jamie goode's wine blog: Petit Pinotage

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Petit Pinotage

It has been a wet old day over here in west London. It started early when Rosie woke up at 05.17. Then some good friends arrived back from 4 weeks in Australia seeing family, and had to rouse us at 06.38 to pick up a key for their house. They are coming to lunch tomorrow, and I'm eager to hear how they got on - it was their first visit to Aus, but I can see them emigrating there...

I took youngest son over to the Two Rivers retail complex in Staines to spend some of his Christmas money. Staines battles it out with various Medway towns for the title of the UK's Chav capital, and Two Rivers is where Chavs really love to hang out. Still, I managed to find myself some decent running shoes, and youngest son purchased a Playstation game and a hip-hop/rap CD (he isn't allowed CDs labelled 'parental guidance', which severely limits his choice in this musical genre).

Tonight's wine is a cheapie. It's Ken Forrester's Petit Pinotage 2005, which is 4.48 from Asda. I like it, as much as I can really like Pinotage. Perhaps that sounds a bit negative, but i'm just being honest. By not taking Pinotage too seriously - and interpreting it as a good-time, slightly off-the-wall variety - Ken has made an attractive, juicy berry fruited red with some green herbal and medicinal Pinotage funk, in a format where this funk helps add to the fun character of the wine. I'd serve this wine slightly chilled with honest, rustic fare. It has edges, and these are all too often lacking in inexpensive wines. The packaging is great, too.

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At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Of course I will not offer my usual comment----------oh go on then I will!!! Pinotage tastes great if you do not know what you are drinking.
Many is the time,I have offered this wine to guests,but always decanted and I have yet to find anyone who does not like it. Of course,if I had just stuck the bottle on the table-------yikes!!
Producers such as Diemersfontein,Rijk,L,Avenir,Hamilton Russell and Dornier make delightful wine. Especially nice with venison and with braai food.
Never mind Jamie,I am glad really that most critics do not appear to like the wine,as it of course keeps the price down.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Cru Master said...

I find that when you do come across a really well made and delightful Pinotage - man it is just so damn good.

Of course there is a lot still to be learnt with this varietal, i mean in the greater scheme of things, its still young to the old world of wine - after all it would have taken generations to perfect other varietals.

Im sure that those fine wine makers that are brave enough to strive on and persevere with the grape will find some light at the end of the tunnel - where the grapes true potential will be ironed out and enjoyed by so many people.

Pinotage is rough around the edges at times, but it couldn't be more representative of South Africa as a nation and its people.

The media have given it a good working over, and while it may not be the varietal that SA can pin its hopes on anymore, its still unique and offers great variety and interest to any dinner table!

I find it hard to beat a Kanonkop Pinotage myself!

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

I'm with Jamie on this one - Pinotage is a wine I would (and do) buy when it doesn't take itself too seriously. Examples include The Ruins and even the dreaded Stormhoek.

I've yet to sample Keith's delights...

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous JP Rossouw said...

Try pinotage (slightly chilled) with sushi or even better with a mild curry and it finds a rather surprising home.

Alex, explain the "dreaded" Stormhoek - why dread?

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

I've spoken to Ken Forrester and whilst he's not a fan of Pinotage (hence Petit Pinotage), he's really happy with this wine. Alex Dale (The Winery) also makes a rich, juicy, rustic wine from hand-harvested which is excellent - and at a terrific price. I agree with the comments that serving it chilled is the best way.

There are still a few probs for Pinotage; it is usually picked too late with resultant high levels of alcohol; it is a naturally high yielder; it is cold fermented which retains those bubblegum notes from the volatile esters and aromas of isoamyl alcohol are far too evident for pleasure on many examples.

In the hands of a skilled winemaker it can be made into something very good. I've tasted a delicious example from - New Zealand! Jenny Dobson's Te Awa Longlands Pinotage is excellent - smooth, glossy, spicy and packed with blueberry fruit.

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Doug, I had dinner with Ken and Alex when I last visited South Africa. It was fun.

My guess is that the problem with Pinotage is achieving even ripening - and high yields may play a part here. Thus while baume levels may be in the right place, there's still plenty of methoxypyrazine greeness, too. This isn't helped by mealybug/leafroll virus in many vineyards, which prevents the grapes ever reaching true physiological ripeness.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Cru Master said...

Again, it is therefore up to the wine makers to learn from the science behind the end product and ensure that they are picking the grapes at the right time and in addition discarding any 'bad' grapes.

The science is there, if winemakers fail to use it and still produce bad wine - well then they not good winemakers.

The science and technique of producing Pinotage should be getting better and as i said its still in its infancy (relative) and therefore it will evolve into its rightful purpose - be it as a single varietal or as an integral part of a cape blend (or in the end becoming obsolete).

Wine aside, stormhoek are breaking the mold and embracing the future to bring the world their wine - for that they should be lauded and perhaps many 'old school wineries' around the world could learn a lesson or two!

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

JP - I used the term "dreaded" (in a slightly tongue-in-cheek sense) as I find Stormhoek rather over-marketed. Thus when one finds that some of the wines actually taste OK, it comes as a bit of a surprise.


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