29 December 2011

Christmas Pinotages

Christmas was an opportunity to open some special bottles.

Loma Prieta 2009 – Been keeping this for a few months (see http://www.pinotage.org/2011/08/paul-kemp-of-californias-loma-prieta.html ). This is a beautiful wine with soft dense fruit flavours, especially damsons. Just about perfect. I found this more immediately appealing than the 2008 and excellent drinking. Been garlanded in Platinum, Double Golds and Best of Classes in US wine competitions. I’m going to have to visit California to catch up on how they’re mastering this grape.

Kanonkop 2006 – intense compact brooding power, albeit restrained. Serious statement wine and beautiful with it. This was a Top 10 winner this year, tho’ I don’t know you can buy 2006 vintage. There’s a lot of sludgy sediment which leads me to think this wines evolving. I have a few more bottles so it’ll be interesting to try again, say next Christmas.

Stanford Hills Estate Jacksons 2007 – young fresh fruit flavours, red currants and blackberries from a newish estate in Walker Bay. Clean, lively and refreshing, tastes youthful, it’s a delightful drink. Deservedly 4 Platter stars.

Wishing you many fine Pinotages in 2012

19 December 2011

Australia Joins the Pinotage Family

Say hello and welcome to Topper’s Mountain ‘Wild Ferment’ Pinotage Viognier 2009, the first varietal Pinotage grown and made in Australia.

Owner Mark Kirby told me:

Topper’s Mountain is in northern NSW in a region known as the New England Tablelands which was recently granted a wine GI “New England Australia”. Being so close to the equator in viticultural terms at 29degS, the cool climate we experience is a result of altitude – the vineyard is at 900m above sea level. Being this far north in eastern Australia means our climate has summer dominated rainfall – we receive about 500-600mm in the growing season. This makes thin skinned, tight bunched varieties such as Pinot noir & Sauvignon blanc a bit of a challenge for us. This was the genesis of my selection of Pinotage – it has looser bunches and much thicker & tougher skins than Pinot noir (leading to less split from rain & fewer berries being popped off the rachis), but retains a lot of Pinot noir’s elegance & complexity.

I originally planted ~ 200 vines (1 row in our “Fruit Salad” experimental block or 0.1Ha) in 2003. Up until 2008 vintage we were using the Pinotage in various red blends. In 2009 our winemaker Mike Hayes and I decided to have a look at the Pinotage as a standalone variety and the initial results have been very encouraging; 91 points from James Halliday, a silver and a high bronze medal. On the strength of this potential I grafted another row over to Pinotage two months ago.

In the winery Pinotage doesn’t get much special attention other than extra effort to extract colour as it is like Pinot noir & Nebbiolo in that it can produce pale wines if you’re not careful.

It is a co-fermented wild ferment with less than 15% Viognier. We do wild ferment for the first 4-6 baume of all our wines & for the Pinotage Viognier & straight Viognier, we let the wild ferment go all the way. We did the co-ferment because Mike is of the belief that this is done a bit in South Africa with high end Pinotage to fill out the mid palate.

14 December 2011

Taste Pinotage Sunshine on 16 Dec

South African Wine News site wine.co.za is calling on every South African living abroad to share a drop of sunshine with a local on 16 December.

We would love every South African out there to open up a bottle of South African wine, and show your mates just how good our wine is - taste some sunshine, sunshine!

We have chosen the 16th December as it is a very special day for us South Africans, and it is right in the middle of the northern hemispheres winter... just when they need a little bit of sunshine in their lives - so spread a little bit of our sunshine, sunshine!

Get a great bottle of South African wine and sit down quietly and taste it with your mates.

Let them taste some of our sunshine. And of course, you don’t have to stop there...you could even open up a second bottle and then not so quietly share some of our sunshine.

And for those ex-pats out there in the land of OZ, or down the south of America, they might not need the sunshine, but you have to agree...
they do need to taste some good wine for a change, so get them to taste what makes us shine.

Then, please take some pictures and videos, and show us all what you did by posting them on the social networks (#tastewinesunshine) and at wine.co.za

And please tell us at wine.co.za so that we can organise this again next year.

So sunshine, what great South African wine are you going to taste this year !

And the answer is, obvious: PINOTAGE - Yea!!