31 December 2012

Pinotage in 2012

2012 saw Pinotage consolidating its position in the world of wine. We reported it growing commercially in Switzerland, Maryland USA and Queensland, Australia, also on an experimental basis in Ohio, USA. Virginia planted more, as did California, although the status of the oldest vineyard there is unknown after the owners, Steltzner, sold their Napa Valley winery. 

Meanwhile, California's Loma Prieta winery 2010 Pinotage was festooned with a dozen gold medals and decided to graft over a Pinot Noir vineyard to Pinotage.

Decanter awarded its best red varietal over £10 Trophy to Bellingham Pinotage 2010, and Barkan had double success when their Pinotage won the Grand Champion Trophy for the Best Israeli Wine in Competition and Best Kosher Israeli Wine at the Terravino Mediterranean International Wine and Spirit Challenge.

Leading international mail-order wine merchant Laithwaites launched an own label £65 single vineyard Pinotage made by  Flagstone which was criticised by journalist Christian Eedes as maybe “a little too perfect”.

Diemersfontein winery brought their popular Pinotage on Tap  festival to England for the first time and were rewarded with a stunningly beautiful summers weekend without a cloud in the sky.  

A rapt audience heard about and tasted Pinotage at my presentation to the American Wine Society annual conference in Portland, Oregon.

Flagstone and Aaldering both launched white Pinotages, entering the category invented by Mellasat whose Enigma has for years had the market to itself.  

During the year I drank many great Pinotages and tasted many more. I was going to list my ‘most memorable’ or ‘wines of the year’  but there are too many. So I’ll just capriciously mention one that got away – the beautiful Houdamond 2009 (Bellevue Estate, rebadged for UK Marks and Spencer) that was served at my wine tasting club’s annual dinner and dance. M&S branches were cleared by club members days afterwards and I managed to get only a few bottles and now have just one left. 

Michael Fridjhon, writing in Business Day over Christmas, notes that New World wineries with an established track record get less respect than fashionable newcomers. 

So let me respect two long established wineries.  In the past couple of days I enjoyed Uiterwyk Estates DeWaal ‘Top of the Hill’ 2006 and Kaapzicht Estate ‘Steytler’ 2002. Both were ripe claret in style, four square and linear. Steytler's back label suggests a drinking window of up to eight years after vintage but this wine is just delicious ten years on. ‘Top of the Hill’ is a single vineyard bottling from the oldest Pinotage vineyard and at six years the wine is still a youngster.

Enjoy a Pinotage Packed 2013!


Peter May


  1. I actually had the Steytler 2003 just a week ago. Although developed and not necessarily developing more complexity, it sure has a few years left before declining. Below is my tasting note btw:

    "Deep ruby coloured, with the nose revealing expressive blackcurrant and coffee notes. A hint of acetone somewhat disturbing. It starts fresh on the palate, with plenty of savory fruit and more than a hint of smoky oak. The taste reminiscent of coffee liquor chocolate. Fine grained tannins and medium weight."

  2. Many thanks for the TN, Gunnar. I have one 2003 left, so perhaps will soon open it!

  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog. looking nice

  4. Here is an blog article by a wine writer, Christian Eedes, who had the rare opportunity to taste older South African wines of which quite a few were Pinotages: http://www.whatidranklastnight.co.za/what-i-drank-last-night/lanzerac-pinotage-1963/

    Wish I were there!