working Kanonkop's 2010 Vintage

Riaan Smit has written ( for winegoggle.co.za) a most interesting article about working the 2010 Kanonkop vintage.

He says
"Abrie [Beeslaar -- winemaker] described the vintage as “difficult” because of patches of uneven ripeness in the grapes, but also expressed satisfaction with “what we have in our tanks”. He reckons the 2010 Kanonkop wines will most likely not have big tannic structures and this will allow the expression of fruit in the wine to be more upfront.

The Pinotage yield at Kanonkop was down by more than half. A Black South Easter in October last year, during the crucial flowering stage, blew away more than half the normal crop. But a recent tank tasting of 10 Pinotages revealed some promising wine. It was a blind tasting for me – I could not connect block numbers on the samples to the age of the vines in the various blocks – and the wine from the 1953 block stood out prominently. This and some other Pinotage are undergoing malolactic fermentation in new French oak barrels."

Riaan's article shows the hard work involved when youwant tomake world class wine. Please read the entire item at winegoggle.co.za


01 April 2010

Corbans 1967 Pinotage

As readers of my book will know, New Zealand has been making Pinotage for almost as long as South Africa.

Corbans were the first to release a varietal NZ Pinotage and though this label is not from that earliest vintage it is evidence of New Zealand's long history with the variety.

Thanks to Sue Courtney of www.wineoftheweek.com who successfully bidded for the label, on my behalf, from a NZ auction site.


30 March 2010

Super Wines of South Africa video!

Great video from Wines of South Africa , not enough about Pinotage tho'.

I spotted

Table Mountain and cable car station
Route 62 wine region
Hermanus and its whales
Cape Point and lighthouse
Beyers Truter in his cellar tasting Pinotage
Pavement cafe in Stellenbosch town centre
Paarl mountain and Afrikaans Language monument
Rain clouds hovering over Green Point football stadium

what did I miss?

Not sure what the football has to do with it ;)

26 March 2010

Historic Pinotage Vineyard to be TRASHED !!

The very first varietal Pinotage was grown and made by P K Morkel at Bellevue farm. That vineyard he planted in 1953 is still there, the old bushvines are still producing grapes for Bellevue's wines.

Anyone would think that such a historic vineyard would be officially recognised by the government as a National Historic Site. Not so.

But it has been recognised by predators who, using satellite imagery and without anyone visiting the area, have identified the low slopes of the Botttelary Hills on which Bellevues vineyards are planted as containing clay deposits.

And they have been given permission by the goverment to mine the area for clay.

They say they can, after extracting all the clay they want, restore the land back to its previous condition.

I don't think you have to be a viticulturist or a believer in the importance of terroir to know that it will impossible to restore this historic vineyard after those 57 year old vines have been torn from the soil and the very ground their roots descended through have been taken away in trucks.

I am appalled that the historic vineyards of the Stellenbosch region -- and this one in particular -- should be considered suitable for clay extraction.

Clay may be valuable, but so are Cape wines which have been producing wealth for the people of the region and the nation for more than 350 years.

To dig up and remove the actual ground that is the source of the nutrients and unique flavour of Cape wines and to replace them with -- well what???

The decision has been taken. Mining company, Corobrik, has the go ahead.

Dirkie Morkel, current owner and viticulturist at Bellevue Estate is appealing the decision. He needs all the help he can get and international attention would be welcomed.

If you are as appalled as I am, please drop emails to

Department of Mineral and Energy Regional Manager Mr Sivuyile Mpakane sivuyile.mpakane@dme.gov.za (Note that Mr Mpakane came to his post after the decision was taken by his predecessor. It's a done decision but Mr Mpakane should know of international concern)

and the MD of the the mining company Corobrik Mr Dirk Meyer intmktg@corobrik.co.za


Western Cape Manager Mr. Christie van Niekerk christie.vanniekerk@corobrik.com

Even a one liner will help.

A statement by Dirkie Morkel follows:

Statement by Dirkie Morkel about proposal to
mine clay on the oldest Pinotage vineyard


The following is a short summary of the history of Bellevue in an attempt to promote a better understanding of the current position in respect of the issue mentioned above:

• I, D C Morkel, am the fourth generation Morkel farming on Bellevue, a wine farm in the Bottelary area between Stellenbosch and Kuils River in the Western Cape – the first Morkel started farming here in 1861;

• The historic old Cape Dutch homestead (dated 1803) was restored to its original design and beauty in 1990 and has been declared a national monument.

• Bellevue made history in 1953 when the first commercial Pinotage vineyard in South Africa (and, as it is a cultivar developed in South Africa, also in the world!) was planted on Bellevue by my uncle (P K Morkel), who was also a Springbok rugby player.

