14 September 2020

Finalists: Cape Bend and Rose 2020

Finalists for the 2020 ABSA Perold Cape Blend and the Pinotage Rose Competition have been announced:


Anura Signature Cape Cuveé 2017

WO Simonsberg-Paarl: Winemaker -Stander Maass

Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2018

WO Western Cape: Winemaker – Gerhard Swart

KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2017

WO Coastal: Winemaker -Izele van Blerk

KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2018

WO Coastal: Winemaker -Izele van Blerk

Lyngrove Platinum Latitude 2017

WO Stellenbosch: Winemaker – Danie van Tonder

Rijk’s Pinotage/Syrah 2015

WO Tulbagh: Winemaker – Pierre Wahl

Stellenbosch Hills Suikerboschrand Cape Blend 2015

WO Stellenbosch: Winemaker – James Ochse

Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Cape Blend 2018

WO Robertson: Winemaker – Fred Viljoen

Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2017

WO Stellenbosch: Winemaker – JD Pretorius

Wellington Wines – La Cave Cape Blend 2018

WO Wellington: Winemaker – Francois van Niekerk 



Bon Courage Lady of the HousePintage Rosé 

WO Robertson: Winemaker -Jacques Bruwer

De Krans Pinotage Rosé 2020 

WO Western Cape: Winemaker – Christoff de Wet

Merwida Pinotage Rosé 2020 

WO Western Cape: Winemaker – Magnus Kriel

Painted Wolf Ros Pinotage Rosé 2020 

WO Paarl: Winemaker – Jeremy Borg

Florence by Aaldering Pinotage Rosé 2020 

WO Stellenbosch: Winemaker – Reinard Odendaal



This year’s winners will be announced on the 22nd of September 2020.



31 August 2020

WoTM - Oak Mountain Pinotage 2013

 My Wine of the Month for August is Oak Mountain Winery Estate Pinotage 2013 (Temecula Valley, California). 

Temecula is in Southern California, roughly midway between southern Los Angeles and San Diego, just off interstate highway 15. It is home to a surprising number of wineries growing an eclectic mix of grapes.

My report on my visit is here so I won’t repeat it. I sampled the 2013 Pinotage at the tasting counter and wrote of it  “there were fresh berry flavours leading into a dense restrained full bodied wine. I think it needs more time and I'll be saving the bottle I bought to bring home.”


Four years later, I opened that bottle this month. Although it was starting to fade, it had good mulberry deep red colour with a hint of violets on the nose. In the mouth it was gentle at the beginning developing into a rich fruit taste in the middle palate, backed by cedar wood and leather and maybe a touch of coffee. The wine was robust, but soft, and acids were apparent on the finish. An ideal food wine then. I’m really glad I brought this bottle home and aged it. It was very enjoyable.

30 August 2020

Delheim Pinotage Rosé and Jamaica Strawberries Combine in Strawberry Rosé Conserve

Following a a recent trip to the Cape by owners Lisa and Chris, their organic vegetarian farm and restaurant Stush in the Bush in Jamaica are using Delheim's  Rosé Pinotage to make Strawberry Rosé Conserve, according to this story in Jamaica Observer.


29 August 2020

Fridjohn - Winemakers expunge the sins of the fathers as Pinotage evolve

Michael Fridjhon is Director of the Wine Judging Academy of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, is an author, co-author or contributor to more than 40 books including the Oxford Companion to Wine, the Global Wine Encyclopaedia and the John Platter Wine Guide. 

He takes a look at Pinotage in his article Winemakers expunge the sins of the fathers as Pinotage evolves

He makes an interesting point that Cabernet Sauvignon would not have been planted in South Africa's first vineyards. Jancis Robinson' Wine Grapes found the first written mention of Cabernet Sauvignon was a hundred years later, in the mid 1700s. 

But I don't agree that "For many purists, it was doomed to be a mongrel – until DNA testing in the past couple of decades proved that most so-called noble varieties were also cross-breeds. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is a natural crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc..."

 I don't think anyone doubted that every grape variety is a cross of two others,  just as all people have two parents. It wasn't until DNA testing that a variety's actual parentage could be established. 

25 August 2020

Prescient Pinotage Report 2020


WineMag.co.za,  the online incarnation of the print magazine WINE has held a series of variety specific tasting competitions, sponsored by multinational financial services company Prescient. This month it was the turn of Pinotage results to be published.


It’s interesting to note the results compared with those for the ABSA Top 10 Finalist’s, also just announced.


