Time for Pinotage to come out of the closet? | New Brief out, #198 | The Wine & Wine Travel Newsletter

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitTime for Pinotage to come out of the closet?

The apple never falls far from the tree.

Well, sometimes it does. For, to be honest, does pinotage really resemble its parents, pinot noir and cinsault? Not so much. In any case, the dark colour certainly does not indicate that pinotage originates from the two grapes that produce some of the wine world’s lightest red wines.

Pinotage is finally on its way to becoming an adult. At quite an advanced age as it was created in 1925. But since it was almost immediately abandoned by its creator Abraham Perold and actually forgotten for many years, it is in fact in reality only 60 years old. It was almost pure luck that it did not completely disappear.

The first commercial Pinotage wine was not made until 1959 in Stellenbosch at Lanzerac.

So, during 60 vintages producers have been trying to understand pinotage. Not such a long time compared to most other grape varieties. Whatever the reasons, for a long time pinotage has had a poor reputation. To put it simply: people did not particularly like it. Pinotage has had a tough life.

But now its luck is about to turn. The growers have pressed the reset button. Now they will make people appreciate pinotage. We felt the winemakers’ enthusiasm when we were in South Africa recently. We no longer heard statements like “hopelessly difficult grape” but rather “now we understand the grape much better” and “it is very close to our hearts”.

Danie Steytler Jr of Kaapzicht, one of all the winemakers we met, explained that it may not be so strange that it takes a few years, or rather a few decades, to understand how a brand new grape variety should be handled to produce quality wine.

Pinotage will now find its place in life and more specifically in the South African vineyards. Right now, it is less planted than both cabernet sauvignon and syrah. But its status has already been officially raised. In 2019 it was decided that it must be the dominant grape in the wines called Cape Blend. The least one would expect.

In any case, it was very clear, judging by the wines we tasted at the wineries we visited, that pinotage is today capable of making great wines. One of our travellers said on one of the last tastings on the tour about a pinotage we tasted that “this is the best wine of the whole trip”.

But the story doesn’t end with pinotage.

Another winemaker we met showed us what is probably the world’s first cuvée made from the grape called chenil. Chenil is another South African crossing, this time between chenin blanc and ugni blanc, a grape that no-one has made wine from before. But that’s a story for another time.

Crossings (and hybrids) are a really hot topic today.

But now over to upcoming wine tours instead.

It is high time to think about booking a wine tour this fall, when the harvest, or harvest preparations, are in full swing.

For the winter of 2021, we have lined up three exceptional trips, to the southern hemisphere’s sun and warm weather during the northern winter times: Argentina-Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.

Travel to the world’s wine regions with BKWine. We make tours for those who want a great wine experience, who want to meet the winemakers, to try the most exciting wines, get an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the wine world. We are completely independent and can choose the very best visits. We make wine trips for the wine enthusiast.

Soon we will leave for New Zealand. Follow that journey on Instagram (visit  BKWine on Instagram!) and on Facebook (New Zealand – the tour starts next week) – more on that below in the Brief.

Britt & Per

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What’s on at BKWine Tours

  • Bordeaux, September 30 – October 4, 2020

For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on!

We also make custom designed wine tours – on-demand tours for you and a group of friends, for your company (maybe to scout new winegrowers?), for a special event… We can combine winery visits and wine touring with other activities: gastronomic workshops, visit to an oyster farm, truffles hunting, cheese making, and more. More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!

Read our book(s)

We have written several wine books, nine at the last count. One of them has been translated to English; the others are (so far) only available in Swedish. This is the one that is available in English: Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking, Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture

All our books are on wine, but on different subjects: wines of the Languedoc, wine growing and wine making, the wines of France, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Burgundy, Champagne. Several have won prestigeous prizes and awards. Read more on our wine books.

This is just the introduction to the latest issue of the Brief. Subscribe to the BKWine Brief and you will get the whole edition in your mailbox next month.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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