• P K made further history by winning the coveted General Smuts trophy for the overall champion wine at the South African Young Wine Show in 1959 with his Pinotage.

• The piece of land on Bellevue for which prospecting rights for clay have now been awarded to Corobrik, includes the historic old Pinotage vineyard block.

• Bellevue has been a registered wine estate since 1983.

• In 2006 Bellevue became an enthusiastic member of the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative (BWI). Parts of this project (e g the uncultivated natural vegetation, mainly fynbos), are also situated within the area where prospecting rights have been awarded.

What follows is a brief outline of the course of events surrounding the application by Corobrik for prospecting rights for clay in an open mine:

• At the end of 2008 we were informed by Corobrik that they had applied for prospecting rights for clay on our farm.

• Approximately three weeks later Corobrik furnished us with a so- called “Prospecting Work Programme”. I considered the whole matter to be so absurd that I did not give much attention to it by raisings objections or taking any other steps, which, in hindsight, was obviously a huge mistake. At that stage I very naively reasoned that rezoning would never be successful because of the resistance that I, farmers from neighbouring farms, the Department of Agriculture and the Municipality of Stellenbosch would offer in the “unlikely event” that the matter was taken further.

• I received a letter, dated 12 August 2009, from the Department of Minerals and
Energy by registered mail, in which they informed Corobrik that prospecting rights for clay on Bellevue had been awarded to them. Corobrik was cautioned in that letter to adhere to and comply with the EMP (environmental management plan). This document’s reference number is (WC)30/5/1/1/2/355PR and enquiries are directed to D S Kunene, who signed the letter as “Acting Regional Manager Western Cape Region”.

• At the beginning of October 2009 we received a visit from Mr Dirk Meyer (Managing Director of Corobrik SA) and Mr Christie van Niekerk (Manager of Corobrik, Western Cape). I had the impression that neither one of them, nor any other person from Corobrik, had ever been to Bellevue before. They did not at all know where the land in question was situated and it appeared (to me, in any case) that they were surprised when they learnt that there were vineyards on the land earmarked for prospecting. When I asked them how they became aware of the clay potential of the portion of land, their reply was that it was revealed by a careful study of a geological map. They tried to dispel my fears by downplaying my objections to mining for clay on land on which permanent crops are cultivated by stating that the land would be restored to its original state before being handed back, a claim I questioned and contested in the strongest possible terms in their presence. I remember asking them whether they had ever mined on land on which there were established vineyards and had managed to successfully re-establish the vineyards after the mining had ceased. I do not specifically remember their reply to my question or their comments in that regard, but definitely got the impression that such mining and restoration were more frequently performed on uncultivated land.

• Unfortunately I had the (wrong) idea that they had to some extent lost interest; when we did not in the immediate aftermath receive any further correspondence from them, this opinion of mine was strengthened. However, approximately three weeks ago we received a request from them, asking us to enter into a “Surface Lease Agreement” with them.

• I am employing the services of Mr Albert Marais (Marais Muller Yekiso in Kuils River) as attorney, who, at this stage, has taken legal advice from Advocate Elsa van Huyssteen.

• She has made the following recommendations in her report:

1) That we indicate to Corobrik that the portion of land in question is still zoned as Agricultural Zone 1;

2) that they did not start prospecting (as is stipulated) within 120 days of the awarding of the prospecting rights;

3) that they be referred to the judgment and outcome of the court cases Meepo v Kotze and Others 2008 (1) SA 104 (NC) and Joubert v Maranda Mining Co (Pty) Ltd 2010 (1) SA 198 (SCA).

• I studied the map and saw that some land on three of the farms neighbouring Bellevue was included in the area earmarked for prospecting, namely Avondrus (Alfred Borcherds), Houdenmond, a portion of Koopmanskloof farm (W S Smit Trust), as well as a portion of the land of Mr Donald Rix (Klein Koopmanskloof).

• I liaised with all three of them and it transpired that none of them had in any way been approached or contacted about this issue by Corobrik.

• I supplied this information and other relevant background particulars to Jorisna Bonthuys of Die Burger, as well as to Elbe van Heerden of Eikestadnuus in Stellenbosch. Their reports on the matter appeared in Die Burger of Thursday, 11 March 2010 and the Eikestadnuus of 12 March 2010. Both of the journalists made telephonic contact with Mr Meyer of Corobrik.

