31 December 2023

WoTM – The Wine Society Pinotage-Syrah 2023



My Wine of The Month for December is The Society’s South African Pinotage-Syrah 2023. This is made, labelled and bottled for UK’s The Wine Society by Ben Radford and Alex Dale at The Winery of Good Hope.


I remember, many years ago, Guy Webber at Stellenzicht Winery making an equal blend of Pinotage and Syrah he thought was the best wine he’d produced, and I agreed the two varieties were complementary. It was a big flavoursome wine, so I had big hopes for this.


It’s young; the grapes were still on the vines at the year’s beginning. It’s a pale translucent red and only 13% abv. It’s pleasant enough, but one taster thought it ‘stalky’. I didn’t get that, but found it a bit thin. It doesn’t seem to show varietal characteristics. It seems from the back label’s suggestion to serve cool that The Wine Society wanted a Beaujolais-Nouveau like wine. If it was served by the glass as a pub house wine I’d be happy, but with dinner I want more oomph.

22 December 2023

RIP Pierre Loubser


Pierre in 2019

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pierre Loubser, retired Manager of The Pinotage Association. 

He had a bad fall in his home and died in hospital on 22 December 2023.

As Manager of  newly formed Pinotage Association he was very good to The Pinotage Club,  gaining entry to otherwise closed wineries and arranging meetings with winemakers. 

A friendship developed between us and we met every time I made my annual trip to the Cape. I lunched twice with him earlier this year. The last  time I saw him was at Jordan Estate in March this year.

Pierre's had suffered several years of declining  health and he was quite frail but his wits were as sharp as ever.

I shall miss his company. 

Pierre Johan Loubser

Gebore: 29 Oktober 1939 Oorlede: 22 Desember 2023


21 December 2023

Platter 2024

Platter's South African Wine Guide 2024  Pinotage of the year is L'Avenir Single Block 2020 and its Cape Blend is Beyerskloof Faith 2020.

The following Pinotages got the top 5 Star rating

  • Fairview Primo 2021
  • Francois van Niekerk 2021
  • Kanonkop Black Label 2021
  • Kanonkop 2021
  • Lanzerac Commemorative 2019
  • L'Avenir Single Block 2020
  • Survivor Reserve 2021

The following Cape Blends got the top 5 Star rating

  • Beaumont Vitruvian 2019
  • Beyerskloof Faith 2020
  • Beyerskloof Faith 2019
  • Nuiba Third Post 2019
  • Opstal Carl Everson Cape Blend 2021

Congratulations to all.

01 December 2023

WoTM - Cloof 'Winemakers Reserve' Pinotage 2020

My Wine of The Month for November is Cloof 'Winemakers Reserve' Pinotage 2020.

On removing the cork the room was filled with a bouquet of plums, and red fruits. Unfortunately that initial generosity wasn't followed through on the tongue; the wine was enjoyable but seemed a bit closed. Does it need keeping longer or was the cork to blame?

31 October 2023

WoTM - Laibach Pinotage 2018

My Wine of The Month of October is Laibach 2018.

The previous vintage was my wine of the month in July 2022 and at that time I noted that the owners 

had sold the winery in April 2022 and retired to Germany. Near neighbours Kanonkop Estate are the new owners and they immediately renamed the place Ladybird Vineyards

I thought that 2017 vintage would be the last Laibach I would have and I was a little disappointed with it. But I found this bottle in an independent wine shop a long way from my home and it's a cracker with deep juicy plummy flavours and underlying soft tannins. 

With the sale in 2022 I may yet find more Laibachs. I look forward to them.

30 September 2023

WoTM - Niel Joubert 'Patrysbult' Pinotage 2018

 My Wine of The Month of September is Niel Joubert 'Patrysbult' Pinotage  2018.

Pale red, bright fruit flavours, but overbalanced by alcohol.

This wine doesn't appear in Platter or Niel Joubert's web site which has an 2018 Estate Pinotage, but that is unwooded and only 13.03% abv while this is wooded . Maybe it's an export label, but it's not the most enjoyable Niel Joubert Pinotage I've had.

01 September 2023

WoTM - Rijk's Pinotage Reserve 2016

My Wine of The Month of August is Rijk's Pinotage Reserve 2016

It is a mature wine recently released; I bought it at Wine Village in Hermanus in March 2023. 

It spent 22 months in 60% new French oak barrels and was made by the skilled Pierre Wahl. The Reserve is taken from the 20 best barrels.

While capable of great aging, this wine is drinking beautifully now, with intense black plum fruit flavours, and the oaking is not obvious. Simply delicious.

31 July 2023

WoTM - Grangehurst Pinotage 2009

My Wine of The Month for July is Grangehurst Pinotage 2009. One might reasonably think I had aged this 14 year old wine in my cellar, but it's the current release and  I bought it only this March, in Wine Village, Hermanus.

