Any serious wine taster will tell you Pinotage has improved beyond recognition over the past few years. Much of this improvement can be attributed to the work of the Pinotage Association, which was established by a handful of enthusiastic producers back in 1995. Until then Pinotage was regarded by many merely as a sort of wine curiosity.
It was created in the 1920s by Prof Abraham Perold, who crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (also known as Hermitage) grapes and called the result Pinotage. Even then it was not taken serious for many years, although a few winemakers saw its potential and concentrated on making fine wine from it.
Once the Pinotage Association was formed, members set about sharing their knowledge of the grape, finding ways of enhancing its good points and eliminating any bad ones. The grape was studied seriously and the best clones selected.
Step by step Pinotage edged its way into the world’s spotlight. No other South African wine grape organization comes anywhere near to the Pinotage Association when it comes to dedication and enthusiasm.
The annual Absa Pinotage Top 10 competition was launched in 1997 and has become one of the most prestigious events of the Cape wine calendar.
When it began the competition attracted 48 entries. This year’s competition judges were faced with almost 150 entries.
The interesting feature of the contest is that there is no single winner. Twenty finalists are chosen, and from these the Top 10 are announced.
One of the reasons for this is that Pinotage has proved to be a versatile wine grape and it is possible to make several different styles of wine from it.
The organizers recognize that no one style of Pinotage will appeal to all tastes. But the Top 10 will certainly offer wine lovers a range of superb wines to enjoy.
If you don’t find a wine you love among these 10, you should probably be sticking to beer.
This year’s Top 10 winners, in alphabetical order, are:
Beyerskloof Reserve 2008,
Diemersdal Reserve 2010,
Fairview Primo 2009,
Kanonkop Pinotage 2006,
KWV The Mentor’s Pinotage 2009,
Laibach 2010, Naledi 2009,
Rijk’s Private Cellar 2007,
Schalk Burger & Sons Meerkat 2009
and Windmeul Reserve 2010.
Congratulations to all the winemakers and viticulturists concerned.
Photograph: Pinotage Association