A bad reputation doesn’t mean you can’t change things. This is a question everyone should keep in mind when tasting pinotage. After all, if Scrooge, the Grinch and Severus Snape can change color over time, why can’t Wine?

What is a tasting challenge? With 34 wines from 12 countries, you can improve your taste in wine every week – the Wine Tasting Challenge.

South African Pinotage : It’s time to try again.

Pinotage is a South African cross between Sinsault and Pinot Noir that originated in the 1920s. These two varieties are known for their light wines, but their descendants have been wise enough to prove it: Pinotage is big and bold!

Over the past 20 years or so, Pinotage has gotten a reputation for being cheap and….. pretty bad.

But lately, South African winemakers have been increasingly proud of their national grape. As a result, this reputation is slowly improving, bottle by bottle.

This of course aroused our interest.

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This week we were out and about with the Walker Bay Pinotage, a sub-region of South Africa’s southern Cape Coast. This region is known for its balanced and flavorful wines, and we are eager to taste them.

Smoky, meaty flavour.

Pinotage 2017 from Beaumont Family Wines

Look at this: Medium ruby.

Perfumes: Black cherry, menthol, olive, blackberry, dark chocolate and meat notes, umami.

At the palace: Smoky, with soft tannins that don’t dry you out too much. Tones of cherries, cola and black plums.

Assorted food: A roast duck with plum sauce would be fantastic. Not to mention wild or roast pork.

What we learned about South African pinotage

The reason for creating Pinotage was to combine the flavour qualities of Pinot Noir with the performance of Cinsault. Pinot noir is notoriously fickle, and the South African climate has exacerbated that.

And the inventor got what he wanted. More or less. Although pinotage is growing like wildfire in South Africa, it lacks the finer nature of pinot noir.

Yet thanks to its ease of maintenance, it is the second largest grape variety in South Africa. And so the conversation began.

When you have a lot of easily grown grapes, the tendency is to make as much wine and sell as much as possible. Thus, for most of its existence, Pinotage has become synonymous with cheap and easy.

But in recent years we have seen more and more high quality Pinotage.

Its smoky and fruity characteristics make it unique, it is definitely one of the best wines for heavy and smoked meats. And this wine was delivered in large quantities.

Last Impressions

We were fascinated by the different flavors that can be found in these humble grapes. Like its predecessor, the Pinot Noir, it has nice, fruity aromas.

And, like the Cinso, it offers smoky performance. But unlike all those others, Pinotage has a wonderful mouthfeel that makes you wonder what came over you.

Learn more about the amazing wines coming out of South Africa by delving into the Stellenbosch region.

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