In 1924 ‘Pinotage’ was the brainchild of Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University and it is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Though when looking at the name Pinotage it’s hard to see where the name fully comes from? Well in true South African fashion if we told you Cinsault was known as "Hermitage" in South Africa at that time, the name Pinotage springs to life.
Interestingly, despite being a cross from a Burgundy and Rhône grape, Pinotage reflects none of the flavours of a French wine, perhaps this is the reason that it tended to be shunned by the 'Old World' for its formative years. Though recently over the last 20 years or so, the grape has gained in significant favour and Pinotage has commanded and fetched higher prices than any other South African grape! With this recent insurgence in popularity other new-world countries (albeit only small pockets) are now cultivating the grape, namely in Australia and USA, but has yet to develop a considerable presence in any other wine regions.
Pinotage is truly an exciting wine, presents with an earthiness on the nose but bursting with black fruit flavours on the palate, although younger vintages tend to present hints of red over black berry flavours. The older the vines, the more of an incredible spicy richness results, with further flavours such as chocolate, tobacco, smoke, and meatiness presenting! L’Avenir Estate produces some fantastic examples of the grape in both red and rosé. Across their portfolio they have won awards with each of their Pinotage’s having scored in the 90’s at the Decanter awards.
This ‘grape’ youngster is certainly worth taking note of and one to watch! If you haven’t tried a Pinotage of late, why not give it go?