Tuesday, August 21, 2012

South African Pinotage

Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, not a blend, but an actual crossing of these two French varieties which somehow happened in South Africa some decades ago. As a result, it has become South Africa's signature grape. While South African Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have come to the fore in the ever increasing trend of wine internationalisation, it is actually Pinotage which is much more interesting.

When I visited South Africa some ten years ago, its red wines were rustic and earthy most of the time, and not very refined. On this visit, I was pleasantly surprised about the general quality improvement. I did not taste expensive wines there, mainly bottles in the $15 to $25 per bottle range. There is no point to individually review them for this audience, but my impression of the Pinotages was generally this: The wines were well structured and elegant. They showed generous fruit flavours and often had floral and lifted characteristics. The Cinsault makes this wine weightier than a  Pinot Noir, delivering a very satisfying mouthfeel. Lighter than Cabernet or Shiraz, they accompanied food really well. The better ones had satisfying lasting finishes.

When you have a chance, try a Pinotage. I found it intriguing and worth while.  

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