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Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied\

Pinotage, that proudly South African grape born of a marriage between Cinsaut (aka Hermitage) and Pinot Noir, has long been seen as a cheap and cheerful addition to the wine cabinet. From bottles brimming with mocha-chocolate notes to the burnt-rubber aromas of mass-produced plonk, it’s a wine that hasn’t always had the best reputation. But that’s changing, as a handful of cellars apply themselves to producing Pinotage worth the extra spend. If you want to taste just how good Pinotage can be, try of these premium examples.

Cape of Good Hope Basson Pinotage

This terroir-driven range from Anthonij Rupert Wines taps into some of the Cape’s most interesting pockets of vineyard, and this unique Pinotage is no exception. Named for the family that tends the vineyards grown highn on the slopes of the Paardeberg, the ongoing battle between farmer, baboons and buck means only limited quantities are available each vintage, but it’s well worth seeking out a bottle. Aged in older oak barrels for 14 months, and then in bottle for a further two years before release, the result is a remarkable wine rich in berries, spice and structure.

Visit Anthonij Rupert Wines’ website or phone 021 874 9074

Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage

This flagship release from Lanzerac Wine Estate, where the grape was grown commercially for the first time, is a fine example of premium Pinotage. Sourced from older vineyards high in the Jonkershoek Valley, the Pionier is matured in oak for 18 months after fermentation, adding excellent ageing potential to the wine: up to 12 years, suggests Lanzerac winemaker Wynand Lategan. The 2015 vintage received a five-star rating in the Platter’s South African Wine Guide, while the Pionier Pinotage 2014 received the prestigious Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy last year.

Visit Lanzerac’s website or phone them on 021 887 1132.

Spioenkop Elgin Pinotage

Pinot Noir thrives in the cool climes of Elgin, so for Koen Roose, it made perfect sense to plant the first Pinotage in the valley here in 2008. A decade on, he’s been proved resoundingly right, and his Spioenkop Elgin Pinotage displays an altogether more elegant side to the cultivar. Showing off its Pinot Noir parentage, expect more freshness on the palate along with plenty of perfume and dark cherries. His “1900” Pinotage is equally good, blending Elgin and Stellenbosch fruit.

Visit Spioenkop’s website or phone on 021 859 1458.

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