Sunday, June 4, 2017

Franken-wine? A Pinotage from South Africa

Is it Franken-wine?

Pinotage is a hybrid grape that is mostly grown in South Africa (although Stoneboat makes a nice one in the Okanagan). It is a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also called Hermitage) and was developed because South Africa just doesn't have the ability to grow Pinot Noir that well, because it is so hot. This grape was the result, but I think it is more of a distinctive grape, at least from my first tasting.

Why try Pinotage? Well, it was actually a homework assignment for my WSET class - and I love this kind of homework!

Yesterday was a busy day, however, so when my wife went shopping, I asked her to pick up a bottle of South African Pinotage. There was only one kind available at the local liquor store and I don't think it was the fanciest bottle in existence.


It was a 2015 The Grinder Pinotage that cost a staggering $13.99. Would this be another Yellowtail?

In appearance, it was medium ruby and clear. On the nose, it had medium intensity and had aromas of plum, red liquorice, jam, and coffee (just like the label!). On the palate there was also black pepper, leather and tobacco, and a bit of an earthy taste. It had medium plus tannins, light body and medium plus acidity with a medium finish. 

Trying to evaluate it was not easy, even after going through the tasting. I quite liked it, despite its cheap price, as it was different and paired well to the steak and mushroom dinner we had. It seemed balanced, had OK length, had pretty good intensity, was fairly complex and as far as expressive, I don't know - I haven't had enough Pinotages to tell if it is expressive of not. It was definitely Good but I'm not sure if I would call it Very Good.  Good plus?

I would like to try another Pinotage for comparison, but when I looked on the BC Liquor Store website, there were only three listed and two were blends. I might have to make a trip to the private liquor store...

Overall, I enjoyed this one. It did have a coffee aroma, as promised by its name and label description, but it didn't overwhelm the wine. I liked the design of the label as well! My wife wasn't as thrilled with it - she said that it was OK but didn't stand out for her. However, she didn't think it was terrible - certainly no kin of Frankenstein's monster....


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