31 December 2021

WoTM (and WoTY) - Beyerskloof Pinotage 2019

My Wine of the Month for December – and indeed my Wine of the Year for 2021 is Beyerskloof Pinotage 2019.


This is their entry level Pinotage with a white label, and for the past few vintages it has been bulk-shipped and bottled in England. This keeps down costs, but I’d prefer to have the wine bottled at the winery and keep bottling and associated jobs in the Cape.

It’s a wine to drink, not to overthink. A wine to grab when we get a takeaway from an Indian restaurant, make a curry, or need to grab the nearest wine from the kitchen’s ready rack.

I’ve opened 34 bottles of the 2019 vintage and my elder son has consumed many more. He and his partner became a big fan of Beyerskloof after visiting the winery at the beginning of 2020.

And now, after many years and vintages the wine we buy whenever stock runs low has vanished. We didn’t realise how much we’d miss it.

We’re hoping that it is a blip in the supply chain and that the 2020 vintage will soon be on shelves. But at the moment we cannot get any Beyerskloof Pinotage. I’ve got one bottle left, the son has none.

(The QR Code links to a 'Page not Found')

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.


31 October 2021

WoTM 2010 Meerendal Estate Pinotage Single Vineyard 'The Heritage Block'

My Wine of the Month for October is  2010 Meerendal Estate Pinotage Single Vineyard 'The Heritage Block' (WO Durbanville).

I opened this 11 year old wine for International Pinotage Day  2021 on Saturday 9 October.

This was browning and offered soft sweet succulent, albeit aged, fruit. Tannins had softened to invisibility. I loved this wine.

Some wine was saved to sip during a two hour Zoom ‘Celebration of Pinotage’ organised by Gerhard Perold of Perold Wine Cellar. Gerhard is the great-grandson of Pinotage’s creator, A I Perold.

Meerendal Estate were one of the first to plant Pinotage, but their first and second vineyards, planted in 1953 and 1954 are no more, and this comes from their 6 ha 1955 vineyard - the first in South Africa to be registered as a Single Vineyard.

I visited Meerendal in 2018 to see the vineyard; my  report is here.

27 October 2021

Absa Top 10 Pinotage 2021 Virtual Tasting

If you are in South Africa and have 995 Rand to spare there's an interesting online tasting on 25 November of the 2021 Pinotage Top 10 winners, organised by The Institute of Cape Wine Masters.

For your money you get delivered a 125ml sample of each of the ten wines to drink along with the tasting, plus some snacks to go with them. But there's a 60 participant limit.

Details here

22 October 2021

Tanzania Gets Pinotage

According to Tanzania's Daily News national newspaper, Tanzania has only two varieties from which to make wine - Makutupora Red and Chenin White.

Now they will be importing cuttings of 13 varieties, for both rootstock and wine including Pinotage.

Story here

08 October 2021

Pinotage Day is Saturday 9 October!

Tomorrow, Saturday 9 October is International Pinotage Day. I'll be opening a Pinotage - but that's not unusual. However at 7pm I'll also be logging on to Pinotage - Time to Wine Down, a two hour online webcast organised by A I Perold's Great-Grandson, Gerhard Perold.

The webcast promises  that "Gerhard Perold and Andy Copps (from My London Voice) will be there to entertain and relay some of the amazing stories around Pinotage that is now grown in various countries.

Michelle from the Content College team will be making sure the boys behave and that everyone is having fun while relaying your comments and questions from the chat.

Nadia Rae will be mesmerising us all with her gorgeous voice.

We will also have the stories of some prominent winemakers in the Pinotage story shared:

Jeremy Borg from Painted Wolf Wines

Izele van Blerk from KWV

Celeste Truter from Truter Family Wines"

To access the webcast costs £9.97, see


Lanzerac, Bellevue and the First Pinotage

That the first varietal Pinotage was released under the Lanzerac label 6o years ago in 1961 is well known. The fairly recent Lanzerac Estate has been taking credit for it, that is not true as shown in this article by Joanna Gibson.