The Prescient competition had slightly more than  a third of the number entered for Top 10,  57 entries from 33 producers.


These were scored on the 100-point scale by a panel of three with Christian Eedes (WineMag ) in the chair. The others were Roland Peens and James Pietersen, both of Cape Town wine merchants Wine Cellar.

The panel rated 33 or 60%, of the entries 90-plus, which illustrates “that in basic quality terms Pinotage easily holds its own against single-variety Cab, Merlot and Shiraz.

Perhaps the variety’s greatest attribute is the depth of fruit it delivers while its most considerable drawback is its awkward, sometimes bitter tannins, careful vinification required if rustic, inelegant wines are to be avoided.”


Especially interesting is that all the entries and their scores are given, so one can see which wineries  entered- and which didn’t.


The ten highest scoring wines were:

B Vintners Liberté Pinotage 2018, Stellenbosch

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2018, Stellenbosch

De Grendel Amandelboord Pinotage 2018, Durbanville

Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2018, Stellenbosch

Wellington Wines La Cave Pinotage 2018, Wellington

L’Avenir Pinotage 2017, Stellenbosch

Lievland Bushvine Pinotage 2018, Paarl

MAN Bosstok Pinotage 2018, Coastal Region

Môreson Widow Maker Pinotage 2018, Stellenbosch

Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage 2019, Swartland


The Prescient Pinotage Report 2020 can be read here.

24 August 2020

2020 Pinotage Top 10 Finalists


The 20 Finalists for the 2020 ABSA/Pinotage Association Top 10 Competition are:

Aan de Doorns Pinotage 2018

WO Worcester, Winemakers Chris van Deventer & Chris Geldenhuys

Anura Signature Pinotage 2017

WO Simonsberg-Paarl, Winemaker Stander Maass

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2016  

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage  2017

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter

Beyerskloof Reserve Pinotage  2017

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter

Conradie Family Vineyards Pinotage 2019

WO Western Cape, Winemaker CP Conradie

Delheim Vera Cruz Pinotage 2016

WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Roelof Lotriet

Diemersdal The Journal Pinotage 2018

WO Durbanville, Winemaker Thys Louw

Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve Pinotage 2017

WO Durbanville, Winemaker Wilhelm Coetzee

The Glen Carlou Collection Pinotage 2019

WO Swartland, Winemaker Johnnie Calitz

Kaapzicht Pinotage 2018

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie Steytler

Pulpit Rock’s Brink Family Vineyards Pinotage 2018

WO Swartland, Winemaker Dewald Huisamen

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage 2015

WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage 2014

WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2018

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Michael Malan

Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2017

WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Johan Jordaan

Springfontein Jonathan's Ridge Single Vineyard  Pinotage 2016

WO Walker Bay, Winemaker Tariro Masayiti

Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Single Vineyard Pinotage 2018

WO Robertson, Winemaker Fred Viljoen

Wellington Wines’ La Cave Pinotage 2018

WO Wellington, Winemaker Francois van Niekerk

Windmeul’s The Legend Collection Pinotage 2018

WO Paarl, Winemaker Abraham van Heerden

Three entries for Pinotage specialists Beyerskloof and two for big-hitters Rijk's, with all but one of the rest being frequent finalists or winners, the 24th year of this competition is showing the wineries that have have demonstrated mastery of the variety over two decades.

The 149 entries were judged by Winnie Bowman (Cape Wine Master and panel convenor), Tsogo Sun sommelier Georgio Meletiou, Spier cellarmaster Frans Smit, wine writer Fiona McDonald and viticulturist Solly Monyanane, a protégé judge in 2019.

The six finalists for the ICON Vintage Class are  

Flagstone Writers Block Pinotage 2008

WO Breedekloof, Winemaker Gerhard Swart

Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2009

WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Pinotage 2010

WO Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage 2007

WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage 2010

WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage 2010

WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

05 August 2020

Cloof Winemakers Selection Pinotage 2017 Virtuel Tasting

Cloof  Winemakers Selection Pinotage 2017 is the first wine to be featured in a series of Cloof Wines virtual tastings.

This is presented by Lester Pywell, who says he doesn't understand wine, which is rather disconcerting since he is Cloof's Marketing & Communication agent.

Fact sheet on the wine tasted is here.

03 August 2020

Killer Red for Grilled Meats

Perdeberg “The Dry Lands Collection” Pinotage 2017 from South Africa is a “killer red for your grilled meats this summer”, says Jeffery Anderson in Minnesotas St Cloud Times.

