18 September 2019

No More Vin de Francois Auctions

For the past 11 years Le Vin de Francois has been launched with an auction where all the bottles were sold. The only way to get this wonderful wine was by bidding or from someone who had a winning bid.

Francois Naudé with his wine
Now Francois Naudé has decided that in future "I will dedicate my time to bringing Le Vin de Francois to many more people" he has written to auction attendees.

The wine will now be released "on a particular date", but details of when this will be, and how and where to buy the wine are yet to be announced.

08 September 2019

Forbes Reviews 7 Pinotages


John Mariani, Senior Contributor at Forbes Magazine says ‘More Quality Wines from South Africa Enterthe Global Market’. By ‘global’ he means the US market, and in a two part article he reviews the following Pinotages, priced from $12 to $58.

Beeslaar Pinotage 2017

Southern Right Pinotage 2018

Ashbourne Pinotage 2016

Lievland Pinotage 2017

M.A.N. Family Wines Pinotage 2017

Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2018

Backsberg Pinotage Rosé 2018



He says “I find that so many are so well priced and that Pinotage is so critical to the country’s viniculture means that it is now expressive of individual vintners’ own style.”


Part 1

Part 2

31 August 2019

WoTM - Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards ‘Definition’ Pinotage 2018


My Wine of the Month for June is Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards ‘Definition’ Pinotage 2018.




Definition is a label of Majestic Wine Warehouse in the UK. They say ‘Definition sets out to capture the quintessential qualities of the world's greatest wine styles. If you want to meet the most famous and revered styles, regions and grape varieties then this is the place to start.’ 


Pinotage is a tricky variety for to claim you’ve captured the ‘most famous and revered style’, as there are many interpretations and the variety is young enough that one style has yet to be accepted as standard. Of course, that’s what makes Pinotage exciting.



The advantage for a retailer of an own label is that they can put marketing effort into their brand while changing supplier, and some Definition wines don’t reveal who actually produces the wine behind the label.


But this wine, the first time that Pinotage  has appeared under the Definition label is clearly shown as being produced and bottled by Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards. It is Wine of Origin Voor-Paardeberg and has the Wine  & Spirit Board seal on its neck.



It’s a screw capped bottle and on opening gave juicy blueberry nose. It was warm and inviting, with a lovely deep colour and depth of fruit flavours underpinned by a hint of dark chocolate. This is a well made wine that just slips down, and just 13.5% abv.



Majestic’s website says this wine had extra skin contact, and the back label says the fruit came from old bush vines, but what – if any – wood treatment it had we don’t know. It doesn’t appear in Platter and Leeuwenkuil’s website is ‘under construction’.


30 August 2019

2019 Cape Blend Winners


The five winners of the 9th annual Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition are:

Asara Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2016
WO Stellenbosch: Shiraz, Pinotage, Malbec
Winemaker – Janette van Lill.
Clos Malverne Spirit of Malverne Limited Release 2015
WO Stellenbosch: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec. 
Winemaker- IP Smit.
Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2017
WO Stellenbosch: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Merlot. 
Winemaker – Danie Steytler.
KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2012
WO Coastal Region: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah
Winemaker – Izélle van Blerk.
Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2016

WO Botrivier: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz. 
Winemaker – Braam Gericke

The winners were announced yesterday, 29 August 2019 at a prize ceremony at Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

This is a record sixth win for KWV Abraham Perold Tributum. 
And Wildekrans will be celebrating as the only ones to win both the Absa Top 10 Pinotage and Perold Cape Blend competitions this year

Judges were: Convenor Wilhelm Pienaar (Hermanuspietersfontein), Janno Briers-Louw (Eenzaamheid), Samarie Smith (Benguela Cove), Nataleé Botha (Kleine Zalze) and Heinrich Kulsen (Nederburg). 

The rules have been amended with effect from the 2019 vintage that Pinotage should be the major component of the blend which must be between 30% and 70% Pinotage.


Pinotage Rose Winners 2019



Winners of the third   Pinotage Rosé competition, announced yesterday, are:

Alvi’s Drift Signature Pinotage Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Dr. Alvi van der Merwe
Beyerskloof Pinotage Dry Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Anri Truter
Landskroon Blanc de Noir Pinotage Off-Dry 2019
Winemaker – Michiel du Toit
Windmeul Pinotage Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Abraham van Heerden


Anri Truter of Beyerskloof was also a winnee in this years Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition with his Wine Maker's Reserve 2017.

