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!

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