I have long been a fan of the Pinotage varietal and consider it one of South Africa's great grapes. Yet it is a varietal that many people either love or hate. I think it gets a bad rap though and more people would like it if they had some of the better Pinotage wines that exist.
I recently purchased a few bottles of the 2004 Kanonkop Estate Wine Pinotage ($35). I have heard much about this wine, very positive press. But I was a bit concerned over whether I should drink it now, or let it sit in my cellar for some years. I had read an article over at The Pinotage Club discussing how many of Kanonkop Pinotages needed to age for ten years. So, I emailed Peter May at The Pinotage Club to ask him about the matter. Not only did he quickly respond to me, in a lengthy email, but he even tasted the wine again and wrote about his thoughts. His praise for the wine only made me even more eager to taste it.
The 2004 Kanonkop Estate Wine Pinotage is 100% Pinotage, made from vines that are up to 59 years old. The wine spends 16 months in new French oak and it has a 14.5% alcohol content. It is made in the Simonsberg area of Stellenbosch.
The wine is inky dark with a fruity nose, a smell of ripe berries. On the front palate, there were nice cherry and blackberry flavors that soon merged into a more smoky, bacon flavored finish. That merging was seamless, and the flavors just seemed to naturally change on the palate. It was a very smooth wine, with mild tannins. A lush mouth feel that definitely pleased me. And the more I drank, the more complex it seemed. Tinges of other flavors seemed to peek out, even a bit of chocolate. This wine certainly did not need to age to be an excellent wine.
Some Pinotages have a more earthy taste, which I don't mind but which turns others off. Yet I did not really find much earthiness here. This is the type of Pinotage that any wine lover should enjoy. It is just a superb wine, with a balanced complexity and luscious taste.
I paired the Pinotage with pasta and sausage. Yet it was a home-made venison sausage, very spicy, plus it was in a spicy Arrabiata sauce. With the taste of wild game, and the spiciness of the sauce and sausage, I thought this might be a good pairing. And it definitely worked. The Pinotage flavors melded perfectly with the food.
Overall, this was an excellent wine and a strong Drink & Buy recommendation. If you want some of the best of Pinotage, this is your wine. If you don't think you like Pinotage, then I challenge you to taste this wine and see what you think. I still have a couple bottles left, and will let them age a bit. Though I am going to seek out some more of this wine so I can drink some now as well.
Peter May was certainly right about this wine!