Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Week of Drinking Pinotage

Unexpectedly enough, I’ve tasted two great Pinotages in the past week. I say unexpected because, though I enjoy the grape, it’s typically not one of my favorites. But the past seven days have gone a long way toward changing my mind.

First, during a class at the Wine School, was the Southern Right Pinotage 2006, which showed all of the deep asphalt and hot rubber character that so many people associate with the grape, but which here was balanced out by wonderfully rich cherry fruit. The combination was by turns thought-provokingly complex and dangerously gulpable. I just wish I’d had a grilled rib eye with me to enjoy alongside it.

The second one was also a 2006, but more mature than the Southern Right. This one, produced by Wildekrans, simply stunned me with its perfumed nose of mint, eucalyptus, rich black cherry, oolong tea, leather, and, with some air, a hint of asphalt. On the palate, sweet cherry fruit sang through the velvety texture, all of it edged with a spine of minerality and still-fresh acidity. Oddly enough, it reminded me, in a lot of ways, of some sort of cousin to a Leoville-Barton, though it never lost its own identity. Just gorgeous.

Unfortunately, too many people still aren’t familiar enough with Pinotage. But it’s a grape worth exploring. You never know when you’ll find a standout...or two, like I did this past week.

For more information, check out the Pinotage Association’s web site, linked up right here.


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