Saturday, November 21, 2009

"E" is for Excellent Reds, South African Pinotage to be exact!

Pinotage is South African’s most exciting grape and signature wine. What is interesting is that this particular grape is vinified in many styles. Pinotage can be velvety like merlot or rough and tumble like cabernet sauvignon. As a wine lover your task is to do much research, buying and sipping that is, to find the ones you enjoy the most. Be sure to make wine notes, as well. This will allow you to pair different pinotage with a variety of dishes. One may complement baked salmon seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. Yet, another pinotage could to stand up to cedar planked salmon or lamb.

A quality pinotage, despite its style, will offer a balance of fruitiness, acidity and sufficient tannin. Pinotage flavours include black berry liqueur, violet, pepper, cherry, plum, smoke, earth, roobis tea, fruit cake, and bananas, to name a few. Remember, however, that your interpretation of flavours is subjective. Five people can smell and taste the same wine and describe it differently.

It’s a fabulous red generally sold at a reasonable price, ranging from $10 to $25. If you purchase a more expensive vintage, add a little flair to your dinner party. Pair your pinotage with ‘bobtie’, a classic South African beef or lamb meatloaf with a custard topping. You can find dozens of bobtie recipes on line. Sosaties is a South African version of a kabob, specifically lamb on a skewer marinated in a Malay curry sauce. Experiment with pinotage before pairing with this curried dish. A pinotage with velvety texture and soft tannin would work best. The heat and spice of curry can clash with any red offering too much bitterness and astringency.

Pinotage also partners with grilled chicken or steak, hamburgers, roast beef and lamb. A variety of pasta sauces will also harmonize with this wine, such as pesto, roasted tomato, olive oil and garlic, brie and mushroom or creamy blue cheese and rosemary. It’s a tasty wine to drink in all seasons.

Professor of Viticulture, Abraham Izak Peroldt, of Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa, bred pinotage in 1925. He crossed the two vitis vinifera varieties of pinot noir and cinsault. Peroldt used pinot noir for its finesse, taste and flavours and cinsault for its hardiness and disease resistance.

The variety went unnoticed until 1991. Winemaker Beyers Truter of Kanonkop Estate took his pinotage to England’s International Wine and Spirit Competition. Here the judges were so impressed that Truter was awarded the Robert Mondavi Trophy of International Winemaker of the Year. Truter was the first South African to win this prestigious award. Truter has now left, but Kanonkop still reaps a fabulous reputation for producing quality pinotage. Today, pinotage accounts for 50% of the winery’s plantings.

This award put pinotage into the minds and hearts of wine lovers around the world. By 1995 its price escalated by approximately five hundred percent. The LCBO does not carry any Kanonkop Estate pinotage at this time. However, they do have a variety that are reasonably priced and worth researching.

1 comment:

  1. E is for excellent article :)

    Note too that Pinotage is being grown and made in Canada, several wineries in Okanagan Valley, BC and there is a Pinotage vineyard in Ontario but no commercial release as yet.


    Peter F May