However, just announced is that Bellevue Estate, who made that first Pinotage, and the modern Lanzerac Estate are producing a wine to celebrate the original bottling. 

Bellvue are supplying grapes from the original 1953 vineyard to Lanzerac to vinify. The wine is available from both wineries' tasting rooms.

And they have an informative new website telling  the history of Pinotage and that first wine - https://storyofpinotage.co.za/

02 October 2021

ABSA Perold Cape Blend 2021 Competition Winners

 Winners of the 2021 Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition are

Beyerskloof Faith Cape Blend 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Anri Truter

Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot


Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2018 - WO WC, Winemaker: Gerhard Swart

Pinotage/Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Durif/Cinsaut/Grenache Noir/Mourvedre


Idiom Cape Blend 2018 - WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Reino Thiart

Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Shiraz


KWV The Mentors Perold 2019 - WO Coastal Region, Winemaker: Izéle van Blerk

Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Petite Sirah   


Simonsig Frans Malan Cape Blend 2017 - WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Michael Malan

Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

The 2021 competition, first held in 2011, had 32 entries. The judges were Wilhelm Pienaar, Wikus Human, Rudger van Wyk, Elsa du Plessis and Charles Hopkins.


Pinotage Rosé 2021 Competition Winners

Winners of the The Pinotage Rosé competition, which was first held in 2017, are  

Beyerskloof Pinotage Dry Rosé 2021 - 

WO Western Cape, Winemakers: Anri Truter, Elsa du Plessis


Du Toitskloof Pinotage Rosé 2021 - 

WO Western Cape, Winemaker: Shawn Thomson


Jakkalsvlei Pinotage Rosé  2021-

WO Western Cape, Winemaker: Louis van der Riet


Maastricht Pinotage Rosé 2021 –

WO Western Cape, Winemaker: Thys Louw

Rooiberg Winery Pinotage Rosé 2021 –

WO Robertson, Winemaker: André Scriven

The 2021 Pinotage Rosé competition had over 27 entries. The panel of judges were Wilhelm Pienaar, Wikus Human, Rüdger van Wyk, Elsa du Plessis and Charles Hopkins. 


De Wet Viljoen, Vice-Chairman of the Pinotage Association, said “Pinotage Rosé proves that rosés do not represent one consistent wine style.  The winemakers have stepped up and truly showcase how delicate Pinotage can be.  We should start marketing these amazing wines more aggressively.”


30 September 2021

WoTM - Swartland Winery Pinotage Limited Release 2018

 My Wine of The Month for September is 2018 Swartland Winery Pinotage Limited Release 2018.


Swartland Winery has multiple labels. The Limited Release range is not mentioned in Platter but Swartland Winery's website has a detailed factsheet on this wine here.

The back label says the Limited Release wines are 'old world style'. I thought this delicious wine was very new world because it was sleekly clean and fruit forward, offering blackberries and dark plum flavours. Oak barrel aging did what it should, providing structure and depth to the wine without making itself apparent.

Another great, fairly priced, wine from the Swartland Winery team.

but they should use a spell checker......

31 August 2021

Winners - 2021 Pinotage Top 10

The ten winners of the 2021 ABSA Pinotage Top 10 Competition was announced today at a ceremony live streamed. They are:

Beeslaar Pinotage 2018


Abrie Beeslaar

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2018


Anri Truter

Diemersdal The Journal Pinotage 2019


Thys Louw

Flagstone Writer's Block Pinotage 2018


Gerhard Swart

Francois van Niekerk Pinotage 2019


Francois van Niekerk

La Cave Pinotage 2018


Francois van Niekerk

Môreson Widow Maker 2018


Clayton Reabow

Neethlingshof Estate Pinotage 2020


De Wet Viljoen

Stellenbosch 1679 Pinotage 2019


Nicolas Husselman/Handré Visagie

Stellenrust Cornerstone Pinotage 2019


Tertius Boshoff

The ceremony can be viewed here  awards start 29 minutes in.


