There can be very little argument that fine wines are gaining in popularity across the globe. Global wine consumption has been growing year on year for decades as the so-called ‘Millennials’ move away from carbonated beverages. However, there is one type of wine that is increasingly dominating the red wine market – and is outstripping market leaders such as Cabernet Sauvignon – that is Pinotage.
Pinotage wine, or ‘Pinot’ as it is affectionately known, is a product that put South African winemaking on the map.
It is not a grape varietal that has deep roots in old world winemaking, in fact, it was only in 1926 that a professor in South Africa, Izak Perold realized that the unique properties of the soil and climate of Stellenbosch (just outside of Cape Town) would favour a cross between the Pinot noir and Cinsaut grapes.
Pinotage would have a rocky road to success. to convince a sceptical international audience it would have to progress from a raw and untested wine variety into something that could stand head to head with the world’s best.
It was a wine that flooded the market, not only in its native South Africa but across the globe. But it was regarded as little more than a vulgar table wine the vineyard owners in South Africa were hard at work. even they did not know what to make of the vines they were growing – it was unchartered territory.
But their persistence paid off. The vines were healthy, drought resistant and hardy in the face of disease. Today South Africa stands at the pinnacle of Pinotage wine production.
The wine itself reards exploration. It has a deep blood purple color that is simply pleasing to the eye. The taste begs to be explored. It is not a subtle wine – but an explosion of taste with deep and singing berry flavors. However, there is a subtlety of tannin that makes every mouthful a taste that is like silk. It may not have the immense fortitude of Cab Sav. but it is certainly rewarding to explore the keen aromas and mouthfeel of this new world wine.
The product of those original South African vines are ideal for twinning in blends such as with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, which is only one of the reasons that it has found fertile ground across the world.
However, the wine itself takes careful care in order not to be overwhelming in terms of a distinct banana flavor – and a dry bitterness. The South African cellarmasters have found that the key to producing a great Pinot is careful control of the aging process.
Carefully managed the result is a chocolate and coffee heavy taste that also provides that velvety mouthfeel that aficionados love in the sips of this personality-filled wine.
It is a wine that is well worth exploring for those who want to get to know new world red wines. It is both complex and easy to approach -and offers exceptional value for money.