June 15, 2009

Brief Notes from a Visit – Beyerskloof

By Andrew Barrow In Wine Notes

the famous beyerskloof burgerIf you need to know anything about Pinotage the man to talk to is Beyers Truter (if you can’t find Peter May, of course). Beyers has done more than anyone to promote and develop South Africa’s own unique red grape variety. Beyerskloof is the spiritual home of Pinotage with Beyers, the sixth generation of the family to farm the estate, is often cited as the “King of Pinotage”.
Awards drip from the wines. If you have never encountered a drinkable, enjoyable, Pinotage Beyerskloof is the label to turn to.

If you sit in the open-sided deck restaurant, with the Kanonkop hill in the distance (photo on SpittoonExtra) at your feet lies the ‘field’ a mixed planting of vines that goes into the companies Bordeaux-style Field Blend.

Their pale, peachy, refreshing, sparkling Pinotage Rosé Brut washed down a plate of superb garlic snails beautifully while a selection of older Pinotage’s and various Cape Blends vintages, tasted in the cellar with Beyers Truter himself, were very interesting. The latter come in various mixes – the 2006 Synergy comprises 43% Pinotage, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Shiraz and 7% Merlot compared to the 2001 Synergy being 55% Cabernet, 37% Pinotage, 8% Merlot and 14% ‘others’. Basically they are still experimenting with these! I didn’t enjoy the older vintage, I have to admit, the reductive edge on the nose dominatated but perhaps I’m just more susceptible to those aromas as my tasting partners enthused.

The Field Blends are certainly worthy of trying. They age beautifully too. The 1995, which my notes contradictorily say is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, had a gorgeous perfume, complex with tobacco-edged age. Little stock remains but it is available on the restaurant wine list. The 2001 was luscious with a vailed smoothness from the addition of Merlot. I didn’t catch the blend details but the 2006 has 60% Cabernet Sauvignon coupled with 40% Merlot.

According to our host Pinotage works wonderfully in a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Merlot, however, is not a great working partner. No stainless steel tanks for Pinotage either, rather the grapes at Beyerskloof see open, concrete, fermenters, a little temperature control and manual punching of the cape by hand.
While age worthy it is the younger Pinotage single varietals that impressed during the cellar tasting. With ripe, sweetish upfront fruit, good structure and length they have structure and drinkability with the Beyerskloof Reserve Pinotage being singularly impressive.

The Wine Cellar at Beyerskloof

Current prices for the Beyerskloof range, as listed by SAWinesOnline are:

  • Pinotage 2007 £7.99

  • Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2001 £16.19

  • Brut Rosé Sparkling 2008 £9.99

  • Pinotage Reserve 2006 £11.19

  • Synergy Cape Blend 2002 £12.99

  • Synergy Reserve 2005 £24.99

  1. Peter F May June 15, 2009

    That picture of the Pinotage burger brings back many fond memories.
    The UK prices you quote are a trifle high — Waitrose has the 2006 Reserve Pinotage at £7.99 which is a steal. And Waitrose Fine Wine did have the 2001 Field Blend at 18.99 but it looks like its all gone now.

  2. Dylan June 16, 2009

    Simply fantastic. That meal must have tasted as good as it looks.


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