WoTM - Durbanville Hills Pinotage 2017

 My Wine of The Month for August is Durbanville Hills Pinotage 2017. I had this in The Park Hotel, Montrose, Scotland. We were on the trail of ancestors. Montrose is on the coast and is the site of the Britain's first military operational airbase opened in February 1913 for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), later renamed Royal Air Force ( RAF). It finally closed in 1952 having seen aeroplanes from the first canvas and string bi-planes to jets.

After visiting the museum on the site we walked along Montrose's beautiful beaches backed by sand dunes but bitter winds and drizzle kept sunbathers away.

In The Parks dining room it was a real delight to see an excellent Pinotage on a wine list - the only Pinotage in our almost two weeks in Scotland and Northern England, and we had to have it.

It was a double pleasure, when the wine was delivered to our table, to see it had some age being some five years old. And it was drinking beautifully. Sleek and sophisticated, with dark plums to the fore and a long aftertaste. And finished all too soon. 

13 August 2021

Pinotage Top 10 2021 - Finalists

The 20 finalists in this year's Absa Top 10 Pinotage are:

Beeslaar Pinotage 2018


Abrie Beeslaar

Beeslaar Pinotage 2019


Abrie Beeslaar

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2018


Anri Truter

Beyerskloof Winemakers Reserve Pinotage 2018


Anri Truter

Bowwood Pinotage 2017


Matthew Copeland

Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2020


Thys Louw

Diemersdal The Journal Pinotage 2019


Thys Louw

Flagstone Writer's Block Pinotage 2018


Gerhard Swart

Francois van Niekerk Pinotage 2019


Francois van Niekerk

Kanonkop Pinotage 2019


Abrie Beeslaar

La Cave Pinotage 2018


Francois van Niekerk

Môreson Widow Maker 2018


Clayton Reabow

Neethlingshof Estate Pinotage 2020


De Wet Viljoen

Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills Pinotage 2019


Warren Ellis

Piekenierskloof Johan van Zyl Pinotage 2019


Jaco van Niekerk

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage 2015


Pierre Wahl

Rijk's Reserve Pinotage 2016


Pierre Wahl

Simonsig Pinotage Redhill 2018


Michael Malan

Stellenbosch 1679 Pinotage 2019


Nicolas Husselman/Handré Visagie

Stellenrust Cornerstone Pinotage 2019


Tertius Boshoff

With over 133 entries received in the 2021 Pinotage Top 10, Pinotage Association chair Beyers Truter is not only delighted with the quality of the wines but also that they represent the vast Cape winelands.

The Museum class received over 10 entries.  The association encourages producers to enter this category, which truly showcases the aging potential of Pinotage wines.

The 2021 Judging panel is: Winnie Bowman, Carl Schultz, Frans Smit, Solly Monyamane, Johann Fourie and Elmarie Botes.  

The awards ceremony on 31 August will be steamed live on Facebook at midday.

31 July 2021

WoTM - Grayhaven Pinotage

My Wine of the Month for August is Pinotage from Grayhaven Vineyard and Winery in Virginia USA.I bought it there when I visited in September 2008. Co-owner Max Peple-Abrams fell in love with Pinotage while in South Africa, where she  met husband Deon Abrams who is winemaker at Grayhaven.

She told me then "We have less than 1/3 acre of Pinotage vines here and have to supplement with Pinotage grapes grown in California. We graft off our existing vines every year to increase our production - it's slow going. To meet the current demand for our Pinotage, we are looking to eventually have about 2000 vines. We thin our crops pretty well so the quality is high but our yield is less than 1/2 of what a large commercial vineyard would get from the same vine count."

This wine, made in 2007 is made with a blend of estate grapes and California grapes, brought to the winery by refrigerated truck, and accounting for its 'American Wine' appellation.

