09 June 2018

Anura Pinotage Reserve 2016

I was taken with the Anura Pinotage Reserve 2016 that Emil Kanstinger was pouring at last months London Wine Fair.

Emil told me that it spent 18 months in 80% new and 20% second fill oak barrels, 75% French, 25% American.

It had a good red colour and was soft and ripely fruity; blackberry and plums, and there was a deliciously spicy uplift with a touch of Pinotage sweetness on the finish. Super wine.

31 May 2018

WoTM – Warwick Estate CIWG Pinotage 1995

My Wine of the Month for May is Warwick Estate Cape Independent Winemakers Guild Pinotage 1995.

The Cape Winemakers Guild (they dropped the ‘Independent’ part of the name some years ago) annually blind tastes wines submitted by their members. Those selected are sold by auction with an exclusive CWG label.

This wine was made by Norma Ratcliffe, co-owner and founder of Warwick Estate, and the Cape's first female winemaker in modern times. When Norma retired from everyday winemaking she was honoured with the title ‘Keeper of the Key’ to continue playing an active role in CWG.

This wine was given me by Mike Ratcliffe and I kept in in my Eurocave waiting for an occasion to share with someone who’d appreciate it.

That occasion happened when Eleanor Cosman came to stay. Eleanor runs Toronto’s South African Wine Society and her company imports wines into Canada.

After an aperitif of Camel Valley ‘Classic Cuve’ 2013 English sparkling wine we opened the Warwick and from the vintage 20 years later Chateau Naudé ‘Vin de Francois’ 2015.

Warwick’s 1995 wine was a pale translucent orange with a berry nose. It has sweetness backed with some thin berry fruit flavours, and a hint of wine gums. There was enough acidity to balance our roasted chicken, but I’d kept it too long for my current fruit loving tastes. A very interesting wine. Thanks Mike!


23 May 2018

Danie Steytler Jr pours Kaapzicht in London

To Olympia for the 38th London International WineFair. Fewer exhibitors this year, and it seemed few visitors also for the first day.
Danie Steytler Jr. Kaapzicht Estate Winemaker
Danie Steytler Junior of Kaapzicht Estate was showing his wines on their agent Seckford’s stand. Just as Danie Jr took over winemaking duties from his father Danie, so he has given his mother Yngvild a break from her many years of attending London’s wine fair. Yngvild and Danie Snr have taken the opportunity to go on a camping holiday.

Kaapzicht’s 2016 Pinotage offers soft ripe cherry flavours.

Vision 2015 is a blend of 50% Pinotage, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.  “This is the first time Pinotage had been the major variety. Previously Vision has been Cabernet dominated.” said Danie.  “This wine had 2 years aging in 100% new French oak barrels and it was bottled in October 2017.

Vision 2015 is a lovely classy wine, smooth as silk, with sweet berry fruits.

Kaapzicht ‘Steytler’ Pinotage 2015 won the International Wine Challenge Pinotage Trophy. This is a full bodied sophisticated wine with ripe voluptuous sweet plum and berry fruits. I thought it was gorgeous, a flag carrier for the variety, but  Christian Eedes, writing in WineMag  says it “arguably lacks thrill factor.” I’d be thrilled to have this wine with dinner.

22 May 2018

Trajan Totus Pinotage is Best Buy in Shanghai

Trajan Wines 'Totus' limited release Pinotage  was unanimously voted by a panel of Chinese wine experts as the best-buy wine in the category of still red wines valued between EU4 and EU8 on show at last weeks 19th SIAL China International Trade Fair for Food  in Shanghai.

Trajan Wines managing director Mark van Schalkwyk said “I think what makes this award so special is that the Totus limited is a Pinotage, which is made from a 100 percent South African grape. I hope that this vote of confidence from the Chinese will translate into growth in exponential value for this particular wine. This award definitely means we are on the right path if you look at the style of wine we produce for this particular market.”

The news, reported in The Citizen, doesn't mention the vintage of the winning wine. Trajan's website shows only information about their 2008 vintage.

30 April 2018

WoTM - Fairview Barrel Aged Pinotage 2016

My Wine of the Month for April is Fairview ‘Barrel Aged’ Pinotage 2016.

The label is slightly different from the one on Fairview’s site and the back label says it’s an exclusive bottling for the UK supermarket chain Waitrose, but whether the contents are really any different is a trade secret. 

The regular bottling has ten months aging in 15% new French and American oak barrels (same as this wine according to Waitroses website), and the abv and WO are the same.

It was good to see Fairview on the shelves, looking back it seems my purchases in recent years has been at the winery, presumably as a result of not seeing them at home.

This deliciously enjoyable wine had all the hallmarks of good Pinotage: lashings of ripe plum and berry flavours with a spicy edge and a backbone of gentle tannins.

Excellent with chicken tikka jalfrezi.

12 April 2018

Francois Naude’s Le Vin de François Pinotage is an icon

Emile Joubert says that François Naude’s Le Vin de François is now a true icon after 11 years.

Eleven years after launching his unique Pinotage under the Le Vin de François label, legendary wine maker Francois Naudé is seeing his annual once-off offering taking its place at the top of South Africa’s wine offerings, both in terms of quality and in the high-end prices the wine commands.

See the full story here.

Read my report of the 2017 auction here.


08 April 2018

Fish and Pinotage

A decade or so ago when I was judging at the Veritas awards, one evening I went with a large group of  judges for dinner to Cape Town Fish Market restaurant in Stellenbosch.  With us went two boxes of opened wines, left overs from the day's judging panels.

It was a pleasure to at last swallow wine instead of spitting, and to see the label so we knew what was in our glass.

I had Cob, a fish new to me, simply pan fried. It was a delicate, sweet white fleshed. I sampled many of the two dozen wines we'd brought. But the one I returned to and settled on was the delicious Wellington Wines 'La Cave' Pinotage. Red wine and white fish and it made a perfect fit.

I was reminded of that epiphany by Emile Jou
bert's report on his visit to Miller's Thumb fish restaurant in Cape Town intent on pairing L’Avenir 'Grand Vin' Pinotage 2006 with grilled marlin:
"I was already salivating at the thought of the perfumed red elixir chasing the oily, robustly flavoured morsels of marlin.

Game-fish and Pinotage are the perfect match. Just as Ernest Hemingway is inseparable from short sentences, boxing gloves and serial marrying, so a steak of marlin finds its match with Pinotage.

The L’Avenir must be one of the finest examples around, the velvety, red-fruit notes and the mouth-loving texture making the fish swim again, this time through a sea of gorgeously graceful wine flavours."

Click here to read Emile's article 'The Old Miller and the Marlin'.