The judging panel was: Wilhelm Pienaar (Hermanuspietersfontein), Janno Briers-Louw (Eenzaamheid), Samarie Smith (Benguela Cove), Nataleé Botha (Kleine Zalze) and Heinrich Kulsen (Nederburg).

23 August 2019

Cape Blend and Pinotage Rose 2019 Competition Finalists


The ten finalists in the 9th annual Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition are:

Asara Vineyard Collection Cape Fusion 2016
WO Stellenbosch: Shiraz, Pinotage, Malbec. Winemaker – Janette van Lill.
Beyerskloof Faith 2016
WO Stellenbosch: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. Winemaker – Anri Truter.
Clos Malverne Spirit of Malverne Limited Release 2015
WO Stellenbosch: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec. Winemaker- IP Smit.
Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2017
WO Western Cape: Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Pinot Noir, Malbec. Winemaker-Gerhard Swart.
Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2017
WO Stellenbosch: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Merlot. Winemaker – Danie Steytler.
KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2012
WO Coastal Region: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah. Winemaker – Izélle van Blerk.
Cape West Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinotage 2018 (Namaqua Wines)
WO West Coast Region: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker – Reinier van Greunen.
Rooiberg Winery Reserve  Cape Blend 2015
WO Robertson: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz. Winemaker – André Scriven
Wellington Wines La Cave Cape Blend 2016
WO Wellington: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz. Winemaker – Francois van Niekerk
Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2016
WO Botrivier: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz. Winemaker – Braam Gericke

From these ten, 5 winners will  be announced on 29 August 2019 at Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. 

This year the rules have been amended. While a Cape Blend must be between 30% and 70% Pinotage, from the 2019 vintage Pinotage should also be the major component.

Judges are: Convenor Wilhelm Pienaar (Hermanuspietersfontein), Janno Briers-Louw (Eenzaamheid), Samarie Smith (Benguela Cove), Nataleé Botha (Kleine Zalze) and Heinrich Kulsen (Nederburg).
 


The third year of the Pinotage Rosé competition has  more than doubled the entries with 26 wines this year. The four finalists are:

Alvi’s Drift Signature Pinotage Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Dr. Alvi van der Merwe

Beyerskloof Pinotage Dry Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Anri Truter
Landskroon Blanc de Noir Pinotage Off-Dry 2019
Winemaker – Michiel du Toit
Windmeul Pinotage Rosé 2019
Winemaker – Abraham van Heerden

Congratulations to all.

19 August 2019

Diemersfontein launch Prodigy, an everyday Pinotage

Diemersfontein has added a new wine to their Pinotage portfolio.

Joining the original ‘coffee & chocolate’ Pinotage and the serious age-worthy Carpe Diem is The Prodigy Pinotage.

The Prodigy is fermented in stainless steel tanks with minimal oak influence. “We had a particular fruit-driven style in mind for The Prodigy and we didn’t want oak to dominate the wine, only to give it a little bit of structure and backbone,” said cellar master Francois Roode, “it’s a lighter fruit-driven style for everyday enjoyment.”  

Also new is the label of the popular ‘coffee & chocolate’ Pinotage which has been redesigned and titled “The Original”.

Ex farm, the Prodigy is priced at 75R, the Original at 127R and Carpe Diem at 230R 

The 15th year of Diemersfonteins’ ‘Pinotage on Tap’ celebration of the latest Pinotage vintage still has three dates this year to attend in South Africa – 24 August in Gauteng, 28 September at Diemersfontein and 2 November in Clarens. Details here.



