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