• Despite the fact that Mr Meyer downplayed the matter in the Eikestadnuus as an issue of little importance (“we actually prefer to co-operate with the farmer on a voluntary basis and if the farmer is not happy, we would rather go and look at other places”), a new document was delivered to Mr Marais last Friday afternoon (12/03). In that document the area earmarked for prospecting is substantially smaller (146 ha and no longer 320 ha), and it includes only the portion of land forming part of Bellevue. On the new map my three neighbours on the other three farms have therefore been excluded.

• Furthermore, the EMP is in my view not dealing with the facts in a fair and impartial way, and this results in the DME not receiving a true picture of the real situation. I doubt whether anyone has really come to Bellevue to observe and identify the vegetation. The two gentlemen who visited us did not even know where the land in question was situated and no-one else has ever approached us to ask permission to enter upon our land. The part of the EMP (C 1.4, p 12) dealing with nature appears to me to be worded in general terms quoted from a standard document, which may be true in general but does not take into consideration the unique character of a specific area. For instance, in the portion in question where the prospecting rights have been awarded, there are two areas included in the BWI Project, namely the Swartland Shale Renosterveld and the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. Both are described by BWI as “critically endangered”, but yet prospecting rights have been awarded, while the EMP states that there are no “nature reserves” in the vicinity of the envisaged area (C1.6, p 13)!

This is where we stand at the moment. This document will also be sent to the Municipality of Stellenbosch, the Department of Agriculture of Elsenburg, BWI, the Agricultural Society of Stellenbosch, as well as neighbours and other interested persons and parties, including role-players in the political arena.

20 March 2010

Stables: Best ever KZN vintage

The Stables Wine Estate, located northwest of Durban many hundreds of miles north of the traditional Cape winelands , reports that the 2010 vintage is one of their best ever thanks to ideal hot weather conditions over KwaZulu-Natal during the first few months of the year.

"It has been absolutely classic this year!" reports winemaker Tiny van Niekerk. "We didn't really have a spring - we went straight from winter into summer with some early rains, after which it has been hot and dry. This has been perfect for the ripening of the grapes, and we have had absolutely no rot to deal with. And as a result we have not sprayed to counter the risk of rot as we generally have to"

We can look forward to really big reds from 2010. Those that will recall our epic 2006 Pinotage can look forward to more of the same, and maybe even better."

"Our Pinotage harvest has been our biggest ever, small grapes which provided plenty of colour extraction and intense fruit characteristics,"

Tiny van Niekerk confirmed that Stable would be producing a 2010 Pinotage Clariet rose wine. The 2006 Clariet was the first ever KZN wine to receive SAWIS certification for which the Wine of Origin KwaZulu Natal appellation had to be created. (see here)

"People loved it," said van Niekerk and they have been bugging me to make another vintage of the Clariet. We pulled off the free-run after six hours, which had great colour and flavour."


18 March 2010

From the blogs

Ron runs a go-ahead cafe wine bar in Wausau, Wisconsin. For his video blog he tasted four Pinotages, two from Robertson Winery, the standard 2008 and Phanto Ridge 2007 and the standard Fairview 2007 and standard (unwooded) Simonsig 2005. See the videos here and here .

The Robertson Phanto Ridge didn't impress Todd Smith, the Wine Director for American Spirits store in downtown St. Petersburg Florida. He found it
Meaty beef jerky, blackberries, plum, pumice, ash, sweet herbs and sweet tobacco scents on the lovely nose. Really falls short on the palate and the finish.
Bummer, I liked the last vintage. This just thins out too much.

Neal Martin, who reviews wine for Robert Parker posted on his blog
In the evening, a lovely Pinotage. No oxymoron…a lovely Pinotage!
but he hasn't disclosed which one.

16 March 2010

PINOTAGE: Book available in South Africa

I am delighted to announce that my book PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa's Own Wine is now distributed in South Africa.

Without the cost of international airmail postage the book can now be delivered to you for 160R per copy.

Email peter (at) pinotage (dot) org for bank transfer details.

15 March 2010

Inniskillin 2006 Discovery Series Pinotage

Thanks to wine writer Kathleen Rake in Canada for the following review:

Inniskillin 2006 Discovery Series Pinotage:
$29.99/13.5% ABV.

I decanted this Pinotage for about an hour before serving it.
Made from 100% Pinotage grapes, this wine presents blackberry jam, smoke, the earth, and something a little tropical (banana?) on the nose, along with juicy fresh ripe raspberries, red fruit, spice and soft tannins on the palate.
It paired well with a grilled strip loin steak, oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, and home-made Caesar salad. But you know what? It worked okay as a sipper on its own.

Review Copyright (c) Kathleen Rake 2010 ( Click Media Works ) and used with permission. First published on Between The Vines. Thanks Kathleen.