The Pinotage Grape - The uniquely South African varietal that keeps on giving!
Updated: May 27, 2019
The origin & story of Pinotage is uniquely South African!
In many ways the development of Pinotage in 1925 by Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University Abraham Izak Perold, arose from a simple error.
Designed with the intent of being a cross-bred varietal (not a hybrid) from Pinot Noir & Hermitage (Shiraz), to capture the finest qualities of both varietals; Pinotage was developed by accident as a cross between Pinot Noir & the lesser known Cinsault grape, which at the time was mistakenly referred to locally as Hermitage.
A hardy varietal & a prolific grower, Pinotage plantings began to take shape in the 1940's & by 1961 the first commercial bottlings under the famous Stellenbosch Lanzerac brand began with the 1959 Pinotage.
With the 1959 Lanzerac vintage wine winning Cape Wine of Show, this early success led to a wave of plantings across the country in the 1960s & 1970's.
While Pinotage can produce richly flavoured & fruit driven wines, offering significant tannins & tremendous ageing qualities, it took winemakers some years to fully understand, explore, decode & tame this varietal, in order to consistently show off its' finest qualities & potential.
In 2016, we put Pinotage to the test for ourselves by indulging in a 1995 Jacobsdal Pinotage (pictured), from South Africa's Stellenbosch wine region over a memorable dinner at the Cape Grace Hotel restaurant in Cape Town.
Careful decanting revealed a beautifully earthy & rich wine that paired magnificently with the slow cooked lamb we enjoyed. At 21 years of age, the wine offered the prospect of even more years of excellent drinking!
The advent of Pinotage also spawned the arrival of South Africa's now famous sibling - the Cape Red Blend, requiring 30% - 70% Pinotage with the balance blended with more traditional varietals such as Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec & Petit Verdot.
Cape Red Blends can also produce outstandingly rich & vibrant wines, offering winemakers & wine drinkers alike additional exciting choices in style, bouquet & flavour!
Young and highly innovative winemakers together with increasing investments in new technology, are resulting in South Africa producing a growing array of world class wines that are increasingly receiving glowing reviews & attention from leading international wine writers & judges, including Tim Atkin (MW), Jamie Goode & Jancis Robinson (MW).
Recently, Tim Atkin was quoted as saying:
'South Africa is currently the most exciting wine producing country on earth'.
Strong praise indeed & we couldn't agree more!
From a Luxury Wine Trails & a broader wine critic & enthusiasts perspective - Pinotage really is South Africa's gift to the wine world; and one that keeps on giving in so many ways!
Right now - we believe there's never been a more exciting time to come & explore South Africa's visually stunning Cape Winelands that extended across 60+ wine regions, & to enjoy the myriad of wonderful Pinotage, Cinsault & Cape Blend reds together with the excellent Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot & of course Pinot's on offer!
Luxury Wine Trails specialise in exclusive multi-day 'insider' wine, food & cultural journeys to South Africa's Cape Wineland Vineyards, with on-demand departures from Cape Town for small private groups from 4+
Our authentic 5 star luxury South African Cape Winelands wine tours are fully inclusive and feature entertaining masterclasses with the country's leading wine & food personalities, special winemaker hosted tastings, access to aged, rare & vertical tastings, unique food & wine pairing dinners at the finest restaurants, invitation only winemaker dinners & much much more.
Michael Nash & the experienced team at Luxury Wine Trails, look forward to personally welcoming & hosting you on our 3, 6, 10 day or a customised multi-day wine, food
& cultural journey of a lifetime!
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