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15 August 2019

2019 Pinotage Top 10 Winners



Winners of the 2019 Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition were announced last night at an awards function at Boschendal. They are:

Anura Reserve 2016
WO Simonsberg-Paarl (Anura), winemaker Stander Maass

Badsberg  2018
WO Breedekloof (Badsberg Wynkelder), winemaker Henri Swiegers

Beyerskloof Winemaker’s Reserve 2017
WO Stellenbosch (Beyerskloof Wyne), winemaker Anri Truter

Diemersdal Reserve 2018
WO Durbanville (Diemersdal Landgoed), winemaker Thys Louw

Fleur de Cap Series Privee  2016
WO Coastal Region (Distell – Fleur du Cap Wines), winemaker Pieter Badenhorst

Kanonkop Estate 2015
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch (Kanonkop Wine Estate), winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

Overhex Survivor 2017
WO Swartland (Overhex Wines International), winemaker Ben Snyman

Simonsig Redhill  2017
WO Stellenbosch (Simonsig Landgoed), winemaker Debbie Thompson

Vondeling Bowwood 2016
WO Voor Paardeberg (Vondeling Wines), winemaker Matthew Copeland

Wildekrans  Barrel Select Reserve 2016
WO Botrivier (Wildekrans Wine Estate), winemaker Braam Gericke


This is the 14th win for Kanonkop, the 9th win for Beyerskloof and the 8th for Diemersdal.


Beyers Truter, chairman and founder of the Pinotage Association, highlighted that Pinotage’s quality continues its upwards curve and that the market for wines made from this cultivar continues to grow – locally and abroad. He said:

“The exceptional quality of the wines we’re seeing year after year shows us that producers, viticulturists and winemakers are pulling together. In the end it’s all about being in touch with one’s terroir. Absa shares this opinion and has been a partner of the Pinotage Association for more than two decades. They also share our long term vision, which is one of Pinotage prospering worldwide.

What I also find particularly encouraging is the variety of styles possible with Pinotage. This year the extraordinary spread of winners hail from six wine regions, each with their unique style, character and challenges. Our young winemakers are a brave bunch and are pushing the boundaries of what their respective regions can offer in terms of not only quality, but also diversity.”




Museum Class Trophy Winners (wines older than 10 years)
Fairview Primo Pinotage 2007
WO Coastal origin (Fairview), winemaker Anthony de Jager

Hill & Dale Pinotage 2007
WO Stellenbosch (Hill & Dale), winemaker Guy Webber

Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2009
WO Tulbagh (Rijk’s Cellars), winemaker Pierre Wahl

31 July 2019

WoTM - Simonsig 2016

There weren't many opportunities to enjoy Pinotage in July as a large chunk of it was spent in Ukraine and Wales, but our hotel at the end of the month in Criccieth, Wales had a selection of Simonsig wines, and so after an aperitif of Kaapse Vonkel 2013 MCC (lovely matured sparkling wine) we had my Wine of The Month Simonsig Pinotage 2016.

I'd always thought Simonsig's white label Pinotage was unwooded, but the fact sheet for this vintage of the wine says that  36% of the wine was matured on French oak staves.

It was delightfully fresh, offering bold fruit flavours with  gentle tannins on the finish to make another glass a necessity.

26 July 2019

2019 Pinotage Top 10 Finalists

Absa Top 20 Finalists:

Anura Reserve 2016
WO Simonsberg-Paarl (Anura), winemaker Stander Maass

Badsberg  2018
WO Breedekloof (Badsberg Wynkelder), winemaker Henri Swiegers

Beyerskloof Winemaker’s Reserve 2017
WO Stellenbosch (Beyerskloof Wyne), 
winemaker Anri Truter

Lutzville Francois le Vaillant 2016
WO Lutzville Valley (Cape Diamond Wines), winemaker Christoff de Wet

Diemersdal Reserve 2018
WO Durbanville (Diemersdal Landgoed), winemaker Thys Louw

Diemersdal MM Louw 2017
WO Durbanville (Diemersdal Landgoed), winemaker Thys Louw

Fleur de Cap Series Privee  2016
WO Coastal Region (Distell – Fleur du Cap Wines), winemaker Pieter Badenhorst

Kanonkop Estate 2015
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch (Kanonkop Wine Estate), winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

Kanonkop Estate 2017
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch (Kanonkop Wine Estate), winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

KWV The Mentors 2017
WO Coastal origin (KWV), winemaker Izéle van Blerk

Môreson Widow Maker 2016
WO Stellenbosch (Moreson), winemaker Clayton Reabow

Overhex Survivor 2017
WO Swartland (Overhex Wines International), winemaker Ben Snyman

Simonsig Redhill  2017
WO Stellenbosch (Simonsig Landgoed), winemaker Debbie Thompson

Simonsig Redhill  2016
WO Stellenbosch (Simonsig Landgoed), winemaker Debbie Thompson

Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Single Vineyard  2017
WO Robertson (Viljoensdrift Associated Wineries cc), winemaker Fred Viljoen

Vondeling Bowwood 2016
WO Voor Paardeberg (Vondeling Wines), winemaker Matthew Copeland

Wildekrans  Barrel Select Reserve 2016
WO Botrivier (Wildekrans Wine Estate), winemaker Braam Gericke

Wildekrans  Barrel Select Reserve 2015
WO Botrivier (Wildekrans Wine Estate), winemaker Braam Gericke

Windmeul The Legend Collection 2017
WO Coastal origin (Windmeul Kelder), winemaker Abraham van Heerden

Windmeul Reserve 2016
WO Paarl (Windmeul Kelder), winemaker Abraham van Heerden

Pinotage Icon / Museum Class Finalists

Fairview Primo Pinotage 2007
WO Coastal origin (Fairview), winemaker Anthony de Jager

Hill & Dale Pinotage 2007
WO Stellenbosch (Hill & Dale), winemaker Guy Webber

Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2009
WO Tulbagh (Rijk’s Cellars), winemaker Pierre Wahl

In this, the 23rd year of the Pinotage Top 10 Competition, 116 entries were received. In the first round of judging the top 20 wines are selected as finalists, and the winning top 10 chosen from these will be announced on 14 August 2019.
Five wineries each have 2 wines in the 20: Diemersdal, Kanonkop, Simonsig,  Wildekrans and Windmeul.

The judging panel comprised Winnie Bowman (Cape Wine Master) chairing the judging.  Greg Sherwood MW (London based Wine Master), Razvan Macici (award winning winemaker), Nomonde Kubheka (winemaker connected to Pinotage Youth Development Academy), Frans Smit (Spier cellarmaster) and Solly Monyamane (protégé). 
Association chairman Beyers Truter says, “The Pinotage Association finds the exceptional quality of the wines produced by members hugely rewarding, and even more so the very representative list of finalists from most of the major South African wine regions. Several industry veterans, including me, are really proud of how Pinotage has grown in stature – a decade ago nobody would have believed that consumer demand would ever allow for some of the iconic Pinotage wines to eventually sell for as much as R1000 per bottle or even more!”

Tina Playne, Absa’s Head of Sectors and Segments Relationship Banking,  wishes the finalists well and confirms how proud Absa is of its association with the event for the past 23 years. She added that it is a great privilege to have walked such a long path with a classic slice of South African wine heritage that is Pinotage"

30 June 2019

WoTM - Spier Seaward Pinotage 2017


My Wine of the Month for June is Spier ‘Seaward’ Pinotage 2017.

Spier makes  excellent Pinotage , especially their top of the range 21 Gables.


Seaward comes in a tall heavy deeply punted bottle. It was lighter bodied than I expected, but had some lovely red cherry flavours and spiciness. There was a waft of cedar wood on the nose.



There is no information about Seaward Pinotage on Spier’s website which says “Spier has spent the last two years developing a unique duo of wines that pay homage to the benefits of growing grapes along the coast. The aptly titled Seaward range is comprised of a sophisticated, lightly-wooded Chardonnay and a layered, spicy Shiraz.”

It also says “The Seaward range will be exclusively available from the Spier wine shop from May onwards, and in stores from July 2019” which is strange because I bought this in May from Majestic in the UK, and a Seaward Cabernet and Chenin are also on the UK market. 

Seaward Pinotage is priced about two-thirds of the cost of 21 Gables, and double the cost of the Signature Pinotage.

22 June 2019

Pinotage Puddings


There’s something sweet in the air, and it’s Pinotage.   This week has seen two recipes, both featuring Pinotage, from wineries about as far distant as possible.




First is Delheim Pinotage Salted Chocolate and Berry Ice Cream by Elmarie Berry who says “we absolutely love this no-churn ice cream; it is super easy to make and you will get goose bumps with every bite. Great flavour complexity and texture and the best of both worlds! 

Elmarie's recipe is here. 



From the View Winery, in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley on the north west of Canada, owner  Jennifer Turton-Molgat makes trifle from her prize winning  Pinotage Rosé.


Jennifer enjoyed her Nana’s special Sherry Jelly with whipped cream at Christmas or New Years Eve. She says 

“although we found the Sherry flavour somewhat potent as children, my brothers, sisters, cousins and I still relished the dessert. 

