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.

Beyerskloof 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 tanning, 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

A few of Beyerskloof's barrels

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."