The wine starts off with heady aromatics of cherries, strawberries, dark fruits, spice and vanilla. Flavors of blackberries, dark cherries mocha and spice coat the palate. Incredible structure with layers of complex fruit notes that continue on and on.

This is one of the finest Pinotage under 20 bucks on the market.

Read the full review here.


31 July 2020

WoTM - Perold Vineyard Pinotage 2013

My Wine of the Month for July is Perold Vineyard Pinotage 2013 (WO Stellenbosch). 

This was the first vintage of wine from the special and unusual vineyard, a small (0.5 hectare) old riverbed plot scattered with large stones, named in honour of A I Perold. 

It was planted in October 2008 with 966 vines in a fan shape (as pictured on the label) to examine the effect of sunlight at different angles.


It’s in the town of Stellenbosch on land owned by STIAS, the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, who are doing the study. The wine - 1,000 bottles annually - is now made by the nearby Lanzerac winery but this particular wine was made by Beyerskloof, as shown by the A310 number on the label.

The wrap-around label names not only the clone used (Pinotage PIN48 ‘medium growth and yield, very fruity’), but also the rootstock US8/7UC32, information almost unknown on labels.


Because ‘Perold’ as a wine name is trademarked by KWV, the wine is now sold by Lanzerac under the name Aliquid Novi - certainly since 2015.  


I had only one bottle of this wine which I bought in the Cape, and I blew it. I should have either kept it longer or decanted it. It is light in colour, and tasted light, thin even, with the taste of cloves. But as time passed it grew in the glass and the last pour was best, showing the majesty in this wine if I’d only decanted it. It was silky and had developed complex flavours. Truly delightful at the last glass.

For my blog post with pictures of the vineyard when I visited it in 2011 see here.

Fact sheet on the vineyard is here, and the wine can be purchased from Lanzeracs tasting room or online here.


12 June 2020

Pinotage Podcast

Wines of South Africa (USA) have put together a series of podcasts, including one about Pinotage.

Hosted by Jim Clarke (WOSA USA Marketing Manager) the Pinotage podcast has sessions with winemakers Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop), Jeremy Borg ( Pained Wolf) and Emul Ross (Hamilton Russell, Southern Right and Ashboune) followed by an Sommeliers opinion of Pinotage by Adam Knoerzer, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This is a detailed programme, with lots of technical information on making Pinotage and effect of the soil types it grows on. It finishes with Adam Knoerzer tasting and describing various Pinotages, including the coffee style.

Well worth a listen, it lasts 54 minutes and can be found here:


and on all major podcast apps, such as Apple, Google, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc.

31 May 2020

WoTM - Del-Gatto Estates Odyssey 2016

My Wine of The Month for May is Del-Gatto Estates ‘Odyssey’ Pinotage 2016, Prince Edward County VQA

At the end of October 2017 I drove 2+ hours west from Toronto, Ontario, to Prince Edward Island. The island is close to and connected to the mainland by a bridge. On the south of the island is Del Gatto Estate, the reason for my visit, which I detailed here.

Pat Del Gatto has planted Pinotage and makes an excellent wine from it that had sold out. But Pat had some of the young 2016 in his library which he let me taste and buy a bottle which I BYO’d  in November with a fine steak at  the Double Cut Steakhouse, Kalahari Resort in Poconos, Pennsylvania where I was attending the American Wine Society Conference. 

Pat posted me another bottle which I saved at home and opened this month.

A delicious perfume was released as the cork was raised. The wine was a bright clear dark red and tasted of clean ripe berry fruits, cherry and strawberry. I didn’t note any chocolate flavours this time. The fruit on the front palate lingered long on the lasting aftertaste. The wine was fine drinking now, but there was no hurry as this fine wine will last.

29 May 2020

AWEsome Pinotages

Two Pinotages make the 100 AWEsome wines list chosen by the Association of Wine Educators (AWE).

They are

The Society's Exhibition Pinotage 2017
David & Nadia Siebritskloof Pinotage 2017

The first is Kanonkop's Kadette Pinotage labeled for and sold by The Wine Society in the UK.

