30 June 2017

WoTM Spioenkop 1900 Pinotage 2012

My Wine of The Month for June is Spioenkop ‘1900’ Pinotage 2012.

At a tasting of premium Pinotages I recently presented, one of the attendees told me afterwards that he’d come to get an ‘understanding of what Pinotage is’, and he said he was leaving feeling just as confused as when he came. 

One of the delights of the variety is that there is no old-world region producing a template in the way there is for Pinot or Cabernet/Merlot etc, and so Pinotage can – and is – interpreted in many different ways. 

My seeker after the essence of Pinotage would have left even more confused had he been poured Spioenkop ‘1900’ Pinotage 2012.

This was a Platter 5 Star wine in the 2014 Guide, praised as “Pinotage re-imagined”.

With just 12.5% abv it feels light bodied, there’s a distinct perfume of violets on the nose with layers of sweet fruit on top with a short finish. It’s restrained, more Fleurie Beaujolais than Stellenbosch Pinotage. It’s agreeable with raspberry flavours, and although a nice wine I doubt it’d be identified as Pinotage in a blind tasting. Which would be an attraction to many, but, interesting as it is, it’s not my preferred style.

The ‘latest’ vintages listed on Spioenkop’s website are from the 2011 vintage, so there’s no information about this wine. Spioenkop’s ‘1900’ label is used for wines made from grapes source from outside winery’s Elgin location and refers to the year of a victory at Spionkop in Natal by the Afrikaners in the war with the British. 

05 June 2017

NEWTS Premium Pinotage Tasting

To North Ealing on Friday 2 June to present a tasting of premium Pinotages to the NEWTS, which is the delightful acronym of North Ealing Wine Tasting Society.

We started with a double pour of Beyerskloof Pinotage 2015 to synchronise palates, before the main feature, which were:

Springfontein Estate
Daredevils’ Drums
Blushes Inverse
Blanc de Pinotage 2015 
Estate Wine of Origin Walker Bay

David & Nadia Wines
Pinotage 2015
Wine of Origin Swartland

Pinotage  2012
Wine of Origin Citrusdal Mountain

Loma Prieta
Amarosa Vineyard
Pinotage 2010
AVA Lodi (California)

Wine of Origin Hemel-in-Aarde Valley
 (Pinotage 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, Malbec & Petite Verdot each 3.5%)

L’Avenir Estate
Single Block 02
Pinotage 2014
Single Vineyard  Estate Wine of Origin Stellenbosch

Pinotage 2013
Wine of Origin Stellenbosch

Kanonkop Estate
Pinotage 2005
Estate Wine of Origin Simonsberg-Stellenbosch

Averaging out scoring at the end of the evening showed the Kanonkop came top, just above Beeslaar and Loma Prieta which tied, then L’Avenir.

The white Pinotage, which as its name Blushes Inverse suggested, was faintly pink, had been made in an oxidative style had its fans but they were outnumbered.

Andrew Price and Peter May at NEWTS

Thanks to Andrew Price for organising the tasting for NEWTS, and for the photographs which you can ‘like’ on Andrew’s Instagram site here



02 June 2017

Grangehurst Pinotage 2007

.At the London Wine Fair I met two old friends, South African based international wine judge Yegas Naidoo and  Rainer Koos
Rianer Koos, Peter May, Yegas Naidoo

Yegas was paying a brief visit to the show before flying to Quebec that evening to judge at a wine competition.
Rainer  represents several wineries, including Grangehurst and he poured me a glass of Grangehurst 2007 Pinotage. 

I didn’t expect to find a ten year old wine being promoted at the show but was told it was the current release. 

“Jeremy only releases his wines when they are mature,” Koos told me. Jeremy Walker is owner-winemaker of Grangehurst where the mantra is Handcrafted, Traditional Unhurried.

This isn’t 100% Pinotage, there’s a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, which Jeremy says ‘provides an interesting dimension of fruit, tannin and additional acidity, which contribute to the complexity and balance.’

The recipe is a serendipitous discovery made when Jeremy’s maiden Pinotage harvest in 1992  didn’t produce enough fruit to fill the tank so 8% of Cabernet was added.

This 2007 vintage was pressed in traditional basket presses and aged 20 months  in new barrels, 94% French and 6% American.

The wine was showing its age, already browning in colour, with aged subtle fruits thining and delivering intense Pinotage sweetness.

It was ten years ago that I visited Grangehurst (how time flies by) where Jeremy told me the restaurants he supplies likes aged wine and he crafts wines to accompany food. 

Tasting was good but I’d like to have this with dinner…