Every year, wine lovers from across the globe celebrate South Africa’s national wine, Pinotage. With ONE WEEK to go…here’s more about this varietal.
The second Saturday of October is always a highlight on the wine calendar as International Pinotage Day is celebrated. Over the past four years interest and excitement has grown immensely for this special day which is celebrated on 14 October this year.
Pinotage was developed by Prof. A.I Perold in 1925, when he successfully crossed Pinot noir and Cinsaut, which was then known as Hermitage. Hence the name Pino – tage. Prof. CJ Theron succeeded in rescuing and reproducing the original seedlings and undertook the considerable task of evaluation. The name appeared on a wine label for the first time in 1961, namely the SFW’s 1959 Lanzerac Pinotage.
This followed on the sensation caused by the Morkels from Bellevue in 1959, when they won the prize for the best wine at the Cape Young Wine Show with this virtually unknown cultivar. The late senator Paul Sauer from Kanonkop did a great deal to make Pinotage popular.
When it is trellised and allowed to bear heavily, a light to reasonably full red table wine can be made. In the early years, isoamyl acetate tended to display prominently on the nose when the wine was still very young. When it is pruned to produce a smaller crop and allowed to ripen very well, a dark purple wine with an overwhelming, characteristic bouquet can be obtained.
Pinotage is currently the most planted locally-bred cultivar, and it has the reputation that a unique red wine can be produced that is easily distinguishable from other red wines.
ENJOYING PINOTAGE: FOOD & WINE
Only one rule: good Pinotage, good food
There are no rules about food and wine. There are only silly conventions which people are changing. Good Pinotage goes well with most good food. The medium-bodied, ‘lifestyle’ Pinotage pairs particularly well with a freshly-caught game fish or a hearty winter bean soup. Try it also with sashimi and sushi. Bobotie, ratatouille and curry also taste better with a glass of Pinotage next to the plate.
Full-bodied Pinotage is better suited to venison, spare ribs with a rich barbecue sauce, oxtail or osso buco.
At a recent tasting in an upmarket restaurant, a French sommelier chose a ‘lifestyle’ Pinotage, chilled to 12ºC, as the ideal companion to oysters!
Don’t be scared. Experiment. Make a shredded pork risotto with Pinotage as a major contributor to the sauce, as well as to the cook’s enjoyment. Wake up late on a Sunday morning, and have a glass of Pinotage with your bacon and scrambled eggs.
A well-wooded Pinotage often has chocolate flavours associated with it. Make a chocolate pancake or dark chocolate truffle cake, and surprise your friends with how well a sparkling Pinotage accompanies that.
The grape and the wine have an infinite variety of shades and moods, and only your imagination limits its uses.
Don’t forget, though, that sometimes the best match is just you and a glass of Pinotage.
COOKING WITH PINOTAGE: Recipes
For recipes which showcase the best of the proudly South-African varietal, click here.
WHAT TO DRINK: ABSA TOP 10 PINOTAGE COMPETITION 2017
THE WINNING WINES
- Delheim Pinotage 2012 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Altus Treurnicht
- Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Reserve 2015- WO Wellington, Winemaker Francoise Roode
- Flagstone Writer’s Block Single Vineyard Pinotage 2015 –WO Breedekloof, Winemaker Gerhard Swart
- Kanonkop Pinotage 2012 – WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar
- Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2014 –WO Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Winemaker Wynand Lategan
- Môreson MKM 2015 –Franschhoek cellar, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Clayton Reabow
- Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills Pinotage 2015 –WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis
- Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2015 – WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abraham de Villiers
- La Cave Pinotage 2016 – Wellington Wines, Winemakers Francois van Niekerk & Chris Smit
- Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2015 – WO Paarl/Coastal, Winemaker Abraham van Heerden
MUSEUM CLASS TROPHY WINNERS
For the first time in the history of the competition, this year producers were invited to also submit entries in a Museum Class specifically for older wines – 10 years and older. As expected, these proved how top Pinotage fulfils the promise of great maturation potential, with a trophy presented for the top example on the tasting bench.
- Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Jonkershoek Pinotage 2007
- Neethlingshof Pinotage 1999
- Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2007
- Lanzerac Pinotage 1992
The panel of judges: Neil Ellis of Neil Ellis Wines (chair), wine educator and consultant Nomonde Kubheka, winemaker Corlea Fourie of Bosman Family Vineyards, Francois Rautenbach of Singita Premier Wine Direct and viticulturist Stephan Joubert of Douglas Green Bellingham (DGB).
Beyers Truter, chair and founder of the Pinotage Association, is overwhelmed by the expansion of the market for Pinotage and the passion with which winemakers have embraced this grape cultivar over the past two decades. “Our 21-year journey with Absa has been full of many highlights and it is pleasing to see how the bar continues to be raised year after year. One of the objectives in creating the Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition was to improve the quality and perceptions of this lovely, uniquely South African wine, and, looking at the standard of the finalists this year as well as the degree to which Pinotage has been embraced, we are definitely on the right track.”
Truter emphasises just how much the quality of Pinotage wines has increased, particularly during the past decade. He applauds the producers of all the wines included among the finalists for their exceptional commitment and hard work. “Pinotage is a grape that needs special viticultural and winemaking techniques. It can be tough and demanding, but when you get it right the rewards are astonishing, world-class masterpieces,” he states. Truter went on to thank Absa as the Pinotage Association’s long term “partner in wine” and “a crucial part in the expansion of our beloved Pinotage.”
PINOTAGE DAY: LERIBA HOTEL (Pretoria)
Join us for a celebration of Pinotage!
Dates and Times: Sat, 14 & Sun, 15 October 2017, from 11h00-17h00.
Venue: Leriba Hotel, Centurion Dress Code: Purple and White.
Includes free tastings, wine and biltong pairings, a branded wine glass, live jazz, food stalls and kiddies area.
Pinotage Association website: click here.