NewsPinotage: The South African Gem Worth Celebrating

Pinotage: The South African Gem Worth Celebrating

Every wine lover’s calendar marks October 14th as a day to celebrate a unique and distinctive grape varietal – Pinotage. This special day is dedicated to honoring the remarkable Pinotage wine, a South African wine treasure. In this article, we’ll tell you a little bit about the origins of Pinotage, the regions where it thrives, and some best bottles you should consider having on Pinotage Day.

Origins of Pinotage 

Pinotage is a red wine grape variety that has its roots firmly planted in South African soil. Its story begins in the early 20th century when Professor Abraham Izak Perold, a viticulturist at the University of Stellenbosch, crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes. The goal was to combine the elegance of Pinot Noir with the hardiness of Cinsaut to create a grape that could withstand the sub-tropical South African climate.

The result was Pinotage, a grape with distinct flavors of black cherries, blackberries, figs, mint, and roasted meat. This crossing not only gave birth to this unique varietal that is stronger and bolder than both its parent grapes, but it also set the stage for the growth of an entirely new South African wine tradition.

South African Terrior 

One of the key factors contributing to Pinotage’s success in South Africa is its compatibility with the country’s diverse terroir. The wine-growing regions of Stellenbosch, Swartland, and the Western Cape are particularly well-suited for Pinotage cultivation because of their well-draining soils. 

The terroir in these regions is characterized by soils including decomposed granite, clay, and shale. The vines thrive in these conditions and produce grapes that showcase rich, complex flavors. The South African climate, with its warm, sunny days and cooler nights, also plays a crucial role in allowing the grapes to ripen slowly, which enhances their flavor development.

Top Bottles to Explore on Pinotage Day

If you’re looking to celebrate Pinotage Day with a glass of this unique South African wine, consider these outstanding bottles: 

1. Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2019 

Kanonkop is often seen as the king of Pinotage producers in South Africa. Their Pinotage wines are known for their depth, complexity, and aging potential. The Kanonkop Estate Pinotage is a flagship wine that showcases the best of what Pinotage can offer. We prefer the 2019 vintage from this estate. It has upfront oaky notes of vanilla and chocolate as well as flavors of plums, blackberries, and a hint of smoke! 

2. Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2017 and 2008

Named after the winemaker, Beyers Truter, who has been instrumental in promoting Pinotage, this wine is a rich and fruity expression of the varietal. It’s a great introduction to Pinotage for newcomers and any vintage is wonderful, however, we wanted to highlight our favorites. The 2017 vintage is an explosion of flavors with bold blackcurrant flavors, chocolate, cedar, and hints of leather! The 2008 vintage is also fantastic and boasts a great example of how well pinotage can age. 

3. Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2020

Simonsig is another great South African winery, and their Redhill Pinotage is a prime example of the elegance that Pinotage can achieve. This wine differs from the others we have listed because it offers a beautiful balance of fruit and oak. Being a younger vintage, it hasn’t had time to develop those rich flavors which makes this wine more fruity than the others. 

4. Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2007 

This wine is a testament to the potential of Pinotage. This magnificent smooth, bold, and complex wine showcases the varietal’s unique character and aging potential. The 2007 vintage leans on the dryer side, has blackcurrant and mint notes and is extremely earthy for those who don’t like fruit-forward wines. 

Pairing Pinotage

Try Pinotage with roasted meats and vegetables topped with flavorful sauces such as teriyaki, plum sauce, or barbecue! The mixture of a salty/savory sauce matches the complexity of this interesting wine. Our favorite pairing is BBQ Sliders and Pinotage; it’s great for a game night at home.

Celebrating Pinotage Day

October 14th is the perfect time to drink Pinotage, not only is it Pinotage Day, but the weather is also starting to cool down in the northern hemisphere, making this the perfect fall-weather sipping wine. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious newcomer, Pinotage offers a unique taste of South African terroir that not many have as their go-to wine. Explore something different and raise a glass of Pinotage, and it’s visionary winemaker, Abraham Izak Perold, who brought this remarkable grape to life. 

Have you ever had Pinotage? Leave us the name of your favorite bottle in the comments! 

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