31 May 2012

Pinotage in the Blogs

In the blogs

Londoner Sarah Ball at Window on Wine was taken with Bellevue Estates' 2009 'Houdamond' Pinotage exclusive to Marks and Spencer in the UK.

"The first thing to say is that this is a ‘big’, powerful wine with 14.5% alcohol. However, it isn’t just all shouty fruit; there’s more complexity than that – especially on the intense nose. Dark plums mingle with vanilla notes and intriguing smokey bacon aromas. I definitely thought I detected a waft of sweet maple cured bacon. On the palate the deep plum flavours are complemented by sweet spice and smokiness – not bacon this time. The wine has great length too."

Many of thought this a tremendous wine when we had it at our recent Wine Society's annual dinner-dance and local M & S's shelves were emptied of it within days.

Ben at the Waterford Wine Company in Milwaukee, WI loved the 2010 Barista “Coffee Pinotage”

"intense aromas of coffee and chocolate flow from the glass like a rich and tasty café mocha. Seriously – for whatever chemical reason – Pinotage mates to new oak perfectly, creating a sensational wine. On the palate plums and maraschino cherries join the chocolate aromas in a deep and expressive harmony. The finish demonstrates that this is a serious wine, not just some wine-making fad, with a tug of tannins and weighty finish.

If you love Pinotage don’t miss this. It is an exciting, new style of wine. And if you hate Pinotage you have to try this – it’s going to convince you that South Africa can make fabulously tasty wine."

But Harry Haddon who writes on wine for South Africa's 2 Oceans Vibe isn't keen on that style and found KWV's Sparkling Cafe Culture 'Choc Mousse' was a step too far.

"After leaving it in the freezer so it was just above freezing point (I would give the wine all the advantage it needed), I popped the cork and the room filled with a familiar, almost acrid smell. I poured a glass and hesitantly put it to my lips. Simply put the wine is a simple, unattractive, “coffee” pinotage that has been put through a soda-stream with a dollop of sugar for good measure. Sweet. Sickly. Fizzy. Is it the worst wine I have ever tasted? It’s close.

Actually, once I tasted it I felt like deleting this whole bloody column. Carbonated chocolate pinotage. Those are all the words I should have had to type. One doesn’t mind a wine that attempted something different and turned out poor. That, at least is interesting. But this wine is simply a cynical marketing ploy."
Richard Rowe, KWV's, Chief Winemaker suggested that Harry wasn't the target audience and invited him to taste KWV's serious Mentor's Pinotage. And that is an excellent wine.

Tim Atkin MW made Cape Chamonix 'Greywacke' 2009 Pinotage his Wine of the Week and awarded it 91 points:

If you've always struggled with the idea that Pinotage is the Cape's USP, try a glass of this amazing example from Pinot Noir specialist Cape Chamonix in Franschhoek. It's made in a ripasso style (like some Valpolicellas) to give it a little more alcohol and weight. It's supple, smooth and sensitively oaked with black plum and blackberry fruit, sweet oak and a harmonious finish. Best of all, perhaps, it doesn't taste like most Pinotage.

Odd to read Jamie Goode championing a Pinotage since he has said many very harsh things about the variety. Jamie has taken up cudgels on behalf of winemaker Craig Hawkin’s Lammershoek Cellar Door ‘Sink the Pink’ Pinotage 2012 which has been refused Wine & Spirit Board certification.

It has been rejected because it is not a typical Pinotage. It has also been rejected because it is not a typical rose. But it’s a lovely wine with real personality. There are lots of people who would buy and enjoy this wine. So why is Craig not allowed to export it? His wines can only enhance the image of South African wine in export markets.

I wonder if this is the full story since many expressions of Pinotage have been certified, including white, pink, sweet, fortified, vin du naturel and sparkling. A comment suggests it could be because ‘Sink the Pink’ is sexual slang.....

And lastly, on the UK wine forum Peter Gatti who owns a fine wine shop in Austin Texas posts about 2004 L'Avenir Pinotage

Purchased at Vaughan Johnson's wine shop in the Victoria and Alfred Cape Town location during a 3 week trip in 2006. this is the regular bottling not the reserve / estate (?; but a Veritas double gold winner.
Cork has 1-2 mm of saturation, emerges fully intact. Big, ripe nose of mulberry, gently poached red plum, pepper, spice and burnished old leather. Palate follows nose, slow surging attack that spreads and coats, but very lightly for such a concentrated wine. Finish is long, detailed, and fades very, very slowly.
The best Pinotage I've ever tasted, although there aren't many to choose from here in the US.
90 minutes later, even better; everything from before still apparent, but add fresh Turkish coffee grounds, tamarind, wintergreen, and a dark minerality that I might mystically attribute to the most ancient soils of that region of the world. It really tastes of essence of liquified granite. Boy, is this good!

27 May 2012

At Pinotage on Tap UK - Video

Pinotage on Tap came to England this weekend. The South Downs of coastal Sussex vibrated with Afrikaans, rocked to South African songs, were scented with bobotie, potjiekos & malva pudding and flowed with purple Pinotage.

Diemersfontein had brought a barrel of their famous coffee Pinotage and flown in musicians from the Cape to remind ex-pats of home and they’d installed a kitchen and a team of chefs to produce platters of home-style cooking.

