Wine Knowledge – Pinotage

The Pinotage grape is a cross between Pinot Noir, as the name suggests, and Cinsaut. It’s home is South Africa where it was developed in the 1920s. Small volumes grow in New Zealand and some New World countries. Neither growing or winemaking are straightforward, producing quality Pinotage is a challenge.

South Africa

It’s in various blends typically with Merlot and Shiraz. Pinotage has a distinctive flavours including banana, marshmallow and redcurrant. Matured with oak it is spicy. At at best it produces strong fruity plummy wines championing South African winemaking. In the wrong hands, an unpleasant solvent or rubbery smelling wine can result.

After decades of neglect, interest in the wine is rising thanks to improving techniques.

Coffee­ Style Pinotage

Winemaker Bertus Fourie, the so called Barista Pinotage is credited with inventing this controversial style. By using a particular yeast with prepared oak barrels, a wine with distinctive coffee and chocolate characteristics results. Although purists might not agree with the development, it has certainly put the wine and South African winemaking on the map.

Even with this renewed interest, vineyard acreage is likely to decline as South Africa growers look to more international grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have higher acreages.

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