Frank’s Tip – Pinotage

Pinotage of Reason

Let’s address the elephant in the room.   Talking about Pinotage usually results in a split vote of staunch patriots vs. nay-sayers.

I will be the very first to admit, that Pinotage has never been my favorite wine to consume…. but in my defense, I think this avoidance WAS well deserved. But less and less it seems.

As with most things in life, reinvention and change is as good as a holiday, for Pinotage it threw a lifeline to a drifting raft in an ocean of despair (too melodramatic?).

We all know the properties who have been dutifully making it for years, Kanonkop, L’avenir, Morkel, Simonsig, Delheim, Beyerskloof, Kaapzicht, Diemersfontein and many more. Before we get on to the young guns of Pinotage we believe a bit of history is in order. Pinotage was created by Prof. Abraham Perold in 1925, by successfully crossing Pinot noir & Cinsualt (then known as Hermitage) making its first appearance on a wine label with the SFW’s Lanzerac Pinotage 1961. Since then it’s been a juggernaut in terms of planting and production. Properties such as Kanonkop and Bellevue have been tweaking and trying a figure out the obvious contradiction of Pinot noir being a cool climate grape vs Cinsaut that enjoys heat..

If we are honest, many a Pinotage that was bottled that has done more harm to its reputation than good (same can be said about a few other varieties as well) especially in an era that was obsessed with the use of oak.

The current chiasm that the world of Pinotage is undergoing is very similar to the Shiraz vs Syrah debate we touched on last week. Ripe, flamboyant with loads of extract and oak versus very delicate, high acidity and minimal oak intervention.

Then of course there is the “Coffee Pinotage” anomaly. A glitch in the matrix, a temporary lapse in the space-time continuum better forgotten.

And then there was Fram 2013 Pinotage. The Syrah in a world Shiraz. Fram is not the only beacon of hope for our national fruity pride but certainly the best example of the new wave of Pinotage we have come across. Hence my excitement for this wine and officially the first Pinotage I have bought for own cellar….. ever….. and that is saying something. Made by Thinus Kruger, it is very similar in style to another bizarre individual’s wine, called Spioenkop. Both are made with a very light hand; not overworked or over extracted, not ripened into a shriveled mess on the vine. Delicate with plenty of layers and potential to develop. Truly interesting and flavorsome wines.

Am I converted to being a Pinotage avangelist? No, not yet; but there are many more beautiful Pinotages out there to be had, and hopefully they will cross my path like the Fram and Spioenkop have recently.

For more anorak details on Pinotage, please have look at the Pinotage associations comprehensive website:

Happy discovery.
Frank the Tank & Barrel