31 December 2016

WoTM KWV Classic Collection Pinotage 2015

My Wine of the Month for December 2016 is KWV ‘Classic Collection’ Pinotage 2015

KWV have been making excellent wines in recent years, the Mentors range in particular, and their exceptional Cape Blend Abraham Perold Tributum’.

The Classic Collection is, I believe, their entry level label. But the Pinotage doesn’t disappoint.

It’s bright in the glass with medium colour. Made in a modern style, clean as a whistle with fresh spicy fruit flavours and very drinkable. An everyday Pinotage at a very competitive price. Closed with cork.

(I’m a bit puzzled by the assertion on the front label that ‘Western Cape is one of the top wine producing regions in South Africa’.: surely it is, without doubt, the top, with only minimal amounts of wine grown outside.)

15 December 2016

Oak Mountain Winery, Temecula Valley, California

Oak Mountain Winery grows and makes Pinotage in California’s Temecula Valley.

I was last in Temecula in 2002 and there’s been a lot of development and new wineries since then, with around forty-eight now in the valley. Temecula is roughly midway between southern Los Angeles and San Diego, just off  interstate highway 15.

Oak Mountain opened in 2005. They grow an interesting selection of varieties, mostly Mediterranean and the one that most interested me – Pinotage.
The original Estate Pinotage vineyard
The original Pinotage vineyard of about .7 acres runs up the hill from the entrance, but such is demand that they have just grafted over an  acre of Counoise vines to Pinotage. Seems South African ex-pats buy it the entire output of Pinotage the moment it’s released to hoard and age it.
The new Pinotage vineyard that used to  be Counoise.
Temecula Valley is about 22 miles from the coast and sea breezes roll in through the ‘Rainbow Gap’ in coastal mountains between 16:30 and 17:00 to cool these desert vineyards at around 200ft above sea level. 

Oak Mountain vineyards are irrigated – these are desert conditions – but they stop irrigation after véraison to stress the vines.

Harvest takes place at night time to gather grapes when cool and all grapes go to a sorting table.
Oak Mountain winery building
Oak Mountain Pinotage spends 18 months in a mix of 60 gallon (225 litre) barrels, then is blended in tank before bottling. It’s usually released a month after bottling.

I tasted the Oak Mountain Estate Temecula Valley Pinotage 2013. There were fresh berry flavours leading into a dense restrained full bodied wine. I think it needs ore time and I'll be saving thehbottle I bought to bring home

Oak Mountain are the only winery in Temecula to have an underground cellar. They bored into the hillside behind the winery for almost 6 months, stopping only when they hit sand. The cave covers 10,000 feet and later surveys have shown they could double it. 
Part of Oak Mountain Cave

The original intention was as a barrel aging cellar but they get 5-600 visitors every weekend and also rent out the cellar for weddings and functions so the cellar is more profitable as an event space and thus most barrels are aged at Temecula Hills winery which is under the same ownership. 
Boardroom in the Cave used for wine tastings for those on the Cave tour
The Cave Tour at  $30 takes you into the cellar and  includes a tutored tasting around the large table in the impressive board room in the cellar, but it includes an extended sales pitch for their wine club.

New Pinotage growth in the recently grafted vineyard

09 December 2016

Coffee-styled Pinotage has Helped Demystify Wine

 Cape Wine Master Ginette de Fleuriot looks at 'coffee' Pinotage in her column in CityLife.

 “Coffee-styled Pinotage with its distinctive mocha and dark chocolate character has helped to “demystify” wine, making it more accessible to those who were shy of Pinotage or of austere red wines or perhaps wine-shy altogether.”

She discusses how the coffee'n'chocolate flavour was invented by winemaker Bertus Flourie at Diemersfontein, and his latest project and also suggest some other coffee Pinotages.

Read article here


30 November 2016

WoTM Bellingham Pinotage 2014

My wine of the Month for November  2016 is Bellingham ‘Homestead Series’  Pinotage 2014

It may be a step below the Bernard Series Bush Vine, but this ‘Homestead Series’ Pinotage is serious. It’s just appeared on the shelves of Tesco’s at a £10 price point and it doesn’t disappoint,

There’s a gorgeous sweet compote berry smell on opening and it has a bright dark colour in the glass. It’s tight in the glass, slowly releasing complex berry fruit flavours with underscoring whiffs of tobacco. It was aged 11 months in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels, and tannins are subtle.

It’s Wine of Origin Stellenbosch and the grapes were sourced from mountain vineyards above 200 metres.

!4% abv and bottled at the winery, closed with an agglomerate cork.

We drank it on the last day of the month to celebrate the opening today of our road fourteen months after a sinkhole closed it.

Pinotage for Your Next Wine

Nice article by the Chicago Tribune's Michael Austin titled For your next bottle of wine, try a Pinotage.

"When pinotage is good, it can offer a wild array of aromas and flavors, from raspberry, strawberry and cherry to plum, vanilla and coffee, with herbs, minerality, earth, spice, mushrooms, marshmallows and grill smoke also in the mix. Some pinotage bottlings send forth aggressive tannins, while others verge on silky. And colors range from deep crimson to see-your-fingers-through-it pink-ish." 
He encourages readers to give the variety a chance, remarking that it has had detractors in the past, and that there are different styles and varying prices of Pinotage wine.

Austin reviews nine different South African Pinotage varietals from Fairvalley, Ken Forrester, Backsberg, Lammershoek, Warwick Estate, Beaumont, Simonsig, Bosman Family Vineyards and Kanonkop Estate, priced from $11 to $42.

. .

22 November 2016

Beyers Truter Brings Pinotage to Bordeaux

Sunday: To La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux for a Pinotage masterclass presented by Beyers Truter, owner and cellar master of Beyerskloof and Chairman of The Pinotage Association.
La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux

La Cité du Vin’s curving glass, silver and gold metallic structure is meant to symbolise wine swirling in a glass, the sinuous knots of  vine stock and the eddies of the River Garonne, which it overlooks.
Opened on 1 June 2016, it’s a cultural centre celebrating all aspects of wine. 

South Africa is the first wine region to be celebrated with a weekend of events including tastings, music and foods. South African flags were on display throughout the complex.
Discover Pinotage, an iconic South African variety’, a bilingual conference and tasting session was hosted by Beyers Truter. He was supported by students from Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute that he’d been leading through Europe's wine lands.

Florence Maffrand (La Cite du Vin) , Beyers Truter and Elsenburg Graduates
Beyers was in a jovial mood as he introduced his passion to a mostly French audience and stretched the interpreter’s skill.

He covered the history of Cape wine and Pinotage and looked at growing making and marketing it. 
Beyers Truter at La Cite du Vin
Beyers summed up saying that Pinotage had experienced a 70% growth in its home market, is being planted in more countries and that new marketing initiatives were in the pipeline to boost the Pinotage brand. 

We finished with a tutored tastings of two wines; Mellasat White Pinotage 2015. This oak aged serious supple complex white so impressed  Beyers he plans to visit Mellasat and buy a case on his return. 

We finished with Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2014 that had been poured more than an hour previously and was in perfect condition, succulent, soft and ripe with intense berry flavours.

The Elsenburg students had just heard they'd all passed their exams and had earned their degrees. I spoke with some to find their future plans. One had a position at Cederberg Winery, another at Creation Wines in the Hemel in Aarde Valley, another at his family's vineyard and others were planning on taking some time to work at wineries in the northern hemisphere. Best wishes to them all.