Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2003 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinotage

Do you like Pinotage? Well, I certainly do.

Fort Ross Vineyard is located in the Sonoma County of California. They grow three only varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage. Their Pinotage was first harvested in 2001. (For additional information on the winery, you can check out the excellent article on Dr. Deb's blog, Good Wine Under $20).

The Pinotage grown at Fort Ross consists of two proprietary clones that were developed from bud wood imported from one of the most select Pinotage vineyards in South Africa. They were the first vineyard to import such bud wood into California. It is one of the few California vineyards that grows this varietal.

The Pinotage spends about fifteen months in French oak, about 20% new oak. The Pinotage is typically barreled for between 12 and 18 months and racked just prior to bottling. It is unfined and unfiltered. Only about 400 cases of this wine were produced.

The Wine Spectator awarded this wine 91 Points and stated: "Pure and delicious, with a core of ripe blackberry, wild berry and cherry fruit that’s supported by lively acidity and & firm yet ripe tannins. Ends with a nice spicy, earthy quality. Drink now through 2011."

The Fort Ross Pinotage has received a lot of positive press. And as a big fan of Pinotage, I definitely wanted to try this wine. But it is currently not available in Massachusetts. So what was I to do? Luckily, Jill, a fellow blogger who also sells wines at Domaine547, was able to get me some of this Pinotage.

I opened a bottle last night and was thoroughly impressed.

The 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinotage ($36) has a very dark purple color and an intoxicating nose of dark berries with a tinge of spice. This is a wine that beckons to you like the call of a Siren. When you taste this wine, its rich body swells in your mouth and fills it with lush blackberries, blueberries and black cherries. A hedonistic joy. Besides the fruit, there are tiny bits of smoke, cocoa, and spice that mesh well with the lush fruits. There is even a slight earthiness to this wine, mostly on the finish. The wine is very well balanced and provides an interesting melange of flavors. The tannins do not overwhelm and the finish lingers on and on, a very satisfying ending to a luscious wine. This is a sensuous wine, a delightful nectar that is sure to please. Overall, I highly recommend this wine as Drink & Buy.

In a previous post, I reviewed the 2004 Kanonkop Estate Wine Pinotage and issued a challenge: " If you don't think you like Pinotage, then I challenge you to taste this wine and see what you think."

I would issue that same challenge once again with this wine. Taste this Pinotage and I very much doubt then that you will be able to say you don't like Pinotage.


Anonymous said...

Now I think I'll have to get some for myself!

Dr. Debs said...

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of this wine, and of how it might transform even skeptics into pinotage lovers!

Anonymous said...

Does it have that "gameyness" though? See, that is what I like (and I think what a lot of people tend to dislike) and that is what I'm having trouble finding. Even that Kanonkop pinotage wasn't doing it for me all the way -- a great wine, to be sure, but the Kanonkop Paul Sauer had more of that earthy/smokiness that I was looking for in the pinotage.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but then again this is a California wine, isn't it? I'm sure that smokiness comes from the S. African soil because I've tasted it on other wines from that region. Cheefuly withrdrawn.

Peter F May said...

Carol - Abrie Beeslaw (the winemaker at Kanonkop Estate) told me that that the soils in the Muldervlei Bowl ( the part of the valley where Kanonkop is located) imparts an earthy taste. Don't confuse this with the taste of Pinotage.

Fort Ross is gaining many accolades -- I just wsh I could taste it. But there are other California wineries making excellent Pinotages -- look out for them.

filphrench said...

I just found a bottle of Fort Ross 2003 Pinotage in our cabinet. This page came up in my google search. Any thoughts on whether or not this would age well.