31 August 2016

WoTM - Beyerskloof Diesel 2007

My Wine of the Month for August 2016 is Beyerskloof ‘Diesel’ 2007.

Diesel, named in memory of owner Beyers Truter’s faithful hound, is Beyerskloof’s premier Pinotage. It’s a selection of the best barrels of bush vine Reserve Pinotage.

The 2007  spent four days in open fermenters with the cap  being punched down by hand. Fermentation temperature was between 26 and 28°C. After malolactic fermentation in stainless steel the wine was matured in 100% new French oak barrels for 23 months.

The winery says it will reach perfection ‘in 15 – 20 years’. But I couldn’t wait, and thankfully it’s hard to believe it could get any better because this was Pinotage perfection at nine years.

I’ve enjoyed several Diesels over the years, mostly in South Africa and much younger since the large heavy bottle is difficult to carry home. It’s a big wine when young. 

This 2007 had soft tannins under sophisticated subtle silky Pinotage fruit with depths. Age had turned it into a ballerina, dancing on the tongue as it revealed more and more layers of flavours. And all too soon it was an empty bottle…….

Wine of Origin Stellenbosch
Total Acidity:         6.1 g/l
Alcohol:                 14.50%
pH:                        3.64
Total SO2              141 mg/l
Residual Sugar:     3.2 g/l
Age of Vines:        15 - 20 years old

29 August 2016

Pinotage was a Decision of the Heart

“Our Pinotage was a decision of the heart," says Jennifer Molgat, (left) owner of The View winery in British Columbia, Canada, in an interview with Brandi Parnell in Mint Magazine

Jennifer says “My father had close friends in South Africa. He traveled there and fell in love with the wine. I think people thought he was crazy when he returned home with a decision to grow Pinotage; in hindsight, it was the right decision because it is an early ripening red – perfect for our region”

The View was the first winery in Canada to make a Pinotage rosé and this year they released a  blanc de noir White Pinotage 2015.

Read the full story, with some great photos by Sharla Pike  here

Read about my own visit to The View with a video see here


27 August 2016

2016 Winners- Pinotage Top 10 Competition

The 10 winners of the 2016 Absa Pinotage Top 10 Competition are
  • 2015 Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve
  • 2014 Flagstone Writers Block Pinotage
  • 2014 Fleur du Cap Pinotage Unfiltered
  • 2010 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
  • 2015 Knorhoek Two Cubs Pinotage
  • 2013 KWV The Mentors Pinotage
  • 2014 L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage
  • 2014 Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Pinotage
  • 2013 Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage
  • 2015 Rooiberg Winery Reserve Pinotage

It's the 11th win for both Kanonkop and Rijks!

The awards function was held last night,26 August at the Cavalli Estate outside Stellenbosch. 144 wines entered this years competition, the 20th.

for the event, which was the 20th time South Africa’s leading cultivar-focussed wine competition was held.

Beyers Truter, chairman of the Pinotage Association, said that two features stood out from this year’s competition: the milestones reached by Kanonkop and Rijk’s and the performance of wines made from the 2014 vintage which produced four winners. “The vintage was late and cool, with a very wet pre-season and produced a relatively light crop,”  said Beyers. “However, the wines from that year are now showing the quality and refined elegance to take Top 10 trophies, showing us how exceptional the vintage actually was. Consumers can definitely tick off 2014 as a must-have year for red wine."

“When the Pinotage Association founded the Absa Top 10 Competition in 1997, we had a vision of not only honouring Pinotage wines but also to create legends,” said Truter. “By winning Top 10 awards eleven times, Kanonkop and Rijk’s have now undoubtedly established themselves not only as legendary producers of Pinotage, but icons in the South African wine industry, too.”

“As a producer myself I know how high the demands of the judging panel are, and to show the kind of consistency Kanonkop and Rijk’s have done throughout the years is an affirmation of the winemaker’s understanding of his terroir, the unique traits of the Pinotage grape and tremendous winemaking skill.”

This year’s judges were Neil Ellis (convenor), Johann Fourie (winemaker for KWV), Stephan Joubert (DGB viticulturist), Francois Rautenbach (Singita wine and beverage director)  and  Samarie Smith (wine writer). Two winemaking students joined the panel as protégés. Kayleigh Hattingh and Tim Whitfield from Stellenbosch University and the Elsenburg Agricultural College respectively participated in the full tasting, but their scores were not counted.

