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