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A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety...
A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. A cross between finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, it was created in 1925 and surprised its inventors by being darker and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage at first seemed nearly impossible to tame, with its bold profile and wild flavors. While the grape has always had detractors, advances in viticultural and winemaking techniques have since helped to make Pinotage wines more palatable. Today it is a popular South African export both as a single varietal wine and in so-called “Cape blends,” in which Pinotage forms a significant proportion of a blend with other red varieties. It is grown very minimally outside of South Africa.
In the Glass
There is no mistaking the smell of Pinotage—common descriptors include tobacco, smoke, tar, bacon, licorice, hoisin sauce, and burnt rubber, in addition to more run-of-the-mill fruit like plum and blackberry. The flavors are bold, and tannins are firm but sweet—in fact, many Pinotage wines bear more resemblance to Australian Shiraz than to Pinot Noir.
For a wine this powerful, food should be equally bold, and gets bonus points for mirroring Pinotage’s sweet and sour flavors. Classic smoky South African braai (barbecue) is the most obvious match, while grilled curry sausage, lamb biryani, or richly spiced beef stew would be equally welcome at the table.
The name “Pinotage” is a subtle portmanteau: The Pinot part is obvious, but the second half is a bit confusing. In the early 1900s, Cinsault was known in South Africa as “Hermitage”—hence Pinotage. The somewhat less appealing “Herminoir” was also considered.
- Red Wine12
- Pinot Noir1,981
- Cabernet Sauvignon1,539
- Bordeaux Red Blends1,135
- Other Red Blends974
- Rhône Blends583
- Other Red Wine167
- Cabernet Franc90
- Petite Sirah83
- Tuscan Blends41
- Nero d'Avola22
- Petit Verdot9
- Touriga Nacional5
Fort Ross Vineyard Pinotage 2012Pinotage from Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California
Beaumont Pinotage 2014Pinotage from South Africa
Warwick Estate Pinotage 2015Pinotage from South Africa
MAN Vintners Pinotage 2015Pinotage from South Africa
Riebeek Cellars Kasteelberg Pinotage 2015Pinotage from Swartland, South Africa
Painted Wolf The Den Pinotage 2014Pinotage from South Africa
Spice Route Pinotage 2015Pinotage from Swartland, South Africa
Fleur du Cap Pinotage 2014Pinotage from South Africa
Graham Beck Game Reserve Pinotage 2014Pinotage from South Africa
Riebeek Cellars Pinotage 2014Pinotage from South Africa
Kanonkop Pinotage 2015Pinotage from South Africa
Riebeek Cellars Pinotage 2016Pinotage from South Africa