Yet again, I had kept an interesting - and rare - wine for too long. But it was 16% abv so it was still enjoyable. Although totally dry, the high alcohol and Pinotage sweetness gave this wine the feel of Madeira.

30 June 2021

WoTM - Rheboksloof Pinotage 2015

 My Wine of The Month for June is Rhebokskloof Pinotage 2015 WO Paarl.

I had it with an excellent fillet steak in the Café Cru restaurant of The Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth where we spent a few days this month.

I've had the2015 Rheboksloof before, but this was the last bottle of this vintage at the hotel so I doubt I'll have the 2015 again.

Six years old, and matured to perfection, it was magisterial with supple plum and black cherry fruits and soft tannins. A beautiful wine. With steak it made a heavenly match.

31 May 2021

WoTM - The Mentors Pinotage 2017

 My Wine of The Month for May is The Mentors 2017 Pinotage W.O. Coastal

Mentors is the top range in KWV's wine portfolio, and they never disappoint. This 2017 suggests on its back label to age for five to eight years, but it is drinking beautifully now after four years.

There's black fruits, damson come to mind with an intriguing underlying spiciness. It's a mouth filling, rich and satisfying wine. Must get more!

27 May 2021

Consumers Have Moved On

Interesting article in Forbes by Cathy Huyghe who says that many people in the wine business are old fogeys with elephantine negative memories on the subject of Pinotage.

Consumers, in the meantime, have moved on. Far, far on.

It’s a telling discrepancy. On one hand are the traditionalists and their elephantine memories, who cling to negative, decades-old impressions of Pinotage the way former athletes cling to romantic idealizations of their long-ago glory days in sports. Interestingly, this group seems populated more by people in the trade than by casual consumers who comprise the alternate side of the discrepancy, who are more curious and interested in current iterations of today’s wines now rather than the versions of how yesterday’s wines used to be.

Full article  - Old Fogeys Vs The Rest Of Us: Perspectives On Pinotage Wines From South Africa

30 April 2021

WoTM - Van Loveren 'Rhino Run' Pinotage 2018

My Wine of the Month for April is Van Loveren Vineyards 'Rhino Run' Pinotage 2018  WO Robertson.

This was my second bottle. It had a good body and structure under lots of that typical Pinotage sweet fruit.

The label confuses me. The RR logo says Royal Rhino beneath, and the back label says Royal Rhino is a donor towards Rhino conservation but it doesn't say what the connection this wine is.

The website www.rhinorunwine.co.za says "for each bottle sold, a donation is made by Van Loveren Family Vineyards towards the Player Ntombela Foundation", but no mention of Royal Rhino, and the   'spec sheet' doesn't have a vintage tho' it shows an analysis of 14.57%abv, while the 2018 has an abv of 13.5%, also the label says the wine organic.

31 March 2021

WoTM - Fleur du Cap 'Series Privée' Pinotage 2016

My Wine of the Month for March is Fleur du Cap 'Series Privée' 2016  WO Coastal Region.

It was a 2019 Pinotage Top 10 Winner and this bottle was my first and only. I bought it in Wine Village, Hermanus, in March 2020.

On opening it had a slight vegetal nose, but this soon went. When poured it was a very dark purple colour and released a power scent of blueberries, which express themselves exuberantly in the mouth. The wine had a creamy texture with tangy spearmint to the fore.

This was a lovely wine, insisting one poured another glass and it was finished all too soon.

If I had more bottles, I would keep them with confidence as this wine, while drinking well now, will surely reward aging.

From the winery fact sheet:

The first vineyard is from Stellenbosch Kloof in Stellenbosch from trellised vines planted in 2000. The row direction is E/W and the slope is north facing.

