Whether you are a fan of Pinotage, or have never heard of the grape variety, I would like to point you to a blog that is passionate about Pinotage - and for the latter, it just may make you passionate about Pinotage too! For the wine drinker who has never heard of Pinotage, Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir (ahhh, heard of that one haven’t you?) and Cinsault that was developed in 1925 at Stellenbosch University, in South Africa. This red wine grape variety was bred in an effort to combine the best qualities of Cinsault (robust and hardy) with Pinot Noir, a grape of high quality and fineness that the South Africans found difficult to grow. After almost three decades, Pinotage started gaining recognition and winning awards, and became the face of South African wine. Today, popular and well known varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, to name a few, can be found at a great quality to price ratio, so the face of South African wine is being redefined.
Now, I’m like most people whose first experience to South African Pinotage was mixed, but memorable (in a good way). A $9-$12 bottle of South African Pinotage, for me, has always been a unique bottle of smoke, earth, game, rusticness, and subtle mixed berry fruit. Some examples, even today, can be sharp and/or harsh, but for the most part these are 'somewhat' easy drinking wines. In a blind tasting, this sort of Pinotage tells on itself rather well, and has some very distinct characteristics, which makes it uniquely South African in that respect. I doubt you taste this type of Pinotage from any other wine producing region.
Nowadays, Pinotage is being grown in California and New Zealand, and improved techniques in the vineyard and winery has lead to more elegant and smooth examples – not a rustic drip in these bottles. Pinotage is also grown here in Virginia. Horton Vineyards, Grayhaven Winery and Lovingston Winery all do a varietal bottling of the wine. That’s pretty experimental, and at the same time impressive given the grape’s short history, and it should be of some interest to you as a wine lover to see what the Pinotage grape can do here in Virginia, as well as South Africa.
That said, if my tidbit about Pinotage has piqued your interest, then head over to my pal Peter May’s wine blog, The Pinotage Club – where Peter May is passionate about Pinotage. Peter can tell you all you ever wanted to know about Pinotage and where to find the best bang for the buck. He has also reviewed all the Virginia Pinotage examples, and has recently posted an entry about my visit to Grayhaven Winery. Be adventurous, tilt your glass, and try some Pinotage, friends!
Peter May is the founder of The Pinotage Club, an international cyber-based fan club for wines made from the Pinotage variety Peter is a wine writer, educator and author. His books are Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape.
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