The full list is here

25 May 2020

Meerendal Pinotage Tasting Video

Meerendal's Bennie Howard CWM tastes and talks about Meerendal's basic and old vine 'Heritage Block' Pinotages

22 May 2020

The fall and rise of Pinotage

There's a thoughtful article considering   The fall and rise of Pinotage by Rupert Millar at  hudin.com in which he says

Pinotage is a grape capable of a broad spectrum of styles from deeper, darker, almost marshmallow pillowy wines to very light, succulent examples flaunting that Pinot DNA and terroir expression to boot. 

30 April 2020

WoTM- Fairview Broken Barrel Pinotage-Durif 2017

My Wine of The Month for March is Fairview’s Broken Barrel 2017 which is a blend of Pinotage and Durif aka Peteite Sirah.

Every year the Broken Barrel range features a ‘once only’ blend, after which the barrel is broken – that blend never to be repeated. Which is regrettable in this case because this blend is jolly tasty.

For 2017 the Fairview team paired two varieties that resulted by the hand of man, in this case Dr Abraham I Perold from South Africa and Dr François Durif from France, both of whom are pictured on the attractive label.

The variety credited to Durif (a cross of Syrah and Peloursin) goes under two names, Petite Sirah in the USA and Durif in Australia. Fairview was the first in South Africa to grow the variety and they are currently using Petite Sirah for their varietal but have, in the past, used Durif.  

The Broken Barrel wines are available only from the winery, and I was told by tasting room staff the blend is 50/50 but the fact sheet on Fairview’s website shows Pinotage 46%,  Durif 38% and Tannat 16% and  says  the 'Pinotage is grown in the Swartland and the Durif on the Paarl Mountain as trellised and irrigated vines. Grapes were destemmed, crushed and fermented separately in open top wooden foudres. Pump overs and punch downs were done 3-4 times per day during fermentation to extract flavour, colour and tannins from the berries. Finally, the wine was pressed and matured in barrels for 24 months. A combination of French and American 225L oak barrels were used of which 20% were new.'

The wine has a bouquet of cedar wood and in the glass is almost black, although streaked with ruby highlights when catching the lights.

An intense wine, offering dense flavours of black plums and cherry, with spices. A deeply satisfying wine that I’d love to be able to get more of. 14.1%abv, costing 120 Rand only from Fairview.

I bought this wine at Fairview on 9 March, before wineries started to close and lockdown started.

One can visit the Goat Tower next to an empty car park via the live web-cam at https://www.fairview.co.za/live-cam/

10 April 2020

Delheim Video - - Nora Thiel on Pinotage Rose 2020

Delheim Winery co-owner Nora Thiel talks about and tastes the newly released Delheim Pinotage Rose 2020.

Delheim Video - August Pepe on Delheim Pinotage 2017

Visitors to Delheim's Cellar Tasting Room will remember manager August Pepe who leads tastings and winery tours.

In this video he discusses and tastes Delheim Pinotage 2017

31 March 2020

WoTM - Beyerskloof Winemakers Reserve 2016

My Wine of the Month for March is Beyerskloof Winemakers Reserve 2016. This wine isn’t listed on Beyerskloof’s website and it’s only on sale at the winery.

Red Leaf Bistro

I was in the Cape in March and an opportunity to have another Pinotage Burger in the Red Leaf Bistro was a must.

We ordered Winemakers Reserve to accompany the burger and took three bottles away with us.

Winemakers Reserve is positioned between Pinotage Reserve and Diesel. It is a blend of the best ten 225L barriques of the Pinotage Reserve, thus a there is a max of 3,000 75cl bottles. The 2017 vintage was a Pinotage Top 10 Winner in 2019, but that is not yet on sale.

Winemakers Reserve 2016 is dense, and akin to a bud about to open. One can taste greatness, berries and plums and a lick of tannin, but it will reward more time to blossom. 

The Pinotage Reserve 2017, though a year younger, is more approachable. Thus for bottles I opened, I gave them time in the glass before drinking and I’ll keep for a couple of years those I brought home.

Fermenting Pinotage at Beyerskloof. Planks for standing on when punching down cap, and stainless steel cooling pipes

Winemakers Reserve brings a new red Pinotage to Beyerskloof's portfolio, which goes like this

Wine of Origin
Cost at Winery
Western Cape
The enjoyable entry level screwcapped Pinotage with a white label, aged in tank with oak staves.
Reserve Selection
Western Cape
Not Available
Export label, blend of barrel and tank stave aged. In UK, bulk shipped and bottled in UK with screwcap.
Barrel aged, cork
Winemakers Reserve
10 best barrels of Reserve, cork
Wide heavy bottle, selected old vineyard, cork

14 March 2020

Pinotage Tap Turned Off

Diemersfontein’s popular Pinotage on Tap (POT) festival will not take place this year. 

