30 November 2021

WoTM 2018 De Waal Pinotage


My Wine of the Month for November is  De Waal Pinotage 2018. DeWaal have the world's oldest Pinotage vineyard from which they bottle 'The Top of the Hill'. This is their entry level Pinotage. Although I bring home a couple of bottles Top of the Hill rom my trips to the Cape I don't drink much De Waal otherwise solely because I don't see it for sale.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this bottle on a small section of wines in a garden centre near Edinburgh during a recent Scottish holiday, and I took it to have on a holiday to Devon.

Sealed with a sensible screwcap, so there were no worries about a faulty cork.  The maturation chart on the back label showed it had reach its optimum drinking window. I think it would last well and develop for a further five years, but I've learned that it is better to drink wines too young than too old.

This was just right. A bit of maturity but perky in its youth, deeply coloured and full fruited with damsons and mulberries to the fore. Long finish, very satisfying.

De Waal's website says this wine, which comes from 30 year old vines,  had three months aging in older barrels and a further 14 months in bottle.

Read about my Top of the Hill walk here

27 November 2021

Beeslaar 2018 - 'more layers than a millefeuille'

Matthew Jukes writing in MoneyWeek says of Beeslaar Pinotage 2018 

Beeslaar has nothing but pristine, gloriously appointed, velvety fruit – it is shaped like a super Tuscan, built like a Cape(d) crusader and I know everyone who feels like me about this tricky grape will go nuts about this wine. Well done, Abrie – you are a veritable magician.

He also likes 2020 Radford Dale, Vinum Pinotage.

I agree with him that Abrie Beeslaar makes excellent Pinotage under his own label (and for Kanonkop). 

But I wonder how much weight should be given to reviews of Pinotage by those who don't like - and thus rarely drink  -  the variety. When they find a well made example they think it is an exception, rather than today's norm.

19 November 2021

Platter 5 Star Pinotages and Cape Blends

This year there are a record number of wines awarded 5 Stars in the annual Platter Guide to South African wines. They include:


Bellevue Estate Stellenbosch 1953 Single Vineyard 2019

Beyerskloof Diesel 2019

Diemersdal Estate The Journal 2019

False Bay Vineyards The Last Of The First 2020

Francois van Niekerk Wines 2019

Kanonkop Estate Black Label 2019

Neil Ellis Wines Bottelary Hills 2019

Red Blends, with Pinotage

Beyerskloof Faith 2017

David & Nadia Elpidios 2019

KWV Wines Perold 2018

Opstal Estate Carl Everson Cape Blend 2019


14 November 2021

Another Pinotage Convert - Victoria Moore

 Wine writer and Daily Telegraph wine columnist Victoria Moore has seen the light. In her article titled "Why you need to try Pinotage, South Africa's signature grape" she write

 this grape can make universally appealing red wines too, gentle but with a streak of wildness and hints of sweet tobacco, soft leather, cranberry, raspberry, rose petals and rooibos tea.


My initial realisation that I didn’t just tolerate but actively liked pinotage came after encountering it in blends. One of my favourite supermarket reds is Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend, from Stellenbosch. The current 2019 vintage is 44 per cent Pinotage plus 25 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 29 per cent merlot and 2 per cent cabernet franc. 


In other words, a Cape take on a Bordeaux blend and sure enough this is a red I’d recommend to claret drinkers, especially those who relish the soft tobacco style of a St Julien. And you can be sure it isn’t so good despite the Pinotage; it’s so good, and has a beautiful texture, because of it.