is on a great deal this week at just £15.50 a bottle (whilst stocks last). It’s a fantastic wine and really showcases the quality of wine this variety can produce.
If Pinotage isn’t a grape variety you are very familiar with, let me give you compressed history of this oft knocked grape variety. Known as South Africa’s own grape variety, it was developed in the country in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault. At the time Cinsault was known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the portmanteau ‘Pinotage’. Fun fact for you, it was almost called Herminoir. I think they picked the better name but anyway, I digress. The creators of Pinotage were hoping to create a variety similar to Pinot Noir but easier to cultivate and better suited to the hot South African climate. The resultant variety is certainly easier to cultivate, it is much more vigorous and is much better suited to the climate but it isn’t much like Pinot Noir. It ripens early and is high yielding, it is a high tannin variety and can have high sugar levels which can lead to higher alcohol if they are not managed carefully.
Any grape variety, if not treated correctly, can produce questionable wine. I think that’s putting it nicely. Pinotage is no exception to this. In the wrong hands it can have aromas of banana, burnt rubber or rusty nails and speaking from experience, these characteristics are not terribly appealing in a wine. In its early days, people took advantage of its high yields and large quantities of repetitively insipid wine was produced. From the 1990s onwards, with the lifting of trade sanctions, there was a resurgence in interest in the variety and subsequently an improvement in quality. Determined producers have been working hard to lift the reputation of this variety and produce wines of real quality and finesse. Which nicely brings us back to Welgegund Pinotage.
The Welgegund farm was founded in the late eighteenth century in Wellington in the western Cape. The name coming from the German word for ‘well-bestowed.’ Originally it was a fruit farm but in the 1990s they made the transition to wine production. They say, their modern winery encouraged them to make a more modern style of Pinotage. This wine is 100% Pinotage with a proportion of wine undergoing ageing in a variety of oak barrels.
It has a complex nose with aromas of black currant, liquorice, pepper and herbal, garrigue notes. On the palate there are more black currant, blueberry and crunchy cherry flavours, dark chocolate and slightly savoury, meaty characters. Rich and full bodied with ripe yet firm tannins and good acidity. The finish is long and luscious.
Pinotage is great with barbecued red meats, so perfect with all this good weather we have been having. Or try it wine paired with slow cooked shoulder of lamb, marinated with black olives and rosemary.
Happy (and responsible) drinking!