Winery owner David Sonnenberg says that the event is “on pause” and that in 2020 Diemersfontein will be “devoting ourselves to a series of smaller events in which we can bring the diversity of our range, to the glasses of our equally diverse wine lovers. We’d like to thank all the die-hard POT fans for their joyful, loyal and energetic participation over the last fifteen years!”  

Pinotage on Tap celebrated Diemersfontein’s cult ‘coffee’n’chocolate’ Pinotage, a style that they created 20 vintages ago. Each year's new vintage was available on tap from a barrel.

For next years 21st vintage  Diemersfontein promise  “some new, refreshed, events to be announced in 2021”.

Over the past 15 years POT has taken place in various locations throughout South Africa as well as the winery, and in 2012 David Sonnenberg took a barrel of ‘coffee’n’chocolate’ Pinotage to England and memorably pitched the POT marquee on the South Downs of coastal Sussex.

David Sonnenberg's POT announcement is here.

29 February 2020

WoTM- Delheim Vera Cruz Pinotage 1998

My Wine of The Month for February is Delheim 'Vera Cruz' Estate Pinotage 1998.

Vera's self-proclaimed cross was her husband, Michael 'Spatz' Sperling, the patriarch of Delheim who sadly passed away at 86 years on 8 October 2017. (see here)

I kept this wine longer than I should have, mainly because I lost track of it and had listed it as 'missing', only to recently find it.

The cork broke and although I managed to use the corkscrew to winkle out the lower half it was crumbling away.

The wine was pale pink in the glass, but had a delightful taste; aged certainly but elegant, with a sweetness I credited to the Pinotage variety. There was plenty of fine sediment and after about 45 minutes in the glass the wine started fading. But by then we had almost finished the bottle. 

Lovely, and an experience to savour, but I should have opened it earlier. 22 years is a long time for any wine.

23 February 2020

Rhebokskloof Pinotage 2016 is Indy Best Buy

John Clarke, in The Independent (UK) names as The Indy Best Buy Rhebokskloof Vineyard Selection Pinotage 2016

"this example from ...  Paarl, simply offers silky, dark-red fruit flavours with an intriguing, slightly smoky aroma. If you like pinot noir, it’s worth taking this step beyond."

06 February 2020

Pinotage's bad rap is a mistake!

Olly Smith at The Mail on Sunday (London) says “Pinotage is often given a bad rap. But this is a mistake” and he gives his take on 3 supermarket own labels – including Marks & Spencer's Field of Dreams that I featured in my last post. 

He also recommends Bellingham Homestead Pinotage which is a cracker “Truffly, symphonic, resonant and rich” and he makes his Wine of the Week Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2017 “Iconic, silky and elegant red to blow your mind. As good as Pinotage get


31 January 2020

WoTM – House of Dreams Pinotage 2019

My Wine of the Month for December is Marks and Spencer House of Dreams 2019. 

This image from M&S doesn't show a vintage

House of Dreams is made for them from Swartland fruit by Ben Jordaan (Kumala Wines) and M&S’s own winemaker Sue Daniels, and bottled at Journey’s End winery.

This is a lighter ‘beaujolais’ style wine with violets and bubblegum on the nose. It’s soft and fruity, tasting of raspberries and seems quite sweet. With alcohol at 13.5% I imagine there’s a goodly amount of residual sugar.

I didn’t find much body or depth in this wine and, although I can see its appeal, I much prefer the M&S Bellevue Estate Houdamond Pinotage albeit costing £13.50 against House of Dreams’ £8.

06 January 2020

Pinotage Lights My Fire: The Herald

Pete Stewart, in Scotland's  The Herald writes that cold is gripping Glasgow and thus:

"We clearly need to source a big, spicy red to warm the cockles.

Pinotage always lights my fire, but it’s definitely a ‘marmite’ wine in that it’s not for everyone. I love its brash character and the sheer depth of unusual flavours in the glass. These flavours can include smoky bacon, balloons and blue cheese. It’s a bit like drinking the juice of spicy plums and dark berries…from a wellington boot."

He recommends: 

Swartland Private Collection Pinotage 2017 "such good value that you can talk yourself into buying two bottles." 

Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2017  "manages to perfection the difficult balance between elegance and full-on dark, spicy fruit."