24 October 2017

SAWS Pinotage Tasting in Toronto

In Toronto to present a Pinotage tasting for the South African Wine Society, run by the indefatigable Eleanor Cosman who sourced all the wines.

The tasting was held, like my previous International Pinotage Tasting in 2014, in the Toronto University Faculty Club, a 1920’s ivy-covered mansion. This time all the wines were South African, apart from the starter Pinotage  from Oregon.

I can't take notes while presenting a tasting, so I am indebted to SAWS stalwart Jon Whitteker whose notes in bold follow the tasting sheets comments.

Reception Wine:    Melrose Pinotage 2009        Oregon, USA
A ruby/garnet wine with glistening transparency and aromas of blackberry fruit, leather, grenadine, thyme and plums. The palate opens to flavors of vanilla, spice, anise currants and navel orange, integrated with soft mouth-watering tannins.  (easy drinking, not overly complex)


Lammershoek Pinotage 2006    Swartland    - $23.50
Elegant, not too fruity, with savoury note (shy nose / opens over time / dark fruit, medium tannin, short dry finish)

Grangehurst Pinotage 2006    Stellenbosch    - $26.95
    Forest floor, juniper & venison notes on mature but lively & fresh base. Drinking well with black fruit detail, fine tannin grip & attractive focus.  (medium dark fruit nose / very good dark fruit palate with hint of chocolate / excellent depth, balance / medium long finish)

Black Elephant The Back Road Pinotage 2012    Franschhoek    - $49.55
Pitch black with a dark purple rim. The nose is very expressive and shows notes of red and black currant, chocolate and exotic spices. The palate is youthful with great fruit concentration, driving acidity and fine but firm tannins.  (initial shy nose with gradual dark fruit / very good depth, length, weight / mouth filling long finish)

SSV Thomas se Dolland Pinotage 2013    Stellenbosch    - $32.70
Intense aromas of ripe plums and mulberries follow through onto a concentrated, rich, highly extracted palate ending in a pleasant, lengthy finish.  (medium dark fruit with silky tannins / medium weight and finish / very drinkable)

Saxenburg Private Collection Pinotage 2014    Stellenbosch    - $29.80
This Pinotage has a generous mixture of red cherry, plum and prune fruit, with some earthy notes. Soft tannin structure, and a rich after taste.  (nose very restrained initially, opened over time / good red fruit, short finish, lacks depth and complexity)

Southern Right Pinotage 2015    Hemel-en-Aarde Valley    - $26.95
One of the most honest, authentic Pinotages of South Africa, showing fruit and florality with fresh blueberry/chokecherry, peony, wood smoke, spice and yes a touch of tar. It is medium weight, fairly firm and dense with pleasant tartness, fine tannin and some minerality on the finish.  (open bouquet with dark fruit / palate has very good fruit, balance, medium length and good acidity )

Warwick Three Cape Ladies Cape Blend 2011    Stellenbosch    - $23.60
Each component of this Cape blend offers it’s own qualities. This vintage shows an explosion of fruit on the nose which is largely attributable to the Cabernet sauvignon and Pinotage components. The Shiraz is soft and sweet. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the backbone of the blend. Spicy stewed fruit and spicy ripe tannins with an innate softness and long lingering aftertaste. This blend brings the best of Pinotage to the classic French varieties and will age well.  (medium nose with good fruit / palate has very good dark fruit, medium full with good length and depth)
 (40% Pinotage / 30% each Cab Sauv & Shiraz)

Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2013        Somerset West    - $16.75
This warm and rich ruby red wine shows great complexity on the nose. There is a mixture of rich dark fruit, cigar box and minty aroma’s with the wood well balanced. Sweet and spicy undertones gives this wine great depth. The wine is well balanced on the pallet showing fresh and crisp acidity. The middle palate shows an explosion of fruit, leaving a lingering aftertaste.  ( initial shy nose with some fruit / palate has good red & black fruit, soft tannins, medium weight, easy drinking finish )
(32% Cabernet Sauvignon / 27% Shiraz / 25% Pinotage / 8% Merlot / 4% Cab Franc / 4% Touriga Nacional / Tinta Barocca / Barbera)

Two servings of food were made during the tasting and it was a mosr enjoyable evening, especially in meeting Eleanor, Jon and other members who'd been to my previous tastings in Toronto.

On a show of hands, the favourite wine of the evening was, narrowly, Southern Right.

Photos of Peter May courtesy of Eleanor Cosman
Thanks again to Jon Whitteker for his tasting notes and support.
Thanks to Eleanor Cosman for the excuse to visit Toronto again, a great tasting and lunch the next day.

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