Does Much-Unloved Pinotage Deserve Another Look? (by Lettie Teague)

Posted: January 15, 2013 by Johan Botha in Celebrities, Cellars, Oenology, Origin, Research, South Africa, Vinification, Wine, Winemaking, Wineries, World wine news
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Taking a bath in Pinotage at Delluva Vinotherapy Day Spa.

It is even good for your skin. Taking a bath in Pinotage at Delluva Vinotherapy Day Spa.

THERE ARE VERY FEW wines I truly don’t like, and only one that I’ve ever declared I despise. Except that wine writers are not supposed to “despise” wines. While we can be disappointed, or crestfallen, or even seriously dismayed by certain bottlings, to “despise” a wine is unprofessional—or so I was told by a reader who wrote recently to upbraid me after reading of my professed enmity toward Pinotage.

The Pinotage grape in question.

The Pinotage grape in question.

Never mind that this particular reader also happened to be a Pinotage grower—I decided that he might have a point. Were my feelings about Pinotage really fair—or, for that matter, accurate? After all, it had been quite a few years since I tasted much Pinotage; perhaps there had been some changes in winemaking or viticulture. Perhaps there were even some overlooked gems?

Pinotage, for the uninitiated, is a grape created in South Africa in 1925 but currently grown—in a fairly limited fashion—in many other parts of the world. It was created in Stellenbosch by Abraham Izak Perold, a professor of viticulture at Stellenbosch University. A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, the workhorse red grape of the Rhône (then also known in South Africa as Hermitage), Pinotage was also called Perold’s Hermitage x Pinot, but Prof. Perold preferred the Pinotage name. (The other instance in which “Hermitage” was appropriated in another country was Penfold’s Grange, of Australia—once known as Grange Hermitage until it was shortened to simply Grange at the behest of the European Union.)

Read on …

Now also read the truth about this South African Grape Varietal:

Pinotage Wine Guide

  1. wynmaker says:

    Hello Lettie

    I am a proud South African that completed my Degree in Oenology at the institute, steeped in history, where Prof. Perold created Pinotage for the first time!

    At Elsenburg Colloge I also had the prevelage to studies under Bertus Fourie the father of coffee Pinotage, known around the world today! His Barista is doing very well in New York I belief!

    My only advice to the unconverted would be to either come out to South Africa and taste real Pinotage, stop buying shitty imports from SA with lions, giraffes and elephants on the labels or stop reading books on cultivars, published in the pre-history of time (the reverence to “Steen” supports this), because there are almost no examples of the old acetone, burnt tires character pinotages left in SA!

    Those almost all dated from a time when the viticultural practices was all wrong for the grape and the vines were being planted in the wrong sites!

    Pinotage in SA today are known for their deep red colour, rich ripe plum, red berries and sweet spice and fruitcake profile! Soft, fine tannin structure and good balance.

    Hoping to treat you to the real deal on a scenic Cape Wine Land Estate, overlooking the the majestics Table Mountain in the near future!

    Johan Botha

    • wynmaker says:

      Lettie Teague reply to my mail:

      Dear Johan,
      Thank you so much for your note. I would love to travel to South Africa some day- and taste Pinotage in its ‘natural’ habitat!
      All the best,

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