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Wildekrans Pinotage Walker Bay Barrel Select 1999

Pinotage from South Africa
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    Winemaker Notes

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    Wildekrans

    Wildekrans

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    Wildekrans, South Africa
    Wildekrans was purchased in the 1970's and set up as a mixed farming operation of wheat, cattle, sheep, fruit and wine and table grapes. In 1989 Dr Bruce Elkin gave up the city life and private dental practice for the fresh country air and moved to Wildekrans.

    After trying many different crops, it became obvious that Wildekrans was an ideal spot to grow grapes. The prevailing south-easter and long, dry summers kept the grapes dry and free from fungal diseases. The lean harsh soils produced grapes with small berries that resulted in flavourful wines with the Wildekrans' cool climate aromatic profile.

    Today Wildekrans consists of 50 hectares of grapes all planted in a clay rich subsoil mixed with a top soil of stone and sand which ensures well structured subtle white wines with great acidity and balance and full, rich, earthy red wines with silky tannins. Add to this the meticulous cellar care (sensible management and cellar design) as well as excellent vineyard care (early morning harvesting, closeness of cellar to vineyards, canopy management and strict yield control) it is inevitable that great wines will be produced. Only grapes planted and raised on Wildekrans under the watchful eye of a specialist vineyard team are selected for the cellar then the best of the best wines are selected to be bottled under the Wildekrans label.

    South Africa

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    With an important wine renaissance is 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.

    Pinotage

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    A distinctively earthy and rustic variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. In 1925 viticulturists crossed finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, and created, surprisingly, a variety both darker and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage at first seemed nearly impossible to tame, with its bold profile and wild flavors but advances in viticultural and winemaking techniques have since helped to make Pinotage wines quite alluring. Today it 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.

    CNC791103_1999 Item# 25131