For a country as blessed as South Africa is with fantastic terroirs capable of growing a huge range of exceptional grapes, you would think that the wine world would be more aware of it, and its hidden gems. Fortunately, the fall of the Apartheid government has led to greater acceptance of South Africa in the world. It's beauty, and diversity are gaining world attention. The world of wine is no exception, with it's unique grape, Pinotage, raising eyebrows and getting tongues wagging, as it makes headway in the challenging world of wine marketing.
A cross between Cinsault and Pinot Noir, it is unique to me in that you can actually taste the "pinot" side of it. To me, it is like a pinot noir on steroids. While warm contry pinot noir is often unlike its Burgundy forefathers, Pinotage seems like a Burgundy Pinot Noir on steroids. Big, bold and rich, with excellent notes of plums, blackberry, and licorice, spicy and earthy notes, all common, though more muted in Burgundy, shine brightly. Because of its bold strokes, it is delicious on its own, or as part of a thoughtfully designed blend, where its flourishes can compliment the jaminess and sweeter notes of a syrah, the floral and red berry notes of grenache noir, even the bold dark notes of a great Cab Sauv.
Give yourself a winemaking challenge this year..veer off the beaten path a little, and explore the uniqueness of a great South African grape on its own, or as part of your masterpiece blend!