Neil Ellis said that the panel was not restricted to awarding a certain style of Pinotage. “My brief to the judges was to be objective in acknowledging diversity in styles found within the range of Pinotages entered and they really took this to heart. This year we saw many more examples where winemakers are not simply trying to follow the tried-and-tested methods used by icon wines from one or two specific regions. More Pinotages are made in styles that best suits the unique characteristics the winemakers are getting from grapes in their own areas.

“This progression is welcomed, but expected as Pinotage producers count among South Africa’s leading and most visionary winemakers today. Overall there appears to be a better understanding of the grape. Extraction is well-managed, leading to brighter fruit expression and more balanced wines.”

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Doug Walker, Absa’s Provincial Managing Executive in the Western Cape, says:  “On behalf of Absa, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year’s outstanding finalists and winners in the Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition, especially Kanonkop and Rijk’s Cellars for once again re-writing the history books. We wish all the trophy winners and finalists great success on their winemaking journey and hope they continue to prosper in local and international wine markets.”

“At Absa we are proud of our partnership with the Pinotage Association, now in its 20th consecutive year, as we continue to promote uniquely South African wines made from Pinotage grapes. The Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition has become an important platform for the recognition of excellence in the wine-making industry.”

Congratulations to all.

19 August 2016

2016 Pinotage Top 10 Finalists

The 20 finalists for the 2016 Absa Pinotage Top 10 Competition are:-

  • Delheim Vera Cruz Estate Pinotage 2014
  • Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2015
  • Flagstone Writers Block Pinotage 2014
  • Fleur du Cap Pinotage Unfiltered 2014
  • Frater Family Wines Oupa Bull Pinotage Reserve 2015
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2010
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2013
  • Knorhoek Two Cubs Pinotage 2015
  • KWV The Mentors Pinotage 2013
  • Landskroon Pinotage 2014
  • L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage 2014
  • Lyngrove Platinum Pinotage 2014
  • Maastricht Pinotage 2015
  • Manley Pinotage 2014
  • Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Pinotage 2014
  • Rickety Bridge Pinotage 2015
  • Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2013
  • Rooiberg Winery Reserve Pinotage 2015
  • Simonsig Pinotage Redhill 2014
  • Springfontein Wine Estate Jonathan’s Ridge Single Vineyard Pinotage 2012

The 10 winners will be announced on 29 August 2016.

This is the 20th year of the competition which started in 2007. In the past 19 years two wineries have won more times than any other: Kanonkop and Rijks, both taking 10 trophys, and it is good to see they are both finalists this year.

There's a good mix of established names and newcomers. I'm pleased to see L'Avenir back in the finals; their vineyards  produced 7 wins in the past and the current entry's back label honours Francois Naude the winemaker from that time.

Pinotage Association Chairman Beyers Truter said

"Rijk’s and Kanonkop, as other finalists such as Simonsig and Diemersdal are no strangers to the Absa Top 10, while relative newcomer producers of the likes of Rickety Bridge and Frater Family Wines are exciting developments.

Together with this mix of new and established, it is fantastic to see quality Pinotages originating from nearly all of South Africa’s diverse regions – from Stellenbosch and Paarl, to Walker Bay, Durbanville and Robertson. For quality Pinotage wines to be produced from such a diverse spectrum of terroirs not only underscores the versatility of the grape; it is also testimony of the producers’ love for fine winemaking, their commitment and insight of the region’s climates and terrains.”

Congratulations to all.

12 August 2016

Pinotage 'defies outdated stereotype'

 "South African wine defies outdated stereotype", says Michele Parente at The San Diego Union-Tribune, who chose Kanonkop Pinotage 2013  as her  Wine of the Week.

She says

This misunderstood wine, a hybrid of pinot noir and cinsault, tastes like neither. But it tastes delicious. So much so, I’m breaking the $30 limit on Wine of the Week picks to shout from the rooftops that if you haven’t heard of pinotage before, seek it out. Or, if you’ve been unaware of the improvement in quality of these South African native wines over the past 15 years, consider yourself aware.

Read the review at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jul/27/wine-of-week-kanonkop-pinotage/

01 August 2016

WoTM -- Ayama Pinotage 2013

My Wine of the Month for July 2016 is Ayama Pinotage 2013, from their vineyards in Voor Paaardederg.

Berries – especially red cherries – were very much to the fore on opening, with a light sweet cherry thread to the front on the palate. It treads lightly on its 14.5% abv with a bright clean fresh fruit finish.

I’ve not come across this label before. Ayama's first bottling was in 2006 and this wine was a Winner in the 2015 ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition.