Sunday 21 January 2018

Wine: Grape on a coffee break

Liam Campbell

After 350 years' experience of winemaking in its beautiful balmy climate, there is one grape variety (cultivar) South Africa can truly call its own: Pinotage. Created in 1925 from parents Pinot Noir and Cinsault, at its best, the wines have a lush blackberry richness.

For Sue van Wyk, Cape wine master and technical director of the annual Michelangelo International Wine Awards in South Africa, "Pinotage is one of the most colourful grape varieties.

Its versatility allows it to be made as a pink or dark red wine, sometimes as a red or white sparkling celebration and occasionally fortified to a Port-style richness.

"Recent innovations with the coffee-styled Pinotage have produced a dramatic growth in Pinotage's popularity in South Africa and overseas. In the wine lake of sameness, Pinotage stands out."

Bertus Fourie was the first to create the coffee/chocolate style Pinotage when he worked at Diemersfontein in 2001. That innovation inspired many other South African winemakers.

Bertus continues the coffee style at Val de Vie Estate with his Barista Pinotage. The rich and freshly roasted coffee character is achieved by using a specific strain of yeast to ferment the grape juice and then ageing the wine in wooden barrels with the interiors 'toasted' (scorched) to caramelise the natural sugars in the wood.

Matching Pinotage with food, if springbok, antelope or oryx isn't available at your local butcher's, then use rich and dark gamey meats and birds.

Try venison in a red wine sauce with juniper berries; duck with a Port-wine sauce; roasted beef with wild mushrooms and cream; spare ribs marinated in a barbecue sauce; or a spicy meat-topped pizza.1) Pinotage 2012 Diemersfontein, Wellington area, 14pc

Intense coffee-bean aroma. Seductively creamy mocha texture, a core or ripe raspberry fruit with an extra shot of espresso intensity.

€21.50 at O'Donovan's off-licences Cork citywide; Mac's, Limerick; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Martin's, Fairview; Sweeney's, Glasnevin; Drinkstore, Stoneybatter; Donnybrook Fair; Searson's, Monkstown; wineshop.ie and Next Door chain

2) Houndamond Pinotage 2010 Bellevue Estate, Stellenbosch, 14pc

Earthy and hints of leafy vegetal scents. Mellow, smooth and satisfying. Firm tannins seek meat.

€14.29 at Marks & Spencer nationwide

3) Barista Pinotage 2011 Val de Vie, Western Cape, 14pc

Fragrant with cocoa. A palate of peppery fruits and richly textured. Friendly tannins and a long, lingering, spicy finish.

€14-€15 at Gibney's, Malahide; Lilac Wine, Fairview, and jnwine.com

4) Bergkelder Selection Pinotage 2011 Fleur du Cap, Coastal region, 14pc

Subtle oak and fresh coffee aromas. Rich, well-rounded flavours with integrated oaky spiciness.

€15.99 at Ardkeen Stores, Waterford; Donnybrook Fair; Thomas's, Foxrock, and La Touche Wines 4 U, Greystones

5) Pinotage 2010 Graham Beck, Western Cape, 13.5pc

A mellow bouquet of pencil shavings. Red-berry fruits and subtle oaky spice balance a long oaky finish.

€15.99 nationwide at O'Brien's Wines and Next Door Off-Licences

6) Pinotage 2009 Major's Hill, Robertson, 14.5pc

Bright red-fruity perfume. Spiced red berries and pepper, which linger on the tastebuds.

€16.50 at MacGuinness, Dundalk. and tindalwine.com

7) Fantail Pinotage 2009 Morgenhof Cellar, Stellenbosch, 14.5pc

Reserved and restrained spiced character on nose and palate, echoed with blackberry and plum.

€18.99 Holland's, Bray; Gibney's, Malahide, and Mitchell & Son, Dublin's IFSC and Glasthule; Next Door @ Lohan's, Galway, and Superquinn nationwide

email: liamwine@gmail.com

Irish Independent

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