05 June 2013

Bruce Jack on Pinotage

Bruce Jack, winemaker for Flagstone and Kumala has a way with words and a love of Pinotage and he's put the two together in a brilliant new article.

Bruce starts

Like its mother, Pinot Noir, brilliant examples of Pinotage are few and far between. But like Pinot Noir, those examples are life-changing if you are fortunate enough to encounter them. They are so enticing and beautifully satisfying, it’s like a light goes on in your mind; like a secret trap door opens and you step into another world – a fabulously ethereal world of heady aromas, seductive flavours and intense, luscious sensations. Your head spins and you fall in love.

My personal experience is that wines like these aren’t readily crafted from varieties that are generally of better standard quality, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot or Shiraz. Rather, they seem to be made from the recalcitrant, edgy varieties like Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Monastrell and Nebbiolo.

I have no idea why this should be. But something magical happens when these shy, tricky varieties unexpectedly shine. The effect is momentous. It is as though they rocket you up to heaven, blazing past those other consistent and trustworthy achievers.

Bruce admits he's "made all the winemaking mistakes there are to make with the variety," and goes on to discuss making both large volume and exclusive - 1,000 - bottlings. He goes into detail abou the challenges of growing and making Pinotage, discusses 'burnt rubber' and suggests it's connected with uneven ripening and the influence of soil. The technical details are there, but so is poetry...

Each bottle reflects how the vines prospered, or the grapes suffered in the scorching summer heat. Each glass tells how the leaves were battered by the drying wind, and the canes grew heavenward. Each sip reveals how conscientiously and lovingly the wine was crafted, and how well it has survived the journey to your lips. In each aroma and flavor molecule is a memory of this collective energy and effort. Nature, human intervention and luck combine to tell a story of circumstance and cycles.

Please do read the full article Pinotage - APhilosophical Obsession

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