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Southern Right Pinotage 2018

  • TA91
750ML / 13.5% ABV
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3.9 5 Ratings
750ML / 13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Southern Right is redefining Pinotage with this intense classically-styled, clay-grown wine, packed with complex berry fruit, beautiful tannins, and subtle spice. Full ripeness and the longer hang-time afforded by cooler sites, combined with the complex, more classic fruit aromas and structure resulting from clay-rich soil, make this wine a highly individual expression of South Africa’s unique grape variety.

Critical Acclaim

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TA 91
Tim Atkin

Anthony Hamilton Russell is on a mission to improve the image of Pinotage around the world. This stylishly wooded example, mostly made with fruit from the Ashbourne property, is bright, breezy and attractive, all raspberry and black cherry fruit and fine-grained tannins. 2020-24

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Southern Right

Southern Right

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Southern Right, South Africa
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In 1994, Anthony Hamilton-Russell founded Southern Right Cellars as a Pinotage specialist, convinced that Pinotage has the intrinsic qualities to produce truly world-class wine with a distinct South African expression and typicity. As an early ripening grape, it is Anthony’s belief that Pinotage will perform best in cooler, maritime areas, where a longer, slower ripening season will afford fully developed tannins and a greater fruit complexity.

In partnership with winemaker Kevin Grant, the team initiated plantings on four carefully chosen, clay rich sites in the cool, maritime Walker bay appellation. Following in-depth soil research on Hamilton-Russell vineyards, Anthony and Kevin were able to discern that the most site-expressive and complex wines will be produced off of the stony, clay-rich Bokkeveld shale soils in the area. In 1998, a 113 hectare farm in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus, was purchased as a central home for the Southern Right Cellar.

The first Southern Right Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc were released in 1995. As an early ripening grape, it is Anthony’s belief that Pinotage will perform best in cooler, maritime areas, where a longer, slower With each bottle of Southern Right wine sold, Southern Right Cellars makes a contribution to Southern Right whale conservation in the Walker Bay.

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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.

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A distinctively earthy and rustic variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. In 1924 viticulturists crossed finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, and created, surprisingly, a variety both darker and bolder than either of its parents. Today Pinotage is a popular South African export both as a single varietal wine and in Cape blends. 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 dark fruits of plum and blackberry. The flavors are bold, and tannins are firm but ripe—in fact, many Pinotage wines bear more resemblance to Australian Shiraz than to Pinot Noir.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier 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. The somewhat less appealing “Herminoir” was also considered.

PBC2773042_2018 Item# 522737

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