Pinotage is such an interesting little grape. It pops up in all kinds of unusual places, such as in my glass last night as an accompaniment to some chicken tacos and bachelorette party planning.
Pinotage, for those that don’t know or would like a refresher, is a cross varietal between Pinot Noir and the French grape Cinsault. It was “bred” in 1925 in South Africa, and remains South Africa’s most commonly planted red varietal.
I have been drinking a lot of Pinotage lately, mainly because of all the South African buzz going on around the World Cup. The South African style is typically a medium-bodied mouthfeel with some earthiness and smoky flavors. Many criticize the grape, claiming a “rubber” “band-aid” or “acetone” flavor to the wine. To me, this makes the wine all the more interesting. We have a few inexpensive versions in the store that I love, such as the Sebeka Shiraz Pinotage and Man Vintners Pinotage.
I was surprised last night to find a Russian River Pinotage. My friends have just returned from a trip to Sonoma, and were excited to show me their wine collection they brought home. This wine came from J Vineyards, an esteemed winery known for their exclusive Pinot Noir’s and critically acclaimed sparkling wines. (We currently have two different Pinot Noirs available from J Vineyards). You certainly don’t see a whole heck of a lot of Californian Pinotage, so I was thrilled to try one!
I was immediately blown away by the color of the wine. Deep, dark purple. The nose revealed lush, dark fruits with a hint of baking spice. The palate was even more enticing. Blackberry and plum were the predominant flavors, with more cinnamon and nutmeg coming through. My favorite thing about this wine was the texture: silky smooth velvet. It was so interesting to compare this to the South African wines, which to me seem lighter and earthier. An interesting experiment would be to taste them side by side.
As the World Cup draws to a close(Viva Espana!!) I hope I won’t leave Pinotage behind, and will continue to find reasons to drink such an interesting wine.