Southern Right Pinotage 2014
Blend: 100% Pinotage
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Founded by Anthony Hamilton Russell in 1994, Southern Right’s aim is to produce a serious, age-worthy Pinotage (South Africa’s unique red grape variety) combining a distinct South African fruit and flavor expression with classic styling and refinement. In 2005, a stunningly beautiful 1,125 acre property on the western border of Hamilton Russell Vineyards was purchased as a long-term home for Southern Right, and in 2009, a 350 ton “Overberg”-style cellar, was completed on the property just in time for the 2009 harvest. Today the winery produces a Pinotage and a Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are named after the rare Southern Right whales, which frequent the cool South Atlantic Walker Bay, two miles from the vineyards. With each bottle sold, Southern Right makes a contribution to their conservation.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
South Africa’s signature grape, Pinotage is a distinctively earthy and rustic variety. In 1924 viticulturists crossed finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, and created a variety both darker and bolder than either of its parents! Today it is popular in South Africa both as a single varietal wine and in Cape blends. Somm Secret—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.