red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors
medium-bodied Pinotage, cqn go with grilled or sauteed
fish and thick soups. A heavy-bodied Pinotage goes well
with red meat, venison, barbequed dishes.
is a grape variety that was created in South Africa in 1925
by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture
at Stellenbosch University. Perold was attempting to combine
the best qualities of the robust Hermitage with Pinot Noir,
a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow.
Perold planted the four seeds from his cross in the garden
of his official residence at Welgevallen Experimental Farm
and then seems to have forgotten about them. In 1927 he left
the university for a job with KWV co-operative and the garden
became overgrown. The university sent in a team to tidy it
up, just as Charlie Niehaus happened to pass by. He was a
young lecturer who knew about the seedlings, and rescued them
from the clean-up team. The young plants were
moved to Elsenburg Agricultural College under Perold's successor,
CJ Theron. In 1935 Theron grafted them onto newly established
Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock at Welgevallen. Meanwhile
Perold continued to visit his former colleagues. Theron showed
him the newly grafted vines, and the one that was doing best
was selected for propagation and was christened Pinotage.
The first wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg, with the first
commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry's Pass. Also
in 1941 Pinotage vines were planted at the Kanonkop Estate,
the wines of which have later risen to great fame and can
mature up to 25 years, so that this estate has even been called
âa formidable leader of Capes red wine pack.4]
recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became
the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959. This wine
would become the first wine to mention Pinotage on its label
in 1961, when Stellenbosch Farmer's Winery (SFW) marketed
it under their Lanzerac brand.
This early success, and its easy viticulture, prompted a wave
of planting during the 1960s.
the reputation for easy cultivation, the Pinotage grape has
not escaped criticism. A common complaint is the tendency
to develop isoamyl acetate during winemaking which leads to
a sweet pungency that often smells like paint.
A group of British Masters of Wine visiting in 1976 were unimpressed
by Pinotage, calling the nose "hot and horrible" and comparing
the taste to "rusty nails". Throughout its
history, the grape has seen its plantings rise and fall due
to the current fashion of the South African wine industry.
In the early 1990s, as Apartheid ended and the world's wine
market was opening up, winemakers in South Africa ignored
Pinotage in favor of more internationally recognized varieties
like Shiraz and Cabernet
Sauvignon. Towards the end of the 20th century, the grape's
fortunes began to turn, and by 1997 it commanded higher prices
than any other South African grape.
Despite this, there remains a segment of South African winemakers,
such as Andre van Rensburg of Vergelegen, who believe that
Pinotage has no place in a vineyard.
has suggested that part of some South African winemakers'
disdain for Pinotage stems from the fact that it's a distinctly
New World wine while the trend for South African wine is to
reflect more European influences and flavors. Despite being
a cross from a Burgundy and Rhone grape, Pinotage reflects
none of the flavors of a French wine.
While not a criticism itself, outside of small plantings most
notably in New Zealand and the United States, Pinotage has
yet to develop a significant presence in any other wine region.
In the early 21st century, several of South Africa's top producers
have turned from focusing predominantly on Pinotage to using
it more as a blending component, or have stopped using it
to South Africa, Pinotage is also grown in Brazil, Canada,
Israel, New Zealand, United States and Zimbabwe. In New Zealand,
there are 94 acres (38 ha) of Pinotage. In the US, there
are plantings in California and Virginia.
German winemakers have recently begun experimenting with the
of the world's plantings of Pinotage is found in South Africa,
where it makes up just 6.7% of the vineyard area but is considered
a symbol of the country's distinctive winemaking traditions.
It is a required component (30-70%) in "Cape blends". Here
it is made into the full range of styles, from easy-drinking
quaffing wine and rose to barrel-aged wine intended for cellaring.
It is also made into a fortified 'port' style, and even a
red sparkling wine. The grape is very dependent on the skill
and style of winemaking, with well made examples having the
potential to produce deep colored, fruity wines that can be
accessible early as well as age.
are vigorous like their parent Cinsaut and easy to grow, ripening
early with high sugar levels.
It has the potential to produce yields of 120 hl/ha (6.8 tons/acre)
but older vines tend to lower their yields to as low as 50
hl/ha. In winemaking, controlling the coarseness of the grape
and the isoamyl acetate character are two important considerations.
Volatile acidity is another potential wine fault that can
cause Pinotage to taste like raspberry vinegar. Since the 1990s,
more winemakers have used long and cool fermentation periods
to minimize the volatile esters as well as exposure to French
and American oak.
is naturally high in tannins which can be tamed with limited
maceration time but reducing the skin contact can also reduce
some of the mulberry, blackberry and damson fruit character
that Pinotage can produce. Some winemakers have experimented
with letting the grapes get very ripe prior to harvest followed
by limited oak exposures as another means of taming the more
negative characteristics of the grape while maintaining its
fruitiness. Newer clones have shown some potential as well.
Science of Wine Aroma
the Acids in Wine
(Tannins) in Wine
The Basic Wine Pairing Rules
Science of Food and Wine
a Wine Sommelier
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