jamie goode's wine blog: Pendock: stirring up trouble on Pinotage

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pendock: stirring up trouble on Pinotage

Slightly confused by a recent blog post by South African wine journalist Neil Pendock here. He quotes some comments I made (some time ago) on Pinotage.

Yes, I can understand how my hyperbolic, tongue-in-cheek remarks might have upset those who believe, like Pendock, that Pinotage is 'the national grape and the USP of South African wine'. But I don't see why he has to bring Wines of South Africa (WOSA) into it in the way he does.

Is he suggesting that WOSA should blacklist foreign press who are critical of Pinotage? Or that, if a journalist is hosted by WOSA, it is bad form, or impolite, for them to then be critical of any aspect of South African wine? [I'd have thought that WOSA is doing well if it reaches out to those members of the foreign press who are unconverted, or who are agnostic.]

Actually, I'm a friend of South African wine, as you'll see from the very positive coverage I've given to its top producers. But I disagree with Pendock about Pinotage.

I've had very good examples of Pinotage, but in terms of the South African wine industry moving forwards, Pinotage is not the USP he claims it to be. It should remain an important story in South African wine, but I think that the great examples of this variety are very few and far between. It's very difficult to make world class Pinotage.

South Africa's fine wine dimension is growing, and it's an exciting scene. But very few of the producers making world class wines are concentrating on Pinotage - most are avoiding it.

And as for the coffee-style Pinotages he refers to, they're an absurdity. Honestly.

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At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realise there are folks who take Pendock seriously!? What's even more of an absurdity is the campaign he's running to discredit UK wine journo's to a SA readership. To what end, only he knows. I see it only damaging the SA producers.

It does seem to me that opposing opinion is seen as an all-out attack and Saffers unfortunately can still be very quick to cock the shotgun when there's a knock at the door. Bad habits die hard?


At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Neil is an interesting character for sure and as you may know Jamie has very forthright views on the Platter Guide.
One or two of your comments on Pinotage could be deemed offensive by someone who does not know you.
i.e "any one who likes Pinotage knows nothing about wine" or words to that effect.
Do not think anyone should be too upset by Neil or indeed your views.Just concentrate on what I have too say--!!!!(smilie)

At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Sklenicka said...

I understand that some private jokes should stay private. But don't worry, your wisecrack was good and I am sure that everyone does such remarks occassionally (when Pendock is not listening). You should write more of them here, I would appreciate it as a reader :o)))

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous James said...

Seems a hell of an effort to go to just to make a tongue-in-cheek remark about Pinotage. You clearly don't rate the grape, hence all those rather juvenile "Pinotage sucks" comments in your blog.

But the sad fact is that for every good Pinotage, there are 10 bad ones, and once you've had a bad one, it's unlikely you'll try any more.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Vinogirl said...

It's a terrible varietal, awful. And correct me if I am wrong, but people are free to make their own minds up about what they do or do not like...and write about it in any way they see fit!

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Donald Edwards said...

I've always wondered whether there's a cellar palette effect at work in SA. I regularly read tasting notes of Pinotages that seem to completely overlook the dominant characteristic of burnt rubbery smoke. Maybe after growing up with it, many SA winemakers and critics no longer notice it. I believe the same sort of thing used to be the case in the S of France regarding Brett.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Unique Selling Proposition.

Usually used to denote the best quality about something you're trying to sell. Anyone regarding Pinotage as the USP of South African wine is either stupid or has exceptionally poor taste (or both).

That said, there are some quite nice (to my tastes) Pinotages (exceptions that prove the rule?) I'm quite partial to The Ruins and also Grangehurst.

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Alex!

At 6:10 AM, Blogger Harry said...

Pendock's two favourite hobby horses are knocking WOSA "the exportersí mouthpiece" and The Platter guide. He has been droning on about them for as long as I can remember.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Kwispedoor said...

It's possible, Donald (presuming you meant "cellar palate"). I guess many winemakers might turn a blind eye to possible problematic issues regarding their own wine.

I just find that it takes a whole lot to properly get to grips with Pinotage. It's by far the most differentiated i.t.o. ranges of styles and flavours of all cultivars that I've encountered.

Most people base their opinions on a mere, let's say, 50 or 60 (mostly young) Pinotages that they've tasted. I think that's hopelessly inadequate for this particular grape.

It makes a lot more sense to me if people say they both hate and adore Pinotage.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

I have had some really excellent older pinotage---i.e over 20 years and although I admit that there is more rubbish wine made from this varietal than perhaps any other,there is also some very good wine made.
People like Warwick,Grangehurst,Hamilton Russell and Kanonkop

At 1:20 PM, Blogger king bing said...

I sat next to Jamie at an RJ Pinotage offline. Most of them were not that great, but Jamie and I independently agreed that the best of the evening was the Scali Pinotage (you can find Jamie's tasting note on his site). This was a well-made and serious wine. We just need more like that - and the 2001 Hamilton Russell Ashbourne. The Ashbournem is best Pinotage I have ever had and has been likened to a good Pomerol by no less than the ex-head of Christies' wine department!

At 7:01 AM, Blogger Kwispedoor said...

Anthony Hamilton-Russel makes a fantastic Pinotage under his Southern Right label. The 2006 and 2007 are both great, although they deserve to be matured further.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Guy said...

When people have a bad Cab, Merlot or the-like, the producer or the vintage gets blamed. Unfortunately (and unfairly)for Pinotage, when people have a bad one, the variety gets blamed. I believe that this is due mostly due to it being a relatively new kid on the block in wine terms, but I also believe that there is a certain amount of "fashion" in knocking it.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Tim Atkin said...

Chris, no one I know takes Neil Pendock seriously. He is a buffoon with a mediocre palate and a series of blunt axes to grind. Doesn't he still live with his mother?

Tim Atkin MW


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