Jeremy Walker, winemaker and co-owner of Grangehurst doesn't like to market his wines until they are ready. And ready this was. A delicious mature wine, ripe with deep plummy notes, age softened tannins from 21 months in barrel and background spices.

Perfect, just perfect.

30 June 2023

WoTM - Kaapzicht Estate Rooiland Pinotage 2020

My Wine of The Month for June is Kaapzicht Estate Rooiland Pinotage 2020.

The retro label says it is 'a homage to classic Pinotage' which might put some people off. Their loss. This is a thoroughly modern wine, silky sleek and bursting with black fruit flavours. I am not sure I'd identify it as Pinotage in a blind tasting. It's full bodied, has a great depth of flavour, and - yes- there is that varietal sweetness.

It's name 'rooiland' refers to the red soil in which the unirrigated bush vines were planted in 1995 and 1997.

After fermentation and malo the wine was aged 16-18 months in 300L oak barrels and then concrete tanks till bottling.

It's a tremendous wine by any standard and I've ordered more.

31 May 2023

WoTM - Beaumont 'Jackals River' 2018

 My Wine of The Month for May is Beaumont 'Jackals River' 2018.

It is light in colour, smelling of raspberries. It is also unusually light for Pinotage at 13.5% abv. (The 2021 vintage is 13% abv.)

One of the things that first excited me about Pinotage was that it was made in many different styles. This is a light manifestation, red berries - raspberries and redcurrants - but I found an underlying taste that I couldn't identify.

30 April 2023

WoTM - Beyerskloof Kriekbult Pinotage 2020


My Wine of The Month for April is Beyerskloof Kriekbult Pinotage 2020. 

Taking its name from the farm the vineyard is planted on, it comes from their 27 year old bush vines. I had this with lunch at the winery in March and bought a bottle to have with dinner the following week. Then I went back to buy two more bottles to bring home, and I opened the first this month, shared with a fellow Pinotage fan. 

It is exceptional. Lots of blackberry fruits, tannins discreetly in the background, it's easy to drink and so rewarding. My new favourite of all Beyerskloof's portfolio. And that's saying something!

23 April 2023

Pinotage Food and Wine Festival - 13 May 2023


The Pinotage Food and Wine Festival this year on 13 May 2023 is a celebration of the 2023 harvest. Tickets are now available from Quicket.co.za - https://qkt.io/QsV6Og

The festival will be held at Markötter Sports Grounds, in the heart of the Stellenbosch wine region. Festival goers can expect to sample a wide range of Pinotage wines from some of the most recognised South African wine estates. In addition to the wine tastings, there will be live entertainment, delicious food, and a private tasting with some well-known, award winning wine personalities.

"The Pinotage Festival is truly a celebration of South African wine and culture," says deputy chairman of the Pinotage Association, De Wet Viljoen. "It's a chance for people to discover the unique and exciting flavours of Pinotage wine, while enjoying the beautiful surroundings and vibrant atmosphere of the festival."

Wines will be poured by L'Avenir Wine Estate, Springfontein Wine Estate, Spijker & Bessie Wyne, Stellenbosch Hills, Amperbo, Windmeul Kelder, Middelvlei Wines, Clos Malverne, Beyerskloof Wines, Bon Courage Wine Estate, Marianne Wine Estate, De Waal Wines, Koelenhof Winery, Simonsig, DuToitskloof Cellar, Overhex, Painted Wolf and more.

 Live performances by - Francois Haasbroek, David Derman, Johnny Camel and Die Broers.

Accommodation partner is Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch, contact them for the Pinotage Festival special rate, 021 880 9500or email grmanager@phstellenbosch.com

The Pinotage Food and Wine Festival is a collaboration between Pinotage Association and Klub1000.

For more information: Sonia Haasbroek shaasbroek@paulroos.co.za  or Belinda Jacobs brand@pinotage.co.za

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

01 January 2023

WoTM - L'Avenir Single Block 02 Pinotage 2015

My Wine of the Month for December 2022 is L’Avenir Estate Single Block 02 Pinotage 2015. 

It is a registered Single Vineyard  Estate Wine of Origin Stellenbosch, and Block 02 is pictured in gold on the label on an image taken from a satellite photo. The block was planted by the then viticulturist and winemaker François Naudé in 1985 as bush vines, but subsequently changed to low trellising. This wine was made by Dirk Coetzee.

Although almost eight years old, it seems still youthful, full of power. But there's grace too. Tannins have melted to the far background allowing sweet fruit to take centre stage. It's a big wine, and much as I enjoyed it I was wondering what it'd be like with another couple of years. Ah well, that was my last bottle.