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Not to everyone’s taste is Pinotage – South Africa’s own unique red grape variety. I wasn’t a fan for a long time hating that distinctive rusty nail edge that pervaded so many wines. But quality, that many put down to the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage competition for which many producers crave, has improved over the years.

I was invited for a second year to the Top 10 Pinotage London tasting last month. The tasting, followed by a rather nice lunch, was attended by several of the winning winemakers no doubt in town for the London Wine Fair in addition to this tasting.

Wines listed below with more details on the day at Wine Sediments

Debbie Burden at the Pinotage Tasting

The wines listed as being the very best Pinotage that South African can produce:

  • Bellevue Estate Pinotage, 2002, Stellenbosch
    The first Pinotage was grown here in 1959. A big wine, with elegance though and a nice balance.
  • Kanonkop Estate Pinotage, 1998, Stellenbosch
    A bit of age here, which I didn’t really take too preferring more youthful primary fruit flavours. Great opportunity to sample an aged Pinotage though.
  • Tulbagh Co-Operative Winery Pinotage, 2003, Tulbagh
    A softer, more approachable/easy to drink style
  • Wamakers Valley Winery La Cave Pinotage, 2004, Wellington
    Young, fresh and fruity, full in structure and a dry finish.
  • L’Avenir Estate Pinotage, 2000, Stellenbosch
    Chocolate and coffee edged. Nice.
  • Manley Private Estate Pinotage, 2004, Tulbagh
    Very interesting aroma. Intense and plummy palate. Do try if you see this on the shelf.
  • Simonsig Redhill Pinotage, 2003, South Africa.
    This is the one to place at the top of your ‘must try list’. Not only is Debbie Burden, a rather talented winemaker, she is as passionate over her 7 years in the job as she is stylish and attractive. A great ambassador for Pinotage. The wine is bloody good too. My favourite of the evening. Rich, ripe, elegant – which could be a descriptive for the wine or the winemaker, take your pick!
  • Spier Wine Estate Private Collection Pinotage, 2002, Stellenbosch.
    Quite a tannic brute, no doubt enhanced by the 14 odd months in oak. Sweet fruit in support though and a good length.
  • Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage, 2003, Stellenbosch
    Winemaker Guy Webber has been at Stellenzicht for 9 years and has produced a lush wine, with plenty of spice and oak flavours.
  • Kaapzicht Estate Steytler Pinotage, 2001, Stellenbosch
    Tannins and oak here on a wine designed by Danie Steytler for aging. A dry skin ferment enhanced by 19 months in oak. A long lasting wine.

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