I suspect a lot of wine drinkers will have heard of Pinotage. But I doubt whether that many have tried it. I suspect even fewer know anything about it. So let’s change that.
Pinotage is South Africa’s ‘signature grape’. It’s actually a hybrid they created in the 1920s. They took Pinot Noir and reckoned that if they combined it with Cinsault (which had come to be known as Hermitage in South Africa), it would be perfectly suited to their climate. They were obviously right, because it’s still being grown successfully today.
The label told me to expect cherries, plums and violets. The flavours thereof that is anyway. I’d imagine that trying to get a plum out of a wine bottle would be pretty awkward, and would get quite messy if you persevered. Let’s not dwell on that.
This was actually my first experience of Pinotage, and I was stunned to find that the label had actually undersold the product.
The unsuspecting drinker (as I was) is confronted with mushroomey and gamey flavours. Yes. You read that correctly. Mushroomey and gamey. I felt like I had been ambushed. The cherries and plums are there, if you make a bit of effort to look for them, but what are they doing hiding behind these other, savoury, flavours?
These flavours are associated with Pinot Noir, especially with Pinot Noir from its original home, the region of Burgundy in France. Even so, I did not expect them from an £8 bottle of Pinotage carrying a supermarket’s own brand.
But did I like it? I didn’t know. I had to go back for another taste. And another (such a chore). By the time I was half way through the glass, I’d made up my mind. This was an astonishingly sophisticated and complex wine for its price.
Some people would probably take one sniff and run a mile. If you’re still reading, I’m guessing you’re not one of those people, and I suspect I’ve made you curious too.
At the time of writing, I’ve noticed that Sainsbury’s has put this wine on offer. Good timing! I’m off to fill my boots.