The other two vineyards originate from bush vine vineyards in Bottelary Hills and Agter Paarl. The Paarl vineyard was planted in 1994 and is farmed under dryland conditions. The soils are Swartland shale with excellent water holding capacity. Grapes are removed to one bunch per shoot resulting in a low yield of 6 tons/ha. The Bottelary Hills vineyard was planted in 1987 in similar soils on a north-west facing slope. Supplementary irrigation was given as required, yielding 7 tons/ha.

The grapes were handpicked, carefully destemmed and lightly crushed to open top fermenters. The wine was punched down during fermentation for optimal extraction of colour and tannins. After passing through small basket presses, the wine went straight to barrel (30% new oak) for malolactic fermentation. Racking as opposed to filtration was used to clarify the wine. The final blend was completed after 16 months in barrel.

28 February 2021

WoTM - Single Vision Pinotage 2020

 My Wine of the Month for February is Single Vision Pinotage 2020

This was a really exciting 'tage, offering lots of fresh berry fruits, well balanced acidity, that typical Pinotage sweetness and all with reasonable13.5% abv. I returned to buy more, and it was all gone.

The back label says Single Vision is a project of Duncan Savage and Thys Louw of Diemersdal.

02 February 2021

Beyers Truter wins 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership


Beyers Truter  was honoured with the iconic 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership on Tuesday 2 February 2021 during the industry's 10th annual Wine Harvest Commemorative event.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate the wine industry's inception 362 years ago on 2 February 1659, to ask for the Blessing of the Harvest and to honour role players.

The criteria for the Visionary Leadership award  includes demonstrable efforts and initiatives that have benefited the South African wine industry; a lasting impact and legacy; and to encourage and inspire others in the industry.

As winemaker, wine personality and owner of Beyerskloof, Truter has done all of this as part of his mission to have the South African Pinotage variety internationally recognised as a premium red wine. 

In 1979, Truter obtained a degree in BSc Agriculture with oenology and viticulture at Stellenbosch University. At the age of 25, he became the winemaker of Kanonkop, establishing the brand worldwide with numerous awards, including the prestigious Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for the world's best red blend with his iconic Paul Sauer 1991 Bordeaux blend. 

He also won the Robert Mondavi Trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 1991 for Best Winemaker in the World. Truter also is the founder and chairperson of the Pinotage Association.

As a true wine legend who has placed Pinotage on the world map, Truter is a commendable recipient of the 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership. 

Previous recipients are Jan Boland Coetzee, Prof Piet Goussard, the Unsung Wineworkers, Charles Back, Danie de Wet, Norma Ratcliffe, Jan Scannell, Dave Hughes and Spatz Sperling. 

31 January 2021

WoTM - Jerome Winery Pinotage 2012



My Wine of the Month for January is Jerome Winery Pinotage   2012 from Arizona, USA.

In 2016 I was invited to present at The American Wine Society National Conference in Coast Mesa, California. 

Before the conference we took the opportunity to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and after a few nights there to the Grand Canyon for a couple of nights, then south to stay at Sedona in order to visit Jerome, before heading to Temecula Valley and back to Costa Mesa.

Jerome, said in 1903 by New York’s The Sun to be “the wickedest town in the West”, was created to support the copper mine that excavated Cleopatra Hill. The mine shut in the 1950s and the town, which is effectively three parallel streets perched up on the side of a high hill, is now a tourist destination of shops, restaurants and wineries

Jerome Winery is a label of Cellar 433 which has its winery on the edge of the town with a steep drop behind it. It is owned by John McLoughlin who makes the wines and grows the grapes in the family vineyard on Dragoons Mountain, about 300 miles south east of Jerome, in the Willcox AVA.

I was lucky when I called in meeting John (above) on one of his infrequent visits to Jerome and he gave me a tasting. Unfortunately I have mislaid or lost the notebook I used, and after this time it has still not turned up I opened the wine, perhaps having left it too long.

Its pale red colour gave that initial impression, but it had a delicious delicate taste, with spiciness and a long finish. A gorgeous wine.