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Oct 26, 2006 05:59 PM


I am a fan of the South African Pinotage grape. Pinotage always seems to be one of those varietals that you either like or dislike, with little inbetween.

I recently tasted the 2003 Hill & Dale, Pinotage, Stellenbosch ($9)and thought it was a superb value. It was smooth, smoky, and earthy. It was an intriguing and complex wine, especially for under $10. It is also much mellower than most Pinotages I have had and thus might even interest those who generally do not care for Pinotage.

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  1. check out graham beck old road pinotage... very tasty.

    1. My experiences have varied so wildly that I tend to avoid them - so it's good to know a few solid providers

      1. The only Pinotage I have had was this month, from J Winery, Sonoma, 2003. Dark inky ruby-purple, strong, alcoholic, fruity (cherries and concorde grape, verging on foxy?), kind of weird. DeLong's wine grape varietal table says "can have a pronounced candy-like pungency" which I thought described it well. I also thought, why bother with this when there is so much other great wine out there? On the other hand, I didn't get tired of drinking it and we had no trouble finishing the bottle, it was a decent wine. I appreciate your recommendation of a good South African version. But does it share any of the characteristics I describe?

        1. No, my Pinotage was much less fruity and more smoke and spice. It is a very smooth wine and not like a fruit-bomb at all. Much more Old World than New World.

          Has anyone had a California Pinotage? I have read a little ab out the 2002 Fort Ross Pinotage and it has intrigued me though I have not yet been able to find it in Mass.

          4 Replies
          1. re: RichardA

            In general, South African wines bridge New and Old World in style. And that rubbery, bandaid thing is the other characteristic that makes them easy to spot in a blind tasting. Pinotage often smells a little like blue cheese to me also.

            The 2002 Fort Ross Pinotage was very fine when I tried it about 2 years ago. I think one of the owners of the winery is South African. Besides its New World, Sonoma County cool climate origin to set it apart from South African examples, it seemed to me that the winemaking style brought out a different side of the grape. Rather than rustic and spicy, this was a far more elegantly constructed wine. I recall being so intrigued by it that I did a little research at the time and found out that Fred Scherrer (Scherrer, ex-Dehlinger, ex-Greenwood Ridge) and Ed Kurtzman (August West, ex-Testarossa, ex-Chalone) were consulting winemakers though I don't know which one made this wine. They're both excellent producers of fine Pinot Noir under their own labels, and a light hand with Pinotage brought out a lot of subtlety that I never expected to find.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              We actually first tasted & fell in love with the Fort Ross wines just this past weekend at a food event. Have you tried their Symposium proprietary blend? It's Pinotage and Pinot Noir, and I found it to be wonderfully balanced between fruity, spicy, mineralistic & rich, but with a much lighter finish than one would expect from the first blush.
              I can't recommend this wine highly enough.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                The rubbery 'characteristic' which can be found in some SA Pinotage is a fault caused by underipe grapes (itself caused by a virus). You won't find this characteristic in better SA pinotage.

              2. re: RichardA

                I've liked the Fort Ross Pinotage when I've tried it.

              3. Steltzner on the Silverado Trail has an interesting pinotage - mouthfeel and texture similar to pinot meunier, black cherry fruit. only available at the winery.