Pino­tage for all pock­ets

Win­ter is the sea­son for the big, bold flavours of Pino­tage, SA’S unique home-grown va­ri­ety. Gra­ham Howe ex­plains

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MADE in a va­ri­ety of styles from wooded to un­wooded, trop­i­cal and fruity to light, medium and full-bod­ied, Pino­tage is a wine for all palates and pock­ets. While cel­lars such as Kanonkop and Lanz­erac blazed the way as pi­o­neers of Pino­tage, watch out also for top pro­duc­ers like Bey­er­skloof, De Waal, Diemers­fontein, L’Avenir, Rijk’s, Si­mon­sig, Spier and Stel­len­zicht which make Pino­tage in a thor­oughly mod­ern, el­e­gant style to­day. The an­nual Absa Top 10 Pino­tage Awards will be an­nounced on Au­gust 31.

Aalder­ing Pino­tage 2009. This new pro­ducer in the Devon Val­ley neigh­bours some of the Cape’s top red cel­lars. Un­der wine­maker Dustin Os­borne, it is mak­ing its mark with el­e­gant Pino­tage aged in French oak for 24 months. The su­perb 2009 vin­tage ex­presses the typ­i­cal straw­berry, plum, ba­nana and for­est floor nu­ances of the va­ri­ety.

Al­lée Bleue Star­lette Pino­tage 2011. The lat­est re­lease in the easy­drink­ing good-value range from this Fran­schhoek cel­lar. Wine­maker Van Zyl du Toit is pas­sion­ate about two tra­di­tional va­ri­eties — Pino­tage and Chenin Blanc. His lightly wooded Pino­tage has ripe straw­berry and cherry fruit and nu­ances of choco­late and cof­fee.

Al­ty­dgedacht Pino­tage 2010. This Pino­tage from the Dur­banville Wine Val­ley made ABSA’s an­nual Top 10 Pino­tage with the 2008 and 2009 vin­tages. This old fam­ily es­tate makes an el­e­gant cool-cli­mate Pino­tage with red fruit, vel­vety smooth tan­nins and a hint of sweet, toasty oak.

Bey­er­skloof Pino­tage Re­serve 2009. A bench­mark for the el­e­gant con­tem­po­rary style of Pino­tage com­ing out of the Cape. One of eight styles of Pino­tage — rosé, sparkling, sin­gle va­ri­etal, port, white and Cape blend — made by Bey­ers Truter, the king of Pino­tage. Ma­tured in oak for 21 months, its juicy black­cur­rant and prune flavours are bal­anced by cedar, spice and charred mocha nu­ances of oaks.

Du Toit­skloof Pino­tage 2011. This value-for-money wine from this drive-by cel­lar on the N1 gives vi­brant ex­pres­sion to the va­ri­ety with trade­mark cherry, choco­late and plum flavours, dried ba­nana aro­mas and spicy, sup­ple tan­nins from eight months in oak. Made for early en­joy­ment, it is smooth and ac­ces­si­ble, ready to drink.

Ken For­rester Petit Pino­tage 2011. Soft and rich with huge dol­lops of ripe berry fruit, cloves and ex­otic ba­nana flavours, this un­wooded ver­sion show­cases the nat­u­ral, up­front char­ac­ter of young Pino­tage.

KWV The Men­tors Pino­tage 2010. The 2009 vin­tage was rated one of the top ten Pino­tages in 2011 as a lead­ing ex­am­ple of a mod­ern South African Pino­tage. Sourced dry­land bush vines, it has juicy black­berry, black cherry and plum flavours com­pli­mented by nu­ances of gin­ger, cloves and dark choco­late with smooth tan­nins.

Neeth­ling­shof The Owl Post Pino­tage 2010. This wine is named af­ter the owl posts erected to pro­mote sus­tain­able viti­cul­ture on the farm through the use of nat­u­ral preda­tors. Wine­maker De Wet Viljoen made this wooded Pino­tage with ripe red berry fruit and silky tan­nins as a wine in the clas­sic, “full, el­e­gant style”.

Ri­jks Pri­vate Cel­lar Pino­tage 2008. Wine­maker Pierre Wahl won the tro­phy for the Best Pino­tage at the 2012 Old Mu­tual Tro­phy Wine Show. Pino­tage is the flag­ship wine of this fam­ily cel­lar which makes three styles of Pino­tage with bal­ance, fi­nesse, con­cen­tra­tion and tex­ture.

Si­mon­sig Red­hill Pino­tage 2009 is a bench­mark for five-star Pino­tage made in the con­tem­po­rary style. Made from the red va­ri­ety which was the first red wine re­leased by this fam­ily cel­lar in 1970, it has lay­ers of lus­cious, ripe mul­berry, plum and rasp­berry flavours with cin­na­mon and vanilla spice and fine, sup­ple tan­nins.

Stel­len­zicht Cel­lar­mas­ter’s Re­lease Pino­tage 2009. The new­est re­lease in the “no-sul­phites added” range. Wine­maker Guy Web­ber aims “to ex­tend the taste spec­trum for con­sumers” who are sul­phur-sen­si­tive. Sourced from bush-vines, this full-bod­ied, wooded Pino­tage was made in a fresh, preser­va­tive-free style. Guy says “You have to start with healthy grapes of ex­cel­lent qual­ity… and use the right yeast cul­tures.”

Swart­land Bushvine Pino­tage 2010. A show­case for the tra­di­tional dry­land bushvine viti­cul­ture prac­tised in the Swart­land. An authen­tic ex­pres­sion of Pino­tage has black plum and cherry char­ac­ter with smooth, sup­ple tan­nins, dark spice and smoky notes from bar­rel mat­u­ra­tion.

Neeth­ling­shof Short Story Col­lec­tion — The Owl Post, left. Neeth­ling­shof vine­yards and moun­tains, be­low.

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