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Pinotage: Afrikaans for “what is this in my glass?”

Posted by on April 2, 2010

When I talked about our visit to Lovingston Winery, I mentioned that the pinotage grape was relatively new to me but that I could come to like it.  Pinotage has a lot of detractors, and to be fair, there are a lot of really horrible pinotage wines out there.  There are also some real advocates for this hybrid grape (pinot noir and cinsault) most closely associated with the South African wine industry.  After all, there is an entire blog dedicated to this grape, and a fellow VA blogger, Dezel, organized a cross-blog pinotage party earlier this year (that I had to miss due to travel for my day job).  We recently opened the bottle of the ’07 Lovingston Pinotage we bought to better figure out how we feel about pinotage and to help us towards our goal of joining the century club.

I am by no means a wine expert; I’m just a woman who loves and enjoys wine.  I’ve drunk enough of it, however, that I’ve developed a reasonable vocabulary for describing what I smell and taste in wines.  I can’t typically pick out 20 different components, but I can give a few representative ones.  This wine gave me a lot of trouble in this regard, however.  At first, all I could get was a bit of an earthy nose and some subtle dark fruit flavors.  As I stayed with it (and looked at a list of tasting terms (thanks to vinography), I was able to get a bit more detailed.

I got an earthy, slightly raisiny nose.  I may also have been picking up a few notes of rubber that people say is common with this grape.  This may be due to the power of suggestion, however, as I was just trying to figure out what that somewhat unfamiliar aroma was (it wasn’t really unpleasant, however; it was just unusual).  I got earthy dark fruit flavors (plums I think) along with a hint of the rubber I’m pretty sure I got on the nose (again, not bad, just different).

At the end of this, I’m still not totally sold on pinotage, but I’m open to trying other bottles people recommend so that I can get a better handle on whether or not I actually do like this grape.

Creative Commons License
The Pinotage: Afrikaans for “what is this in my glass?” by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

5 Responses to Pinotage: Afrikaans for “what is this in my glass?”

  1. grapeenvyguy

    I’ve never felt this lost with a wine. Seriously, no idea what to make of it. It’s not BAD- but it’s so different from what we usually drink, I have nothing of value to contribute. Sorry.

  2. Benito

    Pinotage is a weird grape, but on top of that a bunch of winebloggers and even retailers have a strange hatred of it. Me? I like obscure grapes, and Pinotage is definitely unique. I’ve always found it sort of ashy and earthy, and it even makes a decent rosé.

    Mention that you like Pinotage in a room full of wine geeks and the reaction is about the same as if you said, “I like to kick puppies for fun!”

  3. vawinediva

    @Benito – I’ve definitely seen a lot of pinotage protest via twitter, so I get what you’re saying. As for me, the jury’s still out on this grape. This was a weird wine – not bad, just really new to me, so I’ll have to try some more to figure out if it’s in the “like” or “fine, but not rushing to get more” column.

  4. AmyVA

    Thanks for taking the time to pick apart your experience with pinotage and share your tasting notes with an open mind. (BTW, In general, I love your style and yours has quickly become one of my favorite blogs – I eagerly await new updates!) Anyway – I had Lovingston’s pinotage several vintages ago, at a winemaker’s dinner at the C&O restaurant in Charlottesville, and remember truly loving it (2005 maybe?) I am a big pinotage fan and am glad to see it being attempted here in VA. Good luck with the Century Club! I got my certificate last year. I realized that it is more important to know which and how many grapes go into the blends you have already tried than to search far and wide for obscure varietals (although that is compelling in its own right!) Have a great weekend and may you drink well!

  5. vawinediva

    Thanks Amy. We figure most of the fun on our quest to 100 is the journey – so we’ll take it as it comes. As for pinotage – if you ever find one you recommend, drop us an email, tweet, or comment so we can check it out.

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