28 February 2013

WOTM - De Waal 2001 Pinotage

February’s wine of the month is the stunning De Waal 2001 from Uiterwyck Estate’s “Top of the Hill” vineyard. 

This vineyard is home to the oldest Pinotage vines in the world, so the wine is liquid history. The vines grow as bushes on a gently sloped low hill with a large spreading wild-fig tree right on the summit, visible for miles. The tree offers shelter from the sun to farm workers who sit under it while eating their lunch.

I’ve always thought “Top of the Hill” wines needs time to show their best, and with 12 years age I think it is at the start of a long peak. Tannins have smoothed, fruit has lost the precocity of young Pinotage and become sleek. The wine is similar to an aged claret but with more fruit  and the underlying sweetness typical of Pinotage. 

Lovely stuff, and sadly my last bottle.

09 February 2013

Food and Beverage World Rates pinotage

Food & Beverage World’s annual California Wines of the Year Competition has red wine categories for Cabernet, Bordeaux blends, Pinot, and Rhone. Everything else is judged in Other Reds. This year Other Reds places a Pinotage in its top three, after two Zinfandels.

It’s yet another award for Loma Prieta winery’s 2010 gold-winning ‘Karma Vineyard’ Pinotage, and it is great to see Pinotage getting recognition in competition with other California varieties.
Pinotage budwood for grafting has arrived
 at Loma Prieta from the nursery
Loma Prieta is unable to keep up with demand for their Pinotage and owner Paul Kemp tells me he is grafting over the rest of his estate vineyard to Pinotage this year, and will also be increasing production by another 20 tons from the Karma Vineyard in Lodi by grafting over 3-4 more acres to Pinotage.
“Like in a poker game, it looks like I am all in on Pinotage,” said Paul. “The key with Pinotage is to get people to try it and then the wine sells itself.”
Wine from the new vines will not be on sale for five years as it takes at least three years before new vines can be harvested and then Paul ages his Pinotage for two years in oak barrels before release. However, as he is currently sourcing grapes from three vineyards in addition to those on his estate he has been able to double the number of shipments available to members of Loma Prieta’s  ‘Pinotage Only’ wine club, the first in America.  
View at sunset looking over Loma Prieta's estate vineyard
and down to the Pacific