With the transition of our family orchard into grapevines and winemaking it seemed only natural to try using wine instead of sherry in Nana’s recipe. Pinotage Rosé is one of my personal favourites. Its vivid strawberry notes and mouth-watering acidity make a delicious, flavourful jelly.”


The View Rosé has won multiple gold awards nationally and been awarded Best Rosé at the Best of BC Wine Awards 2011.

The recipe for Jennifer Turton-Molgat Nana’s Pinotage Rosé Jelly  is here. (as reported by Jennifer Schell for Vernon Info News) 



(Image courtesy Delheim)


31 May 2019

WoTM - Stoneboat Solo Pinotage 2007


My Wine of The Month for May is Stoneboat Vineyards 'Solo'2007. This is a selection of the best five barrels of Stoneboat's already excellent Pinotage. 

Stoneboat is located at the southern end of Okanagen Valley, in British Columbia,  near the border with the USA which is geographically part of the Sonoran desert. 

It's sandy soil, so the vines grow on their own roots. Sometimes winters are so harsh that a vine is killed, but as they are on their own roots, rather than grafted, a new shoot soon appears and the vine regrows. 

Cold winters also means that Stoneboat are the only winery to have made a Pinotage ice-wine. According to VQA rules, grapes for ice-wine can  be picked only after three consecutive 24 hour days with temperatures below -8 Celcius. 

The cork on this wine crumbled and I was lucky to get it all out of the bottle.

The wine was  showing its age, with subdued tannins but offering  pure red cherry flavours. A delight.

Read about my trip to Stoneboat in 2011 here.


21 May 2019

LIWF and Reverie Pinotage 2015


To the London International Wine Fair, where I found dapper Johan Krige pouring his full range of Kanonkop wines, including the delicious ten year old 2009 Pinotage. 
David Sonnenberg (owner Diemersfontein) and Dann de Jongh (winemaker at Contantia Uitsig)

David Sonnenberg of Diemersfontein poured his coffee Pinotage, the sleek Reserve Carpe Diem and – new to me – Harlequin Shiraz-Pinotage blend.



Harlequin showed how Shiraz and Pinotage make such a complementary pairing.


Also new to me was Reverie Pinotage 2015. This is the label of Jacques de Klerk whose day job is winemaker at Radford Dale. Up to now Reverie has solely focused on Chenin, a variety loved by Jacques so much his email and Twitter handle are Chenin. This was his first Reverie Pinotage and it was made by the carbonic maceration, a technique most commonly found in Beaujolais.


The wine was fresh, light bodied and pale coloured and I could see the Beaujolais connection; a nice luncheon wine


It’s probably not coincidence, but Radford Dale’s ‘Winery of Good Hope’ label also produce a carbonic maceration Pinotage and one of the vineyards they use the grape from is in Voor Paardeberg.






17 April 2019

Tim James tastes 50 years of Meerendal Pinotage

Tim James attended a celebration  at Meerendal Estate to mark the 50 years since the first bottlings under the estate name and visited the old Pinotage vineyard planted in 1955.

Six hectares of bushvines that now provide grapes for the Meerendal Heritage Block Pinotage – the bottles bearing the Old Vines Project Heritage seal. It’s the oldest extant vineyard in Durbanville and one of the oldest pinotage blocks in the country.

Read the full article published at WineMag.co.za here.


To read about my visit last year and to see a video of the winemaker in the old vineyard click here
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13 April 2019

Pinotage is a terrific calling card - Steven Spurrier


 
“Pinotage is a terrific calling card for South Africa ­– it can be what Malbec is to Argentina or Carménère to Chile. Pinotage and Chenin Blanc are your door-openers” stated Steven Spurrier in an interview with Anton Pretorius in the January 2019 edition of South African wine industry magazine WineLand.

Steven Spurrier is perhaps most famous for organising the tasting between to French and California wines in Paris in 1976 which became known as ‘The Judgement of Paris’ and later made into the movie Bottle Shock. He’s a respected wine expert, writer, director of The Christie’s Wine Course and consultant editor of Decanter magazine.

Note1: At time of posting the article was not on WineLand's website.
Note2: The film Bottle Shock bears little relation to reality.


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