The location was a farm on the crest of the rolling low chalk hills along the coast known as the South Downs. This area is home to English sparkling wine and next to the PoT field was a newly planted vineyard of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier.

Diemersfontein’s celebration of its new Pinotage vintage was first celebrated with Pinotage on Tap in 2005. Since then the annual event has grown and spawned satellite PoTs in Johannesburg and Durban. 2012 saw the first international PoT in England.

The recipe was straightforward. Erect a marquee to cover the musicians' stage and shelter the kitchen, place a oak barrel of 2011 Pinotage on a stack of hay bales, clear the skies of clouds, let the sun blaze down and have the mercury settle around 28C.

Then arrange a shuttle bus to bring participants from the nearest railway station on the London-Brighton line and give out goody bags filled with water bottles, biltong, beef rolls and the all important Pinotage on Tap wine glass, garnish with a welcome from the organiser and open the Pinotage barrel.

In the Cape PoT now hosts 2,500 people, but a more modest number attended this first UK event. “We are expecting around 300 people today,” said organiser and Diemersfontein owner David Sonnenberg. Unfortunately the second day of the event was cancelled because of low bookings.

Those of us who did attend sat on hay bales relaxing in the sun, listening to South African musicians Lonesome Dave Ferguson, Albert Frost & Robin Auld, eating our fill and sipping Pinotage straight from the barrel on an idyllic afternoon. What could be better?

David Sonnenberg talks PoT with Peter F May of The Pinotage Club.

Registration on arrival at PoT

Heading towards the marquee.

David Sonnenberg, owner of Diemersfontein, officially opens PoT UK 2012.

The famous barrel.

Albert Frost gets it on.

25 May 2012

Owl Post Pinotage with winemaker De Wet Viljoen - Video

I met the ever charming De Wet Viljoen of Neethingshof Estate on Tuesday this week at the London International Wine Fair and asked him to tell us about his newly released 'Owl Post' 2010 Pinotage.


Owl Post is one of Neethlinghof's reserve range of wine, now called 'The Short Story Collection' with each wine named after some aspect of the Estate. Owl Post refers to posts placed throught the vineyards as vantage points to encourage pest eating owls. This is part of the estate’s integrated pest management intending to reduce its dependence on pesticides.


20 May 2012

Pinotage on Tap in UK - Saturday 26 May 2012

This coming Saturday, 26  May sees  Pinotage on Tap (POT) festival held  near Brighton, the first ever POT staged outside South Africa.

Update:  Sunday's POT has been cancelled. The event will now be on one day only -- Saturday 26 May. See you there.

POT, hosted by Diemersfontein Wines to celebrate the new vintage of their famous coffee'n'chocolate Pinotage, regularly attracts thousands of fans to the wine farm in Wellington, South Africa and in recent times POTs have also been held in Johannesburg and Durban.

The location is Poyning Grange Farm, Fulking, South Downs, Sussex, near Brighton.

Nearest rail station is Hassocks on the First Capital Connect ThamesLink line from London and Bedford. Shuttle busses from Hassocks station to the festival have been arranged and seats can be booked via Diemersfonteins web site. Tickets to the festival cost £65.00 per person.

I was talking to a South African couple at a tasting last night and they went all misty eyed at the list of music performers, they had fond memories of listening to musician Robin Auld back home. Also playing are Londesome Dave Ferguson and Albert Frost.

Diemersfontein say the festival will involve a variety of culinary treats, from various bowl foods and canapés, to the much spoken about "strawberry and chocolate fountains". Wine lovers can enjoy a fantastic day out, whilst sipping this delectable wine, eating a variety of interesting foods, playing games and listening to great live band music. Promising to be an authentic South African party in every possible way, with typical South African cuisine and entertainment by South African musicians.

And of course, Diemersfonteins original Coffee Chocolate Pinotage will be flowing from the barrel, literally "Pinotage on Tap"

More information about the event can be found on the Pinotage on Tap 2012 page, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Enquiries to online@diemersfontein.co.za


18 May 2012

Making Mellasat's White Pinotage - video

I recently posted about tasting Mellasat's 2010 White Pinotage. Just realised I have a video of Mellasat's owner-winemaker Stephen Richardson describing how he made the wine. .

15 May 2012

Jancis Likes Fairview's La Capra Pinotage

Jancis Robinson has been considering her current favourite still pink wines. Most are European but there are three new world rosés, Pinot Noirs from  Australia and Chile and then there’s Fairview La Capra Pinotage 2010:

With its Victorian fairground label and big, brash fruit fashioned by South Africa’s trademark red wine grape, it shouts “I’m different”. Like many pink (and white) wines at lower prices, it is kept fresh by dissolved carbon dioxide – but in this wine there is just so much fruit to counterbalance it that this ploy seems sensible rather than tricksy. Bring on the braai.’

Read all Jancis has to say about it at http://www.ft.com


10 May 2012

Mellasat's White Pinotage

WoSA held a tasting in London this week with the theme of wine tourism to publicise Cape Wine 2012 in Cape Town and the new Vindaba tourism show.

The London tasting showcased wines from properties with tourist attractions. Of the whites I was most impressed with Mellasat’s Enigma White Pinotage 2010. I’ve tasted and enjoyed earlier vintages but this seems to be the most complex and interesting yet.

Serve this one blind and see what happens. I reckon a white Burgundy would be the guess.