28 February 2023

WoTM - KWV Cathedral Cellar Pinotage 2019

 My Wine of the Month for February 2023 is KWV Cathedral Cellar Pinotage 2019.

It's a very drinkable clean bright fruity wine with a bit more seriousness about  it than the basic KWV. It's savoury with berry fruits, and could be kept - but why when it's so good now?

Cathedral Cellar is the huge KWV cellar in Paarl lined with large 12,000 litre barrels with carved ends. At the end of the cellar are  tinted windows. A visiting poet said the cellar was a cathedral of wine.

The new KWV doesn't seem to set a foot wrong, and I have enjoyed their basic Pinotage. This is about double that price, and about half that of the premium Mentors brand.

 Note how a reader might assume Dr. Perold was working for KWV when he produced Pinotage,

I like the label produced especially for the centenary of the Cathedral Cellar.

14 February 2023

Mountain Discovery Inspired Bruce Jacks Winning Pinotage

Bruce Jack tells how an overheard conversation about a red variety called Bobal inspired him to make prizewinning Pinotage 

He was in the Spanish wine region of Utiel-Requena in Valencia home of  Bobal.

He writes:

'Ed Adams (my partner in our Spanish project, La Báscula) had just ordered some lamb cutlets cooked over the open flame (the house speciality), when his ears pricked up at the word ‘Bobal’. A table of winemakers next to us were engaged in a passionate discussion and Ed translated what they were saying for me:

“Bobal is a cat,” sneered one. “It will only be friendly on its own terms.”

“It can be magnificent or your Achilles heel – there is no safe middle ground,” concurred another.

Then a much older, weather-etched man with a tweed cap spoke and everyone listened.

“Bobal is like our mountains. In ancient times, one had to master the mountains to get to the coast. But then came the railways, the flood-proof bridges and the tunnels. So now we go around and through the mountains. This has opened up the country and brought wealth from Valencia. No one uses the old mountain roads and in some places they are now lost to the forests.”

I wasn’t sure Ed was translating correctly. There didn’t seem to be a point to his soliloquy and I couldn’t decipher what the relevance to Bobal winemaking was. I noticed some of the younger winemakers looked at each other quizzically while the old man took a sip of wine and chewed on a polished almond.

Eventually, he said, “No one is forcing us to conquer the mountains anymore, so our relationship with them has changed and our knowledge of the ways of the mountain has been lost. But we still marvel at them and respect them and of course they are part of us. We must just be prepared to rediscover the mountains for the sake of the mountains. Instead of having to conquer them to get to the coast, we must rediscover the old roads and ways of the mountain only because they are special to us.”

I am not sure what effect this cryptic speech had on those winemakers and their personal struggles with Bobal, but for me a light suddenly came on. For the first time I saw Pinotage, not as a debilitating battle, but as an adventure – an opportunity to rediscovery my own South African viticultural identity. I decided to discard everything I had been told about Pinotage and just walk up into the forest and discover this majestic winemaking mountain at my own pace, and purely for the delight of doing so.

From making some of the most embarrassing examples of Pinotage, in a single vintage, I started making award-winning wines. What astounded me was the immediacy of the transformation. It wasn’t an army I had needed to meet Pinotage with, it was a flag of truce.'

And Flag of Truce is the name of Bruce's new single vineyard Pinotage. Its grapes come from from the same vineyard on the Silkbush farm in Breedekloof from which Bruce sourced grapes for Writers Block when he owned Flagstone Wines.

Read his article here